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Tackling a Dissertation: Final Notes

By uczcslo, on 2 June 2016

Photo by: skdevitt | Flickr

Photo by: skdevitt | Flickr

As this is my last UCL blog, I’ve decided to round off with some key dissertation tips. Having now met my dissertation supervisor, I feel enlightened and able to provide stronger insight. Having expert advice can get you on the right track. These four tips are new knowledge to me and vital for dissertation success.

Don’t assume that your methodology is correct

Although it’s tempting to plan schedules and think of which research method you are going to use, it might be too early. For example, I immediately jumped on the idea of doing a survey and to my dismay realised that I shouldn’t just assume what I’m doing is what NEEDS to be done. After my dissertation meeting today I realised I have to figure out EXACTLY what my dissertation is trying to show. Even if your methodology feels right, it might not be the best option for your choice of topic.

Don’t focus on the numbers

When dissertation time approached I started thinking of the dreaded word count, and the amount of sources I have to trawl through. Looking at too many sources might instead hinder your progress and ability to see deeper into the dissertation topic. Focus on sources that are relevant. Don’t feel the need to add sources to your bibliography just because you want to seem like you’ve done lots of research. Get inside the sources. Have fun and get to know what you’re working with and how to use it. The word count and bibliography will come with it. It won’t seem so bad and before you know it you’ll have the word count. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

Leave time

When writing your first draft proposal it may feel like the finished product. It’s not. When you have your meeting with your supervisor you’ll realise that your proposal really is one of the first steps that can produce success or failure. It sets you up and helps you focus on exactly what you need to do. Learning how to approach the dissertation can be the most difficult part – I found out the hard way. Crystallise ideas and get in the dissertation zone, or you could end up writing 10,000 words of nonsense.


Commit to write every day if you can for however many months you plan to write. Read, write, edit, read, delete, write, edit… Maybe you throw in a source because you think it’s important but after more research you realise there is better out there.  Don’t reach the 10,000 word count and think you’re done. There is always room to improve.

And finally… use your supervisor to your advantage

Ask your supervisor to help you keep on track, whether it be just keeping you accountable or working together to make a good schedule. Think of them as your guardian angel for a few months. Don’t ask and you don’t receive, right?

Remember how much of your degree the dissertation is worth and POWER THROUGH!

I enjoyed blogging and hope that my blogs have entertained and helped you. It’s time for me to get cracking with my dissertation based on my words of wisdom and I’ll leave the blogs for the future MA Publishing students! Good luck!