Any advice for how to get a first in a dissertation? Watch

ayocici
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Hi everyone,

I'm in fourth year (scottish undergrad) and therefore have to write a dissertation to be in by the end of March 2019. I'm already panicking about this because I've not got a concrete topic yet (still reading). I finished 3rd year with my GPA being between a first and a 2:1, so this year I really need to get all As in my modules to secure a 1:1.

Please may I ask what others have done to complete their dissertation? What should I be doing right now (as a beginner) should I be reading and making notes?

Sorry for this broad question - I've not been allocated a supervisor or had any dissertation classes yet.

ANY help is appreciated. Thank you so much!
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username4094562
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(Original post by ayocici)
Hi everyone,

I'm in fourth year (scottish undergrad) and therefore have to write a dissertation to be in by the end of March 2019. I'm already panicking about this because I've not got a concrete topic yet (still reading). I finished 3rd year with my GPA being between a first and a 2:1, so this year I really need to get all As in my modules to secure a 1:1.

Please may I ask what others have done to complete their dissertation? What should I be doing right now (as a beginner) should I be reading and making notes?

Sorry for this broad question - I've not been allocated a supervisor or had any dissertation classes yet.

ANY help is appreciated. Thank you so much!
I originally started my dissertation by brainstorming topics that I was interested in. Then, I started doing some reading on these topics, which helped me decide what I was actually interested in writing about.

Your dissertation supervisor will help you think of a more concrete topic but it couldn't hurt to already be formulating some ideas before you have your first meeting with your supervisor.
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ayocici
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(Original post by Constantine2018)
I originally started my dissertation by brainstorming topics that I was interested in. Then, I started doing some reading on these topics, which helped me decide what I was actually interested in writing about.

Your dissertation supervisor will help you think of a more concrete topic but it couldn't hurt to already be formulating some ideas before you have your first meeting with your supervisor.
Thanks for replying! When you were doing your reading, did you take notes? Then after, did you begin to write the lit review? I want to make notes but i don't even know what i'm actually making the notes for ...
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Helloworld_95
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Only until March? That's quite short, especially if you don't have a supervisor yet.

I'd say my first piece of advice is do a very thorough literature review (essentially reading through lots of relevant papers and making notes about their methodology, results, etc. and figuring out what hasn't been researched). If you don't do a sufficiently thorough literature review then you can end up missing out on something important which either makes your research pointless or makes it considerably more difficult or time consuming than it needed to be. This will also help your research be more impactful as you'll have a better idea about where the research gaps are.

Secondly, don't be afraid to ask relevant researchers about their work. Worst case scenario they'll ignore you, best case scenario you just got a PhD offer.

Thirdly, if you're going to challenge someone else's findings, A) make damn sure your methodology is better than theirs, and B) add something else in. Given your time frame I would avoid doing this though.
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ayocici
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Only until March? That's quite short, especially if you don't have a supervisor yet.

I'd say my first piece of advice is do a very thorough literature review (essentially reading through lots of relevant papers and making notes about their methodology, results, etc. and figuring out what hasn't been researched). If you don't do a sufficiently thorough literature review then you can end up missing out on something important which either makes your research pointless or makes it considerably more difficult or time consuming than it needed to be. This will also help your research be more impactful as you'll have a better idea about where the research gaps are.

Secondly, don't be afraid to ask relevant researchers about their work. Worst case scenario they'll ignore you, best case scenario you just got a PhD offer.

Thirdly, if you're going to challenge someone else's findings, A) make damn sure your methodology is better than theirs, and B) add something else in. Given your time frame I would avoid doing this though.
Thanks for your reply! This will certainly help me. I have no idea if this is a short timeframe or not ... I guess it is!
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ayocici
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Only until March? That's quite short, especially if you don't have a supervisor yet.

I'd say my first piece of advice is do a very thorough literature review (essentially reading through lots of relevant papers and making notes about their methodology, results, etc. and figuring out what hasn't been researched). If you don't do a sufficiently thorough literature review then you can end up missing out on something important which either makes your research pointless or makes it considerably more difficult or time consuming than it needed to be. This will also help your research be more impactful as you'll have a better idea about where the research gaps are.

