Tuesday

Surviving The Dissertation

It is coming to that time of year where the statuses are starting to fill up with the standard "I-want-to-drown-myself-in--vodka-pull-my-hair-out-wish-it-was-done-so-I-can-have-a-social-life-again-and-not-worry-about-this-sh*t" type of comments. Where the students realise that the work is not going to get done by itself, and that student loan would have been quite useful for print credit right now, had it not been for the last 4 months of partying. Or even better, realising that there is only a short period of time between now and that hand in date.

You guessed it, I am talking about the dissertation!


It is the one thing I dreaded when I was a student, because 10,000 words sounded like life-imprisonment in the library, scouring books for hours and hours. It didn't really matter in my first year, it was another two years away. Second year, and I had a whole year till I even had to think of that. Then suddenly it hit me quicker than a shot of Vodka in 90 degrees, and there I was trying to finish this suppose masterpiece in little time!

Whilst I spent those hours in the library I learnt some useful tips to help me get to that 10,00th word, so I thought I would share these with you. Dissertation, or just an essay, these will hopefully come in handy for you. If you have any, add them on in the comments box below.

Wikipedia IS that best friend.
As much as the lecturers say not to use wikipedia, it's actually the perfect tool for you. You just need to get the quote right and not use the wikipedia link as the reference. If there is a specific sentence you want to quote, keep reading until you find a number in brackets like [7] and click on that number. It will take you down to the references list, where you can click on the link next to the number you chose, and you will be taken to the site it came from. Even better, you can reference that site and probably find more information on there about the subject your chatting about.


Be InterestedDissertations are usually your chance to do a piece of work about something that you are really interested in, so make it easier by doing that. It was so much easier for me to write about Homosexuality in Advertising because it was something I was interested in. It means that when it came to writing it up, I could chat away for ages because I knew so much about it.

Research whilst in bed.

Let me guess, one of the first things you do in the morning is check your phone for messages, and then Facebook for all the updates overnight. We can't help it, we just have to know if something has happened that we missed out on lol! It's a standard procedure for all of us, so incorporate checking the latest news regarding your subject too. If your writing about Fashion, get on the fashion news sites online and get checking. Even better, find a Facebook Page that relates to your subject, or a twitter account, and then whilst your checking what photos you have been tagged in, you can see if anything has popped up on the news feed too :)

Timing.
A dissertation is a quite a big task, so the best thing to do is to work out how long you have till it's due, and make a timetable. This might be the last thing you want to do, but trust me on this, it works so much! Just an hour a day will help out loads compared to rushing at the last minute.

Back it up, back it up!If there is one thing you need to do, its get out and buy a USB stick and back up every piece of dissy work you have done. You do not want to be on the receiveing end of a power cut at uni, only to find that the autosave didn't work properly and you have lost a good few hundred words. I think my scream of horror scared a few people out of the library when that happened to me, and to try and write it all again is the worst thing to do!


Get Talking...
... and don't stop! Why? Because the more you talk to friends about your dissertation, the more of a conversation you will have and they may just bring up something you can include. It could be a simple quote, but hey that's primary research, and you got to hang out with your mates too! Win Win situation :D

Walk away from it.This may make you think what the hell? But it works! If you get to a tough part where your struggling to work out what to do, walk away. It is the BEST thing to do, and in that time you are away the answer will pop into your head. I don't mean sit there and pop onto Facebook for the overdue update, get up from the desk and go for a wander. Grab a cuppa, or go for a walk. It will help you relax and think logically.

The LibraryThis is probably the one place you do not want to spend your time... but it is quite useful. Get you and a few friends together, and grab a table in the study area with your laptops. Sitting and working in a group is great because it focuses you. You don't want to sit there doing nothing when everyone around you is working, and when you do have a group break it feels like its worth it. It beats sitting at home watching Jeremy Kyle with spaghetti on toast, doing nothing.


Don't and Do Not.You probably do this already, but when the word count is a few hundred short, its really useful. Every word that has been abbreviated shouldn't be. Don't becomes do not. It's becomes it is. You get the idea. It adds on a few more words and brings you closer to that word count.

Your new best friend.
Is your dissertation lecturer and advisor. If anything, be best friends with them. Give them wine. Send thank you cards. Go to the meetings. Whatever it takes to be in their good books, do it, because at the end of the day they are the ones who are going to be marking the dissertation. Those meetings are really useful to go through what you have done, and ask for some direction if you are stuck! Mine worked out at 10mins a week, which was more helpful than 10mins staring out the library windows!


The dissertation is really not that scary, and you may have written larger projects than this in the past. If you start with it early, you have enough time to get it done. The quicker it's done, the more time you have to socialise untill that final day of uni life comes. Make the most of it :D