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    Hey guys, just wanted a few thoughts on my situation...

    Final year History student, Dissertation is due in a month, and I'm seriously thinking of re-working my initial plan?

    Basically, I have done all the research (it's not as if I'm going to write it in such short a time as I have without no grounding) but it's just the write up. As it stands, I've done about 4,000 words (practically half at a minimum) and as my first chapter stands, it is really good and makes sense, but I feel it will look out of place with the rest of my dissertation.

    A bit of info, I'm doing the power struggle between Trotsky and Stalin, and my focus dates are 1923-1929. I thought it would be a little dismissive not to describe these immense historical figures without any background knowledge, as I personally believe their childhood shaped the people they became (usually the case in general).

    1) Would it, or should I say do YOU think, it detracts away from my main period (the dates above) or do you think it is ok to add in background information outside of those dates?

    I'm just trying to think how to link that early bit in, and how it will look if I go straight into 1923. I've spoke to my tutor and he said the chapter is very good, but wants me to make clear of the stance I am taking. So much happened pre-1923 to permeate the events that happened, that I thought that it would be a little dismissive if I never provided background info on the two figures I am focusing on.

    Personally, I don't think I'd struggle scrapping it. Well not completely, I thought maybe I could use that stuff in the introduction, but obviously condensed down, or do you think I'd be taking a risk and should continue on the path I've taken?

    Thanks!
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    Hallo, History PhD student here. Hope the following helps.

    This is an undergrad dissertation. You dont have to say anything new or astonishing to get a good grade. Many undergrads get a bit overwhelmed and think they have to write a dissertation that includes everything anyone else has ever said on this subject and draw an an amazing earth shaking conclusion. No you dont.

    Keep it crisp, simple and to the point. Dont wobble about trying to include things that actually are outside your title. My u/g dissertation looked at Commonwealth Immigration legislation in the 1960s. My opening chapter read like an entire history of black people in Britain going back (literally) to the Dark Ages. At exactly the same stage you are at now, I took a red pencil to it and dumped most of it in the bin. An entire chapter got reduced to a simple paragraph that said 'black people had been been resident in Britain long before the 1960s'. It was actually much easier after that. I concentrated on describing the political events immediately leading up to the passing of the legislation and, with evidence from original documents at Kew, pointed to the possibility that the Notting Hill Riots had been deliberately mishandled to turn public opinion against immigration. Yep, it was that straightforward, that a+b=c. No waffle, no showing off about all the 'extra' reading I'd done, just 'this happened, this probably happened and the result was this'.

    Go back to your title. What are you trying to say here? If its about the 'power struggle', then concentrate on their relationship and forget everything else. You arent trying to write a treatise on childhood trauma. Anything you say about their early life has to relate directly to your main argument and integrated within the body of the main text (I'd suggest not as a separate chapter), and that argument or standpoint should be very clearly defined in your dissertation title. If your title isnt narrow enough - if it doesnt have a clear, very straightforward question to answer within it - then rewrite it so that it does. Then just answer that question, and only that question.

    Hope that gives you a few pointers to getting back on track. Sometimes you do have to be a bit ruthless with your writing.
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    Yeah that totally makes sense, thanks for the advice! A little disheartening as a lot of work went into what I've done but it can't be helped, at least I feel like I understand the figures better lol. Better crack on then and start again!


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    (Original post by charmanderx112)
    Yeah that totally makes sense, thanks for the advice! A little disheartening as a lot of work went into what I've done but it can't be helped, at least I feel like I understand the figures better lol. Better crack on then and start again!


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    Wow, what uni are you at? Starting again at a late stage is brave, but good on you if it doesn't look right/feel right.

    Good luck with completing it
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    I'm in exactly the same situation as this! I'm doing the reasons for a growth in anti-Semitism in Germany between 1933 and 1938. My first chapter is major trends in European and German anti-Semitism before 1933 as a sort of context :/ my tutor thinks it is good but I'm so worried about everything that I can't concentrate on what I could do to improve it lol! Also, my other 2 chapters are on legal policies (law, propaganda etc) and their impact on the growth of anti-Semitism and wider social factors ie terror, public opinion and opposition (or lack of). What do you guys think? Sorry for the essay, just feel like I'm going to have an emotional breakdown any minute!

    Back to the main point of the thread though, I think your dissertation sounds good OP I would probably mention their childhood as part of a chapter and maybe write something about their personalities etc? Although I'm not particularly good at Russian history so may not be the best to comment! Good luck with it!
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    (Original post by Makebelieve15)
    Wow, what uni are you at? Starting again at a late stage is brave, but good on you if it doesn't look right/feel right.

    Good luck with completing it
    Hey I'm at De Montfort. I know, it's a brave move but I think it's for the best! And thank you
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    (Original post by bexl24)
    I'm in exactly the same situation as this! I'm doing the reasons for a growth in anti-Semitism in Germany between 1933 and 1938. My first chapter is major trends in European and German anti-Semitism before 1933 as a sort of context :/ my tutor thinks it is good but I'm so worried about everything that I can't concentrate on what I could do to improve it lol! Also, my other 2 chapters are on legal policies (law, propaganda etc) and their impact on the growth of anti-Semitism and wider social factors ie terror, public opinion and opposition (or lack of). What do you guys think? Sorry for the essay, just feel like I'm going to have an emotional breakdown any minute!

    Back to the main point of the thread though, I think your dissertation sounds good OP I would probably mention their childhood as part of a chapter and maybe write something about their personalities etc? Although I'm not particularly good at Russian history so may not be the best to comment! Good luck with it!
    Hey, I suppose it depends on how long the first chapter is, and if it takes up a massive chunk of the dissertation. I know context is always good, so as long as you show the impacts it has had on your time period I think it should be fine. Problem with mine is that my first chapter is nearly 3,000 and that's basically a third of my whole dissertation, and runs the risks of detracting away from what I am focusing on, hence I'm going to condense it down loads!

    Yeah, I'm going to mention how their childhoods/personalities impacted their future roles, but I've dedicated too much time to it so I'm in this mess lol.

    Good luck to you too!
 
 
 
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