In praise of dissertations

At this time of year, when our #citylis Masters students are just embarking on their dissertation projects at City University London, it seems apposite to reflect on what an interesting set of dissertations our students do each year, and what a contribution this aspect of the course makes to the professional knowledge base. While this kind of research is sometimes looked down on as “just a dissertation”, the better ones can be valuable resources; as recognised, for example, by the Dissertations into practice section of Health Libraries and Information Journal. This, of course, is in addition to its benefits for the students’ own learning, development as professionals, and – on occasion – job opportunities.
keep calm and finish jpeg
Our students can choose any topic for their dissertation, providing only that it is ‘do-able’ and has some relation to library and information science. They cover the spectrum for academic and theoretical to practical and vocational, from solitary study to action research in a workplace, and from library-based conceptual analysis to extensive empirical data gathering.

To give a flavour, here are some examples of the roughly forty dissertation being undertaken at #citylis this summer:
• information behaviour of amateur athletes
• information architecture of UK university library websites
• the future of the printed book
• how the predictions of Paul Otlet, H.G. Wells and Vannevar Bush shaped the information age
• opportunities for immersive resources in education
• information literacy and lawyers
• evaluating the National Army Museum’s digitization project
• copyright practices in UK business schools
• volunteers in public libraries
• documentation of live performance
• myth in videogame design
• cloud computing in university libraries
• developing a file structure for information management in an investment bank.

We are particularly pleased at the number of our dissertations which are subsequently published as journal articles. Some examples of these over the past few years are:
quantum concepts in information science, from a dissertation by Tia Siddiqui
information behaviour of record collectors, from a dissertation by Paul Margree
radio as an information source in 1920s America, from a dissertation by Chris Crawford-Franklin
health information seeking, from a dissertation by Abir Mukherjee
events and programming in London public libraries, from a dissertation by Meredith Ship
the future of history in a digital age, from a dissertation by Lena Rowland
bibliographical control in music, from a dissertation by Monica Pietras
physical and virtual spaces in university libraries, from a dissertation by Colin Beard
information-related behaviour of emerging artists, from a dissertation by Helen Mason
the relevance of the rhizome philosophy of Deleuze and Guatarri to information organization, from a dissertation by Mike McGuire

So, and it’s a small thing, but maybe we could agree not to say “just a dissertation” in future.

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