Yes, it’s that time of year! The deadly dissertation hand in!
Whilst I’ve spent my Easter (and months before) planning and prepping for my dissertation it’s now that I’ve actually found myself sitting doing it. Finding relevant references, citing them (for some reason this brings me more joy than it probably should!), justifying them and then trying to make it sound a bit more academic; not much of a wild Easter but – don’t fret – I am counteracting it with eating lots of Easter eggs and seeing my friends during my breaks!
For those of you not doing your dissertation at the moment this might be overwhelming – or maybe you don’t know what it is. Well I’m here to give you my top tips:
- Start early
Every single third year doing a dissertation will tell you this. Start now. (Unless you’re in 1st year!) Having your idea and research done quickly will motivate you more and won’t leave you in a last minute panic
- Get your head round the ‘lit review’
It’s tricky. Few people enjoy doing it. But it has to be done. 1000 words (give or take) about who else has studied the area you’re studying in.. When you want to get into the nitty gritty of your own topic it feels like a pointless/annoying process but it’s relevant! Learning how to write it earlier on is better than struggling later
- Do something you enjoy
This is the biggest downfall. You could choose a topic you think is easy to write about but if you find it mind-numbingly boring then don’t do it! You’ve got to write 6 to 12 000 words on it so make sure you’re in love with the subject!
I chose to base mine on creating and marketing a welfare broadcast for the students and community of Portsmouth. Now I love TV, I love live broadcasts and I wanted to do something to help people; I think (finger’s crossed) I’ve achieved that!
- Learn how to reference/cite
If you don’t know how to reference or cite in text – learn now! You will have anywhere between 20 and 200 references for your dissertation and citing each of those is going to be a nightmare unless you learn how to do it properly. In my first year I could never reference but I learnt and now – inner geek coming out – I love it and it’s one of my favourite parts of academic writing!
- Ask for help
Your supervisor is here to help you; to bounce around ideas, how to actually get down to writing, if you change ideas.. that is what they’re there for! And if you feel you want more academic support there are so many places you can go in the University for academic skills help. This is a huge unit towards your final degree mark so don’t be afraid to ask for a second, third and even fourth opinion!
Dissertations are difficult; there’s no doubt about it. But it can be done; make sure you take breaks, socialise, get some air. Find yourself a motivator to get it done – if it’s 1 square of chocolate for every 100 words or maybe it’s 1hour of a tv show for every completed chapter – give yourself a treat that suits you.
And to round this off a bit of shameless plugging with my artefact for my dissertation called ‘Mind Matters’. Make sure you check it out as it’s 5 months of planning, filming and scripting all rolled into one!