It has come to that time of the year when university students are thrown into the deep end of academic rigours to solely embark on a research project with minimal support from their respective supervisors.
At first, you will be caught up in the euphoria of no more course works to submit and how you need to treat yourself as a reward, to a healthy dosage of movies and T.V. time. Shortly after, reality dawns on you- you have a dissertation to turn-in in 4 months!
I will be running a seminar with a group of students sometime this weekend, on how to write a good dissertation. As usual, I won’t leave you out of the loop, as I would be doing a comprehensive post on the same theme, here on Teesdiary. You know I love to learn from you as well, so feel free to share your dissertation-writing ideas with me. I am a fan of the maxim that goes, more than one road leads to the market.
Before I drop the ‘comprehensive post’ on Dissertation-Writing (perhaps on the coming monday), I want to share a bit of my own experience when I was faced with the same task.
Naturally, we (my course mates & I) were asked to submit topics before a particular deadline. I was lost. I had ideas in my head – but to translate them on paper was a mighty task.
I wanted to save the world, I wanted to save my beloved Africa by my prolific pen, with one research. Despite continuous warning bells by our tutors to keep our topics realistic – I still managed to churn a topic that would take a smart individual an entire PhD and half of a life time Post-Doc experience to finish. I think it’s a mistake we all have to make at first, and then narrow-down.
So I had my perfect topic…
My supervisor was neither pushy nor fussy, he was just himself. He never gave me one deadline for my writing – I had to set my own deadlines, I had to plan, most important of all, I had to discipline myself. I began to understand that writing a dissertation was not just about the written academic work itself, but about developing other skills in the process. Skills such as working (writing) effectively under the most minimal supervision, meeting deadlines and working under pressure, ability for self -learning etc were as primary to the goal of writing a good research project.
One of the first things I did was separate work time from play time. I began to live in the fantasy world that I worked for the UN (which will become reality by the way), and I had to report to work (Library) at 9am every morning and close at 6pm. All through work time, I was not permitted to go on Facebook – if I ever did, I was consciously aware of the fact that I was ‘stealing company time’ (that is Library time) and I would quickly log off. I even gave myself a break period, which I made sure coincided with the end of lectures for my best friend, who would then sponsor my lunch meal *wink* (don’t blame a sister, I was a student). Then I would return to the library.
At the close of ‘work’, when I was satisfied with my work in the library, I sometimes headed for the chinese restaurant very close to the bus-stop to buy my dinner. Home was my playstation where I could Facebook and watch TV without guilt. My favourite show then was Charmed. I made sure that once I was home, I played to the fullest. Heavens knew I needed it – my brain was on overdrive.
This was my routine for months and it helped me. I finished writing my dissertation two weeks to the deadline. Editing and re-editing took me 3 days or less and I was game. My dissertation score erased all the pains of the sacrifice & hardwork I put into it. It was bliss getting my award.
My model may not necessarily work for you, but you have to have a model. Is your brain at top-notch mode only at night? Take advantage of that time. Adopting an anywhere-belle-face approach, that is, i’ll take it as it comes mindset, will get you no where. Supervisors are meant to be your guide not your writers, so do not think you will rely on them at the last minute.
I wish you all the best in your present or future dissertation writing. Subscribe on (follow blog) if you want to be alerted of the post on how to write a good dissertation.
Thanks for reading.