“What have you been up to?”
“Editing my dissertation.”
October couldn’t come sooner.
For those of you who are about to sell your soul to a several-thousand-word tome this year, here are some tips.
- It will take more time than you think.
We’ve all seen those stories on The Tab where someone has managed to get a 2:1 on a dissertation they wrote in 24 hours, or something like that. Although I wish I had their skills, realistically it is going to take blood, sweat, and tears. Saying that, working smarter is more efficient than working harder, but more on that in a minute.
2. Don’t quit your day job.
Some academics will argue that in order to put your heart and soul into your dissertation, you have to dedicate all your time to this and do nothing else. This is not necessarily true. I’ve found having other commitments has been a welcome break when I am sick to death of looking at Times New Roman 12pt. I would say take breaks to look after yourself too, but that would make me a massive hypocrite… so just pretend I said that too.
3. It does not have to be a one man job.
Of course, it needs to be a piece of original work that is not copied-and-pasted from Wikipedia. However, find a willing friend who can proofread for you! Take advantage of what your supervisor can do for you (Bear in mind some Universities are stricter than others when it comes to dissertation guidance)! Look into what your University provides in terms of writing support. It’s okay if you’re not the world’s most prestigious writer, these resources are here for you.
4. Dissertations aren’t linear.
You’re going to have several smaller tasks on the go, and that’s completely fine. As I’ll mention later, you don’t start with the start and end with the end. If you’re collecting data, you’ll need to take into account other peoples’ commitments too, and things may not go to plan. Sometimes a global pandemic sends plans awry.
5. Here’s some little tricks for free.
Control F/Command F is a lifesaver. Are you looking for a key word in an academic journal? Are you trying to make sure you haven’t used apostrophes in your formal writing? Are you looking for an author that you remember referring to? Don’t scroll for days, it’s not worth it. Also it hurts your eyes.
Treat each chapter as a separate document/essay, and then link them together later. It is SO MUCH less overwhelming, and it is easier to manage when you want people to look over certain sections.
Don’t start with the introduction. I started with the Literature Review because I’d just completed one for a research project so it was fresh in my head, but start with whatever is easiest. Once you’ve got words on the page it is easier to… add more words. Trust me. It’s easier to introduce your dissertation when you actually have an idea of what’s going on.
Be open to change. With my BA I didn’t have a question set in stone until two months before it was due. Paragraphs may sound better in different sections once your dissertation is actually fleshed out. Pobody’s nerfect.
I’m going to have to rediscover myself once this is over. Who am I other than a typing machine? Imagine if I get a really bad mark now ha ha ha ha.
Please don’t imagine that.
Bron of the Past