Tackling and Acing a Dissertation

Creating a good relationship with your supervisor and excellent planning are critical prerequisites to this large project. Here are our top 7 tips that will get you ready to ace your dissertation:

  1. Remember: you are in charge

The moment you come up with dissertation/research topic, you are in the driver’s seat, not your supervisor. A supervisor is an expert in your field of study but it does not mean they are in charge of your research. You must become an independent researcher, especially considering how occupied some of the supervisors may become during the course of your project. You have to become your own dissertation manager. Showing the supervisor that you are committed to your project will help build a great relationship with the, which will motivate them to effectively assist you in writing a great dissertation.

  1. Avoid multitasking

Writing is a skill that requires attention and focus. You cannot afford to be responding to messages, lurking on social media, doing housework, or watching TV and writing a dissertation at the same time. This will severely compromise your quality of work as your mind cannot focus fully on any of the tasks. It is much better to do one thing at a time. This will improve your effectiveness, efficiency and the quality of your work. The more your mind is switching between multiple tasks, the more likely you are to realise you’ve not achieved anything. Identify the most effective time to work, then schedule your research and eliminate disturbances during that time slot.

  1. Plan your research tasks

The most important thing to do when you are writing a dissertation is to plan the areas that you need to focus your research on. Planning and scheduling the separate tasks reduces the amount of time spent on each task. Furthermore, planning gives direction when writing, thus reducing time wasted and giving you an advantage in meeting your deadlines. When planning, it is also important to highlight the most crucial tasks to complete first, especially after getting corrections or advice on certain areas from your supervisor.

  1. Do not reinvent the wheel

A common trap that students fall into is wasting time trying to come up with a totally original concept. The best way to tackle this issue is to find a gap in existing knowledge in your field by reviewing previously published works. Using this strategy will give you direction, and give you an idea of appropriate writing styles and what resources are available for your bibliography and reference list. Previously written student dissertations can be a good place to start with this.

  1. Respect and acknowledge advice from your supervisor

The key to gaining favour with your supervisor is to respect and acknowledge the advice that they give you. The more you listen to and follow their instructions, the stronger your relationship with them will be. Better communication with your supervisor will also improve the quality of the guidance you recieve. Students sometimes forget that their supervisor is an expert in their field – be careful not to become an arrogant know-it-all if you want to have a good relationship!

  1. Manage your time wisely

“Time management is life managed,” according to Brian Tracy. When writing a dissertation, you need to be an effective time manager. Time is lost in seconds and not hours, therefore you must utilise every moment. Commit to a timetable. This will both structure your time and give you an idea of your work speed on different tasks, which will help you manage your time even more effectively. Aim to finish your project before the deadline so that you have ample time for editing and proofreading.

  1. Know where to get quality information

Ensure you have an idea of what your key sources of information are before you finalise your topic. Make use of journal articles, text books, published reports and  newspaper articles. You should also identify the most popular electronic journals in your field. Using journal articles can help you identify other sources by using the reference list. Also identify organisations that could have useful statistics, such as the National Statistical Office, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and leading organisations in your field. These sources are key when researching your topic and building a diverse reference list.

In conclusion, good time management and thorough planning is essential to writing a great dissertation. Build a good relationship with your supervisor and follow our tips above and you will be handing in your dissertation stress-free before you know it!