Dissertation 101 | What it’s like to do a dissertation

Hi everyone and welcome back to The Coveted Lifestyle!

I’ve done a few blog posts on university before and I’m back again with another university-related post. I’ve just finished doing my dissertation which is such a big weight off my shoulders. I thought I would do a dissertation 101 thing about all doing a dissertation as I’m sure near enough everyone has to do a dissertation as part of their university degree so I thought I’d go through the whole experience.

So what is a dissertation for anyone who doesn’t know? A dissertation is like the final big assessment that you do at uni. It’s a research project that you conduct yourself and it’s usually between 10,000 words to 15,000. My dissertation is worth 60% off my entire degree so a lot rides on the mark my dissertation gets. Everyone gets a supervisor when doing your dissertation as they are there to help guide you through it seeing as they are sort of the “professional”. Your supervisor is usually a lecturer who has a specialist in your topic. They are a real help while doing your dissertation as they can help you find sources, they’ll look over draft chapters and just overall help you through it all.

I’ll start off talking about picking a topic for your dissertation. I know my uni spoke to us around the end of third year about dissertations and they told us to start thinking about a topic then. Essentially you need to have a topic in mind before you go back to uni for your final year, having an idea of a topic before you go back to uni is so helpful as you’ll have set the ball rolling early. I had my topic chosen in August and I went back to uni in September. When picking a topic for your dissertation it has to be related to your degree. My topic was around bloggers and whether they influence event attendance. My degree is in event management so I managed to find a way to put blogging which I love into my events degree.

A massive piece of advice when it comes to picking your topic is to pick a topic you actually like. Writing a dissertation takes a whole uni year so you want to pick a topic that you’ll enjoy writing and that you will be happy to stick with. If you choose a topic that you think sounds boring and then when you start writing it you then hate it, it may be too late to change. Another point is to not pick a topic that’s too unique or obscure. I know you may think that having a unique topic makes you different from others but if it’s too obscure then there may not be any literature on the topic and that will make your life 10x harder when writing it. One thing my lecturers say about picking a topic is to go broad then narrow it down from there rather than starting off narrow.

THE CHAPTERS

Now onto what is in a dissertation. I thought I would go through all the different chapters in the dissertation and what goes into them etc. Obviously, I know a dissertation structure will depend on what you’re studying but I’m sure the structure is very similar. The usual structure goes Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results and Discussion and Conclusion and Recommendations.

Introduction

An intro is a generic thing for any assessment. In the intro, all you have to do is present a background on your topic so that the reader has an idea of what is to come, your aims and objectives for the research, a rationale as to why you have chosen to do this topic such as there is a lack or no previous studies done on the topic etc and finally an outline of the structure of the research. It’s usually between 1,000-1,5000 words. The intro is probably one of the last things you’ll write as it doesn’t take much time to write compared to other chapters.

Literature Review

This chapter is one of the longest ones to write as you have to do a lot of research for it. in this chapter you have to talk about the existing literature around your topic. This relates back to picking your topic as if there is no literature or relevant literature on your topic then you’ll find this chapter hard to write. This is the chapter where the biggest bulk of your references will come from as it’s full of books, journal articles, websites etc. Google Scholar will honestly become your best friend, I used it so much when writing my dissertation. This section is hard to write as it does take a long time, it’s usually around 3,000 words, but once it’s done a large part of your dissertation done.

Methodology

I actually found this section the hardest to write. This chapter is all about the research method you have chosen to use for your dissertation and then what data gathering method you have chosen to use. It’s usually qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods that you’ll use but the method all depends on what your dissertation topic is. I used a quantitative method for mine as it allowed me to get more data from people. Again your data gathering method depends on what research method you are using. I used a survey as that’s usually the method used for a quantitative study. This chapter has a lot of theory in it as you need to justify the method you used and looking through research methods textbooks is draining. This chapter is usually around 1,000-1,500 so it’s not that big but it’ll take a lot of effort.

Results and Discussion

This part can either be 2 separate chapters or it can be one combined chapter which is what I did for my dissertation. This chapter is all about displaying the results you gathered, either from your survey or your interviews and then discussing it with the literature that’s already out there. I really enjoyed writing this chapter and I found it one of the easiest chapters to write. I combined my chapters together as I found it easier to talk about my results and then discuss the results again the literature and what the results could mean. This is the biggest chapter in the dissertation, between 3,000 to 5,000 and it’s probably the one that means the most when marking so I wouldn’t rush this section as it needs to make sure you’re presenting everything so that it meets the criteria and meets your research aims and objectives.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The final chapter is about concluding the research and finding out whether you achieved the objectives you set for the research. Obviously, if you haven’t achieved the objectives you set it’s fine, that’s the whole part of doing research you will achieve in finding out things but it may not find them out. After the conclusion, it’s then time for recommendations. Recommendations can either be for any future study of the topic or for the industry so for me I did recommendations for both the events industry and for future study. The conclusion is a bit like the Introduction where it’ll be the last thing you write as it doesn’t take too long to write and it’s usually between 1,000-1,500 words.

OVERALL PROCESS

The final part of this post is about the overall process. The dissertation is a very long piece of work which will end being like your baby. Like I said before the dissertation is a whole year project so starts in September and ends in April/May time. So much time is spent doing your dissertation, over the past weeks when I’ve been doing my final edits and finishing touches I barely saw anyone and I spent at least 12 hours in uni. As it gets closer and closer to the deadline, your time really needs to be all on your dissertation. Time management is key for your dissertation as there are so many different chapters that need to get written and done on a deadline for supervisors and even for yourself so that you aren’t spending lots of time on one chapter.

You do need to take some breaks but procrastination can be a really bad thing when you have a tight deadline so time management is key, a good technique I do is work for 45 minutes straight and then give myself a 15 minute break so that I know if I work hard for 45 minutes then I’ll get a break. This technique works the majority of the time but procrastination will win sometimes.

Another thing with the dissertation is the stress that comes with it. Because it’s such a big assessment and it means a lot, it can be very easy to get stressed over it. I know there have been many times I’ve felt really stressed and it’s gotten the best of me. Something to do if you start to feel stressed is taking yourself away from your dissertation and do something else to distract yourself. Go on your phone, go for a walk or watch some Netflix but take yourself away from your work so you get a break. If you try and continue to do your dissertation then you’ll stress yourself so much. Also when you get stressed your work is never as good as what it is when you’re calm.

Managing the dissertation is so important. While doing your dissertation you’ll also have other modules and assessments you need to do so it can be quite hard to juggle them all. Along with the other uni work you have to do, you’ll also more than likely have a job and a social life to have. This links in with having good time management as good time management makes juggling everything so much easier. I juggled all my uni classes and uni work along with working 18 hours a week during writing my dissertation so managing it was quite hard but I managed it. I’d really recommend getting a diary as this will help you so much when planning and seeing when you’re free, I use a one from BusyB which I love.

I wish everyone the best with their current or future dissertations, I know it’s hard and may seem like it’ll never end but honestly, once it’s done you’ll be so happy and proud of yourself for getting through it and you’ll be able to get your dissertation picture.

See you all in my next post

 

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