Your dissertation will be one of the most important pieces of work you will complete during your academic career and how you choose to approach its construction will ultimately determine the success of your finished work.
You will likely experience an array of emotions as you work through each stage of your personal dissertation process. There will be times when it feels as though the finishing line is simply impossible to reach, which is why it is important to prepare thoroughly and ensure that you have enough time to work through each stage carefully and methodically. It is also important to remember that there are various forms of dissertation writing help available to you if you need some guidance.
If you are here right now and reading this guide, you are probably either approaching or are in the midst of your own dissertation writing journey. At this stage in your academic career you already know how to locate the information you need in your library, take concise notes and construct a scholarly essay which communicates the intelligence of your central argument. But you also know that applying this knowledge to the construction of an accomplished dissertation can be tricky and is often far easier said than done.
Taking you through from your dissertation introduction to your concluding sentences, here are a handful of tips and tricks that should keep you on the right path and help you to flourish on this final and much-anticipated stretch of your degree program.
Beyond settling on an appropriate topic and submitting your work on time, there are many individual components that contribute to the actual writing of an accomplished dissertation. As such, it is crucial that you take the time to carefully read through everything provided to you by your University. Module handbooks, ethics guidelines, and referencing guides will all contain important information that will help you to avoid making an array of easily preventable mistakes that might prove detrimental to your dissertation in the end.
In addition to knowing how many words you are expected to write, what constitutes convincing academic writing within your field, and understanding by when your work needs to be submitted and where to deliver it, it is important that you fully comprehend the following 3 crucial components:
• What your dissertation methodology should look like and how your work should be structured
• How to identify and successfully utilise appropriate sources
• The format your dissertation results and analysis should take and how to contextualise and integrate your findings into a cohesive and coherent configuration
As soon as you have a solid grasp of what is expected of you, you can begin.
If you are currently wondering how you are possibly going to put together such an important body of work in a relatively short amount of time, it might help to view the whole process as akin to showing up to work. Treating your dissertation as though it is a job and putting between 6 and 8 hours of work in 5 days a week should make the process seem much more manageable.
Although it is important not to overwork yourself, it is also crucial that you don’t let yourself ‘call in sick’ constantly or ‘show up late’. If you do need to take time off for illness or to take care of any unforeseen or unpredictable life events, think about how and when you will make up the time in the most effective and least stressful way possible. You are your own manager and you call the shots. Fundamentally, this means that as well as showing yourself some care and compassion, you should also endeavour to remain self-disciplined and dedicated to putting in the effort required to deliver your best work.
It is also important to consider that there might be people in your life who just cannot understand how important your work is to you. They might think that just because you don’t physically have to show up to a workplace and follow direction from a senior colleague that you are a person of leisure, free to do whatever you want whenever you want. You know that this simply isn’t true, but it can create conflict that you don’t have time to deal with. Make it clear to everyone in your life that you need to work according to your own schedule and you won’t be available at the beck and call of everyone who wants a slice of your time.
Thinking about where you are going to work ahead of time will help you to put yourself in the mindset you need to be in to produce an effective piece of work. Writing a dissertation is a bit like playing a really long game and setting yourself up for success in the early stages will help you to push through and clinch that win at the end.
If you know you produce some of your best work at your desk in your own room, consider getting a comfortable chair and letting your housemates know that you would prefer not to be distracted when you’re writing. If you find yourself getting disturbed regularly, get yourself a good pair of ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones. If this doesn’t work, however, you might have to think about working on your dissertation elsewhere.
Alternatively, if you find it more helpful to physically separate your work life from your home life, claim a spot in the library or another shared workspace outside of your home. Libraries are excellent study spaces because there is always a wealth of knowledge packed into the shelves just a few steps away, which should both inspire you and boost your productivity. Additionally, as the best study spots will fill up quickly during dissertation writing season, you will also feel more motivated to get there early and set to work.
