Being a student offers so much promise of excitement. However, it also means that while you are having all these new experiences, you also have to write numerous essays and a dissertation that may include things like the dreaded dissertation rationale. Actually, writing a rationale is really not that awful if you follow some easy steps.
First of all, it is important to stress that each university has their own specific requirements for dissertations. On top of this, each department has its own specific requirements too. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough that your first task is to find out exactly what the requirements are for your own particular dissertation. For instance, some universities request that the dissertation rationale is with the Introduction and some prefer it to be part of the main text.
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The meaning of rationale is basically a statement of reasons, so how does this fit into a dissertation, you be asking. Well, let’s remember that your dissertation is all about you doing a piece of original research, a rationale at its most basic form is why you are doing it. However, for your dissertation rationale to make sense, it has to be explored further. In essence, you need to explain:
That is all a rationale is. The first two steps may have already been stated earlier in your introduction. If that is the case, briefly state them so that the whole rationale flows and makes sense but don’t elaborate. Hopefully, now it may be clear what a rationale is. However, if that hasn’t helped you, don’t worry, because we are going to investigate one step at a time.
First of all, let’s look at the problem that you are going to solve. Let’s imagine that you are interested in how often recidivists reoffend and why. This is a huge topic and far too big for a dissertation to cover because of time, financial and word count restraints. In that case, you may have decided that the cuts in Social Services have had an impact on recidivists reoffending. Therefore, your research question could be, for instance, “Austerity cuts to Social Services have made it more difficult for recidivists to stay out of prison.” As mentioned earlier, if you have already gone into detail about this, you simply need to clarify it briefly in your rationale.
In this part of your rationale, you will need to discuss the recent theories and thoughts surrounding your research problem. It is important not to go into everything that is suggested. In other words, you need to keep it brief, yet informative. Also, as well as making sure that you don’t reiterate every argument about recidivism, you should also make sure that you don’t bring in other areas that are having similar social problems. For instance, if you are unduly hot under the collar over the cuts to social services all round because of your political beliefs, make sure that you don’t bring in how its causing children in care to suffer too. Keep to your topic.
This is where the true part of your rationale begins. As mentioned earlier, rationale is all about reasons why you are doing something. This part can be problematic and you need to really think it through and do a great deal of reasoning before you write this. If at this point, you are wondering why this is so, it because there is an endless amount of reasons why the problem needs to be solved. If you had the mind to do so, you could write a full book on why the cuts to social services have caused recidivism to rise. For instance:
Those are just three reasons for doing the research and there are many more. At this point, you truly need to be clear what is your reason for doing your research. The reason for this is that the more focussed you are on your research problem, the easier it will be for you to have a structured and logical dissertation.
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