Reflecting on my own Dissertation progress, having now handed it in, there are certain parts of the experience I could have done better on to have relieved some stress. Equally, there are certain rules that I tried to stick to that definitely helped make the process of writing my dissertation much easier. I have tried to summarize some of my thoughts into a few tips for anyone with a dissertation in their future.
- Don’t wait to write. I found that the longer I left a blank page, the scarier it became. Before starting to work on my dissertation the best piece of advice I read was: Writing is part of the process. This is so important to remember. It is really easy to think that you can only start writing when you have finished all of your research and readings, however it is easy to then never feel ready to write. Just start jotting notes and ideas down into rough sections. Nothing has to be full sentences, that is what editing is for.
- Try and do a little bit every day. I am sure it is an often repeated piece of advice but it truly makes a huge difference. It makes the idea of writing 10,000 words a little less scary cause you break it down into smaller pieces to do everyday. Also, doing something every day or at least regularly in a week, helps to keep the ideas fresh in your head. Personally, I didn’t necessarily work on my dissertation every day, but I had scheduled days (eg. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) that were specifically devoted to working on my dissertation.
- Utilise your supervisor. Your supervisor is there to assist you, so don’t be scared to contact them when you hace questions or concerns. It is not your supervisor’s job to chase you, so you need to be the proactive one. Don’t feel like you have everything figured out, your supervisor is meant to be there to help, so use them.
- Stick to your deadlines as much as possible. Obviously surprises can come up that can throw you off track, but the most you can stick to your personal deadlines the better. You will be glad for it at the end, when you are not rushing to finish the entire thing right before the deadline.
- Lastly, don’t worry about other people’s schedules. After chatting to a classmate, and finding out that they have already finished their method section that you haven’t even started on, it is really easy to feel like your behind schedule and get stressed. It is extremely important to remember that people organise their dissertation process differently. Yes they might have finished the method section but maybe they haven’t started their data analysis yet, whereas you have almost already finished. People work at different paces and in different ways so don’t get too worried about what stage other people might be at.