Getting started on your dissertation

Student using a laptop.

Starting your dissertation? Follow our top 5 study tips

 So, you may have just finished your exams but now you have to turn your attention to your dissertation. Where do you begin and how can you ensure you stay on track? Below are our Study Advice and Library tips to help you get started and stay focused.  

Tip #1: Have a plan 

Having a plan not only helps you to stay on track but weekly goals keep you motivated. Work backwards from your hand in date and remember to build in extra time for proof reading and final touches. Our videos on managing your time offer some tips to get you started.  

Tip #2: Start with something small 

To help you get going, start with a task that you can get done easily. This might be something simple, like setting up a word template or printing off a couple of key articles. Being able to complete one task can give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to tackle more challenging ones. 

Tip #3: Think about the information that you need…

….and how to access it! If you are carrying out a literature review, or analysing documents or literature, make sure that you are familiar with the key online resources in your subject area. You can find out more about what’s available to you, as well as contact details for your Academic Liaison Librarian, on your Library subject guide.  

Tip #4: Think more, read less 

It’s important that you think critically about you’re reading. This requires you to see the links between various theories and consider what they mean for your research question. So, when taking notes remember to not only record a summary of your reading but more importantly note what you think about what you have read. This will help you when you come to write up. Our video on critical note taking offers some advice on this. 

Tip #5: Attend a webinar 

The Library and Study Advice teams are running a series of webinars for Masters students working on their dissertations. The Masters Dissertation Fare is back for another year, covering a range of topics from selecting a reference management tool, to structuring your literature review.  

Webinars will run online every day from Monday 5 June – Friday 9 June. On the last day we will be running an in person writing retreat so you progress your writing, and a hands-on literature searching session. These friendly and helpful sessions are open to all Masters students, and you can book a place online.  

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