Dissertation Planning Tips

As students we all use the library.

Like most I like to think that being half way through my second year, I’m pretty confident in finding the what I need.

Last week however out tutor arranged a specialist session with Chris out librarian. I went asking myself “is this really needed?”

The simple answer is yes! He explained that research is not just about knowing where to look for information, its about the way you think about  what you look for.

Lateral thinking is key, along with organising what you find.

After the class session I booked for a one and one meeting. I came out not only feeling positive about going forward, but excited.

Here are some tips on starting the planning and organisation process.

One Note: I love one note! It’s a one spot shop for keeping notes on everything

one note image

It allows you to keep your research organised. You can easily copy links of articles that interest you or quickly note a thought.

Apps are available for all devices and online which sync up so no matter where you are, you can access what you need.


Key Words

Make a note of key words to search for.

This list should expand as your research grows.

If there are words which keep coming up make a note of it.


When using e-resources in the Uni library there will be the official Harvard citation available.

If you find something of interest dont just note the article note the citation as well. It will save time later

Keep an open mind

At this early stage don’t dismiss anything. We are told time and time again that our initial idea and final piece of work will probably be quite different.

Think Laterally 

The key will be to think laterally not literally. In reality there may not be exactly what you need, so break it down into sections then try and join the dots. It will also help with analysis.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

After seeing how much time my other half has given  to his research, and speaking to my tutors start the research as soon as you can. There’s not way it can be done with only weeks to spare.


Its Time To Think Dissertation

As a student in the second year of my degree one of the scariest pieces of work we were told about at the start of the year was our dissertation statement of intent.

The word ‘dissertation’ is enough to scare the daylights out of most people and quite rightly so, its the single biggest piece of work that any of us will do.

When I started thinking about it, it was a pure rabbit in the headlights moment.

The first thing I did was go online and using everyone’s best friend Google I entered in Journalism Dissertation Topics. A list of sites appeared and feeling quite optimistic I began looking through the list.

The first that came up was Dissertation Monster  it offered a list of 20 varied suggestions which include:

  • Will journalism a largely freelance industry in the near future
  • What is the future of newspapers
  • Is the nightly news relevant
  • Is the internet more important in terms of mass communication that the invention of the printing press

Though all the questions listed have importance and relevance, non really shouted at me. One thing which stuck in my head was that it needs to be something that interests me enough to keep me ploughing through the hours of research that will be needed to do a decent job.

The answer for me actually came on the back of another piece of work.

We had been set a research assignment which was to be hand after the Christmas holidays.

We were given a list of seven questions, told to pick on and answer it.

The questions covered things like:

  • freedom of information requests,
  • the relationship between the press and emergency services,
  • or do we really have a free press
  • English and Welsh Court systems.

The decision was easy,. Court reporting has always interested me . There was lots to learn between the two court systems. Criminal Court is quite easy to understand but Civil Court, that’s a beast on its own.

I realised this was a subject which I not only found fascinating, but I enjoyed spending the time doing the research.

After a few tweaks I’ve finally come up with a working title:

The Decline of Court Reporting in England and Wales: ‘Justice Must Be Seen To Be Done’ But is it? and if not why?

Let the research begin.




Dissertation Ideas

One of our major pieces of work this year is preparing our dissertation proposal.

Essential this is an outline of the content of our dissertation which will be written next year.

The hardest this is thing is to chose a subject that has a reasonable level of academic research, but, that hasn’t been bled to death with people re-writing the same thing.

This is the beginning of my planning.

Dissertation Mind Map

Industry Reflection – Fake News

Social media and search engines are the biggest platforms for the distribution of fake news. How can Facebook and Google crack down on the problem and should the technology giants have the responsibility to exert editorial control over the news they deliver to billions of people?

Fake News is defined as news which is: False, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.

Fake News is not something new, it has been around for centuries, and is most commonly in the form of propaganda.

This when the information given out with a particular agenda, an example of this would be during election campaigns each of the political parties as a way of pushing their beliefs and policies.

Traditionally media is regulate to a degree. Printed press is gen Broadcast media has to  be impartial giving equal time and attention to all the main parties.

Over past decade or so social media has been a double edged sward for news networks.

Anyone can create a Social Media account and realistically post pretty much what ever they want.

it can give immediate access to unfolding events, and prove vital to seeing what is happening, the negative is verifying that the footage, text and images are genuine.

An article in published on the Telegraph website on 14 Nov 2017 .  James Titcomb and James Carson said:

‘Facebook and Twitter allowed people to exchange information on a much greater scale than ever before, while publishing platforms like WordPress allowed anyone to create a dynamic website with ease. In short, the barriers to creating fake news have been undone.’


During the presidential election ordinary people were unknowingly sharing ‘Fake News’ as a result trusted titles such and CNN and the New York Times were being accused of distributing it.

Facebook is trying combat use of their platform to spread Fake News.

This video was taken from and article on Forbes 

The piece explains how notifications will be attached to posts which have been disputed by 3rd parties, this will allow you to choose whether to continue with the post or not.

The is an argument that a foundation of a democratic society is freedom of speech. Fake News published an article called ‘Facebook, Google, publishers flight fake news with ‘trust indicator”

The article explains how together with 75 other companies have devised a way of identifying the media company and writers credentials . This will be done by placing an ‘i’ next to the articles which will be clickable.

