As one group of students celebrate handing in their dissertations, another are preparing to march in to battle.
If you’re heading into your final year this September, you’re probably already thinking about the big D.
Whether you’ve already submitted a proposal, or have no clue what you’ll write 10,000 words about, you know you’ve got a mammoth task ahead.
To help ease some of your woes, we’ve compiled a list of all the things we wish we knew before we started writing.
1. Start early
You should begin working on your dissertation as soon as your proposal is accepted.
That might be before the summer break or much later in the year, but either way, you’ll need as much time as you can get.
Some people who wait until after Christmas to start theirs didn’t get the grades they hoped for.
2. Get to know your supervisor
They will be an invaluable source of information, inspiration and support.
Respect their feedback, and take any criticism on the chin; they’re on your side.
And don’t forget to thank them in the acknowledgements!
3. Seek alternative supervision if appropriate
Don't feel bad if you think your supervisor isn't right for you.
It happens more often than you think, and it's best if you can find someone who you get along with and will help you achieve your goal.
You can request to change to somebody else, and as long as your reasons are legitimate, this should be perfectly fine.
4. Don't bottle things up
And threaten to start all over again. Or quit altogether.
Your dissertation will be the most important thing you have ever done (academically speaking) and it’s really stressful!
Just remember that these reactions are perfectly healthy, and that junk food and an evening in front of Netflix is the ultimate cure.
5. Make use of technology
The internet has tons of excellent resources, there are great apps for organising your time and when you need a break, YouTube will provide cat videos galore.
But that isn't to say your computer crash, the printer will jam and you’ll get headaches from staring at screens.
6. Try not to let it take over your life
When you’re not working on it, you’ll be thinking about it or talking about. And you will definitely dream about it.
However, don't let it become the only thing going on in your life. Make sure you take regular breaks to recharge, and get out of the house at least once every day.
7. Stay healthy
If you don’t prepare in advance, it’s really easy to let it all go.
Eat vegetables, try to get enough sleep, drink lots of water and don’t ever feel guilty about taking a day off.
Everyone needs a rest, so look after yourself as best you can - it's a long road ahead.
8. Beware social situations
Your family and non-student friends will feign interest but would probably rather talk about anything else.
That might sound harsh but it actually lets you escape the dissertation for a while, so you might as well embrace it!
9. Save money for printing and binding
Unfortunately this is just a cost that has to be eaten, and there isn't really anything you can do about it.
However, make sure you have enough ready in the kitty for when the time comes, so you don't end up in a last minute panic, having to ask to borrow the money from others, etc.
10. It's all worth it in the end
When you finally hand in your dissertation, you should be really proud of what you’ve achieved and celebrate accordingly!
Or sleep for a week.
Whatever you decide to do, give yourself a big pat on the back - you've worked hard and deserve to let your hair down!
For more tips and advice on postgraduate study, please see:
- Taught Masters Degree
- Research Masters Degree
- Research vs Taught Masters
- Writing a PhD research proposal
- Choosing a PhD supervisor
If you have any comments, suggestions or questions about my post, please leave your message below.