As a final year student, one of the biggest challenges I face this year is writing a dissertation. In this post I will talk about some of my experiences and advice. A lot of this will apply to essay-writing in general, so I hope this can help you all in some way and prepare you for what may lie ahead of you.
This will vary from course to course, as some are more practically-based than others. As a business student researching customer opinions, my research has been conducted via an online questionnaire. This is a great way to collect large amounts of quantitative data very quickly, in a format that can be easily analysed. The Business School provided me with a Qualtrics account, which allows for the creation of professional-looking questionnaires that can be distributed via social media. Using this method, I’ve luckily been able to collect over 300 responses to my survey, allowing for a relatively reliable set of data to use in my Project. This forms a fairly good basis on which to start writing.
Over the years, I’ve refined the way I write to make my workflow more efficient for me. Although this might not apply to everyone, I’ve found the easiest way to write a big project is to begin by looking at it holistically. Consider the project as a whole, and what you want to achieve with it. Separate it into manageable chunks, and create a basic structure with titles, headings, and subheadings. Make notes about what each section will include, and then do the research for each section in turn, pasting relevant links to academic sources under each one along with a brief description of the point you intend to make with it, and ideally completing the references as you go rather than at the end.
With all this done, you’ll be left with a skeleton of an essay which you now just need to fatten up by going through the mere formality of adding some words. This may sound overly simplistic but writing the essay section by section in this way after having done the hard work already can make the process much easier as you’ll have in mind the context of each part, in relation to the rest. I find myself writing essays far more quickly when the research is completed first, rather than jumping head first into it and researching as you go.
All this being said, writing a dissertation is unavoidably a time-consuming process. It’s important to invest a lot of time and effort into it, so I’ll be spending a lot of time in the library over the next few weeks. Good luck with your essay-writing throughout your course, you’ll soon find a work style that suits you best. Feel free to leave any tips you have in the comments below for each other. Don’t forget to make time for yourself to relax every now again, taking some time off can help recharge your batteries and keep you motivated. Check out my photos throughout this post from a day trip I recently took to the Cotswolds!
Talk soon people,