Scott – Dissertation Survival Guide

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Digital Ambassador Derby, LHSS

You start out with an idea, a concept, something that you look at and think: “Yes. I can do a damn good job with that.”

Then it comes to three weeks before deadline and this dissertation that was a challenge you were looking forward to at the beginning of the year is now the bane of your life and you just can’t wait for it to be out of your way!

Dissertations have the capability to cause serious mental breakdowns, send stress levels soaring through the roof, and leave you sitting in your room hashing out hour upon hour of work without the time to even think about seeing if the world is still spinning on its axis outside your four walls.

I’ve prepared a little survival plan for you in order to help you save your sanity when the time comes for you to start writing your dissertation. It might even come at the right time for you if, like me, and in the final stages of putting your dissertation together. Reading this could save you from ripping your own hair out.

Slow and steady wins the race.

This may make those of you who are on the home straight scream at me, because you know this all too well. If you’ve left it TortoiseAndHareall until the last minute to write your dissertation, then you’re definitely going to scream at your computer screens, because I can guarantee you’ve had numerous people telling you that you should’ve done this all along.

The best way to write something like this is in bite-sized chunks – not mammoth mouthfuls and all-nighters that leave you with a bad after taste of Red Bull on your palette.

There are rare examples of people writing their entire dissertation in one go right at the last minute, like this guy who turned yellow after an energy drink fuelled 40 hour session of dissertation writing, but don’t leave it to chance. Plus, who wants to look like an extra from The Simpsons anyway?

Bombard your tutors like never before.

They’re there to help you, so don’t deny yourself of that privilege! They are the ones who are the experts in your chosen field of study, so if you’re unsure of something, ask them and not Wikipedia.

Arrange tutorials, send emails, drafts, thoughts, concerns for your mental stability all to them because it then also really looks like you are trying and that you care about the work you’re doing. This is only going to have a positive impact on your grade.

Think you’ve done enough reading? Then you need to do more.

Dissertations are the culmination of what you’ve learned at university and are your academic gift to the world, so it has to be well referenced and backed up by people who have presented similar gift-wrapped presents to the area of your study.

This means a lot of reading. If you think you’ve done a good amount, you’ve only made a start. You can never have too many references, even if you don’t use them all (which is highly likely) at least you’ve got them if you need them. There’s nothing worse than trying to write a certain point and realising you need to pay another visit to the library before you can make a start on it.

Focus on your work, not the idiot who has finished their first draft weeks early.

Your worst enemies could well turn out to be your course mates during times in the dissertation process. Why? Because there’s always someone who will be streets ahead of where you are, and that causes a whole range of negative, hateful emotions within you.

It also makes you freak out and doubt yourself massively. But do not fear, you will be fine. Focus on your own work, set your own deadlines, and set your own pace. Just make sure that doesn’t mean you finish your work well after the deadline. That wouldn’t be ideal.

Put your life on hold for a while.

This bit sucks. You will definitely have to turn down various opportunities to do fun stuff like going out for lunch, taking a wander into town, or anything else you might usually do to kill a bit of time. You quickly have to learn that any time you have must be dedicated to your dissertation.

Every minute spent doing something other than typing away on your computer is filled with guilt and anxiety and thoughts of: “I should probably be doing my dissertation.” It’s probably wise to make sure you get some done if this is the case.


It may sound like the most awful thing you’ll ever have to do, and at the time that’s how it feels. But it’s only for a while, and when it’s over, you can celebrate like never before. Handing it in as the finished article will be the best feeling in the world, so let that drive you on top success and away from despair!graduation-cap-in-air

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