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Can I finish a master's dissertation thesis in 15 days? (10000-15000 words)

I am supposed to submit my masters dissertation thesis in almost two weeks, but I have not written a word yet, I am doing a systematic review and I am not even done with the final articles. As I am wrapping up my full text reading of the included articles after screening I am realising that I might end up having no articles and none of them seem to fit my inclusion criteria. It is my fault and should have had planned better and not lazed around. I have not done any kind of research before and there was literally no help to figure out how to do one for this dissertation, I did try to figure it out by reading handbooks, framework, guidelines and finished dissertations online, but nothing helped to actually conduct a systematic review on my own. I am now stuck here with almost no time left and the core of my research seem to be failing, but I will try to find a way around it and talk to my supervisor to maybe alter my topic slightly (atleast they will help me with this, if nothing else). I would much appreciate any tips or advice, I am in a real bad place right now. Thanks

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Reply 1
I mean, if you had all the research done then I'd say it wouldn't be too problematic. Average 1000-2000 words a day and leave a couple of days to proofread and edit. It probably won't get you a distinction but you'll at least have something to submit that's passable.

But it sounds like you're not even in a place to begin writing. I think if you are actually interested in doing well, then now is the time for honesty. Request an urgent meeting with your supervisor, say that you simply haven't got the quantity of usable research to write this much, and ask for an extension. Say that you have doubts about this topic even working for you, and ask for their ideas about where to go with it. That is, I think, all you can do, short of cobbling together some vague waffle and made-up citations.
Reply 2
Original post by fedora34
I mean, if you had all the research done then I'd say it wouldn't be too problematic. Average 1000-2000 words a day and leave a couple of days to proofread and edit. It probably won't get you a distinction but you'll at least have something to submit that's passable.

But it sounds like you're not even in a place to begin writing. I think if you are actually interested in doing well, then now is the time for honesty. Request an urgent meeting with your supervisor, say that you simply haven't got the quantity of usable research to write this much, and ask for an extension. Say that you have doubts about this topic even working for you, and ask for their ideas about where to go with it. That is, I think, all you can do, short of cobbling together some vague waffle and made-up citations.


Okay, I will finish the articles I am left to full text and then talk to the supervisor and see where it leads me. I was on my way to graduating with a distinction but now I dont know if I will even finish.
Reply 3
Original post by solidator611
I am supposed to submit my masters dissertation thesis in almost two weeks, but I have not written a word yet, I am doing a systematic review and I am not even done with the final articles. As I am wrapping up my full text reading of the included articles after screening I am realising that I might end up having no articles and none of them seem to fit my inclusion criteria. It is my fault and should have had planned better and not lazed around. I have not done any kind of research before and there was literally no help to figure out how to do one for this dissertation, I did try to figure it out by reading handbooks, framework, guidelines and finished dissertations online, but nothing helped to actually conduct a systematic review on my own. I am now stuck here with almost no time left and the core of my research seem to be failing, but I will try to find a way around it and talk to my supervisor to maybe alter my topic slightly (atleast they will help me with this, if nothing else). I would much appreciate any tips or advice, I am in a real bad place right now. Thanks


Hey there, yes its very possible. All you need to do is plan well, I am sure you are a hardworking student that is why you have good grades. just sacrifice, atleast 2,000 words per day would see you graduate....best wishes....wish I could help
Reply 4
Original post by HellenElla
Hey there, yes its very possible. All you need to do is plan well, I am sure you are a hardworking student that is why you have good grades. just sacrifice, atleast 2,000 words per day would see you graduate....best wishes....wish I could help


Thanks, that means a lot... I am doing my best, I will get it done.
It is definitely doable. Not recommended, but doable. I did mine in three. One day for tables and figures and then two days for the actual writing.
(edited 7 months ago)
Reply 6
I could, what's your subject area and what do you mean by a systematic review?

Top tip, you don't have to write it in order. So tonight you could write your introduction chapter, and what you've realised about the lack of fit with your inclusion criteria in your conclusion... then tomorrow do Lit Review and methodology. Day after results/analysis then conclusion and then a day of spit/polish.
depends on you and on how hard you are willing to work .

I did my undergrads thesis in 20 days research and everything . Got s very good score . It wasn’t pleasant but it is doable
Reply 8
Original post by 1582
It is definitely doable. Not recommended, but doable. I did mine in three. One day for tables and figures and then two days for the actual writing.


3 days or weeks? Did you a systematic review?
Reply 9
Original post by NewJobStarter
depends on you and on how hard you are willing to work .

