Dissertation? The very word can bring a chill down your spine because it is that dreadful a task. Yes, dreadful it may be, it can be an enriching and engaging part of your academic life provided you take it seriously. However, not everyone takes dissertation-making the way it should be, as a consequence of which you will hear many post-graduate or Ph.D. students cry over it.
I remember my time when I was writing a dissertation for my Master’s degree, and it was an extraordinary task to finish. However, despite all that, it was a resourceful activity I have been a part of and which was made easier because my supervisor offered me some really valuable advice on how to handle dissertation-making.
In this post, I will discuss 5 tips which I received from my supervisor and which turned out to be really handy:
- Do Not Be Hasty With The Selection of Your Subject-matter.
I used to be one of those people who would hastily select a topic without adequate research and start writing on it. This is one of the many things you must avoid because it can become a horrible task for you to get done with research work in the future.
Before you get down to writing anything as a part of your dissertation, it is important that you research extensively on the desired topic. Just because there is a lot of content on your topic does not mean that it makes a good research topic.
You must try figuring out an angle which has not been adequately addressed. It is always recommended that you avoid a descriptive study and hence, you need to research greatly to find an analytical angle.
Take your time, and once you are confident that you will be able to write on the topic confidently, consult your supervisor.
- Discussion With The Supervisor.
Believe me, a lot of batchmates of mine who were assigned to my supervisor never showed up until the very last moment. Such an attitude is reproachable and should not be carried during dissertation-making. If you want to make the entire research process easier, it is necessary you give due regard to discussions with supervisors.
Make sure that you see your supervisor before you actually get down to writing anything. My supervisor helped me in creating a skeleton of the research, by providing me an idea of the areas into which I should look. His output on how to go about researching made half of my troubles disappear.
Also, you should consider meeting your supervisor at least once a month. Keep him updated about your progress and ensure that you clear all your doubts as they arise.
- Make A Deadline.
This advice did not come from my supervisor but is inspired by how I dealt with dissertation-making. Once I had got my topic approved, I looked at the academic calendar and decided on a date by which I should get done with everything. I crossed the deadline, but I wasn’t far from it.
The pressure you get from a self-imposed deadline is quite intense. But, let me clear one thing: you must not keep an unrealistic deadline. Dissertation is a huge task, especially at the Ph.D. level, and you cannot and must not compromise with quality. Be real and consider those deadlines which are practical.
Also, remember to give yourself some breaks. Deadlines are good, but you must not be careless with your health while meeting them.
- Write the Introduction After Everything Else Is Done.
Believe me, writing the introductory chapter could be the hardest part of dissertation-making. It is recommended that you write that chapter after you are done with everything else. If you write that chapter first, then you might not be able to comprehensively introduce the topic.
Once I had written all the other chapters, it was relatively easy for me to finish the introductory chapter. Even my supervisor advised me to write that chapter at the end of everything else.
- Make Sure You Have A Reference Manager.
My dissertation had approximately 600 footnotes, running through 160 pages so you can imagine the unimaginable headache I went through to include citations in the work. One thing that really helped me was Zotero, which is a reference manager.
There are many other managers like it which allow you to automatically generate citations and keep a list of all the references you have used. I caution you against citation generators easily available online because they might not follow the correct formatting style.
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