Join our zoo community

Dissertation ideas

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by emmasteve, 14 May 2016.

  1. emmasteve

    emmasteve New Member

    Joined:
    10 May 2016
    Posts:
    3
    Location:
    england
    Hello,

    I am currently in my second year at NTU but I figured I should start planning my dissertation so everything runs smoothly next year!

    I am thinking of doing a research project on bird behaviour. I have two potential ideas:

    1) Teaching a bird a trick or skill and measuring the retention time of the skill over time periods. I thought I could also look at this between ages or species or something like that.

    2) Giving some birds an enrichment device and not giving some any enrichment. Teaching all birds the same trick or skill and monitoring if the enrichment device altered their cognitive ability in terms of learning the trick (ie did the enrichment aid learning or not)

    I was just wondering if anyone has done anything similar and could give any advice??

    Thanks so much! :)
     
  2. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2015
    Posts:
    289
    Location:
    England
    I've not done anything similar but a few thoughts on what you've suggested:

    1) It sounds like both of these are where you will gain primary data yourself in your research as opposed to secondary.

    2) Research for primary data will take time; thus it would be best to plan now and do the data collection during the summer so that you can write-up during the term-time. Research during term time works; but its harder because you've got other commitments to study at the same time.

    3) In general your uni should already be making you plan your dissertation anyway so see what your tutors say - also talk to them about your idea. they generally have a good idea of what is and isn't practical within a dissertation timeframe.

    4) Both your subjects sound like there will be ample research material to read up on - bird cognitive functions and studies are niche but well studied and thus it shouldn't be a darkzone unless the actual data/articles are tricky to get. Again talk to your tutors.
     
  3. emmasteve

    emmasteve New Member

    Joined:
    10 May 2016
    Posts:
    3
    Location:
    england
    Hi overread,

    Thanks for the response! I am taking a placement year next year so whilst on placement I will have plenty of time to gather data without having to juggle assignments and exams and things!

    I have mentioned it to my tutors but I will bring it up again :)

    Thanks for the help!
     
  4. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2015
    Posts:
    289
    Location:
    England
    Sounds like you have a solid plan and some themes to work with.

    Considering that you're looking at avian intelligence I take it your placement involves similar studies? If so you might do some reading on any papers or research produced at that site already - you could use that to either build upon a previous study or introduce a new one of your own.

    Best advice would be to simply keep searching journals and see what kind of questions have already been asked. Asking hte same question a different way can be one approach and can provide a deeper understanding of a topic area; whilst asking a new question can open up new ideas and possibilities; but can require more work and more input.

    The key is to not overload yourself - however part of that is up to your tutors to ensure that they help you structure a question that won't overwhelm but will provide the data/material/ground work for you to build upon
     
  5. emmasteve

    emmasteve New Member

    Joined:
    10 May 2016
    Posts:
    3
    Location:
    england
    Yes I'll be working with birds of prey and parrots aswell. Thank you so much! Yes I'll do a literature search because I don't want to start and then realise theres no previous research!
     
  6. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9 Dec 2015
    Posts:
    289
    Location:
    England
    Ah sounds like a great workplacement. Have you spoken with the people at the centre? I'd almost think there would be the best place to start after talking with your tutor; last thing you want is to invest time into research only to find that they won't/can't let you perform research. You might also find that they've got projects of their own and you could join into an existing research project. Whilst the overall project might have a different focus you could perform one task within it which would be your own research and write-up or you could assist and do your own write up on the project as a whole etc...