Friday, 11 May 2012

Five common dissertation 'mistakes'

(1) Spending too much time worrying about the perfect title. They evolve over time & really need lots of literature reading before they crystalise - many students flap and don't do the hard work of reading academic journals around their subject. (see this blogs post on finding a dissertation title)

(2) Taking it far too easy once the title has been decided & approved. This is the time to crack on with deep and wide literature research and developing/planning the methodology.

(3) Students trying to stretch 5 or 10 sources too thinly. Deep, deep research (including relevant texts and academic research journals) is necessary. The better the content, the easier it is to write - it's a beauty contest on what to exclude - you have such an embarrassment of riches. Saying little with nothing much requires literary genius few of us possess. The research is the most important phase, yet it takes the most time & yet generates the fewest words. (see this blogs post on using a shell document).  
Royal Holloway, University of London

(4) My computer crashed. Of course I always back up. Just not the dissertation


(5) Insufficient time polishing. Ironically the last sections to be written (intro, conclusion and abstract) are often rushed. These are your prime real estate - the first thing a marker looks at. If they are peppered with spellling errors, grammatical nonsense and is hard to follow - you start by creating a bad impression (sub 50%) and an amazing lit review and methods section will only see you play catch up. Make sure you BEST writing is show cased in the abstract, introduction and conclusion.