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Proposed Dissertation: Aims, Objectives, Background, Rationale, Learning Outcomes, Study Design, Met


1. Title

Give the working title of your proposed dissertation. Keep it short! 

2. Aims and Objectives

Identify the main aim or aims, which could if you wish be phrased as research questions, followed by any specific objectives needed to meet the aims.

3. Background / Literature Review

This should indicate how the proposed study links to the current state of knowledge. This can be achieved through an initial literature review – a brief review and discussion of relevant publications in journals, books and Internet reports.

4. Rationale

Explain why you wish to undertake the study, and give a reasoned and justified approach to the proposal. Why, for example, is it of interest either to you, the profession or to the fields of Environmental Health or Health and Safety generally?

5. Learning Outcomes

Describe the skills and knowledge you expect to acquire in the course of this module. Some of these will be general in nature while others are specific to the particular topic you have chosen.

6. Study Design

Indicate whether you are planning to review published work or to carry out an investigative study. Explain the type of research process you intend to use including
a) Type of study
b) Type of design
c) Type of data

7. Method of Investigation

Explain how your data collection will be carried out, indicating what methods of data collection you will be using (e.g. site measurements, on-line search, questionnaire, interviews) and the main sources for this information. For example, if you are using a questionnaire you will need to explain how you will choose who it is to be distributed to, how many responses you are aiming to collect and so on. Give an indication of how the collected data will be analysed. Are you planning statistical tests? Which ones?

8. Ethics

Identify the main ethical issues involved and explain how they are to be dealt with. For example, you may be collecting personal information or data, which would be of interest to an organisation’s commercial rivals or to enforcement bodies. You will need to make arrangements to ensure that information collected is essential for your purposes, that it will be stored securely and destroyed when it is no longer needed, and that your dissertation and any other outputs do not breach confidence in any way.

Although much has been written about research ethics, three key requirements can be identified:

1. Participants must agree to take part in full knowledge of what is involved;
2. The researcher must actively prevent the participants being harmed in any way by the research;
3. The benefits of the knowledge generated must be sufficient to outweigh any inconvenience to the subjects.
If your research would involve subjecting your subjects to stress, pain, discomfort or risks to their health, then in principle we would need to go through a procedure to ensure that the benefits of your research would be sufficient to justify this, and we would need to be absolutely sure that they would be giving their informed consent to this. In practice, though, you would just be told to find another project that did not involve any of these issues. This section will contain an overview of these issues but a detailed ethical submission will be submitted at the same time as your protocol and is discussed later.

9. Risk

This section will identify the main risks to your personal health and safety and that of others – participants, collaborators or University staff – as a result of the work you are proposing. Occasionally, consideration of these issues raises an insurmountable problem and a different project must be chosen. More often, a small number of risks are identified along with ways of managing these risks.

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