I had first the idea of making my MA dissertation available online when I read an article by Gaskell and Bauer on research and accountability (*). These authors link research quality with transparency and emphasize the need to make available exhaustive documentation. I thought that in the case of my work — which uses classic content analysis to study the representation of foreigners in a Swiss tabloid — such a goal could be best achieved through a ‛companion mini-website’ on which interested readers could find both the stories that make up the corpus of analysis and, most importantly, the data produced by the coding of those stories.
Later on, a second motive came out of my own experience as I worked on my dissertation. As anyone exploring for the first time unfamiliar methodologies, I tried to find ‛models’ that would help me grasp how other people had handled challenges similar to those I was facing. Being far away from the University library, I had to look for dissertations online. I found only a few dealing with my subject and/or methodology, but they were all useful in one way or another. So, I thought my own work could be useful to someone working on similar issues. It is with this purpose too that I also decided to publish the comments of the readers who graded the dissertation, as they offer an independent assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, the usual ‛caveat emptor’ applies. I hope you enjoy the reading.
(*) Gaskell, G. and Bauer, M., 2000. Towards Public Accountability: Beyond Sampling, Reliability and Validity. In: Bauer, M. and Gaskell, G., Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound. London: Sage, pp. 336-350.