The Dissertation Process: Starting with the Idea.

This is a brand new series on my blog about my personal dissertation process and featuring some tips & tricks that I hope to learn along the way. I am currently undertaking my dissertation this year & aim to document it in real time, citing both the good and bad times, the highs and lows and making it easier for fellow dissertation writers to see that they are not the only ones panicking when it comes to this academic piece of writing. 

The Idea:

One of the hardest things is coming up with an idea that is a) one you are happy to live with for the following 12 months and that will hold your interest, b) one which has the academic literature to help formulate your argument & lastly c) an idea that is individual to yourself.

Now when I first started thinking about what topic to pick for my dissertation I knew the area I wanted to write my dissertation on at an early stage. No problem, because I had this topic idea at the back of my head from the start of second year, so why not just make it my final project!?

Well over the summer, when I had to think far more in depth about the topic, I realised maybe with the time constraints on when the assignment is due in the idea wasn’t going to be feasible as I wanted. So I altered my idea to a topic I wasn’t so interested in or keen to do, and I kept telling myself that it was for my own good, I was changing it so I could focus on my other modules, keep doing social stuff whilst at uni etc etc

But my problem is the one thing that everyone has said to me when discussing the dissertation, is that it needs to be on a topic you are genuinely interested in. And even more perfect than that is if you have an idea that is linked either to your placement or your future career path!

*well with that updated idea none of this was true, I didn’t care about the topic or the research and it was not linked in anyway to my placement let alone my future career!

So I had only one thing I could do – draw a mind map! *it looked something like the picture below, although I promise it wasn’t about ukulele!

I listed & linked every idea I had for my topic & writing them down on the page made it easier to see what I was drawn to, note what was a stupid idea and what had potential & finally pick on an idea. I wasn’t the only person who did this, a lot of my friends made lists on every area they were interested & if that didn’t narrow it down enough for them they talked it out with family & friends. I think discussing it with other people helps pick out the ones you are more passionate about!

So the mind-map made it clear to me what I am going to write my 10,000 word essay on, however that doesn’t necessarily mean this topic idea won’t change. Nope there is still time for a quick switch around before I hand in my final proposal!

What is my final topic idea I hear you ask! So kind of you to ask, it shall be on the topic of EDUCATIONAL EVENTS.

*Here is a post by Maddy Potts on the Guardian about; 10 things she wishes she had known before she started her dissertation! 

Are you also writing your dissertation this year or have you recently completed one & have any tips or tricks you want to share? I would love to hear them and about your process with writing your diss!  Please let me know them either in the comments below or by sending me a tweet to @imdamnstudent