Writing a dissertation is no picnic. It is meant to be hard. It is meant to challenge you. However, what it isn’t meant to do is damage you mentally. Therefore, it’s important to prepare yourself before tackling the 13,000 monster.
Here are my tips on how to deal with writing a dissertation.
Going to university is daunting, but you already know that you’re going to have to do a dissertation. There is literally no other way around it. Get used to that. Have it in the back of your mind during lectures, yes even in first year.
Similar to Brace Yourself, this tip is all about knowing your subject and what you are interested in. Yet, it also goes further than that. During your three years at university, you will have to study books and readings for essays. Make notes of your favourite authors and the topics they pick up on – this may come in handy when writing your literature review.
When first told that you need to start thinking of a dissertation subject, it can be pretty scary. What if you pick the wrong thing? What if the subject isn’t broad enough? What if it’s too broad? There is nothing wrong with asking questions. If you have questions on topics, readings or even things you count as ‘silly’, do not be afraid to email a lecturer. They are there to help you. After all, you paid £27,000 for this experience, use the lecturers to help you.
Use Your University’s Facilities
This can be making sure to regularly use the library, or simply figuring out how to utilise Google Scholar. Heck, your university may even have private study areas or one-to-one tutorial times. Use all the facilities. They are there to make it easier.
I’ve touched upon this briefly already, but make sure to plan ahead. I always find that a deadline list really motivates me to get my butt into gear. Why not say, “OK my deadline is May 5th, I want my introduction, literature review and methodology done by the end of December so I can have a two week break before starting my research.”
Do A Research Question That Interests You
Your dissertation is nothing to do with Tom, Dick or Harry. If they are doing studies which sound complex or more academic, don’t worry. Everyone’s dissertation is somewhat different. You need to make sure that you decide upon an area of research which is interesting to you. It has to be something which you won’t get super bored of studying four months in. This is YOUR work, tackle something you are passionate about.
Once you’re on your way to writing your dissertation, don’t forget to take regular breaks. Treat them as a reward for all the hard work you have done. Personally, I take a break very hour – or after I’ve done around 700-1000 words.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over A Day Off
Everyone deserves a day off. Heck, everyone deserves a week off if they really want it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. A day off is a great treat for your mental health and will do wonders for your productivity the next time you sit down and type away. Trust me, take yourself away from the library or your laptop screen and go for a walk, for dinner or to see a movie. Try and not constantly think about your dissertation. Or it will eat you alive.
Don’t Leave Everything To The Last Minute
That being said, don’t leave everything to the last minute. If you plan your time well, you will avoid extra stress and teary breakdowns. Just remember that everyone is going through the same process and everyone is feeling the same as you are. If you work hard, but allow yourself chance to live outside of your academic study, you will thrive.