Saturday 22 July 2017

Working on Your Dissertation: What Lies Ahead?

Working on Your Dissertation: What Lies Ahead?

Writing a dissertation is an important part of earning an advanced degree in most fields. It shows that you’ve mastered the skills of research and that you have gained a large amount of knowledge in your field, especially the particular aspect of your field that your dissertation is focused on. It also shows that you’re familiar with academic conventions; you know how to do structure your thoughts, how to reference and incorporate information from other scholars, and how to extract and analyze data from a focused study. All of these skills are very important in many careers, and having an advanced degree like a master’s can be a great stepping-stone towards career progression. But getting there is not always easy.

For a full master’s degree, you’ll be expected to write between 40 – 100 pages, or up to 50,000 words on your topic in some disciplines. (You can find a full guide on exactly what’s expected of you for a master’s degree, including an outline of your chapters, at the Academic Coaching resources page). For a doctoral degree, these numbers are usually doubled, and unlike with your master’s where you merely demonstrate the skills and perform a limited study, you’ll be expected to expand on your field in a significant and new way.

These are very high expectations, and it can put a lot of pressure on a budding researcher. You might have had moments of feeling overwhelmed or wondering if you’re up to the task. You might still be unsure of exactly what is expected of you, or how you will get through the months or even years that it will take you to do the research and writing for your dissertation.

The truth is that even an undergraduate dissertation or “half-thesis” can still be very challenging. You’re being required to demonstrate all of the academic skills which are tested in advanced degrees, even if the size of your dissertation and study aren’t as large. That’s why it’s important to recognize the requirements as early as possible.

For some researchers or students, they struggle immensely with the work on their dissertations, and they might not know why. It can be a real challenge getting words on paper, and lots of factors can hold you back from working efficiently and effectively.

The Academic Coaching team has identified 10 core components which are vital in dissertation success. Struggling with any of these 10 core components can mean that you begin to develop bad working habits and might even be unable to complete the work on your dissertation. Alarmingly, a high number of students who enroll for a graduate program don’t complete the program. For PhD students, the number of students who discontinue their studies is as high as 50%. Many students suffer in silence, thinking that there must be something wrong with them if they can’t get their dissertation to work, or that they’re just not cut out for earning their degree.

For a large number of these students, it might mean changing their perspective, identifying areas for growth, and being focused on these areas in order to form good working habits.

All of the help you need to make a success of your dissertation is out there. You can find a lot of help at the Academic Coaching website in the form of free ebooks, guides, outlines, examples and even your free dissertation readiness report which will highlight your strategies for success. Additionally, there are student advisors at your college or university who are prepared to give you as much help as you need.

Let’s look closely at the 10 core components so that you can begin to unpack your own barriers to thesis success, and correct any problem areas as soon as possible.

Review Your Learning:
      Your dissertation is your entryway into sustained academic research, and shows that you are knowledgeable about your field and can perform a substantial study
      Writing a dissertation can be incredibly stressful and taxing, and you need to be ready to take on these challenges.
      There are many free resources available to help you correct any problem areas before they begin to impact your research and writing.