Dissertation Diaries: What to do once you’ve finished your proposal

Hey guys! If you’ve been reading my posts on Sundays, you’ll know that I’ve moved on from recipes (though I will still be posting them up on my blog from time to time!) and towards writing about my dreaded dissertation in something I’m calling my “Dissertation Diaries”.

My first entry was all about how I was feeling about my dissertation which, SPOILER ALERT, wasn’t too fantastic. Even though I knew full well I’d join loads of students actually going to the library to fret over secondary material, it hasn’t felt real until now and- as my first entry will tell you- I’m pretty terrified about that!

In my second entry I talked about getting passed the so-called “planning stage”. I don’t have those pens to colour code everything, or the cute Paperchase notebooks other students have (only because I wouldn’t be able to pick between the choices!), but I just get stuck going over paragraph after paragraph so often I forget about the end result: a completed thing!

Luckily, today’s post is a bit more encouraging! It felt like it took a long time but, I’m happy to report, my dissertation proposal is done! I’m by no means over the moon with it but I’m glad I’ve got it done when, a few weeks ago, all I’d written was a possible title and the word “Plan”.

Of course, rather than put my feet up just yet (though I have, regrettably, indulged in watching Gilmore Girls and The Inbetweeners this week, when I probably could have done some work!), the big one- the 8000 word dissertation every student dreads- is still looming! So, with that in mind, I thought I’d talk about what to do once you’ve finished your proposal:

Start thinking about what you want to say in your actual dissertation

A proposal is basically a poshed-up draft, where you talk about what you’re planning to do when you actually come to write. Of course, sometimes, what you’ve written in your proposal and what you write in your final work is pretty different. So, with that in mind, (I don’t want to say plan, given the fact I’ve just written a post about moving from it!) think about what you want to say in your actual dissertation- get an idea of secondary reading, get to grips with your chosen text(s) and think about an overall theme/idea you’ll refer back to.

Read, read, read

I said about this in my first post, so I apologise for repeating myself, but this is really important. I know students rely on things like Spark Notes to get them through, which I won’t knock as a source as I’ve used it myself (for background information) before, but it’s different for your dissertation.

You actually have to know your texts and, whatever way you look at it, this will mean you’ll be reading things other than one-page summaries. So, head over to the library and get yourself into some books- you’ll be surprised what you learn and how useful books can actually be!

Think about chapters

I know this seems difficult considering many people aren’t set in their ideas but, if you brainstorm possible chapter titles, you’ll feel good.

Look at previous examples

Even though the dissertation subjects had no similarity to mine, I found myself looking at some examples the module leader for our dissertation had sent over.

Whilst they may not give you an idea where to go for your proposed idea, looking at how a dissertation is structured is incredibly helpful because, let’s face it, many of us won’t have seen one before.

Use your teachers

Ok, ok, I’ll admit, this isn’t an original tip at all…I actually took this from our dissertation module leader. He’s right though, your tutors aren’t just those people whose seminars or lectures you may (or may not) attend. They’re actually people and, even better, they’re people who know their stuff.

Odds are if you’ve submitted your ideas, your supervisor will be matched to you considering the fact that you’re writing about their area of expertise.

4 thoughts on “Dissertation Diaries: What to do once you’ve finished your proposal

  1. Lindsey says:

    Oh my goodness I feel your pain – I had such trouble with mine. I wasn’t too bad for my BA but for my MA, it was hours of stressing with my tutors because I literally couldn’t focus on a particular topic that I wanted to do! Once you set those ideas down on paper though, at least that gives you a focus and a solid starting point.

    There are some great tips here, I hope others find them useful. Best of luck with it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jenrosewrites says:

      Not feeling the stress too much at the moment, TRYING to keep calm. I’m feeling comfortable in my ideas and focused, it’s just starting that’s the ‘difficult’ part but I’ll start soon and it’ll all be good! Aw thank you, need the luck I think 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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