Two days ago I received the terrifying email notifying me that my dissertation results were to be published soon. Looking back, I have come to several conclusions about my dissertation and how well I thought it went. Overall, I thought it went well (touch wood!) and I was happy with the final product. With this in mind, this blog will give some tips on those yet to complete or start their own dissertation.
Firstly timing, the size of the project means it is quite easy to put it aside and end up falling behind. While I was never in a state of panic or great worry over what I had left to do, my word count overtime was by no means even and saw a lot of it written in the last two weeks. If you are prone to making a lot of errors or are very slow at proof reading your work, then clearly writing it late on may directly impact the quality of your work.
The size of the dissertation, was over double the largest piece of work I had done so far in my degree which was daunting, however by setting it out in clear sections this total goes from being a million miles away to one that is not enough! The 10,000 words essentially become a collection of mini essays which become linked together. By working through it in small sections, it not only helps the task seem easier but it also enables the dissertation to have a clear structure.
What should I pick? When the time comes to get serious about your dissertation you will have a number of choices to make. Firstly, the topic area and then how you will go about acquiring your research. Ultimately, there is not an easy topic or easy method. What you wish to look at in particular will often determine how you then carry out research. I knew I wanted to look at something to do with the police detaining those who were mentally ill, however I worried for a while over what exactly I should focus on. For my dissertation, 2 of my 3 chapters were set in stone from the beginning and by writing those, it helped shape where I needed to go for my final one, the one I had been most unsure about. Many people often get caught up trying to have a smart and complex title, way before the work is complete. By getting the words down on what you definitely know will be included, will end up shaping much of what you are unsure about.
My final comment, is on using help. There is a lot of help available to you through the University itself, but also the department. Using your dissertation tutor as much as possible is common sense and is not something to be embarrassed about. By doing as much reading as you can, you will have a greater understanding of whatever you are studying and 1 page in a book could ultimately change how you go about writing or what you choose to include. Lastly, have different people look over your work. While the dissertation may be on a topic extremely specific and complex, it should still be coherent to somebody with no prior understanding. By getting housemates, relatives and any one you can get your hands on to read through sections of it, it may give you important comments in how you have written it or any errors which you may have missed.
I hope these brief pointers may be of some help. I now have the nervous wait for my results! Fingers crossed!
Check out the link to the University website which provides more information on modules and the dissertation within BA Criminology.
Thanks for reading,