Dissertation: How to write it and stay motivated
I would assume, everyone knows already that dissertation writing is no joke! It takes weeks and months of research, reading and writing. Although I can only speak on behalf of my course, Environmental Management, having submitted my dissertation less than a month ago, I believe I could give some valuable tips, which could save you from some of the headaches along the way. So, if you are a second-year student, preparing to cruise into your final year after the summer, this small guide might be of use!
First of all, as cliché as this sound, preparing ahead of time is really important, including finding the right topic for your interest. Some of my friends knew a year ahead what they would be writing about, while I also know people who changed their topic at the very last minute! However, although preparing and looking into different topics which might interest you way ahead of time is useful, it is also perfectly normal to not know yet at the start of the year. Especially as your topic and perspective might change slightly along the way.
In terms of preparedness, what I also realised, is that sometimes you don’t have the choice, but to change your idea, such as the structure of the whole topic itself. Therefore, it is very important to be realistic about what you can achieve. You have limited time, and even capacity to accomplish doing tons of interviews! However, if you do have the resources and you have that prepared, then that’s great! But keep in mind, you have to organise all that data as well, and present it within the word count!
Moreover, another important point to keep in mind is to ask questions! Everyone will have an allocated supervisor, which you can even nominate yourself if you feel you know just the right person for your topic. They are there to help you, as well as other lecturers if you think it would be relevant. One of the tips my supervisor gave and was particularly helpful is to set yourself some smaller goals on the way. Having plans you can adhere to, like in terms of word counts, sections or readings, will make you organised and help you to see where you are and what you have to concentrate more on.
Finally, another tip I would recommend is to get back to your introduction and abstract at the end, especially for the abstract! It would just take time to have it ready and then rewrite it again (or forget to rewrite it again) at the end. Likewise, before handing it in, make sure to have a friend or family member read it, because I can assure you, after reading it through the 100th time, you will not have such a positive view, and will not notice all the potential mistakes either!
Nevertheless, at the end of the day what is important is that you are passionate about the topic and enjoy writing and researching about it, even if there are times when you just want to finish it! Good luck!
Written by Zsófi, current BSc Environmental Management student at The University of Manchester