Manage your time effectively
Specify a clear research question
Understand your research methodology
Construct a comprehensive search strategy
Engage critically with the literature
Leave no stone unturned in your search for resources
Think carefully about how to structure your argument
Write with an analytical style
Make the most of Word
Seek help when you need it
Finally, if ever you’re struggling with the dissertation process you should seek help when you need it. Yes it’s an independent project, but everyone at the University wants you to succeed and there’s lots of support available to help you do just that.
Your dissertation supervisor will be a great source of support. They are there to guide you through the expectations from the department, help you to refine your research topic, and to answer specific questions about how to approach your dissertation. In some departments your supervisor may be able to provide feedback on dissertation drafts, but you should check the specific advice from your department.
Your department might set up meetings with your supervisor on your behalf, or you might need to approach them yourself to do this. Either way be sure to make the most of this valuable resource. Remember, however, that your supervisor will be busy. They might be supervising other students at the same time, and will almost certainly be doing teaching and other activities. You should therefore give them plenty of notice to book in meetings, especially if you need them to provide specific feedback. You should go to meetings with a specific agenda in mind, as your supervisor will expect you to lead the discussion.
There are lots of other sources of help across your department and the University, including:
Your department might provide timetabled classes to support the Dissertation module. You should attend these to get an overview of the process and specific support for the research and writing of your dissertation.
Your department’s Academic Liaison Librarian can help you to make the most of the huge array of resources in the Library, as well as useful tools such as reference management software. Contact them for a 1:1 appointment to discuss your research; you can find their details on the Library’s Subject Guide for your department. You can learn about how best to re-use copyrighted material in your dissertation in our Copyright Guide.
The University’s Writing & Language Skills Centre provides support for academic writing. You are able to send drafts of your work in advance alongside the assessment criteria, which you can then discussion one-to-one with a writing tutor. They offer frequent drop-ins and appointments (book via their website), but be sure to book early as they can be very popular.
Your department’s admin team will be an invaluable source of help around the practicalities of the dissertation, including when to submit and in what format. Don’t be afraid to approach them if you have any questions. Your department may also hold copies of previous dissertations which you can consult for reference.
Your peers, friends and family continue to be a crucial support network in these final stages of your degree. Why not share your experiences and top tips with other students in the same boat?