When writing a master’s dissertation, it is important to start in advance. A student needs to think about his/her project, choose a suitable topic, gather data that he/she needs as well as prepare for its defence. This guide presents some tips for students on how to write a master dissertation.
Preparing to Write a Master Dissertation in Advance
When preparing to write a dissertation, it’s easy to fall into the trap of procrastination and leave everything until the very last moment. After all, any research project seems to be monumental work and many students are frightened by its scale. Unfortunately, this approach usually ends up causing massive stress, as completing a full-fledged research project within two weeks is not a very soothing experience. Here are some suggestions on how to overcome your initial fears and make the preparation process enjoyable.
Make a Plan and Reward Yourself
The best way to prepare is to plan all your activities in advance. There are tons of task manager apps for iOS, Android and Windows, but you can draft a simple plan only with a sheet of paper and a pencil. Just assign a specific dissertation activity for each day remaining before your official start. This would probably look as follows.
- June 28: Read at least one article on the planned topic.
- June 29: Search for 3 books related to my dissertation.
- June 30: Download the referencing guide from a credible site.
Writing a plan will keep you motivated and you’ll establish clear goals. For added motivational strength, assign small rewards for the completion of each task. This may range from buying a book you have always wanted and going out with friends to simply watching an episode of your favourite TV show. Each step in your plan may seem small, but in a month’s time you will have completed 30 activities!
Start Making Notes
The value of this recommendation seems obvious, but the number of students ignoring this step is often staggering. After coming across an interesting article, you would like to store relevant facts as well as your own observations based on the researchers’ findings. Don’t simply rely on your memory, but instead, make systematised notes. Software like Evernote can be particularly useful, as you can simply select a text fragment in your browser and send it to the cloud storage. Moreover, you can add tags to your notes for easier searching.
Evaluate the Accessibility of Data
Data is the pinnacle of any research and getting stuck on a dissertation because you lack some necessary evidence could lead to a failure. It would be wise to make a list of possible data sources and forecast potential obstacles in advance. This evaluation should give you an idea of how to prepare to work with data and avoid delays. For example, you may need to purchase an online library subscription in advance or contact company representatives several months before the survey as they won’t respond quickly.
Choosing a Suitable Dissertation Topic
A master’s dissertation is one of the most important tasks that students need to complete to achieve their postgraduate degree. It also accounts for a significant number of credits and demonstrates the academic strengths of students. As students have the flexibility to choose their own dissertation topic, many find it difficult to pick up a topic that is innovative and insightful. Most of the students waste a lot of time getting inspiration for their research topic. Some also try to find a topic that will fit a set of previously collected data or the one that consists of a preferred research methodology. However, these approaches are not only inappropriate but might also result in the loss of time and resources.
Follow your passion
Master’s dissertation writing is not a day’s job. It takes months of research and analysis to complete a dissertation. From writing the literature review to conducting a critical analysis of existing researches, you will have to use multiple resources for your research. Despite all the hard-work sometimes students are unable to focus on their research. The additional responsibilities such as university classes, job and family life can further worsen your ordeal. To save yourself from losing motivation in the middle of your research, try to choose a research topic that you are most passionate about. Picking a topic based on your interests will keep you motivated and engaged in your research till the end.
Pick up a challenging dissertation topic
Choosing a suitable topic for your dissertation can be a tedious task. Due to the presence of multiple studies and a wide range of research, sometimes students find it difficult to pick up a dissertation topic. If you have exhausted all your options and are willing to do breakthrough research then try to pick up a challenging dissertation topic. As very few students might prefer to go for challenging topics, choosing one will help you to answer complex questions in your field of interest. Additionally, a challenging dissertation consists of both positive and negative arguments and draws a firm conclusion based on research and analysis.
Select an original dissertation topic
Selecting an original dissertation topic doesn’t mean that you have to create a completely innovative research topic. Rather it means that students can use an existing topic with a completely new perspective and approach. If you are picking up an existing subject, to maintain its originality you can change your vision and emphasise other untouched aspects of the research. This will make your research both innovative and interesting.
