By the time this blog post is up I will have been free from my dissertation (hopefully). Writing my dissertation has by far been one of the most mentally and emotionally challenging things I have done in all my years as a student. I recall back during my final year of IB when I was stressed out and frustrated with the extended essay. Looking back, that was child’s play. A mere 4,000 words on pretty straight forward search subjects in which I wrote about whether personality was innate or developed by environmental factors.This was significantly different in terms of content and effort because while the extended essay just seemed like an excessive literature review, my dissertation involved me designing my own study and questionnaire, distributing it and analysing original data. There were so many challenges that I faced during my dissertation writing journey that made it stressful but at the same time gave me a sense of fulfillment.
There honestly came some points during my disserttation where I wondered if I would even be able to finish it before I gave up out of sheer frustration, exhaustion and self doubt. The hours bent over my laptop and books manifested itself in physical aches as well, where I found myself waking up to a stiff neck and joint pains in my wrist and back. Staring at a laptop for long portions of the day also were very taxing on my eyes and I found myself with frequent migraines. If I can offer any advice it definitely would be starting with full effort from the very beginning. The problem wth the dissertation deadlines is that you feel like you have so much time to write it as you start developing your topic and meeting with your supervisor at the start of the academic year you end up taking the time for granted and many end up in mad rush the closer they get to the deadline.
When deciding what to write your dissertation on, definitely pick a topic which you personally find interesting, but also relates to your degree and is relevant in your field of study. This will make sure you are actually feel like you can engage in all the readings and tedious amount of time and effort spent writing without feeling completely bored. Organisation and developing a step by step structural plan for how you are going to lay out your paper is also crucial. When writing many of my essays I tend to fare generally well with reading and writing simultaneously and also thought that writing essay plans and structure were a bit redundant at times however when you have a 10,000 word dissertation that is not the best approach, this I learned the hard way. Instead, as you do your readings write down key arguments that coincide with your own topic and related arguments of which you can use the supplementary evidence from the readings to support your claims. This also ensures that you can successfully provide a well developed critical analysis of whatever your dissertation prompt may be, without overlooking potential important findings from literature.
Proofreading is another crucial element of making sure you don’t lose marks over small grammatical blunders or typos, and yes while having to re read 10,000 words of the same content that you have been staring at for the past couple of weeks or maybe even months, it is still essential to do before submission. If you really cannot spot any errors, try recruit a willing family member or peer to have one last look over before you submit it, last thing you want is having had it printed and bound to realise you misspelled a word which could have easily been saved.
Indeed the dissertation is one of the most time consuming monotonous piece of work you will be slaving over for months during your final year. However, when submission rolls around you will see how much you have grown as a student and you can take pride in your accomplishments that have gotten you this far into your degree and your future career prospects.