My Dissertation Journey

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)

If I am to be asked to describe writing a dissertation in a word; adventurous would be that word, especially having done it in the age of our new normal. I cannot begin to explain how bitter sweet the journey has been and if you have made it this far, I give my accolades because you deserve to be applauded and I wish you the very best. That said, I think I want to share my journey and how much fun I have had doing it. I am however glad to inform you that we are seeing the end of this race and there are a few things I have learnt along the way.

Five Hacks to a Smooth Dissertation Experience

  1. Start your dissertation early

I was privileged to have my friends as well as lecturers who through class discussions helped me decide on a topic as early as my last trimester in my second year. That enabled me to narrow my research down to a specific area of study. This advantage motivated my study group to do the same, and eventually we all had a writing timeline in the middle of summer 2020. This was quite challenging, as everyone was in lockdown and we were not mentally motivated to start extensive research, but this gave us the luxury of time to learn and navigate our research at our own pace. Thereby if you start your dissertation early you will have a longer deadline and peace of mind when typing your research paper.

  1. Have a group of accountability partners

Schooling in a pandemic takes time to adjust to, thereby if you are to accomplish a lot, you will need people to constantly hold you accountable and motivate you. It is also exciting when you and your friends turn it into a game of who finishes first and writes best. Take a chance and try it out.

  1. Have a genuine interest in your topic of choice

In order to fully enjoy the process, you must have a passion for it. Year three for me concludes my bachelor’s degree experience and I have been privileged to learn and gain knowledge with some outstanding people. I needed that to translate into my research paper and it felt more fulfilling researching a topic I have had countless academic debates about in class.

  1. Start cross-checking and taking feedback early

One of the best ways to know whether you are doing your work right is to hear it from another perspective. As aforementioned, I am privileged to be in such a good learning environment, and I used that advantage to make sure I was writing my very best. My dissertation writing strategy included: discussing my outline with my friends over a zoom call, cross checking that outline with another friend who graduated a year before me, before delving into the topic with my supervisor and academic services. After getting feedback I adjusted accordingly and repeated the whole cycle again. This also boosted my confidence when writing as I knew my mistakes were being pointed out.

  1. Self-care is key

You can only be the best version of yourself when you are in the best health. So in as much as you are racing against a deadline with added course works and assignment, take time out for yourself. During the course of writing my research paper, there were certain zoom calls that were purposely to relieve stress between my study mates and I, we often talked about movies, frustrations, and shared some needed banter to keep us calm. We even planned a lunch date as a reward for submitting on time and checking off our goals list. The said lunch served as an incentive for us all, and it was fun.

All in all, year three like I said has been quite the adventure, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I do hope that these tips will help motivate you and educate you on the way in which to sail through third year easier. All my best to you and do have fun along the journey.

The Final Hurdle: Useful Tips for Dissertations

By Becky (Student blogger: BA Hons History)

Dissertations, a dominant part of final year at Lancaster or postgraduate degrees. They can be very daunting, and a lot of responsibility is placed on you to research and produce a substantial piece of work. Having recently completed mine, I have learnt many tips throughout my final year to make this process as easy as possible.

Tip 1: Start Early

Starting early is possibly the most beneficial of these tips, as it can save you so much time in the long run. Your workload can be balanced much more easily over a longer period of time, allowing flexibility. Alongside the dissertation will be other modules, which require coursework, as well as all the issues life can throw your way, so be starting early, staying on top of this is significantly easier.

Tip 2: Make use of your supervisor

Most students will have a dissertation supervisor, and they are there to help your dissertation be the best piece of work it can. Draft chapters and plans can be handed in and marked to guide you on the correct path, and even having dealt with strike this year, most supervisors are on their emails and more than happy to help.

Tip 3: Take a break!

It is also important to take breaks from your dissertation. Being such a substantial piece of work, it can be very difficult to focus on it for long lengths of time. Taking breaks can help you make time for your social life, other deadlines, jobs and also help you look after your mental health. A tip here is doing a little bit every day or dedicating one day a week to it will allow you to make progress while balancing it with other work as well as societies and a social life.

Tip 4: Proofreading

What I have personally found useful is getting other people to read it. Whether this be course mates, parents, housemates, your brain will be used to reading the same sentences over again, so having fresh eyes read it can be extremely beneficial. It is also worth getting people who don’t do the same subject as you to read it, they can spot where things need to be better explained for people marking he may not know about your topic, as well as bringing in knowledge and writing skills from their degrees.

Tip 5: Finish Early

The final tip your department will hammer into your heads is to try and finish it a few weeks before the deadline, to allow for editing, printing or binding issues that may crop up close to the end.

Finally handing in your dissertation is a massive achievement you need to celebrate, even if stuck in isolation. Best of luck, and happy writing!!