traditional vs desk top dissertation

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Griffin79
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Hi

I have reached the dissertation stage of my part time masters and the module descriptor I have been provided with advises this can be approached in two ways. The traditional approach of primary and secondary data collection and analysis or a desk based approach which draws from secondary sources only. Having never undertaken anything like this before I am really just looking for some help and advice about each approach and which is more common. The uni doesn't appear to have a preference.

Thanks
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Klix88
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(Original post by Griffin79)
Hi

I have reached the dissertation stage of my part time masters and the module descriptor I have been provided with advises this can be approached in two ways. The traditional approach of primary and secondary data collection and analysis or a desk based approach which draws from secondary sources only. Having never undertaken anything like this before I am really just looking for some help and advice about each approach and which is more common. The uni doesn't appear to have a preference.

Thanks
I think it would be a good idea to discuss this with any prospective supervisor(s) that you have in mind. Whilst the uni may not have a preference, your supervisor might. It's always useful to either work in your supervisor's preferred way, or get them to buy into your ideas early in the process. Butting heads with a Masters diss supervisor is a drain and a time-waster, as I found to my cost.

Having said that, I'm surprised that primary data isn't clearly prioritised over the use of secondary. Even at undergrad diss level, we were told that sole use of secondary data would pretty much limit us to a potential maximum of 65% unless the methodology or results were ground-breaking. This point is definitely worth clarifying with a supervisor. It may be that your field doesn't lend itself to primary data gathering at Masters level, but it would be helpful to have that stated up front.
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Jantaculum
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(Original post by Griffin79)
Hi

I have reached the dissertation stage of my part time masters and the module descriptor I have been provided with advises this can be approached in two ways. The traditional approach of primary and secondary data collection and analysis or a desk based approach which draws from secondary sources only. Having never undertaken anything like this before I am really just looking for some help and advice about each approach and which is more common. The uni doesn't appear to have a preference.

Thanks
I did a part-time masters, and somewhere in the depths of the course handbook it mentions the possibility of the secondary source dissertation. I think it was only there because, as part-time students with full-time jobs, it was a back-up should anyone really be under pressure at work but still want to complete the process.

As a group we weren't even presented with it as an option (and clearly no-one had read the handbook to find out about it!).

I think someone from the cohort eventually followed this route - because they were a high-flyer who'd got a massive promotion at work and had less time to commit to the masters. Don't know their final mark, but they didn't get a distinction.

We did do a secondary source analysis module early in the masters and I actually found it quite frustrating, you can't just go back to the original source to clarify or ask further questions as you can for primary research. It's certainly not an easier option, but it could be appropriate IF you have a really interesting theory with no access to the primary source (geographical or historical reasons)

Discuss your ideas with your supervisor but then go for the traditional approach unless there's a very good reason not to.
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Griffin79
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Yes i work full time so my time is a little bit limited but i certainly don't want to disadvantage myself. I havent been appointed a supervisor yet so when i do i will try to clarify how i would develop each approach. I have a research subject idea but at this stage dont know how i would gather primary data but i guess that's something the supervisor can help with.
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Gregorius
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(Original post by Griffin79)
Hi

I have reached the dissertation stage of my part time masters and the module descriptor I have been provided with advises this can be approached in two ways. The traditional approach of primary and secondary data collection and analysis or a desk based approach which draws from secondary sources only. Having never undertaken anything like this before I am really just looking for some help and advice about each approach and which is more common. The uni doesn't appear to have a preference.

Thanks
Can you tell us what subject area you are working in? Perhaps some fields will regard secondary data analysis as a waste of time, but in others it will be important. For example, in the medical sciences, the systematic review and meta-analysis of pre-existing studies is considered very important methodology.
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beautifulbigmacs
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Nothing wrong with a dissertation based on secondary resources. Tis an opportunity to generate a really good literature review. There is scope to bring original thought into how you work with the sources and in terms of whether you can identify any gaps.

In my experience primary research is encouraged in science based subjects but i have seen a number of humanities based masters that will accept a dissertation that is more of a literature review.
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Griffin79
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Hi all

Yes my subject area is risk management so it falls under the banner of business and science. I have since heard from one of my fellow students that they intend to complete their project using secondary research only. Basically they are saying that they will use existing studies to develop their own original idea. Almost like a huge lit review.
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