How to Ace Your Dissertation
Contributed by @Xtiannne
They say your dissertation is the biggest piece of academic work you’ll ever do. It is the final milestone of education. It is an embodiment of your degree. And, they are absolutely right. It is all the above in one, so it would be in your best interest to ace it.
It is by no surprise that the idea of completing a dissertation is extremely daunting to most. I started my final year looking at my dissertation from every angle, scratching my head, figuring out how I would tackle the 10,000-word monster before me. As impossible as the task seemed, I made it through to the other side, distinguishing with the highest dissertation mark in my entire year group.
So, fear not, I have a few tips to share:
1. Hang on to your supervisor’s every word
Listen to e v e r y t h i n g your dissertation supervisor says and take heed of their advice.
Your dissertation supervisor acts as your mentor, your advisor and last but not least, the first marker of your dissertation. Following through their advice will work in your favour, as at the end of the day, it will be them marking your work. A clear disregard to their advice can only go one way.
2. Plan like you’ve never planned before
One thing that generally puts people off starting work is the feeling of being overloaded. A great way to tackle this is by setting yourself small milestones and goals to achieve. Instead of seeing it as “I have 10, 000 words to complete by the end of March”, break it down into smaller chunks i.e:
“Read two journals by the end of today”
“Summarise research for Chapter 1 by Friday this week”
“Write 500 words for Chapter 2 by the end of the week”
“Write 750 words for Chapter 3 by the end of next week”
I guarantee that by doing it this way, the load will not feel as heavy.
Organisation and good planning should be traits that run through your blood at this stage. As a good dissertation plan will set you in good stead for your entire dissertation journey. Nail your chapters, themes, and structure from the beginning.
3. Keep on reading
Content is super important so ensure to prioritise your research over everything else. Get your hands on every single textbook, every single journal, and every single seminar and lecture note on your topic. This is the time to get in all that recommended reading you promised yourself you’d do back in your fresher year.
4. Be flexible…
a) In your argument:
At the beginning of your dissertation, you might be dead set on the answer to your dissertation question. There and then you are certain of your point of view. Nothing can make you waver. Your convictions are firmly in place.
But there can come a time where as you’re doing your research, cracks start to form. You’re no longer as sure as you were at the start. You feel your mind changing slowly, but surely. But guess what? That’s okay. It’s okay to change your mind.
b) In your time:
We all know what life gets like, one minute you are pumped to write your dissertation, next minute that new series on Netflix has caught your eye and before you know it, your day has vanished.
A way around procrastination is to set yourself easy do-able daily goals but aim to achieve more. Also, set yourself an earlier deadline than the actual deadline to allow room for any last-minute crises.
5. Get your £9,000’s worth
One thing they don’t emphasise at university are the vast resources available to you merely due to the fact that you are a paying student at the university.
Stop thinking you have to do everything by yourself. Utilise your lecturers, librarians, and support services.
Lecturers are there to share their expertise with you. Subject librarians are available to help with the technical stuff like bibliographies and referencing. Support staff are available to help with proofreading.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you’re entitled to and make university staff work for their salaries. And, if you are not aware of any support services available at university, just ask your tutor or student centre to direct you to the right person.