Seek help from your tutor
A tutor is like a mentor that guides students throughout the process of conducting research and writing a master’s dissertation. If you have shortlisted some of the best dissertation topics and are unable to pick up one from it, then your tutor can offer you a helping hand. University tutors often possess adequate subject knowledge and help students in solving all the dissertation related queries. Thus, it is advisable for students to maintain a good relationship with their tutors. Approachable tutors who have a good understanding of the field of study often give some amazing recommendations to students. However, before approaching your tutor, make sure to conduct preliminary research and schedule a suitable time for your meeting.
Think About Abstract for Your Project
Your abstract is simply an overview of your research and what your dissertation discusses. You can think of your abstract as a movie trailer, it allows people to know an overview of your dissertation without them having to read the whole paper. The abstract of your dissertation should be written last, once you have completed the main body of your dissertation research.
Pick a word count
Having a rough guide of how long your abstract should be will help you to keep it focused. You can ask your tutor on their opinion. Typically, the abstract should be between 100-500 words depending on the length of your paper. With a word count in mind, you can divide out each part that you need to include and it will help you to stay concise.
Explain the research question
The abstract is used for the reader to see if they would like to read your whole dissertation. You need to be clear and concise. Make sure you explain your research aim in the first couple of sentences, that way you will have people engaged immediately.
Explain your methodology and results
This is the main part of your dissertation, so it should take up the majority of your abstract too. Briefly explain what you found in your dissertation and the methods you used in order to research your topic.
Identify problems in your research and further recommendations
It is important that you show the reader the issues you faced in your research and if there are any recommendations of how to improve these. Keep in mind these sections should be no longer than 2 sentences long.
Avoid putting redundant information in your abstract
Do not include the following in your abstract:
- new information
- detailed explanations of your methodology as this will be explained later
- any abbreviated phrases
A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Master’s Dissertation
A Master’s dissertation is completely different from a Bachelor’s dissertation. The expectations of the markers are higher, and you need to be careful in terms of meeting the guidelines. There are several points that you need to keep in mind while writing a Master’s dissertation. Students are often unaware of the nuances of a master’s dissertation. So, here is the ultimate guide to writing a Master’s dissertation:
Formulate the topic and research hypothesis
If you choose the right topic, you are likely to produce a compelling dissertation. Choose a topic that is relevant to your field of study. Similarly, you also need to develop a research hypothesis that can answer your research question.
Review the requirements
Before you begin writing, it is important to understand the requirements of the university. This means reviewing the rubrics and marking schemes provided by your professor. You need this to ensure that you meet all the criteria. Adherence to requirements will have a positive impact on your results.
Read the relevant material
Another important element of dissertation writing is to read the relevant material. You need to study relevant books and past studies that have been conducted by others. This will help you in building a better understanding.
Choose the right support system
It is important to choose the right support system. Some students look towards a dissertation coach, while others are more comfortable in availing dissertation writing services. Choose the one which suits you the best.
Write the thesis
Once you have reviewed the material, you need to write your dissertation. The best policy is to structure your thesis in such a manner that it covers all elements of the topic. You should also make use of headings and sub-headings to make your work more readable
Edit and improve
Once you have finished writing, it is also important to edit and improve your work. This may require you to cut down a few paragraphs to meet the word count requirements. Remember, what you have written is still a draft and can be improved further.
Discuss with your supervisor
A good dissertation is one that has been reviewed by your supervisor and peers. You could seek new ideas from your supervisor as to how to improve your dissertation even further. Sometimes, a fresh perspective is all you need.
Finalise and proofread
Finally, you need to finalise your dissertation. This involves proofreading the entire report and ensuring that the referencing has been done in the correct manner. This will also help you in meeting the requirements.
