Thursday, 26 March 2015

Dissertation Advice The Tutors Don't Tell You

Dissertation Advice The Tutors Don't Tell You
Dissertations always feel like a scary piece of work that near enough most university students will have to do in their final year. Some of you are probably starting to plan your dissertations now, writing proposals for next term, starting to write it or even finished. I thought now was the perfect time to do a blog post on some of my own personal advice and tips that I learnt when I wrote my own dissertation last semester. Some of these you may already know but they could be that reassurance or comfort that you need to keep you motivated as believe me I've been there and I wish at times there was a post like this to reassure me at the time. I hope these help and good luck to you all!

1. Set yourself goals: Setting yourself daily goals on what you want to write about or how many words you want to achieve is definitely something to consider. Dissertation's can get overwhelming at times especially if like me you constantly changed your topic so you were always trying to settle on something new to write about. The night before I was going to write some of my dissertation I would bullet point all the things I wanted to write about for the next day and it wasn't hundreds of bullet points either. The earlier you start it the longer you have which automatically means you won't need to be writing 2000 words a day essentially. I was setting myself 500 words a day that to me felt like enough to be able to handle. Of course some days I wrote under and some I wrote more but it just depended on how far I got. But given yourself goals every-time you write your dissertation is essential as it keeps you organised and you shouldn't feel like you need to tackle 8000 words in one go like a lot of students end up doing surprisingly.

2. Breaks are allowed: It is so easy to be sat at your computer with square eyes, your fourth cup of coffee in your hand and bum prints in your chair to even consider breaks. But breaks are allowed and sometimes I struggled with this too, I would get so stuck into my dissertation that I'd be sat at my desk for a solid 4 or 5 hours and start to think words like 'distinctive' looked wrong, this was a clear sign I needed a break. I don't mean wonder onto Twitter for half an hour I mean actually getting off your bum and get some air or meet up with friends, do something that will stop you getting stressed as easy. Your dissertation is an important piece of work but it isn't that important to overrule your whole life. A lot of the time I would write some of my dissertation during the day then see my boyfriend then go back to it if I hadn't finished what needed wrote and that always helped me keep focused for longer.

3. It is do-able: This one is cliche really but we all think it. The amount of times I found myself almost in tears with worry over not having enough to write about or not being able to finish it in time was ridiculous. If you choose a thorough topic that your tutor has agreed with then you shouldn't worry about not having enough to write about. I was picking up a lot of my next paragraph topics from the previous paragraph I wrote and that is how my dissertation started to get a better structure. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut or repeating yourself then try and do number 2 and come back to it later.

4. Have a positive attitude: Get passionate about what you write about really sink your teeth into it you chose the topic for a reason so that should reflect on your attitude. I really enjoyed writing my dissertation because of the topic I chose I made it into what I wanted it to be. Even just writing my actual dissertation I had a positive mind (once I started writing) I was instead of thinking 'ugh I have 5000 words left to write' I was mostly thinking 'ooo 5000 more to go!' have that attitude and you won't get bored or constantly obsessed over counting down how many words you've wrote. 

5. Plan as you go: Some people prefer structuring or planning their dissertation right at the beginning and sticking to that (and that's fine) but I planned as I wrote. Like I wrote in No.2 I was writing bullet points every evening beforehand so I had goals to achieve the next day. I don't think my dissertation would have been as interesting if I planned it all and stuck to that plan from the beginning. I plan as I go this is how I work, it isn't for everyone but it kept my brain fresh. My plan at the beginning wasn't how my dissertation ended up as a lot of the things I wanted to write about didn't happen because I found other significant bits along the way. I think a lot of tutors expect you to stick to your proposal and work from that but having that bit of paper to work from didn't work for me.

6. It's your work nobody else's: It's true it is your work and you should be able to write and do it when you want to. I know this may come across like I have a lazy attitude but what I am trying to say is if your friend is 3000 more words ahead of you don't let that push you into thinking 'Crap I have to catch up' write it in your own time. It took me ages to get into my dissertation as I was changing my topic so many times and I only started writing it in November (got set in October) and by that time everyone had near enough got there first paragraphs wrote. A lot of students in second year write a dissertation proposal which I felt as though I was being pushed to pick something a lot quicker than I planned. I ended up writing something completely different to my proposal so don't think you have to stick to that just because your tutor says you wrote it in your proposal as numerous amounts of students end up changing it and feel happier about it.  


Those are my top tips and advice on tackling your dissertation I hope they helped in someway! These are things I did myself and I ended up starting mine mid November and completing it over the Christmas holidays and came out with a 2:1 so it is do-able and you should always remember you are supposed to some how enjoy it (as difficult as it can be!) and not treat it as a question you'd get set at school that you'll complete the night before.

Good luck!

Do you have any tips/advice for anyone reading this post?? 
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38 comments

  1. Love these tips! I remember you saying just aim for like 200 words a day if it's getting too much and it works. I've just been editing other chapters this week since I've not been well.

    Laura xx
    Www.laurahadley.co.uk

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    1. Yeah I think if you are having a really shit day and want something out of it even small steps give a positive mind for the next time. Hope yours is going really well too lovely

      K ♥

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  2. Oh man writing a dissertation was HARDDDDDDDDD! It gets so overwhelming in the middle. During the first half I remmeber being so happy about it then I was like seven hells!!!!!

    Rougesalvatore.com

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    1. I agree it was a pain for me too but an enjoyable pain..weirdly. I think I was like seven hells at the start I always over analyse everything before I get into it then stress!

