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CSU’s guidelines indicate that Honours dissertations (traditional or portfolio) should be no longer than 7,000 words. It is important to remember that good writing is succinct – consistently relevant and economical with words. The publishable research article component of the School of Community Health portfolio-style dissertation should be publishable in a peer-reviewed journal. A particular journal must be selected and identified, and this choice defended, in an early section of your dissertation (see guidelines in the table, below). Your research article, the main component of your portfolio dissertation, must meet the word limit requirements of that selected journal.
Research projects require approval from a University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Research proposals deemed to be ‘low risk’ must be submitted to CSU’s Faculty of Science HREC, whereas those studies with more complex ethical issues are considered by the University HREC. In addition to these ethical committees, it may be necessary for you to submit an application to an external ethics committee;
for example, at a local hospital or government department, if your planned research is dependent on participants from outside the university. The university ethics application form (which is the National Ethics Application Form or NEAF) can be found at http://www.csu.edu.au/research/ethics_safety along with the submission deadlines and meeting dates for the Faculty and University HRECs.
The ethics application requires information similar to your research proposal. You will normally undertake the preparation of your research proposal and ethics application, during the latter part of HLT333 in Session Two of 3rd year. HRECs usually meet on a monthly basis (excluding January). Starting early and working closely with your supervisors in the preparation of your ethics application (NEAF), will reduce the risk of significant delays owing to required amendments and resubmission. Ethics approval is mandatory prior to commencing data collection.
Preparing and presenting the dissertation
Preparing any Honours dissertation (in a traditional or portfolio format) can be a daunting task, and the examiners will use strict criteria when marking your dissertation.
Thus it is important for you to present a dissertation that reports a piece of original, rigorous research that is clearly written and presented in a clear, logical format. Pay close and frequent attention to the assessment criteria presented in Appendix C as you draft and refine your dissertation.
For general guides to writing essays and dissertations, you should refer to various CSU publications and other publications available from the library. The University’s learning skills advisers can provide several other guides on an array of subjects relating to research, study, and writing, and can provide individual assistance and advice when requested. The school has adopted the American Psychological Association (APA) standard referencing style, which is widely used in health science journals. Information regarding the APA referencing style can be found in the APA manual or at http://student.csu.edu.au/study/referencing-at-csu. However, your selected journal may require use of a referencing system other than APA style. Information on this style may be found at http://student.csu.edu.au/study/referencing-at-csu. Alternatively, seek instructions from the journal’s website and/or editor.
Style The writing style in an Honours dissertation should be simple and direct and should be appropriate for your discipline and research paradigm. Students are sometimes advised that a dissertation should be written in the past tense and the third person.
However, other styles are permissible. For example, the present tense is appropriate in some parts of the discussion section of a quantitative research report, and the first person is likely to be appropriate in parts of some qualitative research reports.
Checking your selected journal author guidelines, and working closely with your supervisors from the start, will avoid any potential disagreement about writing styles and general presentation.
Note, in particular, that there are various styles in qualitative research, so you should use a style of writing that will be both professionally acceptable - equivalent to that in peer reviewed journals - and reflect the nature of the work undertaken; e.g., case-study reflection.
All work should be edited to a high standard before submission for examination.
Paper size Dissertations are to be typed on International Standard Organisation (ISO) A4 size white bond paper. If diagrams, maps, tables, and similar presentations do not fit readily on this sheet size, ISO B4 size may be used. B4 size pages are to be folded and bound so as to open out at the top and the right.
Typing and format You are responsible for all expenses associated with typing, printing, and binding of your dissertation. School secretaries cannot do any typing for research students.
Typing may be on either one or both sides of each sheet (with some qualifications outlined in the Contents section below) and you should consult your supervisors concerning which is the more appropriate choice.
The following minimal margins are to be observed:
left, or right gutter if double sided: 4 cm top and bottom 2 cm right, or flip side if double sided: 2 cm Unless otherwise specified by your selected journal, typing is to be spaced at either 1.5 or double with the exception that quotations, footnotes, and the reference list can be single spaced (CSU Academic Regulation H: 4.2). Recommended font sizes are 11 (Arial) or 12 (Times Roman) for most text, but may be smaller if necessary in order to fit tables, figures, etc. onto the space available. Be guided primarily by your selected journal’s guidelines to authors (a copy of these must be included in Appendix A of your dissertation).
Non-print material (e.g. sound or video recording, computer software, photographs, etc.) that relate to a dissertation should not normally account for more than ten percent of the content of material submitted for examination. If you wish to submit substantially more non-print material, specific approval is required from the sub-dean who deals with research in the faculty. Non-print material accompanying a dissertation must be appropriately packaged within the binding of the dissertation, or in a separate container. Students should seek advice from their supervisor in all such cases.
The School of Community Health ‘Portfolio’ Dissertation Structure The information in the following table described mandatory contents of a portfolio-style dissertation in the School of Community Health.
Table of All major sections, sub-sections, and appendices are listed here, with Contents their initial page numbers.
