You have the option of doing a dissertation by research or a professional project in which you critically appraise the literature relevant to a particular area of practice.
Dissertation by Research: This will be a hypothesis driven research project that entails small-scale empirical research involving quantitative or qualitative research methods to produce new knowledge. Research involving human participants requires the appropriate University governance.
Dissertation by Professional Project: This can take a variety of forms, including:
- Audit: a process that seeks to improve the quality and outcomes of a service through reviewing the delivery of a service against explicit criteria in a systematic fashion. Where indicated, changes are implemented at an individual, team or service level and further monitoring is used to confirm improvements.
- Service Evaluation: evaluates the effectiveness or efficiency of an existing or new service/practice that is evidence based, with the intention of generating information to inform local decision-making. This type of activity is sometimes referred to as a clinical effectiveness study, baseline audit, activity analysis, organisational audit and benchmarking.
- Needs Assessment: a systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or "gaps" between current conditions and desired conditions or "wants". The discrepancy between the current condition and wanted condition must be measured to appropriately identify the need. The need can be a desire to improve current performance or to correct a deficiency.
- Systematic Review: a literature review focused on a research question that tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesize all high quality research evidence relevant to that question.
Differences between research, audit and evaluation:
- Research: Generates new knowledge where there is no or limited research evidence available and which has the potential to be generalisable or transferable.
- Audit: Measures existing practice against evidence-based standards.
- Evaluation: Evaluates the effectiveness or efficiency of an existing or new process that is evidence based, with the intention of generating information to inform local decision making.