      K ♥

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  3. I am 6600 words into 10000 and just beginning to panic a bit even though I have a while so thankyou for the post! Positive thinking from here on out!!! 😊

    www.suitcaseandsandals.blogspot.co.uk Xx

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    1. aw keep going you can do it! Glad this helps sometimes it is all you need a bit of refreshing reassurance

      K ♥

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  4. I also did mine last semester and would agree with all these tips. I never wrote more than 500 words a day as I just couldn't face it. I actually didn't start mine until the last moment but I worked steadily and was the first to finish despise starting last. Just goes to show that doing a little bit every day is better than sitting down and bashing out 3000 words but then not touching it for a week. Had my viva last week so it's all finally finished! Best of luck everyone, you can do it! X

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    1. I think anybody who writes their whole dissertation in two days straight are brave and crazy! I would be shitting myself at every word I typed.
      I was sort of the same started it mid November and finished it over the Christmas holidays which was definitely a better solution than last minute.
      Aw well done I have mine at the end of May I think!

      K ♥

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  5. interesting tips I will be needing these when I do mine next term so thankyou these are really helpful!
    xo

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    1. You're welcome and good luck!

      K ♥

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  6. Such a great post Katie, I know next year I'll be referring back to a lot of these tips when I'm writing mine - is it weird I'm excited? I think steady, consistent work is definitely the way forward at uni - none of this 'hand it in at the last minute' business, which plagued me first year aha!

    little miss fii || Fii x

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    1. I will keep tweeting about this post every few months cause I know students are probably going to need a bit of reassurance from us all!
      Oh god I know I done that too in first year you pay for it when second and third year hit you think shit. work hard

      K ♥

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  7. Will have to bare these tips in mind as I'm considering going to uni! I get super stressed out about deadlines etc so these are definitely great steps to help pace you. Congrats on your grade!

    Hannah x | hannatalks

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    1. aw good luck if you do it is such a good experience uni! the stress is a package deal unfortunately though haha

      and thanks lovely!

      K ♥

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  8. 100% agree with these tips! My dissertation is due next Thursday so I'll be referring to them over the next week as I put the finishing touches to it!
    Katie @ sunshineandskittles.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I am sure it went well and good luck for your results!

      K ♥

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  9. Oh wow! I'm super lucky that I don't have a dissertation on my University Course!

    allthatshimmers.co.uk xo

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    1. I am jealous some of my friends don't either! I don't think design students should have one or at least have the option!

      K ♥

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  10. I will suffer this next year. Good luck, Katie!

    xx, Be || lovefrombe

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    1. I will tweet about this religiously every few months in case you and others need some de-stress reassurance. But I have no doubt that you won't do well as you are a brainy lady!

      K ♥

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  11. I'll definitely keep these in mind for next year, I'm already super worried about whether I'll be able to cope with writing it haha.

    Emily // Beauty and Lifestyle Blog

    xx

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    1. You will be fine just get your tutors approval before anything as they will know if you have enough to write about, it will be great in the end!

      K ♥

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  12. I am only in my first year of uni and this tips are so relevant to even doing essays, I always try write them in one but I am defo gonna just write a few hundred words a day from now on - never thought of it before! I always feel so pressured when people are done and i'm not - need to think like you do! xx

    That Girl Rhianna // Thoughts, Beauty, Lifestyle

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    1. I know the more I re-read this I agree, think it is helpful for all aspects of writing. So I am glad they were use to you.
      Yeah I know I was the same you've got to kind of get yourself away from that situation and only think of you not how others do. Surprisingly not sure if this is help but those who got their dissertations wrote early on didn't get as good of a mark as they expected so maybe it was rushed

      K ♥

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  13. Great tips! I found writing mine so difficult too at time. There was lots of tears and 'I'm going to quit' moments but I got there in the end (:
    ABlogByPhilippa

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    1. I know me too some sleepless nights were spent writing mine and numerous bars of chocolate

      K ♥

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  14. fab tips!

    www.thewonderlanders.com

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    1. thank you glad you thought that!

      K ♥

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  15. Such good advice, I've got to start thinking about my proposal at the moment and I've got no idea where to begin! I will definately take your advice of writing a little everyday though as that is definately something I need to get into the habit of doing! xx

    www.bambisbeautyblogs.com

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    1. I wouldn't worry a great deal about your proposal do start go get your mind into it now but honestly don't worry if you decide it isn't what you want to write about next term

      K ♥

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  16. I've just posted a link of this to my friend who I know was having a mind block on hers the other day. I'm hoping your advise helps! xxx

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    1. Aw let me know if it does so nice of you to do that!

      K ♥

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  17. I'm currently freaking out about my diss, so this came at the perfect time, thanks!

    Sophie x

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    1. Aw you're welcome don't stress about it honestly it is important but not as important as we think it is in our heads

      K ♥

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  18. I'm really lucky my dissertation tutor was extremely helpful, I remember once I emailed her 5 times one after another with lines like "do I do this?" "wait, is this is?!" and "I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING" and she took it all in her stride haha! I definitely agree the earlier you start it the better, I chipped at mine for months and got it to a much better quality than if I had rushed.


    India | Touchscreens & Beautyqueens

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    1. aw that is really helpful! My tutors were more reassuring than helpful I just did it myself in the end and kept asking if I was going the right way. Yeah you do tend to have a more positive mind set if you start it earlier

      K ♥

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  19. great tips, especially about not letting how everyone else is doing get in the way. I am definitely recommend this post to my sister, she is doing her right now and she is so stressed.
    Zeynab x
    The Beauty Load

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    1. Aw that's great hope she does well!

      x

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