Dissertation Guides

Karen Fleet, our librarian in PPLS, has sent through a list of books on how to write dissertations that are available (at least temporarily) through DiscoverEd. To access this list, go to our Learning Resources site, select “DiscoverEd lists” from the menu at the top, and click on “Dissertation guides”. For a more general guide to academic writing, check out Booth et al.’s The Craft of Research (see “The fundamentals” for a description and a link).

Resources for MSc dissertation writers

This post is to make sure you’re aware of the resources for MSc students writing dissertations.   Of course, writing a dissertation is never a stress-free experience, but we would like to make sure that you’re adequately supported.  Accordingly, we’ve extended our offerings and will be organising a series of events to help you finish up.

1) One-on-one appointments

First, I’d like to remind you that PPLS Writing Centre one-on-one appointments are available in the summer months as well.  You’ve each been given three hours per month to talk with PhD tutors about your work.  You’d be welcome to bring in sections of your dissertation.   Make sure not to let your June hours expire.  Don’t forget to reserve your July/August spots as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

As always, the booking form is available in the “Appointments” tab (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/appointments/).  Note that these sessions are not for proofreading – the reason we’re here is to make sure that you communicate your ideas in a way that matches expectations in your subject area.

2) Help with statistics

Students tackling quantitative work for the first time can run into all sorts of problems when analysing and interpreting data.  While you should always consult your supervisor first about questions of *what* to do (analysis planning), we can help you figure out *how* to do what you want to do (implementation).

If you need that sort of help, click on the “Request help (stats, etc.)” tab (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/more-help/), choose “PGT DISSERTATIONS” under “Statistics help for student researchers, and tell us about your project.  Once you’ve submitted your answers, they will be passed along to our PhD tutors and, in some cases, the Teaching Fellows for statistics.

Please be aware that it will take some time for your query to reach the right person.  The turnaround time could be as high as 2 weeks in some cases.  Make sure to request help well in advance of when you need it.

3) Writing and statistics workshops

In late June and early July, we will be running a series of workshops on writing quantitative reports and visualising data.  These workshops were developed by senior tutors working for the centre, and will, of course, be held online.  Exact dates will be announced within a week.

4) Programming

If you’re using jsPsych to collect data online, you can ask a PhD tutor for help with your code. These appointments are booked using the same interface as the writing appointments (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/appointments/). Make sure to select “Programming – jsPsych” as the appointment type.

5) Learning resources

Don’t forget about our new Learning Resources site (https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources).  We’ve gathered links to online resources that include past dissertations, skills training, and help with online data collection.  We’ll be adding new resources later this month – expect an announcement in a week or two.

As always, write me if you have any questions.

Learn how to program: Experiments

Quite a few students end up needing to run computer-based experiments for their dissertations. As with most skills, it’s usually best to learn how to do this ahead of time: you won’t be under as much pressure that way and there’s a good chance that your knowledge will help you think of more things to investigate.

Alisdair Tullo and Chris Gillespie will be running a series of courses during Flexible Learning Week to help you quickly get up to speed with things. These courses will be highly compressed, so make sure to check the time commitments carefully. Theoretically, it’s possible to attend all three courses, but that will be a major endeavour.

Online Experiments with jsPsych (full, but you can join the waiting list)
Feb 17 (9:00-17:00), Feb 18 (9:00-12:30)

Coding in E-Prime
Feb 18 (14:00-17:00)

Experiments with OpenSesame
Feb 19 (9:00-12:00)

February PhilSkills sessions now booking

If you’d like to know more about writing in Philosophy, consider booking a place on one of the two PhilSkills sessions coming up in February. They’re designed for students in Pre-Honours Philosophy courses, but everyone is welcome to attend. See our PhilSkills page for more details.

Pre-honours workshops now available

We have finalised our pre-honours workshops for 2019 and are now accepting bookings.

These workshops are aimed primarily at first-year students and will be fairly large, but we’ll keep things interactive through the use of online voting and discussions. You’ll look closely at excerpts from real student essays to see which approaches work and which do not.

Visit our workshop page now to see what’s on offer. And make sure to create a Top Hat student account in order to participate (instructions here). The first workshop starts next Monday, so act now.