I said in one of my first blogs of this academic year that I would blog about my progress with my research project (or more commonly known as dissertation). And that’s exactly what I am going to do! The dissertation is perhaps the biggest and most important part of your degree so I hope by outlining my journey I will help current and prospective students prepare for their final year.
As you may already know, the research project is worth 40 credits (all other modules are worth 20 each) and it entails conducting your own research on a topic of your choice. Now I previously did a blog back in May stating that I had thought of an idea for my project. As it turns out I could not pursue this idea as my supervisor said it was not sociological enough (for your information my idea was to study twins’ perception of identity). As annoyed as I was at this I completely understood what she meant- I would have had to learn a lot about psychology and genetics to conduct my research and since I am doing a sociology degree that just seems silly.
So it was back to square one. I ended up spending the whole summer avoiding conversations with family and friends about my dissertation because I simply had no idea what I wanted to do and so I just did not want to talk about it. But then it came to me. One day me and Alice (my twin sister) were walking Bruce (our Staffordshire Bull Terrier) down the road and we were talking about how we think gentrification has occurred in our village (this is essentially the process of the middle class replacing the working class communities). And then I basically said the words ‘I’d love to find out’ and that was that, we looked at one another and we both realised that I had just come up with my research project topic. I emailed my supervisor about my idea and I was so pleased to receive a reply saying she loved the idea! So then I started doing some reading and the more I did the more I got excited about the prospect of conducting research in this area. I even got thinking about the approach I would take in gathering my data, thinking that I could turn up to one of the coffee mornings at the village hall and ask people if they wouldn’t mind me interviewing them or that I could create a questionnaire to post through peoples letter boxes.
But when I got back to university I received the module outline for the research project and found out that we have to have a first draft of our first three chapters (the introduction, literature review and methodology) of our research project completed by the 27th November! That really isn’t very long away and all I have done is a little bit of reading. Admittedly it scared me a little. However, having now spent a few hours working on my project (doing various readings and trying to write my introduction) it is starting to come along. It hasn’t been easy of course. There has been mind-map after mind-map to try and get my ideas straight. And trying to think of an actual question was almost impossible because there were so many approaches I could take. And there is still a long way to go. I have only scribbled down a few notes on what to put into my introduction and literature review so far and there is still a long list of books and journals to read. Despite this, all in all I am really enjoying it. I love being in charge of my own project. I got to choose the topic, I choose how I research it and go out there and do the research myself. It’s what sociology is all about! And if I get to interview the people in my village that’ll be great fun!
So I don’t think the research project is something you should fear because it hasn’t turned out too badly for me so far…although there is no saying what the future holds! Keep checking my blog page to find out how my journey progresses 🙂