My university work is affecting my mental health

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Anonymous #1
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Report Thread starter 5 months ago
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I'm started to become very emotional and stressed about my dissertation, particularly my literature review.
I do not know how to write and structure a literature review. We have barely been taught how todo this and I'm highly struggling, my emotions are getting heightened knowing I don't have much long left to do it as it's due on the 2nd week of May.

I'm struggling with the whole literature review. I don't know where to begin or how to start the writing process. I have gathered my sources together and highlighted relevant information. I am tempted to re-do this process and find new sources to use because I feel like the ones I have are not relevant to my work even though they mention some of the topics. My area is social media and it's impact on people. I have identified three chapters I'm going to explore with social media. My first chapter I'm focusing on is mental health.

The sources I have read and have kept a note of all mention different things. Like cyber bullying has an adverse impact on adolescents using social media, and different social media sites promote depression like Tumblr etc. Some even say, that there is a link of sleep quality & social media & mental health. How am I supposed to write this? Am I meant to paraphrase the text the author has said or do I copy word for word?

Can someone tell me if I'm writing this correct, for example. I could start by using the P.E.E.L technique and say there has been previously been research on mental health & social media. Do I go onto to say that [Author A] says that cyber bullying has an adverse impact on adolescents using social media bc of the exposure to content etc.. and that [Author B] did a study and found out that 12% of people felt targeted by social media due to cyber bullying etc. Then go onto to say, some may suggest that social media sites like Facebook and tumblr can be negative to mental health, for example certain users post things, according to [Author C] it identified that tumblr was the most used platform for discussing mental health issues. However, [Author D] disagrees and says that social media sites can help form interactions with people understand mental health issues etc.

Can someone give me reassurance if this is correct?

Any advice and guidance would be so much helpful.

I'm finding it so hard todo and researching examples/help on the internet is making much more complicated to comprehend. All I need is a coherent structure and example paragraph telling me what to write and how to write it. I feel so stressed that I have nothing written down, I'm constantly creating new word documents with different information because I don't know where I'm going honestly. No one is really being supportive here and I'm contemplating whether to ask for an extension because I need more time and guidance.
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justanotherguy28
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#2
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm started to become very emotional and stressed about my dissertation, particularly my literature review.
I do not know how to write and structure a literature review. We have barely been taught how todo this and I'm highly struggling, my emotions are getting heightened knowing I don't have much long left to do it as it's due on the 2nd week of May.

I'm struggling with the whole literature review. I don't know where to begin or how to start the writing process. I have gathered my sources together and highlighted relevant information. I am tempted to re-do this process and find new sources to use because I feel like the ones I have are not relevant to my work even though they mention some of the topics. My area is social media and it's impact on people. I have identified three chapters I'm going to explore with social media. My first chapter I'm focusing on is mental health.

The sources I have read and have kept a note of all mention different things. Like cyber bullying has an adverse impact on adolescents using social media, and different social media sites promote depression like Tumblr etc. Some even say, that there is a link of sleep quality & social media & mental health. How am I supposed to write this? Am I meant to paraphrase the text the author has said or do I copy word for word?

Can someone tell me if I'm writing this correct, for example. I could start by using the P.E.E.L technique and say there has been previously been research on mental health & social media. Do I go onto to say that [Author A] says that cyber bullying has an adverse impact on adolescents using social media bc of the exposure to content etc.. and that [Author B] did a study and found out that 12% of people felt targeted by social media due to cyber bullying etc. Then go onto to say, some may suggest that social media sites like Facebook and tumblr can be negative to mental health, for example certain users post things, according to [Author C] it identified that tumblr was the most used platform for discussing mental health issues. However, [Author D] disagrees and says that social media sites can help form interactions with people understand mental health issues etc.

Can someone give me reassurance if this is correct?

Any advice and guidance would be so much helpful.

I'm finding it so hard todo and researching examples/help on the internet is making much more complicated to comprehend. All I need is a coherent structure and example paragraph telling me what to write and how to write it. I feel so stressed that I have nothing written down, I'm constantly creating new word documents with different information because I don't know where I'm going honestly. No one is really being supportive here and I'm contemplating whether to ask for an extension because I need more time and guidance.
Okay, so the first thing I would say is to try and control your sleeping and eating habits i.e. try to establish a routine. I know it can often be easier said than done, you may need to seek extra support which is fine, but this helped for me and I had the help of family and friends for support.

Secondly, have you spoke to your supervisor about what he/she expects from you regarding the review? This would be the best port of call with regard to what structure you should follow, what papers to start with, how long the review should be etc.

