Student's Guide to Writing Dissertations and Theses in Tourism Studies and Related Disciplines

February 28, 2013

Author: Tim Coles, David Timothy Duval and Gareth Shaw
Edition: First
Publisher: Routledge
Pages: 246
Price: £85.00 and £24.99
ISBN: 9780415460187, 60194 and 9780203078785 (e-book)

Written by three renowned researchers in the field, this book offers students “a suite of practical advice, guidance and suggestions for the preparation, execution, writing and completion of dissertations in tourism studies (and related disciplines)”. It is intended primarily for undergraduate students, of all nationalities, studying in countries whose higher education systems use Anglo-American models. Although its content is most relevant to those in the social science field, I would gladly recommend it to my physical geography students as it offers sound advice on the fundamental “how to” questions they will encounter, whether they adopt qualitative or quantitative approaches.

Its 15 chapters are structured logically into four sections that track the phases of dissertation preparation, proposal, production and post- production. A brief introductory chapter outlines the academic purpose of a dissertation and highlights the ethos and structure of the book. The preparatory section (chapters 2-5) concerns itself with defining a research problem and establishing study parameters. As it does so, it introduces the nature of the dissertation, topic selection, and early literature-related and methodological considerations. Chapters 6-9 comprise the proposal section, which considers (in an especially useful chapter) the production of an effective research proposal and the development of an efficient programme of work, including health and safety, and ethical considerations. Chapters 10-13 form the heart of the book and relate to dissertation production. These chapters highlight the reciprocal relationship between student and dissertation adviser, and explain issues of data collection, analysis and interpretation, before detailing the structure of the dissertation. Chapters 14 and 15 cover post-production activities of self-review and summative assessment. The authors adopt an informal writing style that addresses the student reader directly, serving to impart confidence, demystify the research process and encourage project ownership from the outset. Each chapter clarifies key guiding principles, offers good and bad examples drawn from the authors’ own experience, and asks questions of students to encourage them to chart their progress and make appropriate decisions throughout their research journey.

This textbook works for me for three important reasons. First, it underlines that a dissertation is composed of common components that can be managed discretely and successfully, but which are linked by a clear and robust set of aims and objectives.

Second, there is continual emphasis on and support for students’ self- assessment and improvement of their work.

Finally, it communicates all the salient messages I tend to find myself repeating to my students. These include the importance of having aims and objectives firmly established before commencing empirical work, that skimping on your dissertation proposal is a false economy, and that results do not speak for themselves. In short, I have no doubt that this book will become a key reference manual for dissertation preparation.

Who is it for?
Undergraduate students undertaking their first substantial piece of independent research, but it is also relevant as a refresher text for master’s-level and perhaps even doctoral-level students.

Presentation:
The accessible and engaging chapters open with a box of intended learning outcomes and end with chapter summaries and progress checklists. Figures are used selectively to offer simple and effective visual aids.

Would you recommend it?
I highly recommend this text…and I am a physical geographer. It should be read by every dissertation student and adviser.

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