How to cope with challenges when writing a dissertation
A dissertation can be a daunting, huge project for most students and signify the end of their studies, the pinnacle of university. There are many challenges that you need to cope with. Some people spend months writing their dissertation and others smash written work out in a matter of weeks. So what do you do when you’re struggling to get it done or haven’t started yet and the days are counting down? Do not panic, even with a month to write a dissertation can still be done with the following tips.
Dedicate your time
A month to write a dissertation is a push but you must make sure you allocate your time, dedicate yourself to its completion and work as strategically and organized as possible. This is the time when you weigh up what is more important, your academic work or your social life. It can be difficult juggling both but by saying no to your friends, you are putting your work and your success first.
You want to break down the dissertation tasks and the word count into manageable pieces. Plan the resources you need, create a dissertation checklist and know how you will work the most effectively:
- do you need to go to the library to take out sources or access particular online sources for students?
- do you need to organise your work space?
- how many words do you want to write each day?
- will you leave your introduction and conclusion till the end?
- who will you get to proofread?
Factor in editing
You may be able to write enough words when you plan correctly, but make sure you plan for editing. This is crucial for essay writing to ensure that you are concise, professional and also proving editing skills. Editing can take a lot of time to rewrite sections, organise your paragraphs into a better flow and check all of your referencing styles. It will also be very useful to have your peers or tutor read through your work for improvements.
Fuel and Rest
To keep up with the work make sure you are taking care of your wellbeing. Do not let stress get to you and effect your writing. Therefore, ensure you are eating the right food, having caffeine if necessary and most of all, take breaks. When planning your time, include breaks to allow you to recharge, refresh and not be weighed down by the work.
Common Mistakes in a Dissertation Proposal
What can prevent you from getting a high mark in your master dissertation? There are common mistakes that you need to know. You need to avoid these mistakes to write an effective dissertation. The following are six most common mistakes that students face when writing a dissertation.
No problem statement
Many students just pick a topic that seems fun and not too difficult to explore. However, your dissertation must attempt at resolving a particular problem. The problem should be current, important, and clearly explained in the first paragraph of your introduction.
Lack of novelty
Apart from stating the problem, you need to find a novel angle to approach it from. Think carefully of what might have been missed by others and how your dissertation can fill the gap. You need to find the current problem to make your dissertation more updated and applicable.
Overly broad topic
Trying to add much value and stand out with your project is understandable. However, this ambition can lead to choosing a topic too big to be adequately covered in a single dissertation. Mind the scarce time and don’t promise more than you can deliver. The university staff are too well-aware of what can be achieved within the given limits. A humbler and more realistic aim stands a better chance of approval.
Too few sources
For a winning proposal, you will usually need no less than 10 strong academic sources (both books and journal articles) per 1,000 words. ⠀
Tutors often frown upon proposals where most references are older than 3-5 years. It is best to cover the latest research. Try to use most recent sources to make your dissertation more novel and updated. This is highly appreciated by tutors.
Research method is unclear
The readers of your proposal should be able to see clearly not only WHAT you want to accomplish, but also HOW you are going to do it. Make sure to specify how you are planning to collect and analyse your data, how many responses you will need and how they are to be obtained. Explain why you have selected these methods.
Master’s dissertation writing is an important process that finalizes your studies at the university. This is important to be organized and concentrated to effectively write the dissertation. This guide presented useful tips that can help every student. The advice can be summed as follows:
- Preparation is important. You need to plan your work and gather all relevant information.
- Choose the right topic for your paper. Choosing a suitable topic for your dissertation is the first step. Ensure that your topic is consistent with your studies and information that you have.
- Be responsible when writing abstract. Do not include unnecessary information in abstract. Just follow the guide to make it informative but remember that it is conclusion.
- Consult with your supervisor and proofread the paper. Talk to your supervisor and amend the paper in line with his/her advice.
- Cope with challenges through effective planning. Stay organized to cope with challenges when writing your dissertation.
- Avoid common mistakes.
This guide to master’s dissertation writing can help greatly improve your work. As a result, you will have a better response from your tutor.