I am currently researching for my MA project and oddly enough it’s made me nostalgic for my third-year undergraduate degree. In your third year at University, it’s highly likely that you will be writing a dissertation or if you’re in your second year, you’ll be starting to think about it. My third-year dissertation was over 11,000 words and at the time it seemed like the most daunting thing in the world.
You might be thinking the same thing, how am I going to complete this enormous amount of work? Here’s my advice when it comes to starting and completing your dissertation.
First thing’s first, study and write about something you have a passion for. This may sound stupid or obvious, but, by the time you get to the halfway point of your dissertation, you will feel one of two feelings:
A) You’re completely immersed in the subject and loving your work – you constantly want to work on it 24/7 if you could.
B) You’re sick of the topic and you never want to see it again.
So, choose carefully and be passionate about that topic, this will ensure you produce the best work possible and for the sake of your own sanity.
Secondly, start early. Seriously, start now. The earlier you start researching, gathering the data, and writing, the better. The whole process needs all the time that you are given to complete. Each stage, including research, requires just as much time and effort as the actual writing. And please, don’t leave all your referencing to the very end, it takes longer than you might think.
Furthermore, by starting early, you can do a little bit every day. Consistently chipping away will soon make a big dent in the overall word count. I understand that there are those who like to “leave it all to the last minute,” but after speaking to and witnessing other people who did that, the stress is not worth it. The task is far easier and less stressful if you break it up into almost bite size chunks.
It’s also wise to work in some relaxation time. You still need to wind down and hang out with mates. This will also help your work, especially when you go back and go over what you’ve drafted. After taking some time away, you’ll see things that you didn’t notice beforehand thinking “what was I trying to say?” or even “what was I thinking!?” Going back to your work with a fresh pair of eyes is definitely a good idea.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I wish that I had known all this in my third year and taken my own advice, it would make my life so much easier. I would also recommend utilising your supervisors – ask for advice, ideas and regularly meet with them. They have worked with a countless number of students and their experience is invaluable for you and completing your work.
Have fun with whatever you’re writing about – it’s the culmination of all your time at the University of Lincoln, when you hand in that booklet of work it’ll be one of the proudest days of your life.
So get going, you can do this – it’s worth it!