It is very normal at some point to feel that you need to re-do the process or part of it, I was also caught out with this feeling when I wrote my first review and it can be very daunting! Really it just shows how you have improved and developed as a writer from the work/reading that you have already done towards it, even if it doesn't feel like you have doe much. A big part of a literature is reading and absorbing information, therefore, it is only natural to feel as though you have done less than you actually have.

100% ensure that before writing you have a basic structure/outline of your review, or at bare minimum simply have a contents page done (as trivial as it sounds, I find it really helps!). I have some resources I can send you, just some links to a couple of websites, so I'll comment these below. I have also attached a 'critical reading log' and a reading/writing guide that I put together myself on word. It is also worth looking at your university resources to see what they have that can help. I found a whole guide i never knew existed through my university portal! So you never know what you might find there?

With regard to the paragraph you wrote, it sounds okay but I think what it really needs is one of you own ideas. What are the common concepts in the literature? Do the authors statements/findings agree with each other? What do you think about what the authors have said? etc.. These are common uestions that you should be asking yourself when doing a literature review.

If you have never done one you wouldn't know so don't be hard on yourself if you don't know! As boring as they are, lit reviews are a great opportunity for you to really become knowledgeable and learn about your subject. Lit reviews are very daunting and having some structure and guidance from your university and supervisor/s are your most important resources! Most of all, look after yourself and give yourself some time to sit back, relax and reward yourself. Working flat out 24/7 doesn't work as many will claim it too. You can't think clearly and what you write could not be as good as it could have been were you focussed. Please don't make this mistake as I did! I wrote about 7500 words of pure garbage in two weeks, pulling all nighters in the library and proper cramming, it didn't work. Is it only the review that is in for may, or the full dissertation?

Useful links
Writing guide - https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/
Phrasebank - http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/
Writing guide (PhD) - https://www.findaphd.com/advice/doin...re-review.aspx

Attachments
Critical reading log
Reading and writing guide

I hope the resources I have provided help in some way. You may not need all of them - the PhD lit review guide has some good writing tips but you probably don't need to go too deep into the nitty gritty here. Please also make sure that the attachments I have provided fall in line with what you are being asked to do by your university if you are going to use them. The guide I attached is my kinds of 'cheat sheet' for reading and writing with all of the imediate promps I need. This might work for you, but you might find your own way. A lot of it is about finding your own way tbh.

Please get back to me if anything doesn't make sense or if you need me to explain anything further. I will be more than happy to help as I have been in the same situation as you!

Best Wishes!
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Anonymous #1
#3
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
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(Original post by justanotherguy28)
Okay, so the first thing I would say is to try and control your sleeping and eating habits i.e. try to establish a routine. I know it can often be easier said than done, you may need to seek extra support which is fine, but this helped for me and I had the help of family and friends for support.

Secondly, have you spoke to your supervisor about what he/she expects from you regarding the review? This would be the best port of call with regard to what structure you should follow, what papers to start with, how long the review should be etc.

It is very normal at some point to feel that you need to re-do the process or part of it, I was also caught out with this feeling when I wrote my first review and it can be very daunting! Really it just shows how you have improved and developed as a writer from the work/reading that you have already done towards it, even if it doesn't feel like you have doe much. A big part of a literature is reading and absorbing information, therefore, it is only natural to feel as though you have done less than you actually have.

100% ensure that before writing you have a basic structure/outline of your review, or at bare minimum simply have a contents page done (as trivial as it sounds, I find it really helps!). I have some resources I can send you, just some links to a couple of websites, so I'll comment these below. I have also attached a 'critical reading log' and a reading/writing guide that I put together myself on word. It is also worth looking at your university resources to see what they have that can help. I found a whole guide i never knew existed through my university portal! So you never know what you might find there?

With regard to the paragraph you wrote, it sounds okay but I think what it really needs is one of you own ideas. What are the common concepts in the literature? Do the authors statements/findings agree with each other? What do you think about what the authors have said? etc.. These are common uestions that you should be asking yourself when doing a literature review.

If you have never done one you wouldn't know so don't be hard on yourself if you don't know! As boring as they are, lit reviews are a great opportunity for you to really become knowledgeable and learn about your subject. Lit reviews are very daunting and having some structure and guidance from your university and supervisor/s are your most important resources! Most of all, look after yourself and give yourself some time to sit back, relax and reward yourself. Working flat out 24/7 doesn't work as many will claim it too. You can't think clearly and what you write could not be as good as it could have been were you focussed. Please don't make this mistake as I did! I wrote about 7500 words of pure garbage in two weeks, pulling all nighters in the library and proper cramming, it didn't work. Is it only the review that is in for may, or the full dissertation?