As an extended body of work, it is vital that you know exactly what you want to achieve with your research and how your ideas are going to fit together to present your argument cohesively and clearly. Your dissertation proposal should already have established a clear outline but before you jump straight into researching and writing, you might find it helpful to add a bit of extra detail to what you expect to include in each chapter.
A detailed plan will help you to stay on track and ensure you aren’t spending time on anything that isn’t hyper-relevant to your central argument. A coherent and convincing argument is often dependent on an effective dissertation literature review, laser-focused research, and at least a basic understanding of the direction your initial thoughts and ideas are taking you in. This knowledge should help you to plan your time more effectively, ensuring that you have enough time to research, analyse, draft, edit and proof your dissertation before your submission deadline rolls around.
Leading Dissertation Writers Always Begin Writing As Soon As Possible
Dedicating extensive periods of time to research will result in the accumulation of too much information, complicating your approach and leaving you unsure of what to do next. Experienced dissertation writers know that starting to get some initial words down on paper, however disorganised, will always help you to process the information you are looking at and contribute to your overall understanding of the topic at hand.
Remember your dissertation is a marathon, not a sprint and there will likely be many ups and downs throughout the process. Blank documents can be extremely intimidating and overcoming mental hurdles to actually make a start is often one of the hardest parts. As soon as you have started writing, you will immediately find it much easier to organise your thoughts, identify areas you have missed, and ensure each point you make serves a clear and identifiable purpose.
Honestly, the very last thing you will need during the final stretch of your dissertation is to have to desperately search the library for that one important source that you didn’t reference properly at the time. Not only will this take up valuable time and be incredibly stressful, if you can’t find the source of the quote or idea you have referenced in your work, you might have to remove it and completely rewrite that section. If you’re lucky, only minor adjustments will be required, but it is likely that this will take up time that you simply can’t afford to spare. Avoiding this situation at all costs is imperative, so make sure to note down the exact location of each external source you utilise.
There is also another clear benefit to maintaining a bibliography from the very beginning because as you will see it develop over the course of several months, you will find it much easier to identify gaps or weak areas in your knowledge. There will always be core texts and sources that you should have read and acknowledged within your work, and your reader will expect to see them listed in your bibliography. If there are critics and/or leading figures within your field whose work is highly relevant to your topic and which are missing from your references, your reader will notice and immediately begin to question why.
Keeping track of your reading and clearly noting down precisely where you have found every source will ensure that you can always locate pieces of scholarship exactly when you need them the most. The future you will be very thankful to the present you for taking the time to do this.
Starting each day by creating an achievable to-do list will help you to stay motivated and highly engaged with your work. Whether you want to read a handful of important texts or write another 500 words of a chapter, clearly list everything you want to achieve that day before you start working. Breaking down larger tasks into their smaller, more manageable components will stop you from getting overwhelmed and help you to really focus in on precisely what you need to do and when you need to do it.
Additionally, you might find it helpful to begin each week by putting together a slightly longer weekly to-do list. While your daily to-do list should always be a place for small tasks, your weekly list will help you to map out some of the larger undertakings that you need to complete and track your progress. So, say you’re at the beginning of a brand new week and you really want to write another 2,000 words before the weekend. With this larger goal in mind, you can begin to plan how much writing you want to do each day. You might choose to write 400 words every day, or opt to write 600 words over 3 days.
When you have ticked off everything on your daily to-do list, make sure you reward yourself. From an episode of your favourite TV show to a cup of tea and a catch up with a friend, giving yourself credit for putting in the work is hugely important to your productivity and the maintenance of a positive attitude to your work.
Maintaining a critical mindset throughout will always serve you well. Alongside consistently questioning your own ideas and analysis, you should also critically engage with your sources to determine their quality and reliability. Always ask yourself how convinced you are by the information you discover and the reasons why a text is or is not substantial and compelling.
Remember that you need to continually explain the reasoning behind every point you make, even if you think it is glaringly obvious. It is critical that your reader understands the foundations of your argument and to get the recognition you deserve for forming strong arguments you will often be required to present clearly signposted evidence, explanations, and reasoning for your conclusions. So, take nothing at face value and question everything, always.
