Sunday 23 April 2017

Today I was struggling to think of what to talk to you guys about, but seeing as I spent an hour and a half trying to format my dissertation and keep everything from moving about on Word, I thought why not talk about what's been taking up most of my time the past couple of months. If you're a final year student you're probably reading this in hopes of finding some motivation for the last push, and if you're still yet to face your dissertation then fear not, it's not as scary as it's made out to be! Here are some of my tips for getting through your dissertation and not losing your mind in the process. 

1. Make sure you're writing about something you wouldn't mind spending 500 hours talking/thinking/reading about. If you've got this down, then the rest should come easy. I changed my mind three times before deciding on my final topic. I was originally going to write about the olympics and if they're effective to the host country, but alas I don't even watch the olympics and was only doing it because I know there's a lot of information on it out there, but I would have been bored to death. Instead I decided to look at what motivates millennials to attend music festivals abroad and I've actually found writing it up enjoyable. 

2. Get a planner and start planning. Before you even write your first Tahoma heading, plan when you're going to do what and set yourself deadlines. Remember you probably have a couple other unit deadlines to be working around to, so keep a diary of when you're going to do every thing. It will make the whole experience less scary if you know you have time, and it always feels good crossing things off your to-do list. Here's another blog post I wrote on getting organised at university. 

3. Work at your pace and how you work best. Everyone works differently - personally I prefer to work in the evenings and I worked on a chapter every month. That being said I preferred setting one week of every month for the chapter and aimed to do 500 words a day, which worked for me! I know other people who steadily work on it every day, and others who need the added pressure of it being due in three weeks - although for this kinda work, I wouldn't recommend that. I've always thought I worked better at home, but this year I tended to sit in the same area in the silent library with my caramel frappe - and that was my dissertation setting. 

4. Use your strengths when it comes to research methods. Before I even started my dissertation I thought I would be doing questionnaires just because it seemed like the easier option - type up a few questions, send it out on social media and sit back and wait for responses. However in reality it takes longer and unless you're a social media queen/king you're gonna be nagging people for a while for responses.  Secondly, I've never used SPSS in my life (quantitative analysis) so that would have just been added pressure. Instead I went for focus groups because it was better for my study, and in less than a week all of my research was collected, transcribed and coded - no waiting around for respondents! 

5. Make sure your topic is unique but not unique enough there's nothing out there on it. Your tutor will drill this into you, but no one wants to read another dissertation that's been done 100 times - not giving any examples here incase I blast someones current one. Pick something that you'll be able to gather information for when it comes to your literature review, but that you can add something new to. There's been dozens of dissertations and journals on why people go to music festivals, but on music festivals abroad not so much. 

6. Do something else. You'll go insane if you spend every day in the library from 9-5. Heck I haven't done any university work for the whole of Easter to give my brain some time to refresh and binge watch 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale. It's important to take care of yourself and your mental health at university so make sure you're doing something else with your time. It's also great to come back and read your dissertation with a fresh pair of eyes to notice any mistakes you might have made or missed. 

7. Use your tutors. I've always hated constructive criticism, especially when it comes to writing. I barely read my assignment feedback and have never been the type to ask questions. However for this it's been great to have someone assigned to you to make sure you're going in the right direction and it's always a great motivator for the next chapter. I got into a habit of setting deadlines for myself and then telling my tutor I'd have a chapter ready for her by then, just so I would force myself to do it (I also hate letting people down so this tactic works for me). 

8. Give it to someone else to read who has no clue about your topic or isn't on your course. Or bribe them with a box of chocolates or access to your Netflix subscription, because they must be a nice friend or relative to be willing to read your 12,000 words document. This is a great way of ensuring you haven't assumed people know the meaning of things and not explained things clearly. 

9. Make something you'll be proud of showing people. I'm going to end this list on number 9 because it's my lucky number and I still haven't handed in my dissertation, so I need all the luck I can get. At the end of the day this is what you have to showcase for your time at university, no one wants to read your 2000 word essay on consumer behaviour, but this is something that is all you, and you should be proud of it. 

I'm a final year university student at Bournemouth University finishing my degree in Events Management. I am not a diss expert or saying this will make you get a high 1st as I don't even know what mine is worth yet. This is just advice from one student to another! Good luck to everyone submitting soon or who has theirs to look forward to next year!


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