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Top 10 Tips on Writing Your Dissertation

Writing your dissertation can be a pretty painful experience, especially for some more than others. I am going to do a more detailed post later on but in the mean time I thought I would go through some personal tips of what I learnt when writing my own dissertation. Looking back in hindsight I wish I had known what I know now, back then. I guess it doesn't really matter because I still got a first but I'm sure I would have had less stress! These tips are fairly generic so it doesn't matter what topic or type of research you have chosen to do. 

1. Your supervisor should be your best friend. If you feel your supervisor isn't helpful or have any concerns talk to someone in your department about it. I'm sure they won't have any problems addressing the issue or swapping your supervisor. Your supervisor is someone you need to be able to look to for guidance and be able to lean on.

2. Write sooner. The sooner you start writing the better your dissertation will be as you'll have more time to research and edit/ redraft. Many people try to start with the introduction but if you're stuck then start somewhere else. I think it's best to start with the literature review. It's the foundation of your dissertation.

3. Comparisons will drive you crazy. Don't ask others how far they have got along with their dissertation. Some people are naturally faster at writing (I'm not) or have chosen topics with a lot of research surrounding it. Put your blinkers on and keep writing.

4. Instead of procrastinating move onto the next part. I did this and it saved me. I got stuck on certain sections and instead of letting it get to me I simply skipped it and returned to it later. I always believe you procrastinate until you have better clarity on the situation. Don't you agree?

5. Lots of research. You may be thinking duh? But the hardest part I found was the actual reading compared to the writing. The more you know about your topic the easier it will be to write and make conclusions (using evidence to support you of course!)

6. Break up the dissertation and its sections to make it more digestible. You can do this by looking at the value of marks that are appointed to each section. This will help you identify where you need to allocate more words and time. For example my literature review was worth the same marks as my analysis however by the end I spent too much time on my lit review and didn't have enough time to spend on the analysis.

7. Get it written down. Your first draft will never be perfect but it's better you get something written down. Think of the dissertation as jigsaw puzzle, the more you write and research the more easy it will be to piece relevant bits together. Your markers want to see you using evidence that link up with theories.

8. Reference correctly from the beginning. Referencing was the bane of my life however it's important because it will be too time consuming to go back to correct references. Get it right the first time.

9. Back up your work. I used dropbox but you can use any cloud service so that you know your work is safe. The last thing you want is work being lost or any setbacks.

10. Seek feedback regularly. It's crucial you do this because it allows you to make revisions quickly and fill in the gaps in any areas you may have overlooked. I was fortunate enough to have a weekly meeting with my supervisor. It makes a world of a difference!


Here are some books that will help throughout the dissertation plus they are good references, especially for your methodology. I wish you the best of luck. You can do it!


Joseph Russo said...
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