Meganraeannexo
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#1
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#1
currently in year 2 of my forensic psychology degree but i'm currently having to create a dissertation proposal for next year. I am really struggling on how i'm going to gain data with the topics i am very much interested in. The current idea i have are as follows: the effects of upbringing on the actions of serial killers
- Investigating the link between childhood trauma, childhood aggression and adult antisocial behaviour
-Insanity cases and forensic psychology- examining literature-based evidence
-What is the relationship between mental state and crime?

does anyone at all have any ideas, suggestions or any help at all about how i am going to gain data for all this or what to do next
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Alice_posa
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#2
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#2
Firstly, base on the titles I am seeing is your course Bachelor in science?
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bones-mccoy
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#3
Report 1 year ago
#3
(Original post by Meganraeannexo)
currently in year 2 of my forensic psychology degree but i'm currently having to create a dissertation proposal for next year. I am really struggling on how i'm going to gain data with the topics i am very much interested in. The current idea i have are as follows: the effects of upbringing on the actions of serial killers
- Investigating the link between childhood trauma, childhood aggression and adult antisocial behaviour
-Insanity cases and forensic psychology- examining literature-based evidence
-What is the relationship between mental state and crime?

does anyone at all have any ideas, suggestions or any help at all about how i am going to gain data for all this or what to do next
I would personally stay away from topics such as serial killers as ideally you want to be gathering your own data and those kind of studies use literatutre reviews or meta analyses. You want a topic in which you can collect either numerical, statistical data or qualitative data and then analyse it yourself. I'd also say the other areas you've thought of are too broad and largely not feasible. You need to think how you'd collect data, from which population and how you'd analyse it. You'd also have to have a stong rationale for conducting your research project as well - what it would bring to the literature, how it could impact policy and further research.

Sorry for being so negative, I know how difficult finding a research topic can be, I'm doing my third dissertation at the moment.
Last edited by bones-mccoy; 1 year ago
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Lord Asriel
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#4
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#4
Bones-McCoy is spot on.

This came up for me recently, where I had a project attached to my clinical service that would have been perfect for an MSc (service evaluation for a new treatment group), but the first student who was interested kept trying to take it off topic with their own ideas, or push it in a way that would have taken years to collect enough data. As it didn't work out with her, someone else from her cohort took it on, did a really good job of it in a short period of time (data was collected, and the methodology was already part of a protocol) and from what I last heard was on track for a distinction. What was even more unfortunate was the first student ended up coming back to our team asking for the project again as they had real difficulty in getting any other project at all due to the lockdown, but it was obviously too late by then.

It's really common to hear about undergraduates starting out wanting to do projects with really broad scope (curing psychosis), or with specialist groups (serial killers), but with no budget, limited time and usually no contacts with specialist services it can't really happen. Or they will come up with doctoral level project ideas, without having any of the time, training or supervision to do so. I think some of this comes down to not even knowing what you don't know or what is feasible.

IMO small, doable projects are the way to go, ideally with a lot of data already collected, with quantitative projects being easier to write up for the vast majority of undergrads. That is what I would tell my younger self if I was starting out again. The other thing at postgraduate level is to see if existing academics/staff at the university have an off the shelf project waiting for an MSc student to take off their hands and not to overthink it. This is rarely something that a student will design from scratch, and may not be in an area they have a burning passion for, but it will get done on time and for a decent mark.
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Nerol
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#5
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#5
(Original post by Meganraeannexo)
currently in year 2 of my forensic psychology degree but i'm currently having to create a dissertation proposal for next year. I am really struggling on how i'm going to gain data with the topics i am very much interested in. The current idea i have are as follows: the effects of upbringing on the actions of serial killers
- Investigating the link between childhood trauma, childhood aggression and adult antisocial behaviour
-Insanity cases and forensic psychology- examining literature-based evidence
-What is the relationship between mental state and crime?

does anyone at all have any ideas, suggestions or any help at all about how i am going to gain data for all this or what to do next
For an undergrad dissertation, it is very unlikely you will be able to do anything involving working with vulnerable groups, or those considered high risk.

Discursive research could be interesting, looking at how certain groups are represented in the media, for example. This could be something like a comparison of how male/female offenders are represented, how forensic mental health facilities are represented, things like that.

You could also perhaps use interviews and talk to people who work in forensic mental health units, volunteer with charities involved in the CJS, ex-offenders, people who have been involved in a crime etc..

These are just a few vague ideas.. I am very much into qualitative methods, so these were just a couple of things that came to my mind.
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bones-mccoy
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#6
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#6
To add to what I said previously - be aware of the money, time restraints and populations you want to work with. Even MSc students largely don't get to work directly with offenders or those in forensic populations for their research projects. I'm one of the few on my course who could have used an offender population as I already have prison access but decided not to due to the huge amount of ethics involved, external as well as internal, and the feasibility of obtaining data.
Last edited by bones-mccoy; 1 year ago
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iammichealjackson
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#7
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#7
I think the main thing which distinguishes good dissertations, is that you need to start with an understanding of the research literature. It is unlikely that you will come up with an amazing idea on your own (and this goes for all researchers). So read papers, see what is out there, and what you can add.

Also i'd recommend at this point to look into big open-access datasets you can use (and don't require data-collection). These datasets won't give you any information about serial killers, but you can look at low-level anti-social behaviour and criminality. The millenium cohort study is a good example of one of these.
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