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Writing Built Environment Dissertations and Projects: Practical Guidance and Examples, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-92192-0
368 pages
May 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
Writing Built Environment Dissertations and Projects: Practical Guidance and Examples, 2nd Edition (1118921925) cover image

Description

Writing Built Environment Dissertations and Projects will help you to write a good dissertation or project by giving you a good understanding of what should be included, and showing you how to use data collection and analysis tools in the course of your research.

  • Addresses prominent weaknesses in under-graduate dissertations including weak data collection; superficial analysis and poor reliability and validity
  • Includes many more in-depth examples making it easy to understand and assimilate the concepts presented
  • Issues around study skills and ethics are embedded throughout the book and the many examples encourage you to consider the concepts of reliability and validity
  • Second edition includes a new chapter on laboratory based research projects
  • Supporting website with sample statistical calculations and additional examples from a wider range of built environment subjects 
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Table of Contents

Author biographies ix
Preface x
About the companion website xii

1 Introduction 1
1.1 Introduction 1
1.2 Terminology; nomenclature 2
1.3 Document structure 3
1.4 Possible subject areas for your research 7
1.5 Professional bodies and the non ]technical or technical dissertation or project 8
1.6 Qualitative or quantitative analysis? 10
1.7 The student/supervisor relationship and time management 14
1.8 Ethical compliance and risk assessments 17
1.9 House style or style guide 22
1.10 Writing style 23
1.11 Proofreading 27
1.12 Extra support? 29
1.13 A research proposal 29
1.14 A viva or viva voce 30
Summary 31
References 31

2 The introduction chapter to the dissertation or project 33
2.1 Introduction contents 33
2.2 Articulation or description of the problem and provisional objectives 35
Summary of this chapter 37
References 38

3 Review of theory and the literature 39
3.1 Introduction 39
3.2 Style and contents of a literature review 41
3.3 Judgements or opinions? 43
3.4 Sources of data 44
3.5 Methods of finding the literature 48
3.6 Embedding theory in dissertations and projects 49
3.7 Referencing as evidence of reading 53
3.8 Citing literature sources in the narrative of your work 54
3.9 References or bibliography or both? 58
3.10 Common mistakes by students 59
3.11 Using software to help with references 60
3.12 Avoiding the charge of plagiarism 62
Summary of this chapter 64
References 64

4 Research goals and their measurement 67
4.1 Introduction 68
4.2 Aim 70
4.3 Research questions 71
4.4 Objectives 71
4.5 Variables 74
4.6 A hypothesis with one variable 75
4.7 A hypothesis with two variables: independent and dependent 77
4.8 Writing the hypothesis: nulls and tails – a matter of semantics 81
4.9 ‘Lots’ of variables at large, intervening variables 83
4.10 Ancillary or subject variables 83
4.11 No relationship between the IV and the DV 88
4.12 Designing measurement instruments; use authoritative tools and adapt the work of others 89
4.13 Levels of measurement 93
4.14 Examples of categorical or nominal data in construction 95
4.15 Examples of ordinal data in construction 96
4.16 Examples of interval and ratio data in construction 97
4.17 Types of data 98
4.18 Money and CO2 as variables 102
4.19 Three objectives, each with an IV and DV: four variables to measure 103
4.20 Summarising research goals; variables and their definition 104
Summary of this chapter 105
References 105

5 The Methodology chapter; analysis, results and findings 107
5.1 Introduction 107
5.2 Approaches to collecting data 110
5.3 Data measuring and collection 112
5.4 Issues mostly relevant to just questionnaires 120
5.5 Ranking studies 129
5.6 Other analytical tools 131
5.7 Incorporating reliability and validity 132
5.8 Analysis, results and findings 137
Summary of this chapter 138
References 139

6 Laboratory experiments 140
6.1 Introduction 141
6.2 Test methodology 142
6.3 Sourcing test materials 143
6.4 Reliability and validity of findings 143
6.5 Sample size 145
6.6 Laboratory recording procedures 145
6.7 Dissertation/project writing (introduction, methodology and results) 146
6.8 Health and safety in the laboratory; COSHH and risk assessments 149
6.9 Role of the supervisor 151
6.10 Possible research topics for technical dissertations or projects, construction and civil engineering 153
6.11 Examples of research proposals 153
6.12 Research objectives and sample findings by the author 154
Bibliography 163

7 Qualitative data analysis 165
7.1 Introduction 165
7.2 The process of qualitative data collection 166
7.3 Steps in the analytical process 168
Summary of this chapter 175
References 176

8 Quantitative data analysis; descriptive statistics 177
8.1 Introduction 177
8.2 Examples of the use of descriptive statistical tools 178
8.3 Ancillary variables 186
8.4 Illustration of relevant descriptive statistics in charts 190
8.5 Normal distributions; Z scores 191
8.6 A second variable for descriptive analysis; an IV and a DV 197
Summary of this chapter 201
References 202

9 Quantitative data analysis; inferential statistics 203
9.1 Introduction 204
9.2 Probability values and three key tests: chi ]square, difference in means and correlation 206
9.3 The chi ]square test 210
9.4 Determining whether the dataset is parametric or non ]parametric 220
9.5 Difference in mean tests; the t ]test 223
9.6 Difference in means; the unrelated Mann–Whitney test 225
9.7 Difference in means; the related Wilcoxon t ]test 230
9.8 Difference in means; the parametric related t ]test 232
9.9 Correlations 236
9.10 Using correlation coefficients to measure internal reliability and validity in questionnaires 243
9.11 Which test? 243
9.12 Confidence intervals 247
9.13 Summarising results 250
Summary of this chapter 250
References 250

10 Discussion, conclusions, recommendations and appendices 251
10.1 Introduction 251
10.2 Discussion 252
10.3 Conclusions and recommendations 253
10.4 Appendices 255
10.5 The examiner’s perspective 256
10.6 Summary of the dissertation or project process 258
Summary of this chapter 259
References 259
List of appendices 260

Appendix A: Glossary to demystify research terms 261
Appendix B: Research ethics and health and safety examples 268
Appendix C: An abstract, problem description and literature review 272
Appendix D: Eight research proposals 279
Appendix E: Raw data for a qualitative study 309
Appendix F: Statistical tables 340
Index 350

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Author Information

Peter Farrell is a Reader in Construction Management at the University of Bolton, UK, and programme leader for the university s MSc in Construction Project Management. Fred Sherratt is a Senior Lecturer in Construction Management at Anglia Ruskin University, UK. Alan Richardson is a Reader in Civil Engineering at Northumbria University, UK and programme leader for the BEng in Civil Engineering.
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