Updated: Jan 13, 2020
If you are in your final year of study, chances are you will most likely be writing a dissertation. This dissertation has probably been framed as the most important thing you will do at university and whilst this might be true in terms of how your degree is structured, there are ways to make the experience of completing your dissertation more enjoyable and less stressful. This article aims to unpack some ways that you can manage the workload of your diss and actually enjoy the process of completing your project.
Tip 1:Set yourself a target
As a starting point, it’s good to have a desired end point.
What exactly do you want from your dissertation? Would you be satisfied with a 2:1? Are you trying to get the highest mark possible? If you know exactly what you are trying to do when it comes to your dissertation, it is easier to devise systems to ensure that this objective is achieved.
Tip 2: Draft to save time
If you want to manage your workload, get writing early. It doesn’t have to be the most amazing section ever written, but if you have ideas or sections ready to write, get writing. In my experience, drafting early saves time towards the end of the final write up. For example, if you have sections that you like from earlier drafts, these can be added in during your final write up process. If you’re stuck for inspiration, again, the drafts can allow you to play with structure for your final report in a less stressful environment way before hand in. In the dissertation game, it’s all about leveraging your time - having draft versions to play with and pull from does exactly this.
PRO TIP: Make sure you save your drafts and name them clearly (Draft 1, 2 etc.). This will make going through the drafts much easier when it comes to your write up.
Tip 3:Read others work
Sometimes, looking at what your peers are doing can provide inspiration for your own report. This does NOT mean copy each other, but in a potentially high stress environment like dissertation writing, having an idea of what your peers are doing can combat any performance anxiety surrounding your own work.
Tip 4: Schedule in work time
To get the most out of your dissertation, you want to make consistent time for it. It could be something as simple as scheduling in an hour or two per week at the beginning of your diss journey to read articles/papers relating to your research topic. These small commitments compound over time and drastically reduce how much work you have to do towards the end of the year. I know students that have started researching for their project three months before their hand in! It’s doable (just!!) but certainly not healthy or enjoyable. Take the pressure off as early as you can.
Tip 5: Read papers from your field
It’s good to get a “feel” for your paper by reading published articles. Dissertations are usually expected to be as close to industry standard as possible. What better way is there to make sure you are doing so than by reading industry approved bodies of work?
Tip 6: Don’t neglect other commitments
Yes the dissertation is important, but don't forget to make time for your other modules and commitments. Your dissertation is a component of your degree, meaning there are other things you should also focus on to maximise your chances of success.
These are some ways to ensure that you are staying ahead of yourself this year when it comes to your report writing. Dissertation work can be stressful, which is why it is important to know ways in which you can reduce this stress as much as possible going in to this year. I hope you found this article useful!