Tips for approaching your dissertation

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Written by Bradley Ledger, an NTU Alumni 

First of all, I hope you had a lovely winter break and have come back to university in this new decade fresh and ready to go!

I know the feeling very well, Christmas is over, the last mince pies have been eaten and you’re back in Nottingham to continue your final year. Very quickly, however, the word dissertation is mentioned and it feels like it’s just around the corner. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it isn’t, because it is! But that’s okay! I’m writing this post today to offer my advice on how to approach your dissertation post-winter break.

I used the acronym FOCUS, fitting right?:

Find the time to get it done. I recommend planning out your week on an excel spreadsheet, colour-coding it (to represent your lectures, revision and dissertation and sticking to it. Sticking to it is imperative, but also be sure to allow for adequate breaks, a cup of tea is mandatory (it isn’t!).

Order – plan the structure and flow to avoid going back on yourself. Make a plan write it out in a word document (makes for easy editing if it changes) print it out and have it on your desk, this way you always have a reference to see where you are and what you should be writing about. This is also a good way to stay on topic and keep the dissertation moving in the right direction.

Constantly reference throughout to avoid having to find sources potentially weeks after you first found it. There’s not really much else I can say to this. Referencing as you go and updating the bibliography were real time savers in the long run. To quote Shia Le Beouf “Just do it!”

Use all resources you have available to you. The library, the online sources, the internet! That’s what they’re there for! Ask your lecturer if they have any tips or any resources that may help you.

Social life – meeting up with friends for a coffee, a walk or going to watch a film every now and again is essential for your mental well being. Dissertations are a lot of stress and these breaks allow your mind a break. Meeting up with friends for a couple of hours a couple of times a week, putting a ban on the ‘D’ word and playing a board game really helped me to get my mind straight during my dissertation and allowed me to come back with a fresh pair of eyes.

I hope this brief bit of advice has helped you. I wish you all the best for your dissertations and want to leave you with a parting comment.

“You can do it!”

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Personal Pastoral Support at NTU (general worries and anxiety, homesickness, loneliness, a relationship breakup, or a bereavement)
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Counselling
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness


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