Surviving The Dissertation: Things I Learnt In The Process of Writing Mine
Hello and welcome back to my blog! 12th of April marked my dissertation submission deadline and I am so glad I am finally able to relax for a couple of days and reflect upon the entire writing process from October until April for my dissertation: “An Evaluation of Management Communication Strategies in a Startup Company”. As you all know, my course is entitled “Language, Culture and Communication”, hence our dissertations had to be related somehow to our prior modules, current modules and the degree as a whole. The topic of our dissertation had to be a very personal one. It had to reflect insight into some of the areas we covered in the relevant modules of our BA and it had to be something we intended to explore further.
1.Make sure you are enthusiastic about your topic and make the most of the opportunity to work on a question you are really interested in. My curiosity for leadership and management communication started around the time I was interning for the IT company that I have drawn my participants from. It can be about anything really, as long as it remains related to your degree; think about volunteering, internships, sports, arts, societies, cultural idiosyncrasies, or any other concerns you may have had at one point about a particular subject matter.
2. You are of course, not on your own; you will develop your topic in dialogue with your supervisor. S/he will guide you to sharpen your focus, avoid potential pitfalls, and direct you to relevant sources. I was lucky enough to get an amazing supervisor, who has been constantly helping me figure out my research questions, the structure of the paper and gave me feedback on absolutely every single piece of writing I sent him. When I was stuck, he would always discover a solution to my obstacles and was always willing to discuss my inquiries.
3. A lot of the work you do will not make it into your dissertation. Be prepared to write a lot and to take even entire sections out of your paper. I think I went back and forth between my literature review and my results sections hundreds of times until I got ahold of the synthesis. In the end, it is all about the process and it will prove to be great self-directed research exercise.
4. Set strict weekly and monthly deadlines. Besides the monthly supervision deadlines your department sets for all students, I think it is important to set for yourself weekly deadlines. It can either consist of words you have to write per week or readings you might include in the literature review.
5. Be ethical. If you wish to collect data from other people, you will need to adhere to some ethical guidelines. You need to respect confidentiality, privacy, anonymity and let the participants know that at any point in the interview they can withdraw from it, thus eliminating their story from your case study. If you are using a narrative inquiry, as a data collection method, then I suggest that you prepare a participant information sheet at the interview place, separate from the consent form, outlining the nature of the research and the potential role for participants. If you have an existing relationship with the research participants, this may have some implications for them, hence you need to state what implications the relationship may have and how to intend to not harm in any psychological, emotional or physical way your participants.
6. It’s worth the hard work to know you’ve completed what’s likely to be your biggest, most important, single piece of work whilst being at university.
Congratulations to each one of my course mates and to everyone else at our university who has submitted their dissos!