Dissertation discussion

20 Feb

It's that time of the academic year again. I'm getting more comments and email requests (spam comments too from essay writing businesses which I remove as soon as I can) on this topic than any other. So here are some groundrules on my response to dissertation requests.

  • I will respond to your questionnaires and interview requests whenever possible. I've welcomed the chance to answer questions on the effects of the recession on the PR industry from a New York University student and on the ideal curriculum for a PR degree from a Leeds Met student in the last week.
  • I will not give anyone a topic to research. I can give general suggestions (see below) but your dissertation is your one chance to pick a subject to study. Don't give it up, least of all to a stranger.  

Good dissertation topics have the following characteristics:

  • There is an existing body of (academic) literature for you to read. 
  • It is a subject that allows you to contribute your own original research. 
  • It probably involves an element of novelty and change.  

Let's take an example. A student took the 'glass ceiling' as her starting point (well-established body of literature) but chose to ask about the barriers to entry for young men onto PR degree courses (involves change, very researchable).

Or another. I've not yet supervised a study into the use of Twitter in media relations (readily researchable, very topical). There's no academic literature though, so is this a show-stopper? Not at all, because there's literature on communications and public relations theory, social media, media relations practice and much non-academic chatter about Twitter.

2 Responses to “Dissertation discussion”

  1. Serge 23/02/2009 at 10:06 am #

    Quite recognisable. The time of the year, indeed!

  2. Emma 25/02/2009 at 3:07 pm #

    You are due to visit me on my placement later this year – is my dissertation subject for next year something we are able to discuss at that time?

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