Secondly, don't be afraid to ask relevant researchers about their work. Worst case scenario they'll ignore you, best case scenario you just got a PhD offer.

Thirdly, if you're going to challenge someone else's findings, A) make damn sure your methodology is better than theirs, and B) add something else in. Given your time frame I would avoid doing this though.
Also, for literature review, should I read books? Or is it just other papers / dissertations? Sorry I just am kinda clueless atm.
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Other_Owl
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Get someone to proof read your dissertation and have a good supervisor.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by ayocici)
Thanks for your reply! This will certainly help me. I have no idea if this is a short timeframe or not ... I guess it is!
(Original post by ayocici)
Also, for literature review, should I read books? Or is it just other papers / dissertations? Sorry I just am kinda clueless atm.
Usually you would have until the end of April or May, and have your topic and supervisor by now. That extra month or two can make a pretty big difference for what you can do.

Your literature review will be mostly papers with the occasional dissertation, though you can use books for ideas on your methodology. You might also need books if you're doing something which is a bit out there or involves older research (early 90s or earlier I guess).
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Madrigel
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I’m suprised you have so little time. I kno it varies between unis and some do tend to leave their students out in the wild so to speak - to fend for themselves.

Firstly, i cant offer advice specific to your course as I’m a history student so the specific advice of where to look could be offered by someone who is studying your course. I’m also assuming you know what you want to do for your dissertation? If you dont then a literature review is like finding a needle in a haystack. You need to have a dissertation question in your mind to work with or your reading will be too broad and non-specific.

Secondly, speak to your personal tutor. This is someone who has been assigned to look after your studies in a general sense. They will be able to help you with planning your time and what needs to be included. Get advice on planning your time before you dive in to your reading.

Thirdly, a literature review is basically getting lots of books and reading them. You can save time by reading the introduction and conclusion. If they seem interesting enough for you you can then read a chapter or two. Dont just sit and plough your way through. The introduction and conclusion will tell you if the chapters will have the information you need. Attempting to read every page is a colossal waste of your time.

Finally, the lit review is a chapter in itself. Once you’ve done it you can literally drag n drop it onto your dissertation at a later date. It’s an opportunity to see what academics have said about your subject and to identify any weaknesses or gaps in the knowledge. This means that if you can identify the gaps and attempt to fill them with your dissertation you will likely get a higher grade than if you just said Dr A said this, Dr B said that, Do D says another thing.

In high school your essays were about pointing out the obvious, uni goes one step further, its about looking at what other people have said and coming to your own conclusion. This is the difference between a second and first class final grade. Critical thinking is key.
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by Madrigel)
I’m suprised you have so little time. I kno it varies between unis and some do tend to leave their students out in the wild so to speak - to fend for themselves.

Firstly, i cant offer advice specific to your course as I’m a history student so the specific advice of where to look could be offered by someone who is studying your course. I’m also assuming you know what you want to do for your dissertation? If you dont then a literature review is like finding a needle in a haystack. You need to have a dissertation question in your mind to work with or your reading will be too broad and non-specific.

Secondly, speak to your personal tutor. This is someone who has been assigned to look after your studies in a general sense. They will be able to help you with planning your time and what needs to be included. Get advice on planning your time before you dive in to your reading.

Thirdly, a literature review is basically getting lots of books and reading them. You can save time by reading the introduction and conclusion. If they seem interesting enough for you you can then read a chapter or two. Dont just sit and plough your way through. The introduction and conclusion will tell you if the chapters will have the information you need. Attempting to read every page is a colossal waste of your time.

Finally, the lit review is a chapter in itself. Once you’ve done it you can literally drag n drop it onto your dissertation at a later date. It’s an opportunity to see what academics have said about your subject and to identify any weaknesses or gaps in the knowledge. This means that if you can identify the gaps and attempt to fill them with your dissertation you will likely get a higher grade than if you just said Dr A said this, Dr B said that, Do D says another thing.

In high school your essays were about pointing out the obvious, uni goes one step further, its about looking at what other people have said and coming to your own conclusion. This is the difference between a second and first class final grade. Critical thinking is key.
Er, the OP's deadline was last week...
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Madrigel
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We, thanks
(Original post by ageshallnot)
Er, the OP's deadline was last week...
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