No, there is no secret dissertation-writing pill that you can pop that enables you to produce a perfect dissertation in half an hour. Unfortunately, some mental elbow grease and private bonding time with your books is still required to write a dissertation. Unless of course, you are talking about the future! In the meantime though, here are a few tips to help you speed through the challenging task that is your dissertation.
Work in small, manageable chunks
Having to write an entire dissertation is a daunting task even for the best of us. It helps to break the work up into smaller, more manageable chunks so that you don’t lose motivation as easily. Doing this also helps you focus better, and gives greater clarity as you step back to recharge after working through each chunk. In fact, breaking your work up into blocks helps to keep you more motivated and on task as it is easier to keep track of your progress. The sense of achievement you get after completing each chunk is motivation enough to keep going. You’ll be a writing dynamo in no time. Just remember to rest.
Write outlines for each chapter
Before you start working on each chapter, it is extremely helpful to draw up a rough outline of the chapter, stating clearly the main points and structure of the chapter. We are often tempted to sidetrack while writing, and having a clear outline on hand will help keep you on track. Having an outline also serves as a reference for when writing other chapters. A quick look at what other chapters have already covered will prevent you from repeating yourself. Treat your outlines as your dissertation in miniature – make sure your points flow and that the structures are logical. They may help when writing a conclusion.
List out useful keywords
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of getting through a particularly content-heavy chapter, when suddenly you just can’t seem to remember that keyword/jargon term? Before embarking on your giant writing project, it may be helpful to make a list of keywords/jargon that you will need to use in your dissertation. This may help the words to flow more naturally, and also provides you with a convenient reference should you happen to need one while writing.
Take short breaks from time to time
Your brain, as well as the rest of you, needs a rest every now and then. Writing is no mean feat, and can be pretty taxing at times. When exhausted, you may find it harder and harder to string a sentence together, and soldiering on even when your brain is begging you to stop may result in a dissertation full of paragraphs that do not link together and sentences that make no logical sense. Take a break. Give yourself some time for rest and recreation (assuming you’re not already pushing deadlines). It might even give you new perspective for your dissertation.
Feel free to not write your chapters in sequence
While your dissertation will be read in sequence, there are no rules that state that you absolutely have to write your chapters in sequence. Feel free to go about it the way you prefer – start with the easy parts first, or get the harder parts out of the way first. Some suggest writing the conclusion first – then all the other chapters will fall in place nicely. Some find it easier to crunch data first, and opinionate later. Either way, write the chapters of your dissertation in the order that you are most comfortable with.
Treat it like a game. Timing yourself adds an element of competition to writing a dissertation, which some people thrive with. Give yourself, say, 5 minutes to finish 10 lines and you will probably do it in less time than you would originally have taken had you not timed yourself. Timing yourself makes you work in short, highly-energized bursts which increase your productivity without leaving you feeling worn out. In fact, the idea of competition may even motivate you to work harder and faster.
- License: Creative Commons image source
The writer enjoys reading and occasionally coaches students who are in the midst of doing their dissertations. He also advises students who cannot cope well with the writing to consider dissertation services in the UK.