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African Studies Training

Aims & Objectives of Your Dissertation Research

What are you intending to achieve with your research?
  • Have you established your aim(s)? Most research projects only have one aim, but it is possible to have more than one... 
  • Are you confident that your aim(s) are achievable? 
  • Might your aim(s) be affected by the current pandemic? 
  • Will this in turn impact your objectives?
What are your objectives?
  • Your objectives are further questions/statements that will help you identify: tasks; tools to aid you (software etc.); a set of deliverables; your methodology; and ultimately achieve the aim(s) of your research project.  
  • Objectives should be realistic in terms of time, participants, access to resources etc.
  • Objectives should provide a rough guideline to how you will proceed with your research.
  • Try numbering your objectives to make sure they are clear and distinct.
  • Useful terms: identify; describe; explain; observe; analyse; recommend; investigate; assess...

Take some time to identify your aim(s) and objectives, and over the coming weeks use these to refer back to when performing your research.  This will ensure that you remain focused and true to your research question as you are writing.

For more advice have a look at this chapter:

Thomas, David & Hodges, Ian. (2010). Chapter 3 from Designing and managing your research project: Core skills for social and health research. 

Resources to Help You Plan Your Research

SAGE Research Methods Project Planner - This tool is designed to guide you through your research project, providing you with prompts and a virtual timeline of the stages of your research.

There are videos, checklists, and articles to help you successfully plan your research project.  Take a look!

                                      SAGE Project Planner


Books on Research Methods & Methodologies

Indigenous research methodologies book cover

Indigenous research methodologies / Bagele Chilisa. - Available in print at: African Studies, Wolfson College or on Electronic Legal Deposit terminals (you can now book a session at the UL, or order a chapter via Scan & Deliver)

Chapter 1 • Situating Knowledge Systems

Chapter 2 • Research Paradigms

Chapter 3 • Discovery and Recovery: Reading and Conducting Research Responsibly

Chapter 4 • Whose Reality Counts? Research Methods in Question

Chapter 5 • Postcolonial Indigenous Research Paradigms

Chapter 6 • Decolonizing Evaluation

Chapter 7 • Decolonizing Mixed Methods Research

Chapter 8 • Indigenous Mixed Methods in Program Evaluation

Chapter 9 • Theorizing on Social Science Research Methods: Indigenous Perspectives

Chapter 10 • Culturally Responsive Indigenous Research Methodologies

Chapter 11 • Decolonizing the Interview Method

Chapter 12 • Participatory Research Methods

Chapter 13 • Postcolonial Indigenous Feminist Research Methodologies

Chapter 14 • Building Partnerships and Integrating Knowledge Systems

Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods book cover

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods / Lisa M. Given (ed.) - Available as an eBook.

"Defines and explains core concepts, describes the techniques involved in the implementation of qualitative methods, and presents an overview of qualitative approaches to research." 

"Includes contributors from various countries and disciplines that reflect a diverse spectrum of research approaches from more traditional, positivist approaches, through postmodern, constructionist ones." 

Key Themes

  • Approaches and Methodologies;
  • Arts-Based Research
  • Computer Software;
  • Data Analysis;
  • Data Collection;
  • Data Types and Characteristics;
  • Dissemination;
  • History of Qualitative Research;
  • Participants;
  • Quantitative Research;
  • Research Ethics;
  • Rigour;
  • Textual Analysis;
  • Theoretical and Philosophical Frameworks

Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences book cover

Creative research methods in the social sciences a practical guide / Helen Kara. - available as an eBook.

Print copies available at : the UL; Clare College; Judge Business School; Criminology Library.

This book re-conceptualises creative research methods into four key areas:

1 . arts-based research

2 . research using technology

3 . mixed-methods research

4 . transformative research frameworks (such as participatory, feminist and decolonising methodologies).

Addresses research techniques including:

  • interviews; 
  • ethical research; 
  • data collection;
  • data analysis;
  • and includes chapters on writing for research.

Beyond the master's tools? : decolonizing knowledge orders, research methods and teaching / edited by Daniel Bendix, Franziska Müller, Aram Ziai. - Available on Electronic Legal Deposit terminals.

Part I: Decolonizing Global Knowledge Orders 

Part II: Decolonizing Research Methodology 

Part III: Decolonizing Academia 

Lots of case studies and discussion!

Sources and methods in African history

Sources and methods in African history : spoken, written, unearthed / edited by Toyin Falola and Christian Jennings. - Available as an eBook.

"This book is both a snapshot of current academic practice and an attempt to sort through some of the problems scholars face within this unfolding web of sources and methods. The book is divided into five sections, each of which begins with a short introduction by a distinguished Africanist scholar."

Part I - Archaeological Sources

Part II - Africa and the Atlantic World

Part III - Documentary Sources

Part IV - Oral Tradition

Part V - Innovative Sources and Methods

Reflexive ethnography: a guide to researching selves and others book cover

Reflexive ethnography a guide to researching selves and others / Charlotte Aull Davies. Available as an eBook.

Also available in print at: Christ's; Sidney Sussex; Haddon Library; the UL; Education Library; Seeley Historical Library.

  • Reflexivity and ethnographic research
  • Selecting topics and methods
  • Ethics and politics
  • Observing, participating
  • Interviewing
  • Using visual methods
  • Internet ethnography
  • Structuring research : surveys, networks, discourse analysis
  • Expanding the ethnographic present : documents, life history, narrative, longitudinal studies
  • Researching selves : the uses of autobiography
  • Formalizing analysis
  • Writing up, concluding

SAGE Research Methods Online

SAGE Research Methods and SAGE Research Foundations are great resources for exploring and identifying methods and methodologies.  Click through some of the links below to find tools to help you.

                                                      SAGE Methods Map image

The green circle in the middle shows the term being viewed. The definition of each term is shown at the top, along with a link to view content on that subject. To the left of the method are broader terms and to the right are narrower terms.

Clicking on a term makes that term the central method, displaying it in the green circle. Related terms that are not broader or narrower are shown below. Clicking on the broader, narrower or related term circles expands them to show all those methods.

The history of what terms you have recently viewed can be found at the bottom of the page.

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