Monday, 17 June 2019

How To Write A Dissertation

Choosing a dissertation topic is daunting. Being a Literature student the opportunities were endless but somehow I managed to pinpoint a subject after lots of unnecessary stressing and worrying.  
Before I decided on an idea I reached out to a friend and asked if she had any tips to help give me some kind of guidance on how to approach it, and she gave me the following pieces of advice



1) Make sure it is on a topic that you feel really passionate about because it will be all you think about for the next nine months. 

2) Do loads of reading and notes before you start anything if you have an idea before the summer then that will be best because then you can get a head start on background reading etc. 

3) Your title/question may change throughout the process - this is normal so don't worry if you start panicking that your question may need changing. Just ask for advice from your supervisor and they will point you in the right direction. 

4) Get as many people as you can to read it (parents, siblings, friends) - even people who have no clue what it is about or don't understand it, it's just so good to get outside people to read through it because each of them will notice something that you didn't (spelling mistakes, unfinished sentences etc)


5) Do the literature review (background research) first. This is where you spend a chapter talking about other theorists and studies and then linking it to your own investigation. This will leave you with all the background research to refer back to later on in your investigation. It also helps to pave the way for the rest of your investigation. (Not all courses require this step.)

6) Create a rough template of the names/numbers of chapters and then bullet point bits you want to talk about in each one. This makes life much easier and less intimidating than just writing out notes etc. Also helps to build the dissertation and how you want it in your head! 

7) Create your bibliography as you go along. Trying to backtrack and find the hundreds of sources you read is extremely stressful and time-consuming. 

8) Print it out when you can, carry it around with you and just scribble on it and adjust it when you can. Sometimes this helps rather than just staring at 10,000 words in a word document on your laptop. 

9) You will feel guilty when you aren't working on it. It will be all you want to do, and even when you're working on other modules, you will still feel guilty. It's physically impossible to work on it 24/7 and you need that break from it so you can go back with a clear head space. 

11) It's okay if you feel like you've hit a brick wall. It's part of the process - but remember this will be something that you have achieved completely on your own, so never stop feeling proud about that! If you're feeling depressed about it, just think of the end result and how pretty your dissertation will look when you get it professionally bound! 

12) The last few chapters will be the worst, because you're constantly struggling between hitting the word balance, going over the word balance and actually forming a conclusion. My final chapter was an absolute mess of bullet points until about a month before I handed it all in. Make sure you send your supervisor everything you can, they will be able to help so much, especially with the last few chapters! 

13) Set yourself little goals, little checklists and personal deadlines. 

14) It's an emotional roller coaster. Some days you will read through it and feel nothing but pride, other days you will just want to sob.



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