By Rebecca Maher on May 19th, 2023
Dissertations might seem long and complicated, but they can be broken down into manageable sections. We have put together a guide to help you ace your dissertation.
The main thing that sets a dissertation apart from previous university work is that it’s an almost entirely independent project. Word counts are so much longer than usual assignments and you’ll also be working on a topic which will vary from your course mates.
Dissertations will vary depending on the type of course you are studying but usually have:
Make sure that you are passionate about your dissertation topic and that it is something that interests you. If you aren’t passionate about your subject, then it we be difficult for others to find value in it. If you aren’t happy with your topic, then find another so that you can be more engaged and passionate about what you are working on. It’s a long process and you will enjoy more success if it’s something you are interested in.
Give yourself enough time to carry out research, planning, writing and make a note of all important dates including dissertation workshops, review meetings with tutors and the all-important deadline dates. Don’t start writing until you have a well-developed outline and a good working knowledge of all your sources.
It might sound obvious, but it is important to clearly answer the research question within your dissertation conclusion. Having a clear answer to your research question will show that you know what you’re talking about.
The more feedback the better, and the smoother the writing process. Regularly touch base with your dissertation supervisor or tutor to receive feedback on your progress. They can provide you with insights, suggest improvements and more importantly, help you stay focused.
There are many different types of resources that can be used for your dissertation. Some of these are more obvious than others, but it is good to have a wide variation of resources rather than sticking to just one.
Books– make the most of your university library for an array of useful books, and other resources available
Journal articles– online or newspapers
Interviews– past interviews or even conduct your own interviews with relevant individuals
Internet– there will be lots of reputable websites that you can find useful and relevant to your dissertation.
Focus Groups- conducting a focus group can help you gain valuable primary research
Social Media- use platforms to your advantage to create polls and closed discussions in groups
It is important that you use reliable sources of information while preparing for your research paper because this will ensure credibility and validity in the outcome of your dissertation as well as avoid plagiarism issues with regards to other publications.
It is important you clearly reference your resources throughout your dissertation Make a note of these from the beginning so that you don’t lose track.
After completing the first draft, take time to revise and edit your work. Check for consistency, grammar and any punctuation errors. If you have a mental block when re-reading over and over, ask somebody to proofread for a fresh pair of eyes.
Make sure you are saving your work regularly. There is nothing worse than typing away only for your computer or laptop to crash and lose your work. A good idea would be to save your work every half hour to an hour and save your work in various places to avoid losing anything.
Your dissertation will probably be one of the most stressful pieces of work that you will complete so it is important to take regular breaks. Take a look at our top tips on dealing with exam stress and anxiety.
Justify every point you make in your dissertation with valuable reasons and research, with a clear understanding of what you want to say throughout.
Have no time to compare your work to your friends and course mates as it will only panic you or them.
Whether you have your own printer in your student accommodation or are using the university library, be mindful of how much you will need to print and certainly don’t leave printing to the last minute either in case of any paper jams or tech nightmares!
Google Drive– a great resource to save your work, and you can log in anywhere to access your files.
RefME- helping you with referencing your resources.
Google Calendar– another great resource for planning and organising your revision and dissertation work.
Escue Time – A really useful app that helps you track time you spend completing tasks