I did my undergrads thesis in 20 days research and everything . Got s very good score . It wasn’t pleasant but it is doable

That does give me some hope, I am trying. Thanks a lot
Reply 10
Original post by Hosey256
I understand the immense stress you're facing with your masters dissertation, especially with the looming deadline and challenges in your research. It's positive that you plan to consult your supervisor for guidance and potential adjustments to your topic. As you navigate this situation, consider refining your research question, reassessing inclusion criteria, and seeking external input. Prioritize a few key articles for analysis, adapt your approach if necessary, and manage your time diligently. Remember that learning from this experience can be valuable for your future academic pursuits, and seeking support during challenging times is a wise step forward. Stay focused, and you can still make progress within the time available.

I am trying, the difficult thing is there is literally no resource out there that helps you understand and run a step by step process to do systematic review. Which has made it esp difficult, but I will just do what I can understand and stop caring about the robustness. Thanks a lot
Reply 11
Original post by DocCyber
I could, what's your subject area and what do you mean by a systematic review?

Top tip, you don't have to write it in order. So tonight you could write your introduction chapter, and what you've realised about the lack of fit with your inclusion criteria in your conclusion... then tomorrow do Lit Review and methodology. Day after results/analysis then conclusion and then a day of spit/polish.


doing a masters in public health, systematic review on urban agriculture and mental health. Its looking at all the past papers on the research topic and writing a narrative to answer your research question, it does include a meta-analysis part, but I do not have time to teach myself that so I would not even attempt that. That is what I am planning, I did lit review, it needs a lil bit of reworks, then I meet with my supervisor tomorrow and if they agree with the articles I have got then I will go ahead start working on analyzing those to write results/findings chapter. I do not really know how to, but I will have to figure it out.
Thanks
Original post by solidator611
3 days or weeks? Did you a systematic review?


Weeks
Reply 13
Original post by NewJobStarter
Weeks


Not bad, I dont have any other option. Gotta do it, somehow.
Reply 14
Robson's Real World Research has a section on systematic review. In the 3rd edn 2011) there's a couple of pages on it - not a lot granted but it's something. He name drops Petticrew & Roberts (2005) and Pawson (2006). In another section, he talks about meta-analysis as being commonly linked with systematic reviews. there's a couple of pages on that. Check the index if you can get a copy online.

I always think that writing the methodology is the best place to start, and do the conclusion and introduction last.
Reply 15
Here are some things I got off Google Scholar


How to Do a Systematic Review: A Best Practice Guide for Conducting and Reporting Narrative Reviews, Meta-Analyses, and Meta-Syntheses
Annual Review of Psychology
Vol. 70:747-770 (Volume publication date January 2019)



How to do a systematic review
Alex Pollock and Eivind Berge
International Journal of Stroke Volume 13, Issue 2
(edited 7 months ago)
Original post by solidator611
3 days or weeks? Did you a systematic review?


Three days.

I did a systematic review for my undergrad, which took a bit longer, but still less than the time you've left.
Original post by solidator611
I am supposed to submit my masters dissertation thesis in almost two weeks, but I have not written a word yet, I am doing a systematic review and I am not even done with the final articles. As I am wrapping up my full text reading of the included articles after screening I am realising that I might end up having no articles and none of them seem to fit my inclusion criteria. It is my fault and should have had planned better and not lazed around. I have not done any kind of research before and there was literally no help to figure out how to do one for this dissertation, I did try to figure it out by reading handbooks, framework, guidelines and finished dissertations online, but nothing helped to actually conduct a systematic review on my own. I am now stuck here with almost no time left and the core of my research seem to be failing, but I will try to find a way around it and talk to my supervisor to maybe alter my topic slightly (atleast they will help me with this, if nothing else). I would much appreciate any tips or advice, I am in a real bad place right now. Thanks

Yes you can. No give up. You understand. Doing any amount of work to it will make you feel better
Original post by solidator611
I am supposed to submit my masters dissertation thesis in almost two weeks, but I have not written a word yet, I am doing a systematic review and I am not even done with the final articles. As I am wrapping up my full text reading of the included articles after screening I am realising that I might end up having no articles and none of them seem to fit my inclusion criteria. It is my fault and should have had planned better and not lazed around. I have not done any kind of research before and there was literally no help to figure out how to do one for this dissertation, I did try to figure it out by reading handbooks, framework, guidelines and finished dissertations online, but nothing helped to actually conduct a systematic review on my own. I am now stuck here with almost no time left and the core of my research seem to be failing, but I will try to find a way around it and talk to my supervisor to maybe alter my topic slightly (atleast they will help me with this, if nothing else). I would much appreciate any tips or advice, I am in a real bad place right now. Thanks

Hi @solidator611

Don’t give up, it’s not easy to do such a large task in a short period of time, but it’s possible to write a dissertation in this time frame.
I know several students (they did lab-based projects, rather than reviews) who wrote their theses in less time, and some were quite good! It can depend on how well you ‘set yourself up’ for this writing period (e.g. one had all her graphs completed and had read a lot of papers, so just needed to put her results into context for the discussion and write down all of her existing knowledge in the introduction).

