My degree is almost over!
This is the last week that I will ever have to complete assessed work, it is ~3000 words for my dissertation. However, I have finished the bulk of the work (coding in Matlab) and I now have my findings so, I’m on the home straight. I want to have the writing done by Thursday to allow for editing time. When you’re writing your dissertation always enlist both course and non-course friends to get a range of views on your work. Also, tell them to be as critical as possible because projects are worth 25% (for biomedical sciences) of the year so pretty big!
Writing a dissertation:
- Get organised. Start planning your time and deadlines to have specific work done. For me, it was to have my basic code and introduction completed by the second week. Then I could introduce spatial data, produce matrices and incorporate those into the model. In the final week, I wanted to have my findings sorted and that would just leave my discussion. I know this all sounds very last minute but once you have findings finished the rest comes easily.
- Use a skeleton. I liked to use a skeleton to plan out answers. Essentially, they’re formed of the key information you want to include. To produce one, I read a source and note down important facts or mechanisms. You can re-order skeletons to figure out where you want to put each piece of information. Then you write the paragraph based on the skeleton. It helps to organise thoughts and prevents ‘waffling’ keeping arguments concise. If you do this for every source you can identify the overlaps to reference accordingly.
- Don’t leave referencing to the end. I have friends from other courses who leave referencing to the end. This makes it easy to leave out a source or to even confuse sources. Also, referencing is a very boring task and needs to be completed to a high standard so, trying to write your 50th reference after hours can lead to mistakes. Instead, I would reference as you go along. Personally, I use myendnoteweb or the built-in Word referencing. Both are free and easy to use. They also allow you to change the reference if you used more pages than previously cited.
Overall, if you keep to a schedule and keep track of what you do then you’ll find yourself on top of your dissertation. The best piece of advice I received was "you never seem like you’re going to finish until you do". But this is the last hurdle of my degree and I’m excited about the future!