MSc Dissertation 'Originality'

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JindleBrey
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Hi, the marking criteria for my MSc dissertation reads 'shows some evidence of originality' in the 70-79 mark range. I'm unsure what exactly this means? For my project, I plan on basing the study on previous research, as their conclusions recommended more research into the topic. But would that mean my dissertation isn't very 'original', despite its relevance in furthering knowledge in the field? I'm worried this will cause me to miss out on a distinction.

Specifically, the study I'm basing on assessed the suitability of a species of plant for the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with Pb and Cd. I plan on furthering this by researching the suitability of the plant for other soil metal contaminants. My plan is well justified and has the potential to be a good dissertation, I'm just worried it isn't 'original' enough and it will prevent me from reaching a 70. .
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Keele University
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(Original post by JindleBrey)
Hi, the marking criteria for my MSc dissertation reads 'shows some evidence of originality' in the 70-79 mark range. I'm unsure what exactly this means? For my project, I plan on basing the study on previous research, as their conclusions recommended more research into the topic. But would that mean my dissertation isn't very 'original', despite its relevance in furthering knowledge in the field? I'm worried this will cause me to miss out on a distinction.

Specifically, the study I'm basing on assessed the suitability of a species of plant for the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with Pb and Cd. I plan on furthering this by researching the suitability of the plant for other soil metal contaminants. My plan is well justified and has the potential to be a good dissertation, I'm just worried it isn't 'original' enough and it will prevent me from reaching a 70. .
Hi!

Don't worry - you're not expected to reinvent the wheel (although marking criteria can certainly make it sound as if you are!).

Usually 'originality' in this context just means identifying a gap in, or building upon, existing research as opposed to simply repeating/replicating it. In your case, another research study has identified a gap where further research is needed - and you are proposing to conduct research to develop upon the findings of that study and, potentially, fill that gap in knowledge. Without knowing the specifics, I can't say for definite but that sounds 'original' to me.

Your best bet is probably to speak with a member of your academic school - preferably your dissertation supervisor if you've been assigned one (or the module lead for the dissertation if not) and run your idea past them. Explain that you're really pushing to get a distinction on your dissertation and ask if they feel your outline proposal will meet the originality criteria - their response should give you a good idea of what you'll need to do to ensure your own study is far enough developed to not be a replica of previous work.

Hope that helps!

Amy
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by JindleBrey)
Hi, the marking criteria for my MSc dissertation reads 'shows some evidence of originality' in the 70-79 mark range. I'm unsure what exactly this means? For my project, I plan on basing the study on previous research, as their conclusions recommended more research into the topic. But would that mean my dissertation isn't very 'original', despite its relevance in furthering knowledge in the field? I'm worried this will cause me to miss out on a distinction.

Specifically, the study I'm basing on assessed the suitability of a species of plant for the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with Pb and Cd. I plan on furthering this by researching the suitability of the plant for other soil metal contaminants. My plan is well justified and has the potential to be a good dissertation, I'm just worried it isn't 'original' enough and it will prevent me from reaching a 70. .
You don't have to come up with a completely new theory/method etc., but you do need to fill a gap in the literature ideally, especially if this can be done in a meaningful way.
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chaotic1328
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Filling a gap in the literature? In a Master's dissertation? Chance would be a fine thing! 'Original contribution to knowledge' is very much a PhD criterion, not a Master's.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by chaotic1328)
Filling a gap in the literature? In a Master's dissertation? Chance would be a fine thing! 'Original contribution to knowledge' is very much a PhD criterion, not a Master's.
They are getting to be more common requirements for master's dissertations now - I had those criteria in my MA project rubric.
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chaotic1328
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
They are getting to be more common requirements for master's dissertations now - I had those criteria in my MA project rubric.
In which case, I would suggest that your institution is puffing up its requirements without any intention of actually enforcing the rules, or that you are confused between 'some degree of originality' and 'original contribution to knowledge'. Hell, even the 'gaps' identified in PhD thesis are very often only due to a lack of reading rather than actual gaps, and there is no way you can fill these (actual or perceived) gaps within a 12-15K word master's dissertation written in 3 months. That is, unless you happen to be a total genius.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by chaotic1328)
That is, unless you happen to be a total genius.
:hubba:
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