I did it… I actually really did it.
It being, my dissertation!!!!!! I have submitted it… Wahoo!
Here is my celebratory picture:
Now I won’t go into too much detail about what my dissertation was about, anonymity and all that, but it was on the music industry and public relations tactics within it. That is the field I want to go into, so I enjoyed exploring this aspect and finding out information I never knew before.
So basically, the point of this blog post was to give future third year students tips about how to start it and how to finish it…..
I have always been told the dissertation is the worst part of university, it is so stressful and so long that you just want to give up. However, not saying I was never stressed during the process I did have my moments; however, I don’t feel like it was the most stressed I have ever been. I have felt more pressure with other assignments than with my dissertation and this is why I think why that was the case….
1) Pick a decent topic!!! – Sounds silly, and everyoneeeee tells you to do this but really – do it! If the topic doesn’t interest you, imagine having to think, write and explore that topic for a whole year…. exactly. Do you get my point now?
– Top tips for picking a topic: What do you want to do as your career? Where do you want to work? What is an interest to you every day of your life? What topics and issues are highly relevant at the moment (this is a big section in the marking scheme at my university, so potentially for you as well – it needs to be relevant).
2) Start early!!!! – I can not explain how much this helped me get through my dissertation process. Everyone says start early, but really… start early! At my university you get your topic sorted at the end of year 2, so you have the summer time to research into it. Not deeply and I wouldn’t recommend starting it then because, well, we all need a break. However, do look at what is going on in that industry. Save articles, save tweets, save press releases – save everything you see online or in a book related to it. Just keep it because it might be the basis of what you write about.
Next plan a schedule. For myself I had a total of seven chapters, references and appendices…. yeah…. A LOT! Our dissertations were also the common style, primary research was involved and oh man it was an inconvenience. Mainly because you have to understand that the people you speak to aren’t going to talk to you at a drop of a hat. You need to make contacts, network, see if your family or friends know people in that industry. For myself, I was lucky because I had music industry contacts but I still had to plan a solid month aside in order to get all of my primary data before writing it all up.
So, get a time line sorted.
3) Forget about the holidays! Now you’re probably thinking NOOOOO! I need my Christmas and Easter break, but you know what… wouldn’t you rather take a week or so out of your holiday time to do work than be super super stressed within the last week before submission and have to join a binding and printing queue a mile long? Yeah… working during the holidays doesn’t sound so bad now does it. I did it, and I still had plenty of time to see my family, relax and hang out with my friends. It is do-able and I’m so glad I did it because I haven’t been so relaxed at university than I have over this past week. Being confident with your work is the best possible feeling and that is usually only achievable when you have been able to have time to look over your chapters and re-work and re-work and re-workkkkkk.
4) Get a second opinion! Now you all get a dissertation supervisor, mine was great. He was so chilled and reassuring that I was able to take this process calmly and not panic as much as I sometimes do. It was great! However, I would always say find someone at the university who can give you a second opinion. Having your mum or dad look through it… just isn’t enough. Now I say get a second person to look at it, your supervisor can’t actually read your work word for word. They are there to guide you and answer questions that you need answering during the process, so having someone who can sit there and read it word for word is such a plus point.
I was able to get help from a lovely lady at my university, heads up to Carina Buckley, who was so supportive in helping me do the best I could, even during the Easter break!! (My Hero). She read through my drafts, gave me advice, I made the changes and then she looked at it again for final advice. It was such a good process because for a lot of people, including myself, the first thing you write is going to be pants. It just is… you need to read over it again with a fresh mind and get other people’s opinions because sometimes you can fall into the trap of writing in the way that you speak…. not good for a dissertation!
5) Invest in a printer! Now, don’t do this if it means you’re not going to be able to eat for a week. But I highly recommend getting your own printer. I have one and lord it made it so much easier. I could print each section off at a time and re-print if there were errors and it didn’t cost a lot of money. I only had to refill one ink cartridge… the black one obviously, so overall this was such a plus for me. I could then take all of my copies to get bound at the university. I chose bank holiday Monday… it was like a ghost town at the binding desk… PERFECT! no queueing for me.
6) Finish early – If you can’t do this then don’t.. but if you have followed my advice about starting early then this won’t be an issue. Leave yourself a week before the deadline and aim to submit then. You beat the queues and you’ll also feel so much better about it. No stress, no panicking and just the overall feeling of success!
7) Forget about it already! – It will be hard… trust me. But seriously forget about your dissertation once you have submitted it. There is nothing you can do and the more you think about it the more you worry (I should know) and the more you worry the more you make yourself stressed and frustrated, when actually you have probably done an awesome job!!
Now I have passed on my wise words… I hope they come in handy. Just remember these main key points and you will be perfectly fine….
1) Plan your time – leave a week before submission with nothing to do
2) Proof read like a mad man, get a minimum of two other people to proof read it as well because what you didn’t see they will….
3) Get other people’s opinions!
4) Don’t be afraid to change it up… if your supervisor is happy with you doing things differently, merging chapters etc (as long as it makes sense to your dissertation) then do it! You might get a higher mark for it!!
5) Finally…. believe in yourself. Don’t waste a year of planning and writing because you don’t believe what you have done is good. It is !
Good Luck fellow dissertation writers!!