Being a final year student is stressful, but having a dissertation on top of that is just a nightmare. I’ve been working on my research for the past five months and I have roughly three weeks to finish it. I’m getting more and more anxious by the minute, and I’m sure there are other students who feel the same way. So, here are my tips on how to handle your dissertation if you are on the verge of giving up.
Choose the right topic, but be ready to change it
Researching something that you are passionate about will help you stay focus. But don’t think that your topic won’t change eventually. For the past two months, I changed my context and my title at least five times. Once you have done your literature review, the gaps in the existing studies will point you into a different direction. Also, you might need to tweak your topic when you start recruiting for participants. I couldn’t find people for interviews in the beginning, because my topic was too niche. I had to broaden my research scope in order to find enough respondents, but I kept my main idea.
Get as much feedback as possible
Every student has an assigned supervisor to help with their dissertations and provide feedback. However, try and get feedback from other people as well. For example, I often discuss my research with my friends, because they can give me new ideas and different views. Also, I signed up for two student conferences, where I can present my work in progress.
Last month, I presented at the SURE conference at Bournemouth University, and even though my research was far from ready, I got feedback from lecturers and other students. And next week, I am going to Wales to present at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research. My dissertation is still not finished, but I have more findings to show and I’m sure that I will get valuable feedback from the professors there.
Breathe, everything will be fine
Writing a dissertation can be a very stressful period of students’ lives. I’ve felt hopeless and depressed numerous times for the past few months, but everything works out in the end. I was struggling to find participants for a very long time, but I managed to interview enough people. It’s important to focus and do your best, but your dissertation shouldn’t overtake your life. There will be moments when writing the literature review is the last thing you want to do, so just do something else. I still binge-watch Netflix over the weekends or go to the cinema. I haven't restricted myself from relaxing things, because taking care of my wellbeing is essential. If you are too stressed all the time, you will be demotivated to work on your dissertation.
If you are currently writing your dissertation, just hang in there, everything will be fine. To all final year students out there, good luck. We can do this!
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