Resources for dissertations

Doing a dissertation or independent project can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Finding, collecting and analysing data can be a crucial to a project’s success and we have a range of resources than can help. Undergraduate students who use our data in a dissertation on a social science topic can enter the UK Data Service Dissertation Award.

Dissertations and their data: promoting research integrity in undergraduate projects

The Dissertations and their data: promoting research integrity in undergraduate projects (PDF) resource provides guidance about data management and research integrity in undergraduate dissertations. It includes practical examples of good practice, practical templates for consent, transcription, anonymisation and documentation.

Using survey data

The Using survey data (PDF) guide aims to help those who are starting out on small research projects and dissertations. From research questions to presenting results, the guide offers advice, worksheets for getting started and questions to think about through the research process.

The accompanying worksheets for this guide include:

Dissertation case studies

If you’d like inspiration of how you might use data from the UK Data Service in a dissertation, check out our dissertation case study topics:

For further inspiration, you can also read about previous winners of the UK Data Service Dissertation Award.

Webinars for dissertation students

We have recordings of webinars for dissertations students.

Other useful resources

  • Data skills modules – learn more about data and how it can be used using these online interactive data skills modules, which are designed for users who want to get to grips with key aspects of survey, longitudinal and aggregate data.
  • Need help with software? We have guides to major software used to manage and analyse data on our software and tools section including introductory guides to SPSS, Stata and R.
  • Working with survey, census, qualitative or aggregate data? Explore our learning hub to find resources to help with each of these data types.
  • Want to try something new? Visit computational social science for resources on web-scraping and text mining.

Top tips from previous dissertation students

Below are some of the Top Tips for using data in dissertations that have been given to us by previous dissertation students:

  • Start exploring your datasets early – think about what data might fit the questions you are trying to ask. Try searching the Variable and question bank for datasets related to your topic.
  • Take the time to explore the source of your data, understand how the survey was collected and what the implications of this are when it comes to interpreting your results.
  • It’s really important to understand how your data was collected – was cross-sectional or longitudinal? Part of a longer series? Was it a telephone/postal or face-to-face survey? Who was the sample?
  • Use the documentation to check that the dataset you select contains the variables you need.
  • The documentation gives you information on the data. It varies between datasets but usually includes information on how the data was collected, the variables included, the questionnaire used, and any changes to the data. It’s always a good idea to explore this to help you understand any data you’ve downloaded and if you’re ever not sure you can contact us.