Choosing between types

There are a number of reasons why you may choose one type of dissertation over another. Some are more academic in nature, whilst others tend to be more personal or practical. Academic justifications are important because the person marking your dissertation will expect to see such academic justifications in your final product. Personal and practical justifications are similarly important, not because these are something that a marker is looking for, but because the dissertation process can be tough. As a result, many of the decisions you make throughout the dissertation process (e.g., the choice of sampling strategy or data analysis techniques) will be influenced by factors such as cost, ease, convenience, and what skills you have or can learn in time. We briefly discuss these considerations below, and explain how they may influence the particular choice of dissertation type; after all, the academic, personal and practical justifications for a quantitative dissertation are different for qualitative or mixed methods dissertations.

Academic justifications

You'll almost always been able to find an academic justification for your choice of dissertation, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. These academic justifications include factors that are generally philosophical or theoretical, or which refer to a particular research problem or idea.

The reasons that act as a justification for your dissertation will often become clear when you decide on the route you will follow within one of these three types of dissertation (i.e., a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods dissertation). We have chosen not to go into any more detail about such academic justifications now because they are so specific to the route that you choose. However, you'll learn about these justifications in detail in the Quantitative Dissertations part of Lærd Dissertation, where you can choose between one of three routes (i.e., Route #1: Replication-based dissertations, Route #2: Data-driven dissertations, and Route #3: Theory-driven dissertations).

Personal or practical justifications

One of the major challenges of doing a dissertation, especially if you are an undergraduate, is uncertainty: Can I plan out the dissertation process from the start? Will I be able to finish on time? Can I get my head around the research paradigms and research designs that guide my choice of dissertation (i.e., qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods)? Do I have the right skills to analyse qualitative or quantitative data? What software packages will I have to learn to do this, if any?

Dissertations are often worth a good proportion of your final year mark, if not the grade of your entire degree, so how tolerant you are to uncertainty matters. On this basis, think about the following:

Next steps

If you're taking on a qualitative dissertation, we wish you good luck (although you will still be able to learn a little about appropriate research methods and sampling techniques in the Fundamentals section of Lærd Dissertation). However, if you're taking on a quantitative dissertation (or a mixed methods dissertation that is mainly quantitative in its focus), go to the Quantitative Dissertations part of Lærd Dissertation now. We have extensive guides to help you through the process.

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