Utilise the Expertise of your Supervisor or Trusted Dissertation Service
Sitting down to have a detailed dissertation discussion with your supervisor at least once during your writing process is crucial. In addition to helping you to structure your work in the most effective and coherent way possible, they should also give you the confidence you need to really believe that writing a solid piece of work is within your reach.
Always remember that your supervisor is there for a reason and if you need some guidance, they should be one of the first people you consider turning to. If, for any reason your supervisor isn’t available or approachable, work on identifying another leading figure within your department and arrange a meeting with them to discuss your concerns. Alternatively, seek advice from a trusted dissertation service with a team of trusted academics and experienced writers.
The editing process will always take longer than you think because it is such an important part of the process of constructing a compelling dissertation. Good work is always refined in the editing process and it is your opportunity to ensure that your dissertation is well-structured and presents your arguments convincingly. It is therefore critical that you give yourself enough time to comprehensively engage with every element of your work.
At the very least your editing process should endeavour to:
• Review the cogency, clarity and coherence of your argument
• Consider the length of sentences and paragraphs, removing superfluous and/or distracting words and information
• Review the relevance of chapter titles, headings and subheadings
• Ensure each piece of content is well-linked and relates to the argument as a whole
• Maintain a consistent voice; check your overall style, tenses, and use of active/passive voice
• Effectively guide your reader, clearly signpost what they should expect to find and link each point to ensure it supports the communication of your central argument
• Thoroughly check your spelling and grammar
• Review your referencing and bibliography
• Ensure your conclusion is compelling and brings your whole dissertation together with a final flourish
Your reader will always be able to identify a well-edited dissertation from one that was rushed. Work that has not been thoroughly edited can be extremely irritating to read, especially if it is littered with obvious and wholly avoidable errors. You need to clearly demonstrate the knowledge you have obtained and showcase your ability to form and convey an engaging and considered argument. If your reader is constantly being distracted by mistakes that should have been addressed in the edit, they are going to find it difficult to acquire and maintain a positive picture of your ability.
Take Care of Yourself and Obtain Help for Dissertation Writing When You Need It
Your health and wellbeing is incredibly important and although it is natural for your dissertation to be on your mind a lot of the time, making time to step away from your desk and get out of the library to continue doing the things you really enjoy will contribute positively to the outcome of your dissertation.
There is no reason to hit the pause button on the rest of your life while you write your dissertation because, with a bit of careful planning, you should be able to continue enjoying your hobbies and socialising with your friends. In fact, time away from your work will be hugely beneficial to your productivity and help you to retain the passion you have for your subject. Remember that you shouldn’t be sitting at your desk for 12 hours every day because it will be detrimental to your health, to your wellbeing, and even to your work. Give yourself a break, you’ve earned it, you deserve it, and you might even find that some of your best ideas come to you when you’re focussing on other things. Just make sure you keep a notebook or your notes app close at hand and remember that there is never any shame in asking for help for dissertation writing, especially when you know your work will benefit from it.
It is incredibly unlikely that everything will go exactly to plan. But that’s OK. Life is complex at the best of times and sometimes things happen unexpectedly. This is why you unquestionably need to build some flexibility into your schedule to account for the time you might need to spend rethinking and refining things that have gone a bit astray.
It is crucial to remember that there is absolutely no need to panic. You have already given a lot of consideration to your dissertation topic before submitting your proposal and agreeing an achievable plan of action with your supervisor. Even if it feels as though everything is falling apart, it isn’t. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you and always strive to ignore any irrational thoughts telling you that you can’t do it. You can do it. The scope of your topic is attainable and there is no reason why you can’t pull things back and make it to the finish line on time.
Your dissertation will ultimately become one of the greatest achievements of your life so far. So, although it will undoubtedly be challenging and difficult at times, don’t take this period of your life for granted. Try to make the most out of every second because when the dust has settled and a little bit of time has passed, you will likely look back on this time fondly. Make sure you give yourself something to be proud of.
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