By doing this the choice is that of the reader to believe or not.



CATs Assignment Notes: research sites visited

The Chosen Question is:

Discuss what the English and Welsh court system comprises of and how criminal and civil laws differ


List of sites visited for research















16C.7 Where a member of the public, who is in court, wishes to use live  text‐based  communications  during  court  proceedings  an  application  for  permission  to  activate  and  use,  in  silent  mode,  a  mobile phone, small laptop or similar piece of equipment, solely in  order to make live text‐based communications of  the proceedings will  need  to  be  made.  The  application  may  be  made  formally  or  informally  (for instance by communicating a  request  to  the judge  through court staff).

16C.8 It  is  presumed  that  a  representative  of  the  media  or  a  legal  commentator  using  live  text‐based  communications  from  court  does  not  pose  a  danger  of  interference  to  the  proper  administration of justice in the individual case. This is because the  most  obvious  purpose  of  permitting  the  use  of  live  text‐based  communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate  reports  of  the  proceedings.  As  such,  a  representative  of  the  media  or  a  legal  commentator  who  wishes  to  use  live  text‐ based  communications  from  court may  do  so  without making  an  application to the court.





Rice, G, & Thomas, T 2013, ‘James Bulger — a matter of public interest?’, International Journal Of Children’s Rights, 21, 1, pp. 1-11, SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 January 2018.

From <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=606305b5-b417-48c6-bbb9-0ca40c26a73a%40sessionmgr101>


The press, and media generally, wanted to continue reporting their whereabouts and the activities they were engaged in and cited Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the right to ‘freedom of expression’. This right is further promoted by the UK Human Rights Act 1998 that brings the European Convention into the Jurisdiction of the British courts and section 12 of that Act which requires that UK courts ‘must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression’ and not least when Journalistic material is involved.

Civil division links









Decline in court reporting







CATS Assignment Evaluation

This essay has been quite a challenge, and that’s not a bad thing.

The question:  ‘Discuss what the English and Welsh court system comprises of and how criminal and civil laws differ’ is quite open for interpretation. Obviously it has to be related to journalism, but I really found keeping to the word count hard – I do think it could however be a good dissertation topic.

During our media law sessions with Nicky we covered Criminal Court which was a great help but Civil Court is a beast all on its own. The complexity is so much higher, the different types of cases and the restrictions of what you can do.

I decided to try and use examples within Criminal Court of the what can be achieved. Within the Civil Court sector I tried to highlight what can happen to the press when things go wrong.

Overall I was happy with what I have produced . During the time I have had personal issues to deal with which have been really tough, but this actually helped give me something to focus on.


English and Welsh Court System’s – The Basic’s

The courts are a constant source of content for any reporter.

It is really important to understand not only the differences between Magistrates Court and Crown Court, but also  the judicial process and what can and cant be reported.

The English Court System

  • There are two main types of court – Magistrates Court & Crown Court
  • In England and Wales most criminal (both adult and youth) are presented to the Magistrates Court
  • More serious cases are dealt with in Crown Court

Magistrates Court

Within the Magistrates Court there are two distinct ways of working.

1, Three Magistrates sit together at the bench. They are volunteers and know as ‘lay’ magistrates, and are trained for the role but have no legal qualifications

2, A District Judge will deal with more complex cases, and is someone who is legally trained

There is a Court Legal Advisor

Cases Types

  • If someone is charged with a serious offence, they will either be bailed (allowed to leave, usually with a cash sum to be paid and conditions attached) or remanded in custody (taken to prison where they will remain until trial, this ‘time served’ is usually deducted from any custodial sentence passed). The case is the transferred to Crown Court from Magistrates.
  • ‘Summary Offences’ – This kind of offence can only be tried by a  Magistrates Court. This includes: minor theft, minor public offences and most motoring offences
  • ‘Either Way Offences’ – This kind of offence is more serious and can be dealt with by either Magistrates or Crown Courts and includes: Drug offences, burglary and handling of stolen goods


Sentencing in Magistrates Court has limits to what can be given.

Imprisonment is capped at 12 months per offence to a maximum of 65 weeks

Fines – Generally speaking the maximum fine is £5000 per offence


Crown Court

The types of crimes that are tried in Crown Court are Murder, Rape and Robbery.

Trials are overseen by a Judge who rules on the law and imposes sentences.

A Jury made up of 12 members of the public who have been chosen at random, it is their job to decide whether on the evidence provided the charge is proven.


A Judge has the power to issue the maximum fine or prison set out for any offence


Coroners Court 

This court can’t determine innocence or guilt


Civil Court 

County Court

Most cases are heard in this court, with the exception of the most complicated of cases.

Includes breach of contract, housing issues, debt repayments, and enforcement of CCJ’s

High Court 

Hears appeals from County Court, and provide first hearings for the most complex of cases.

The court is divided into 3 sections

The Chancery deals with commercial law, business disputes, commercial law and bankruptcy.

The Family Court deals with matrimonial matters, adoption, child custody, separation and uncontested probate

The Queens Bench hears the most complex of cases which range from shipping to tech