Certificate of The dissertation must include a statement by the student certifying the authorship original authorship of the dissertation and how the dissertation may be and used (find a model in Appendix A of this handbook).
agreement concerning use of the dissertation Acknowledg- Where appropriate, brief acknowledgments of assistance and advice ments received should be included. These acknowledgments should recognise any people who have provided guidance and support in any way - including research supervisors and research participants - as well as any sources of assistance for equipment, funds, scholarships etc. Be specific about the intellectual contributions of others, particularly your supervisors.
Statement A statement should be made concerning all ethics approvals that were regarding granted for the research (find a model in Appendix A of this handbook).
approval(s) Up to this point pages should be numbered using lower case Roman numerals.
Subsequent pages should use Arabic numbers. If pages are printed double-sided, all pages that start a new section should be right-facing. If pages are printed double sided, all right-facing pages should be identified with odd numbers and all left-facing pages should have even numbers. All sections listed below should start on a new page.
The abstract should not exceed 250 words, unless otherwise specified in the selected journal. Normally an abstract indicates the general questions, aims, or hypotheses of the research, briefly describes the overall design, and lists the main results and/or
conclusions of the work.
Journal What scholarly journal did you select as the most appropriate identification medium for the dissemination of your research? What factors led to and rationale this decision? Refer to both the aim and scope of your research and the selected journal’s aims and scope. Note: A copy of the full author guidelines of the selected journal must be submitted as Appendix A.
Drafts of the dissertation You are strongly encouraged to prepare drafts for parts of the dissertation (particularly the literature review, methods, results, references, and acknowledgments) as your research proceeds. However, much of the writing will necessarily occur toward the end of the course. Early in session two of 4th year, you should provide your supervisors with a proposed structure for your dissertation, including the sub-sections of your publishable research article. A table with brief explanations of what each section and sub-section will contain is recommedned. This will give your supervisors the opportunity to advise you about the overall structure and content of the dissertation, and will enable you to prepare a timetable to follow during the dissertation writing.
You should then present your supervisor(s) with drafts of sections of the dissertation as you write them. Supervisors will return these drafts to you as soon as possible and will offer suggestions, criticisms, and advice, as appropriate. Regular review of drafts by supervisors will ensure that your dissertation is progressing as planned. Note that you should not expect your supervisor to provide written comment on the same section more than three times. Presenting a supervisor with a draft of the complete dissertation close to submission date, with little prior collaboration, is not acceptable.
In case of loss, you should retain a copy of each draft. It is suggested that each draft be labelled in the header or footer with something like Draft V1, V2, V3… to avoid confusion.
You should submit what you regard as the penultimate draft of the complete dissertation to your supervisor(s) for comment well before the final date of submission to allow sufficient time for feedback, editing, printing and binding.
Due date for submission The due date for submission of the dissertation is indicated in the HLT441 subject outline. It is likely to be 3 weeks prior to the last day of teaching for the year. This allows for the dissertation to be examined by two markers, usually one internal to Charles Sturt University and one external to the university, in time for graduation and professional registration.
TECHNICAL INFORMATIONExtensions and late submissions
Extensions to submission will be considered only under exceptional circumstances in line with University policy, following discussion with your supervisor(s) and discipline leader. The granting of extensions for final dissertations is assessed by the School Honours Coordinator.
A Grade Pending can only be awarded to Honours students who have been hindered in completing the requirements of their program by a substantial and unforeseen circumstance. The time of extension will be equivalent to the time lost by the student concerned, and will be set by the School Honours Coordinator in consultation with the supervisors and discipline head. Students must apply in writing for an extension using the normal Special Consideration form and process, as outlined in the relevant Subject Outline.
Unauthorised late submissions of work required to complete the requirements of an Honours program will incur a penalty of 5% per day or part thereof.
Submission of copies for examination Although you are enrolled in the research dissertation subject (HLT441) for two sessions (i.e., all of 4th year), no grade will be awarded until the dissertation is submitted and examined. All three copies of the dissertation must include the required statements / certificates among the initial pages, and signed where necessary.
Two of the three dissertations should be accompanied by a statement from your principal supervisor indicating the dissertation’s readiness for examination (see Appendix B). You should complete part of it before giving it to your principal supervisor for subsequent return, so that it can be submitted with the dissertation copies.
You are required to submit three copies of your dissertation to the School Honours Coordinator or the Honours Coordinator by the date specified in the HLT441 subject outline. These copies should be spiral bound - either plastic or metal - with a front acetate cover and card cover at the back. Two of these copies go to the examiners for marking. The third copy is kept in case of loss during postage, or if the need for a third examiner/arbitration arises. At the time you submit these three copies of your dissertation for examination, you must also submit one electronic copy to your supervisors and to Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do not fail to submit ALL required sections and appendices. If any part is missing, you will be notified by email and a late penalty of 5% per day will be imposed until you collect back your work, add the missing sections, and resubmit the three copies in the correct format.
Assessment of the dissertation The assessment of Honours dissertations will be in each case by two examiners.
The candidate’s supervisor or associate supervisors cannot be an examiner. At least one examiner must be external to the University or at least independent of the student’s work.
Examiners will be selected on the grounds of their academic and research expertise in the area of the dissertation.
Examiners will be appointed by the School Honours coordinator on the advice of the student’s principal supervisor.