Dissertation: Should I complete all reading/data collection before writing?

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LDS0507
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Just starting my masters dissertation, just wondering if I should do all reading and data collection before I start writing anything, even my introduction? Or could I get started on that now?
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by LDS0507)
Just starting my masters dissertation, just wondering if I should do all reading and data collection before I start writing anything, even my introduction? Or could I get started on that now?
Research is always a bit messy and non-linear, and tends to work best if you run a few things in parallel. That provides a safety net if something dead ends, or you have a delay waiting for lab access / kit to arrive / inter library loan / quality time with your supervisor etc. So yes, best to mix up some early writing with the core reading and data collection.

HOWEVER – expect to have to revisit things you write early on, some of it will turn out to be a bit cr*p and need serious editing, it will be all the better as a result. You will also find yourself (re)reading a paper later on and have that “oh now i know what it means” or "wow, I see that in my data" moment and go and “fix” your earlier draft. Writing also throws up “FTF does that mean moments”, you really want those happening early enough that you still have time to fix them by diving back into the lab or literature.
Last edited by Mr Wednesday; 1 year ago
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AnishaNassali
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My idea was to start the background, lit review and survey design while waiting for ethical approval. Then once I received it I started advertising and data collection. This is the stage I am now. Please help me with my questionnaire if you can https://livpsych.eu.qualtrics.com/jf...Wmi26G3nkqNoI5
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Reality Check
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(Original post by LDS0507)
Just starting my masters dissertation, just wondering if I should do all reading and data collection before I start writing anything, even my introduction? Or could I get started on that now?
Couldn't agree more with Mr Wednesday - it's best to get working on a few things together. As well as the point of having something else to do when the thing you're working on grinds to a halt (more often than not because you need your supervisor's input and he's unavailable/abroad/etc), it stops you getting bored of doing just one thing.

I'd always start writing as soon as you can. Whatever you write is going to need significant and ongoing revision, but starting as soon as possible helps to marshall your thoughts a bit, direct your reading and get you into the habit of writing little and often. It helps to stop a 'writers block' and that whole concept of 'writing up' (in the sciences, anyway).
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