Useful links
Writing guide - https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/
Phrasebank - http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/
Writing guide (PhD) - https://www.findaphd.com/advice/doin...re-review.aspx

Attachments
Critical reading log
Reading and writing guide

I hope the resources I have provided help in some way. You may not need all of them - the PhD lit review guide has some good writing tips but you probably don't need to go too deep into the nitty gritty here. Please also make sure that the attachments I have provided fall in line with what you are being asked to do by your university if you are going to use them. The guide I attached is my kinds of 'cheat sheet' for reading and writing with all of the imediate promps I need. This might work for you, but you might find your own way. A lot of it is about finding your own way tbh.

Please get back to me if anything doesn't make sense or if you need me to explain anything further. I will be more than happy to help as I have been in the same situation as you!

Best Wishes!
Oh my thank you so much, honestly for taking your time to get back to me and provide with me useful links and documents to use. I truly appreciate this.

Firstly, Yes, I agree with you. I need an established routine. I will try and work my way round at making and sticking to one. Will ask for extra support from my university though.

Secondly, I have not spoken to my supervisor as of recently, but we have been in touch previously. I was told to focus on my literature, leave the abstract & introduction to the end and decide on what my chapters were going to be. I have identified my chapters, now I have to begin writing.

I'm going to re-do the process of researching and finding relevant sources again, i think it is for the best that I take it slow to be mindful of my mental health. Let met no panic that I haven't got anything down, let me work at a pace I can manage. I am optimistic I can get it down, right when you are truly focused etc. It would not be worth it to to jumble a load of random words together just to complete the word count.

Thank you, I think having a structure is a good idea. I will start again and include an outline of my review just so I have an insight to where I am going with all this.

Am I meant to stay my own ideas within the literature? Or do I just think about it to myself and find literature that supports what I'm trying to say?

I first did a literature review in my second year which I did find challenging. I know it's bad but I eventually gave up trying and just put random stuff together because I honestly did not understand it and felt that I'd somehow improve in my 3rd year. I've looked back at my old literature review and it's honestly not even worth using as guidance because everything does not make any sense. I've taken the feedback into consideration but it still does not help me. I feel as if it right that I get in touch with my supervisor so I can have a solid strict and guidance to know if I'm going in the right direction with all of this. Allowing time off is also beneficial and I will do this for the sake of my sanity.

The full dissertation is due in May.

Once again, thank you so much for providing me resources to use, I highly appreciate this. This is so kind of you.
I appreciate you allowing me to get in touch with you for more help, thank you for doing this, and honestly guiding me.
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justanotherguy28
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#4
Report 5 months ago
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Oh my thank you so much, honestly for taking your time to get back to me and provide with me useful links and documents to use. I truly appreciate this.

Firstly, Yes, I agree with you. I need an established routine. I will try and work my way round at making and sticking to one. Will ask for extra support from my university though.

Secondly, I have not spoken to my supervisor as of recently, but we have been in touch previously. I was told to focus on my literature, leave the abstract & introduction to the end and decide on what my chapters were going to be. I have identified my chapters, now I have to begin writing.

I'm going to re-do the process of researching and finding relevant sources again, i think it is for the best that I take it slow to be mindful of my mental health. Let met no panic that I haven't got anything down, let me work at a pace I can manage. I am optimistic I can get it down, right when you are truly focused etc. It would not be worth it to to jumble a load of random words together just to complete the word count.

Thank you, I think having a structure is a good idea. I will start again and include an outline of my review just so I have an insight to where I am going with all this.

Am I meant to stay my own ideas within the literature? Or do I just think about it to myself and find literature that supports what I'm trying to say?

I first did a literature review in my second year which I did find challenging. I know it's bad but I eventually gave up trying and just put random stuff together because I honestly did not understand it and felt that I'd somehow improve in my 3rd year. I've looked back at my old literature review and it's honestly not even worth using as guidance because everything does not make any sense. I've taken the feedback into consideration but it still does not help me. I feel as if it right that I get in touch with my supervisor so I can have a solid strict and guidance to know if I'm going in the right direction with all of this. Allowing time off is also beneficial and I will do this for the sake of my sanity.

The full dissertation is due in May.

Once again, thank you so much for providing me resources to use, I highly appreciate this. This is so kind of you.
I appreciate you allowing me to get in touch with you for more help, thank you for doing this, and honestly guiding me.
Ah thank you for your kind words, you are very welcome! I'm glad this helps, as I can't help but think about what guidance I could have done with when I had to write my first literature review!