The most important thing to remember is ‘the longer you spend worrying, the less time you spend working’. Easier said than done, but it’s advice that really helped me! Try to stay motivated, remember why you wanted to do this masters in the first place, and keep a strong support group of friends and family around if you can.

The first thing you should do is ask you supervisor to help you make a plan. Before your next meeting, if you have time, write out several approaches that you think you could take. For example, you could change your inclusion criteria for the review, and read new papers. Or you could slightly change the scope of your thesis (with your supervisors approval) to make the papers you have read ‘fit’. Think about other ways to work around your current problems, and your supervisor (who should have more experience working with the literature and thesis-writing) may have additional suggestions. They will also have a better sense on what is a realistic timeline for your project (compared to strangers on the internet!).

The plan should include a timeline of each part, how long you will spend reading, when you will have your first draft of each section of your thesis completed, if you can get feedback from your supervisor when you will send them each section/draft. Then you will have the big job of ‘writing an entire thesis’ (which seems very daunting) into smaller, more manageable objectives.

The most important thing about reading papers is making notes while you read. It makes writing about those papers so much faster, and finding which paper you need for each section so much easer, if you have those notes. What type of notes and how you take them varies with personal preference, but having a few key sentences summarising what that paper has that is relevant to your project in your own words is vital. From there, having sections highlighted and colour-coded to draw my attention is something I like (e.g. green is for methods, red is for something I’m not sure about, yellow is background knowledge, purple is for the main message/results of the research). It helps me skim through the paper quickly while writing and still get to the most important parts. Other people prefer keywords, writing more extensive summaries, etc. Keep these notes organised (and saved), as having notes is not useful unless you can use them effectively!

Overall, ask for help from your supervisor to make a plan, don’t panic, and make effective notes while reading to make the writing faster.

Best of luck with your thesis,
Ciara
3rd year Agrifood PhD student
Cranfield Student Ambassador
Reply 19
Original post by Cranfield University
Hi @solidator611

Don’t give up, it’s not easy to do such a large task in a short period of time, but it’s possible to write a dissertation in this time frame.
I know several students (they did lab-based projects, rather than reviews) who wrote their theses in less time, and some were quite good! It can depend on how well you ‘set yourself up’ for this writing period (e.g. one had all her graphs completed and had read a lot of papers, so just needed to put her results into context for the discussion and write down all of her existing knowledge in the introduction).

The most important thing to remember is ‘the longer you spend worrying, the less time you spend working’. Easier said than done, but it’s advice that really helped me! Try to stay motivated, remember why you wanted to do this masters in the first place, and keep a strong support group of friends and family around if you can.

The first thing you should do is ask you supervisor to help you make a plan. Before your next meeting, if you have time, write out several approaches that you think you could take. For example, you could change your inclusion criteria for the review, and read new papers. Or you could slightly change the scope of your thesis (with your supervisors approval) to make the papers you have read ‘fit’. Think about other ways to work around your current problems, and your supervisor (who should have more experience working with the literature and thesis-writing) may have additional suggestions. They will also have a better sense on what is a realistic timeline for your project (compared to strangers on the internet!).

The plan should include a timeline of each part, how long you will spend reading, when you will have your first draft of each section of your thesis completed, if you can get feedback from your supervisor when you will send them each section/draft. Then you will have the big job of ‘writing an entire thesis’ (which seems very daunting) into smaller, more manageable objectives.

The most important thing about reading papers is making notes while you read. It makes writing about those papers so much faster, and finding which paper you need for each section so much easer, if you have those notes. What type of notes and how you take them varies with personal preference, but having a few key sentences summarising what that paper has that is relevant to your project in your own words is vital. From there, having sections highlighted and colour-coded to draw my attention is something I like (e.g. green is for methods, red is for something I’m not sure about, yellow is background knowledge, purple is for the main message/results of the research). It helps me skim through the paper quickly while writing and still get to the most important parts. Other people prefer keywords, writing more extensive summaries, etc. Keep these notes organised (and saved), as having notes is not useful unless you can use them effectively!

Overall, ask for help from your supervisor to make a plan, don’t panic, and make effective notes while reading to make the writing faster.

Best of luck with your thesis,
Ciara
3rd year Agrifood PhD student
Cranfield Student Ambassador

I really appreciate your advice, I am working on it but it is turning out to be very difficult and I have no clue if I am on the right track. My supervisor is no help in terms of guidance or any support, they just want me to do it and send them the draft, they make me feel like I am stupid for not having it figured out like it is not a big deal. Classmates are no help, which is understandable as everyone is busy with their own work. I am currently trying to write the results chapter, I am working on data extraction and then will try to make sense of it to write the text for it. I am just using other systematic review as reference and trying to implement their technique into doing it. I have 11 articles and as of now I have extracted one, but if it is right way I will have a better understanding for doing others and will pace up. Thanks a lot.

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