The Dissertation Process: When things go wrong.

This is a series on my blog about my personal dissertation process. It features some tips & tricks that I hope to learn along the way & pass on to other final year students. I am currently writing my dissertation throughout 2013/14 & aim to document this experience 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. 


So after handing in the mammoth 13 pages of ethics paperwork just over 2 weeks ago I received an email last week saying that my ethics forms handed in had not been approved. Not in a you-are-totally-wrong sort of way, but more in the here-are-a-few-things-you-need-to-change-before-you-resubmit way.

Well that screwed me right over! I mean the notes they send me were really reasonable and very true & to be honest I had thought it was unlikely that I would pass first time because things always need to be edited! But the whole experience put a damper on the day and it was another set of bullet points to add to my already very long to-do list, which featured points such as these;

  • Write corporate strategy essay
  • Write finance essay
  • Write politics essay
  • Remember to pack your whole life into a very small suitcase
  • Remember to pack all those christmas presents into the very small suitcase that your whole life needs to somehow fit into 
  • etc etc
Suddenly I was faced with a lot of things that needed to be finished within 7 days and it all became too much, so throw in some frantic emails to my diss tutor asking for a meeting, a long phone call with my parents discussing how much of a fail my life seems to be and a 1am netflicks session of romantic comedies in an attempt to try and cheer myself up! 
I think if you have read my previous dissertation posts you shall be able to see that I haven’t found this process at all easy! In fact i’ve struggled to juggle it alongside my other university modules and have changed my idea about 3 times. Speaking to my friends at uni it is clear that there are some other people who are also finding it quite difficult to give this project as much time as it needs, although I am yet to find someone who has changed their idea as much as me!!

Talking about idea changes, here we go again!!! Yep thats right, after receiving the ethics email I had a very good and productive meeting with my dissertation tutor, where I voiced my concerns with how I was struggling to juggle the process at the moment and considering I will only have 4 months from January to complete the project I have set myself too big of a challenge. I am very passionate about my original topic idea, ‘a study into the importance of education events and the role it plays in engaging students‘, but I know that I will not be able to do it to the standard that I want in the time I have left. So instead of focusing the project on under 18s I am changing it to be university students – using the resources I have available to me and taking away some of the stress that will come when conducting my primary research.

It is pretty much the same topic but with a different pool of people to interview and don’t worry this is definitely the final topic change! I have it set in stone & am now working on completing my rational, literature review and methodology – all which should have been completed before the Christmas break! Yes, I am that student who takes full use of the draft-deadlines!

So that is my post about when things go wrong – and my advise for any one who may be feeling the panic with their dissertation is to book in to see your tutor. I was doing the whole bury my head under the sand process, but once I met with him it was really great. He didn’t shout at me for not handing in the previous work nor did he tell me that my ideas suck or that I was going to fail because I keep changing the direction of my topic – he just listened and then suggested things that could help!

So if anyone else has similar horror stories to tell on how their dissertation process is going or actually is finding the whole experiences quite easy that please let me know in the comments below, or alternatively send me a little tweet to @imdamnstudent. & you can check out the previous Dissertation posts here: 1:Idea2:Title3:Idea change & 4:Ethics

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