Spencer Roberts / Dissertation Introduction

March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

In the last 4 weeks of the semester we’ll be concentrating on dissertation stuff, dissertation proposal exercise

Submitting a 500 word dissertation proposal

Today we’re getting a general idea of how a dissertation works, topics, how to approach and get started, and also to start looking at the general context of design research.


The theory side of the course this year, philosophical / sociocultural / physiological / business, allows me to look in a more rich way into a topic of my choosing; connecting the work of artists/designers/practitioners, referencing them as a sort of case study approach (almost as evidence).

Contextual studies, contextualizing my ideas throughout the dissertation.

The structure of a dissertation varies greatly, we can combine the frameworks we’ve been using, or solely use one: data gathering exercises etc. but this all comes down to the question I set myself, a personally driven goal, that greatly interests me.


Word count for dissertation is 6000 words, with a likelihood of it increasing to 7000 next year.


How the dissertation fits into next year’s study:

three things in final year, which I want to try and align with one another as much as possible

1. Dissertation

2. Technical study – Detailed investigation of a process/technique

3. Major Project – addresses the thematics of the dissertation through the process/technique/technology of the technical study

These should all have aspects of one another, forming one another and relating.

(1) – The dissertation is the general conceptual research element, the stuff relating to the perspective I’ll have (from the lecture program), theoretically bulking things out, also doing empirical research, and maybe doing some interpretation work where by I’d read lots of previous texts; all subject to the topic I choose.

(2) – Focuses on a particular process / technology / some technical aspect of graphics / animation. If there’s something I like, such as a printing technique, some sort of style etc. (innovative techniques. One of the things I can do is look at contemporary methods of old techniques) something fresh/new, possibly traditional with a contemporary twist, relating to the traditional aspect of it. Looking at a small aspect of a practice, but in detail.

(3)- major project will (hopefully/look at) embody the technical study and the dissertation. Thematically it will hopefully deal with the issues I talk about in my dissertation, in the project playfully engaging in the context I’ve set. This will gain a very strong submission, as it is very coherent, focused, and detailed, with myself becoming an expert somewhat in that particular area.

All of these things are about focus, about getting the scope of something right, not talking about the whole of anything, but rather talking about the small aspect of the thing I’ve identified, then the combination of the three related aspects that I’ll have a strong body of work.

– All of this is really self-driven; I’m exploring my own set of interests, where tutors simply sign off the work (making sure it’s ok to go through)

– Start thinking about topics I could explore

A lot of this stuff ^^ is about the form of my work, being proficient about what I’m examining.
Supervisors will be there to guide me through the process, it’s important to bring a lot to it, ask questions, make sure it’s all good. I’m developing an expertise that I’ll know the most about, the supervisors will only respond to the stuff I bring (material, theory, references etc.). I want this to be my study, and not someone else’s, this means independence. As a result, I need to a lot; otherwise I’ll have nothing to show with my supervisor.


”Is it written like a personal essay, or a report?”

It’s both: it’s a report that takes a position, but also an essay. I need to ground my study in a lot of report based subjective stuff, while contextualising what I do, what’s been done previously, what are the key writings and practices; this is all very report based. However it’s only the first couple of chapters of the dissertation that will talk about this, what I want to do then is use that as a basis to say something fresh, these are the foundations I’ve laid that will be useful for me to talk about and reference for my own work, working with the material, combining stuff, such as combining two different things and then talking about what happens when you do. In one sense I want to be creatively handling the materials, and on the other I’ll be interpreting things, which is where it gets more personal, creating an interpretation based on the materials I’ve gathered.

The golden goal for this is that I’m making a contribution to knowledge and an expertise, it has it’s own style and position. Looking academically rigorous, but being unique, not sounding like anything else, taking it’s own position. This is backed up all they way, justifying it throughout, referencing other practitioners, notifying when I mention something that’s similar or in line with what someone else has said, but maybe reflecting them in some way, with my own take.


The initial gathering of stuff is quite easy now with the internet, the harder part comes 2/3s of the way in when I begin working with material.




Techniques for quickly gathering information and data:
there are loads of online sources that takes care of referencing and sourcing

– For APA6, the above thing can accommodate 95% of my referencing

What are the main sources and references in papers I’m reading, so I can use them also.

– Search on Google scholar, this uses citation counts that link to other similar papers, which I can use also.



Animation example titles:

–       Disney’s women : changes in depictions of femininity in Walt Disney’s animated feature films

–       Transdisciplinarity and the expanded comic form

–       Beautiful things in the world: a semiotic analysis on Disney and Japanese 2D feature-length animation through creative practice

–       Doubling the duality : a theoretical investigation into materiality and embodiment of meaning in the integration of live action and animation

–       Walt Disney and Europe : European influence on the animated feature films of Walt Disney

–       The place of animation within Film and Media Studies : a theoretical and pedagogic approach

–       CGI – The maker of breaker of films in the 21st Century

Graphic Design example titles:

–       Graphic design as urban design : analysing graphic objects in urban environments

–       Rebranding vs Reimaging

–       30 years of agitprop : the representation of ‘extreme’ politics in punk and post-punk music graphics in the united kingdom from 1978 to 2008

–       An investigation of the representation of smoking throughout history

–       Desire for the handmade : An investigation into the resurgence of printing methods

–       The Sublime and the Subliminal in advertising

All generally slight modifications of each other. They are all very specific, mine won’t be this specific in the beginning, I’m trying to simply gain a general area of where I’ll be heading.

Picking up on key words and terms in my title to flesh out my dissertation, the title sets it all up, basically a short introduction.

You’d probably only write the title at the end, since it’s so specific, right now I’m just getting a general understanding.

Reactivating something that’s old, but now there’s modern versions, a way for it to flourish


> Initially Google around for dissertation topics to see what people are talking about

Make sure I know my interests; it may be helpful to ask friends and family what my interests are, since I may struggle myself. Others can give a good push in the right direction.


> Google Scholar focuses on academic research, referencing periodicals and books mainly, as well s the Internet “Cited by #” is what I’m looking at, high citation counts give me the best relation and help to my topic, gaining books, people, themes, things that other people are referencing also.


> ethos.bl.uk (electronic theses online service)

gain invaluable resources, themes, titles etc. gaining an overview of a topic and material.


> citationmachine.net

has a nice system for referencing, just need to fill out some data, then it generates the reference for me – gives  a bibliographic reference and also a text citation. This is quick and easy, making a tedious task automate.


Be careful with plagiarism ^^needs to be cited^^

Paraphrasing should be done rather than huge blocks of text. If something I say references someone, ensure that I credit them.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Spencer Roberts / Dissertation Introduction at Leo Patterson.


%d bloggers like this: