woman at a library looking at books for their dissertation

What to do if your dissertation isn’t going as expected

This time last year, mid-term, I had to change my dissertation research project as my dissertation supervisor and I began…

This time last year, mid-term, I had to change my dissertation research project as my dissertation supervisor and I began to realise that my research project would be too complex for a dissertation-level project.

Understandably, this caused me a lot of stress as I had been pulled back from a project that I was passionate about, had researched background literature, and had a plan for the project’s methodology. Further, I was now back to square one with no idea of what dissertation project to pursue.

However, with the help of my supervisor, we collaboratively came up with a study and I managed to stay on track for all the deadlines. A course requirement was to submit a draft of the introduction or methodology section before the Christmas break. To align with the mini deadline, I decided to submit the smaller section of the methodology of the study as this was a more basic, less researched section. I was able to manage to do this without investigating the background literature, as with my other modules I did not have time at this stage to do that.

A few things helped me to get through this stressful period, so I thought I would share them!

woman writing in a notebook near her computer for her dissertation module

Putting things into perspective

Before my final year of university, I had heard about dissertations and how stressful they could be! However, it was my incorrect understanding that the dissertation was the most important part of the year, when in fact (for my BSc Psychology degree) it was only a double-weighted module. So although important, it was not the only important module of the year!

Once I stopped stressing that my dissertation was the only thing that mattered within the year and put into perspective that being behind in one module was not going to mean I would fail the course, this really allowed me to change my outlook on my stress.

A university student looking happy with a friend working on their dissertation module

Using your supervisor for support

My supervisor was great at supporting me throughout periods when I felt that I would not meet the deadline due to the setback of changing my research question.

However, she was very understanding and even offered an extension on the mini-deadline.

Although she was an academic supervisor for my project, she also supported me through moments of stress to provide support and solutions where necessary, which I appreciated!

A university student and their dissertation supervisor working on their dissertation module

Being kind to yourself

By giving myself compassion to knowing that the setbacks I faced were out of my control, I was able to be kinder to myself which allowed me to face challenges more easily and be more proactive about the things I could do which were within my control.

A person laid on a bench with a book over their face and their laptop on their legs, working on their dissertation module
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