Challenges encountered while writing a dissertation
One of the major periods in a graduate student’s life is the initiation, writing and completion of the dissertation. It can be a cause of tension and tears, and this is nothing to be wondered at, as the successful completion of degree requirements require the submission of a high quality, original and well-researched dissertation.
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A well-written dissertation is a testimonial to a student’s ability and maturity as well as readiness to get started on independent research. Yet, many students find it a tough job to complete their dissertations. Read on to know whether you are encountering any of these issues and if so, what can you do to solve them!
Writing a dissertation is different
Dissertations are usually required at a higher level of academics as compared to other forms of student assignments. Many students may not be able to appreciate the reasons or the necessity for a dissertation. Hence, they may end up not doing enough justice to it. Some of the reasons students cite in this regard is their unfamiliarity with the style of writing a dissertation, not knowing where to start, lack of prior experience etc.
The learning objectives and expectations from a dissertation are quite different. If you are able to familiarise yourself with this at the earliest, it would be good for you. Once the expectations are clear and the objectives of writing a dissertation understood, it would be easier to follow up on the instructions and write a dissertation which fits the academic standards.Talking to experienced students and lecturers may also help to remove doubts and lessen anxieties in this regards.
Identifying a thesis statement
This can be really a tough nut to crack. Dissertations have to be original, and should be able to provide information and findings, which can generate discussions and debates. Many students may find it hard to come up with a thesis statement which does all the following. What you need to remember is that students should avoid choosing topics that are too general and too tame. This is because it would be more difficult to find supporting evidence for or against the topic.
The thesis statement should be specific, discrete, and finite and where possibilities for the presentation of pros and cons against exist. An example of such a statement would be: juvenile courts are the best way of dealing with adolescent crime and can bring down the crime rate. This is a narrower and specific topic to research on as compared to “modern day youth are turning out to be more crime-minded”.
This can be a bit of an issue for those not exactly used to research. A dissertation would require an extensive literature review of existing knowledge based on research evidence. You may need to consult many sources, and put the information together in a cohesive and organised way.
You may also need to brush up on your ability to use search strategies to retrieve specific information. Nowadays, research papers can be accessed both through online databases as well as through physical locations such as libraries.In addition, your competency in the language of assessment has to be pretty good. Dissertations can be marked down owing to improper language use and poor grammar.
Time management is another issue, which is faced by students. Many students do not plan for their dissertations in advance. As a result, they end up in a state of panic, with so much to do and so little time to do it all in. To prevent the last-minute stress and pressure, what you need to do is to remember to plan your work and allow a schedule to do it all in.
Do the dissertations work in portions over a period of time, and well before your deadline so that you can end up having lots of time to revise and make corrections. Dissertation work is primarily a work of original research, compilation and presentation of original work. So you need to earmark a considerable amount of time to doing the research.
To save time on your dissertation project, which is a known part of your academic requirements, you can start as early as possible by collecting and compiling research papers, data and other information at regular intervals. This would give you time to read, analyse, keep the necessary information and throw out the rest.
If you know that there are eight months to your dissertation deadline, ensure that you start your dissertation work, much in advance so that you do not end up in a situation where you are fighting to complete many assignments on time; a situation, which may result in haphazard work.
Some students face severe issues with writers’ block: difficulty in writing as they are unable to think of ideas to express their thoughts. Writers’ block can arise owing to various reasons, primarily psychological, in nature. This can cause problems in writing dissertations. What some suggest is to start your writing with free-writing, writing on anything, which comes to mind, before the actual work of dissertation writing, every day. Five minutes of such creative activity would free up your mind and lessen the internal pressures, which would otherwise interfere with the writing ability.
Sometimes, it is best to do things together as a team, especially if you are finding it difficult to motivate yourself to do the job. Writing a dissertation requires enormous patience, dedication, planning, and amount of thought. If the challenge is overwhelming you, you can join hands with others and form a dissertation study group.
Group support can provide you the impetus to keep on at the task and to finish it within the specific time. Also, you have shoulders to lean on in case of difficulties in understanding the subject. It has been shown the collaborative activities learning can boost students’ learning. Not only that, in case you feel intimidated about going to your professor for help, you can go with your group friends to meet and discuss things concerning the dissertation. Taking help is the best thing to do in such situations, rather than remaining alone and isolated and dealing with the stress alone.
Image source: By Joachim Specht (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons