Five tips for a quality dissertation

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dissertation, university, student life, Alex Veeneman, Kettle Mag
Image: Sean MacEntee/Flickr
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The dissertation reflects an interesting point in one’s time at university. It is a symbolic representation of the end – the culmination of your degree reflected by a plethora of research and references, ready to be typed into a document, then bound, all to submit.

It also can be the most stressful, trying to cram it all in and to make the deadline. For a short period of time, all night sessions become the norm, while the library becomes your instant best friend.

Preparing and thinking about future dissertations come amidst lingering concerns of students using essay mill sites and paying for essays. There are several risks when it comes to it, notably the risk of failing the degree if one is caught cheating.

 

 

With all of this in mind, it has become important more than ever to submit something that is focused on quality, not quantity. Here are five tips to consider when doing so.

Start your research early

Think about a topic or two that you might want to do your dissertation on and do some informal research. Try and stay on top of the subject and save any reading you come across. The research at this stage may not be much at first, but it can help you get a sense of what topic you would want to do.

Consider a niche topic

There are a lot of interesting areas that can be examined, irrespective of what you study. They come with questions, some that have been answered that warrant further examination, some that aren’t.

Ponder an area in the overall topic that you’re considering that requires further examination. When you have an idea of what topic you want to do, talk to your tutor as early as possible to try to get it set.

Do formal research each day

Whether it is an interview with someone, an article you read in a newspaper or online or in a reference journal, make a note of it. Create a folder in your email or a Google doc with a list of what you saw and when. That will make the references pages easier to write when it comes time to put the final document together.

Seek perspective

If in doubt, ask. If you stumble upon something uncertain, ask your tutor about it. Don’t wait until required meetings or towards the end when you’re putting it all together. Stay in contact with your tutor so any problems that come up can be resolved in a quick and timely manner.

Have it peer reviewed

When you have it just about done, have someone peer review it. You can have a group of your mates review sections of it in order to break it up. The perspective from them can help you in the final stages of producing a quality piece of academia.

With these five tips in mind, you can be on your way to creating a quality dissertation – a dissertation that is a worthy academic document, and a guarantee that you won’t fail your degree.

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I'm one of Kettle's Managing Editors, as well as a contributing writer for the site.

I write about British media and journalism, as well as on current affairs and culture. I am also interested in the future of radio in the UK, particularly the role of the BBC and public service broadcasting.

I have been contributing and editing for Kettle since April 2012.

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