My Best Tips For Writing A Dissertation

I've waited for ages to be able to write this post, I wanted to do this post from the second I started my final year. However, as you can probably guess it's not easy to talk about writing a dissertation when you haven't so instead I thought I would instead wait until it was done and handed in, and actually reflect on my experience of writing a dissertation. I made a lot of notes throughout it so that I would be able to remember every aspect of it. I have mixed feelings really, it was so gain some experience in conducting my own research, with the focus being on a topic I know a lot about I was quite excited to write it. 

I'll admit now, the whole experience was a whirlwind of emotions for me. One minute I was on cloud nine and I loved it all then the next I was up until 3 am rewriting a big section, whether that's the natural self-doubt in me or the pressure to get the dissertation to a good standard. I noticed myself falling in and out of love with it throughout, what I did notice however was that a lot of this emotion was mainly when I didn't have much of a plan, I took an 'odd go with the flow' approach. Which for most things in life I'd be happy with, however when it's my dissertation I needed a bit of structure. 

I didn't put any pressure on myself initially to hit any deadlines, and this was my first setback. I started writing my dissertation early so I knew I wouldn't run out of time. But if I was to do it again, I would set deadlines for myself, they don't have to be massive deadlines but it helps to break down the sections. Set yourself a deadline to write and edit the section by, it'll make the overall editing process a lot easier when you start to reach the end (editing and checking 14 pages isn't easy!).  

A notebook will help you so much, it might sound daft at first but it's always going to come in handy. When I was initially writing my introduction and looking into the literature I got the inspiration for so many discussion points that I luckily noted down. By the time it came to writing my discussion, these points had left my mind and the notes were a real help. It's also good to use a notebook if you have to be reflective of the dissertation. I ran a qualitative experiment and after every interview, I noted three strengths and three weaknesses to my interviewing technique. This allowed me to see if there were any patterns and it helped me to change my interviewing style part way through the interviews. 

Be realistic with yourself, there are some people out there that work under pressure and will spend 10+ hours in the library writing the dissertation out. I'm going to touch on this a little bit in another blog post but I think a big misconception about writing especially with something as big as your dissertation, you have to spend endless hours at a time writing it. But you don't and I think at times it can actually be a detriment, everyone goes on a tangent when they've been writing for so long (godI don't I know about! Some of the blog posts I have written previously have gone on for miles before I've edited them) if you are going to spend a long period of time in the library without breaking or allowing yourself to reflect on what you've previously written there is no benefit to the rest of the time you spend there. 

Now everyone please make note that there will be many many many many many drafts. It can be hard and at times it might make you want to scrap your work altogether and give it up, but after each draft, you do you'll notice the improvements in your writing and it will slowly start coming together. There are very little people that write their dissertation without several drafts, it's part of the process and if you do it gradually it won't feel as much of an ordeal in the end. 

Lastly, your dissertation is important and it is a big part of your grade. However, your wellbeing and looking after yourself is more important, I know people that have gone to great lengths for their dissertation, putting their health at risk. And it shouldn't be happening, you can reach your deadlines and have a great dissertation and still take care of yourself. Don't feel guilty for having a break every now and then, it can actually help you boost your creativity by having a little break. 

If anyone is doing their dissertation at the moment, how are you finding it? Remember to take a break and it will be over at some point 

Until next time, Chloe!

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