A good thing to ask your supervisor btw is: how long does the review need to be? Also, how many references should I aim to have? It is also worth showing him/her what structure/outline/contents or a time-plan (if you have done one) so that they can make sure that you have a good start on it. The advice your supervisor gave is the same as what mine and many other academics have told me; to leave the intro and abstract until you have written the main body and conclusion.

I just re-read my response and hope that I didn't come off as overly critical about the example paragraph you wrote (in your original post)! But just to add to that, I think that it was that it was generally good and to the point. 1) You introduced the points/arguments concisely and 2) you presented evidence from your reading clearly. You additionally provided some supporting evidence for the main points you made, which is also good. The only thing I think it needs is a bit more of 3), and that is to provide a critique. This is where your arguments/ideas come in to play such as: agreeing/defending a point, making links between sources, rejecting a point (e.g. lack of evidence) etc... I have summarised this better in the reading/writing guide (attached in my 1st reply) at the bottom under 'Critical writing points'. You already did apply this at the end of the paragraph, where you wrote: "However, [Author D] disagrees..." but I think it needs a bit more of this type of critique and to expand on your argument a bit more where this is possible (although I understand why you probably kept it shorter in the context of writing the post).

Taking into account all of the above, I think you have a good foundation to work from here and you are clearly being proactive at improving your work, which is great! It sounds like you have already put in a lot of work with your reading and what you have already written. Just be cautious when going back through your work or re-doing parts of it, not to remove anything that you could potentially use.

Regarding your question: "Am I meant to stay my own ideas within the literature? Or do I just think about it to myself and find literature that supports what I'm trying to say?"
I think I might have covered this above a bit. But what you want to do is structure your paragraphs so that you are 1) introducing a concept, 2) providing evidence of this concept from your reading and 3) critique. An optional 4) would be to make some kind of link to the next paragraph where possible, as per the PEEL technique you mentioned - this might coincide better with your writing style by the sound of things. I can't remember if I have already heard of the PEEL technique you mentioned (I had to google it, but I probably have!). But it sounds good and if it works for you then definitely apply this technique to to your writing to help structure your paragraphs.

With regards to your reading, be selective. It is important to have a method for reading to avoid getting muddled up. I personally follow what I said in the reading guide I sent you (on the last page at the top) where you 1) read abstract, 2) read the discussion and conclusion, 3) decide if the paper is relevant. If it is then read the method and results section, and finally, 4) re-read the paper chronologically. So when you re-do the process on gathering information, ensure that you apply the same philosophy or something similar (what works best for you) to ensure that you can keep track of what you read. I use the reading log I sent you for my initial writing-up of notes in bullet points to help with when I put everything together for a rough draft later-on.

Remember to also be selective about what you critique in your writing, as some literature just requires a short summary rather than a more in-depth critique. This can help you to improve the quality of your writing without straying too far from your main topics/themes. You'll find that you don't need an enormous amount references to write a good quality literature review. It is common to find people going off on tangents and adding too many references to their work and focussing too little on their critical writing. This was actually the feedback I received during my Masters, which is what made me seek more support for my future writing!

Finally, always remember to prioritise your wellbeing! You sound like you are taking steps for this, which is great! Routines are great for establishing a healthy work-to-life balance and will enable you manage your stress more effectively and work more efficiently. It's important to stay focussed but always allow time for regular breaks throughout the day, eat well and get enough sleep so that you can keep focussed. Setting achievable targets and rewarding yourself are also very effective to ensure that you stay on track! Making lists, time-plans, setting goals and re-adjusting them during difficult periods helped me most with dealing with anxiety/worry during the process of writing. Most of all, believe in yourself because you can do it!

Also, I would say that May is definitely an achievable timeframe to get it done to a good standard by, as long as you stay focussed and have a good plan.

Oh!!! Another helpful tool I forgot to mention, which will make life easier with your referencing is Mendeley. This is a referencing tool that is free to download and was an absolute life saver for me when I was doing my Masters! There is an online version, a desktop version (for both Windows and Apple Mac) and there is an app for phone/tablets (apple and android). There are others such as 'EndNote', if you want more options, but I stuck with Mendeley. It's compatible with many different referencing formats e.g. Vancouver, Harvard and RSC (which I have to use). You might have to create an account on Elsevier or you might be able to 'sign in via your institution' but if you have trouble give me a shout and I'll try and help! I have put a link below for the download and a guide in case you need it.

Reference manager download link
https://www.mendeley.com/reference-m...erence-manager

Mendeley Guides
https://www.mendeley.com/guides


I still can't figure out how to reply to parts of your post on here so apologies my response is a bit long winded!

All the best!
Last edited by justanotherguy28; 5 months ago
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