Dissertation Tips & Help
Make sure you check all the requirements before you start
- What is the exact submission date?
- What is the word limit?
- Are there separate deadlines for particular sections?
- How is it to be presented?
- What are the guidelines about formatting?
- What kind of tutorial support will you be given?
Plan to write regularly; stick to your plan
Although it's difficult to switch in and out of writing mode, it's better to write little and often rather than plan to spend an entire day or weekend writing and never get started. It's a simple fact that small tasks are less daunting - you're more likely to stick to the plan of writing a small amount each day than the plan to spend huge amounts of time doing it.
Make a time plan and stick to it
You need to work out at the beginning how long it will take you. But you may need to revise your plan as needed if you don't meet your deadlines. Be realistic and add in more time than you will really need to do things - that way, you won't feel like you've let yourself down if you have to deviate to meet other commitments.
Write up a section as soon as it is ready
You don't have to write the sections of your dissertation in any particular order but don't leave the whole lot in note form to write up when you're done - again, it's too daunting and you won't feel like doing it.
Stop at a point when you could go on
This comes back to writing for short periods of time. Just make some quick notes about the next points you will make. This makes it easier to settle back down to writing next time.
You say where, you say when...
Decide where and when it is best for you to write and try to capitalise on this. Okay this is basic stuff, but writing in a room surrounded by children, dogs, cats, birds, the TV and the neighbour's hamster is not going to be easy. Find somewhere that you have your own peace.
If you get writer's block, you can do two things.
1. Jot down ideas, notes, drawings, diagrams - just brainstorm stuff for when you're in a better frame of mind. Go for a walk. Take a notepad. Write down anything that comes into your head.
2. Do some of the menial tasks like organising your work, spell / grammar checking, contents page, referencing. It all needs doing so you may as well do it when you can't face doing anything else.
What is the differance between a Dissertation and a Thesis?
A dissertation (sometimes called a 'thesis') is a document that presents the author's research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification.
In the UK, we usually use the term thesis when we are talking about a dissertation written for Ph.D. (doctoral) or M.Phil. level - we use 'dissertation' to refer to the research project required for an undergraduate or Masters-level degree (although it is not always required for the completion of such degrees).
In the US, the term "dissertation" usually refers to the major part of the student's total time spent (along with two or three years of classes), and may take years of full-time work to complete. At some universities in the States, dissertation is the term for the required submission for the doctorate, and thesis refers only to the master's degree requirement. Elsewhere, the word thesis is used for both.
Graduate students in many programs throughout the US are either required to write a thesis at the end of their studies or take a "thesis track" leading to graduation. Students who opt for the thesis route often are seeking to continue on for doctorates or are seeking employment where such an experience is value.