Dumb question for those who have done a thesis(5 Posts)
Do I include my pilot study as a separate chapter or within one of the others - if so which. And where would you put the chapter if it is separate?
It depends on a few things (doesn't it always!) but generally I tend to place the pilot study in the Methods section. This is because its an essential part of testing out the experimental/research design and it shows that you have preempted and dealt with issues to achieve the 'perfect' design for your research. When I leave it in the methods section I do not go in detail through the analysis of the data but spend more time describing what I learned about the design (did I find I needed to change something about the experiment environment, instructions to participants, items in the questionnaires etc). In a report I'm currently writing I've chosen to have a very short (literally two paragraphs) describing the main changes I made to experiment design based on the pilot study and then have a more detailed description in an appendix.
However, if you are doing a large thesis where the pilot study itself have quite a lot of data to discuss leaving it as a chapter in its own right make sense. As an example for my PhD thesis I've decided to keep my pilot study as a stand alone chapter because its a series of 7 studies which preceed a series of 60 studies. Basically, if my experimental design is flawed my whole thesis should be canned (eeeek). So the pilot study is key to my work in the sense that it tests the design (surveys, experimental tasks and equiptment as well as my ability to analyse the data in a sensible way which goes some way to answer my research questions). The pilot study also sets out my main hypothesis/research questions so in this way its key and is given a fair bit of space in the thesis.
You'll know yourself if its really key to your overall research 'story' and therefore where it would make sense to put it.
Have fun with it
Ask your supervisor. There isn't a wholly generalisable answer to this, it could vary from discipline to discipline and institution to institution. It's your supervisor's job to answer a fundamental question like this (it should really have been covered in your research training, in fact).
Thank you Snuppeline , it's 'only' a MEd so it's not wholly pivotal but I did fine tune my methods the back of it so I'll include it in my methods as a couple of paragraphs - (what I wanted to hear - I have written 8500 words already and haven't got to findings and discussion yet.)
I'm not having as much fun as I might because I'm trying to keep the DCs from interrupting my train of though at the moment, I am enjoying it when I get the chance. I am in awe of your academic activity - its taken me 6 years to get to this stage in my Masters - what are you doing it in ?
campergirls You're right I could , and I will run it by her, but it's Sunday and I wanted an answer while I'm working my way through things today.
MN is sooooooooooooooo great! Thank you
OK so another question now *Snuppeline *-
I've done that bit and I'm now up to 10000 approx.
I have between 12 -15 000 words in total.
That would make the breakdown -
1/3 litr review
1/3 res methods
1/3 findings and discussion
Would you say that was a good balance or is it over heavy on the research methods?
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