The Dissertation Process: What Happened between January & April? – #BEDM

This is a series on my blog that documented my personal dissertation process. It has featured some tips & tricks that I learnt along the way & felt needed to be passed on to other final year students/future final year students. I wrote my dissertation throughout this academic year (2013/14) & tried to document this experience in real time, citing both the good and bad times, the highs and lows, in the hopes of making it easier for fellow dissertation writers to see that they were not the only ones panicking when it comes to this mammoth piece of writing. 


This was a process I was hoping to keep going throughout my final year, with semi-regular updates every month. However writing my dissertation turned out to be the hardest and most stressful part of my degree. Because of the lack of updates I think it is only far to give you a run-down on what I did each month. 

January: 

After writing the last Dissertation post, I had a rough plan in my head on what I needed to get done and achieve. When broken down it wasn’t a terrible list, but I knew to really enjoy and understand the whole process I needed to crack on. However at this time I was also preparing to take part in the Eventice and in all honesty I knew which one was more important in the long run and in progressing my career.  *Obviously it was not my diss* 

Summary: Focus was lacking & not a lot was achieved.

February: 

The start of the month went straight into the Eventice, and afterwards I spent time trying to get back into writing my dissertation and carrying on with the literacy reading. That rational I mentioned I had written in January – it was all wrong. Instead of focusing my time on that, I left it to be figured out and changed at a later date, as it was one of the chapters I most struggled with! 

I did, however, decide not to conduct interview but instead collect my primary research via surveys. I attended both lectures on qualitative and quantitate research methods and I quickly established in the time I had left it was better suited if I went down the quant road. 

Summary: The month started off with good intentions & work was done, but it was slow and there wasn’t a lot to show at the end of it all. 

March: 


This is when I started getting more serious *at long last* except I was working on my methodology before even finishing my lit review. In second year we wrote a small version of a dissertation, that was marked for each section, I failed the first chapter & it put me in a downward spiral all through that assignment. Overall I got an okay grade, my other three marks for each additional section improved dramatically; but when I started this diss all I could remember was the fact I was terrible at the mini version last time. I lost my ability to have confidence in the work I was writing & in my own abilities. I spent a lot more time looking at the methodology & deciding how best to ask the questions and via which online platform. 

Summary: Panic levels set in, yet still the focus was lacking & the process carried on being slow and painful. 

April:

Easily the most stressful month of all time. In all honesty I did most of the final write up in this time; I got all my responses from my online survey and analysed the data, I finished my lit review, finished my methodology. The last two weeks before I printed and bound my diss, I finally managed to start writing my final two chapters & it was over the last 3 days that I attempted to write my rational. 
I spent my whole month either in the library at uni ALL DAY or just locked up in my bedroom. I didn’t socialise, or spend time with my friends or flat mates. I went through a really rough weekend at the start of the month where I just panicked and felt totally unprepared and unable to complete it. 
Summary: Stress levels increased massively! Work was done because there was no choice but it felt rushed and that meant the final piece of work lacked what it needed to make it a good piece of work! 
The sad reality was that I was unprepared, I left my whole dissertation to the last possible moment. The piece of work I handed in was not good. It does not represent my abilities and I know that I let myself down

But the thing is, going through this whole dissertation process, I understand that whilst university is incredibly useful, a grade in an essay doesn’t represent who I am. My abilities as an event professional does not lie in how well I am at coherently writing an academic argument or conducting my own research. 


I am going to be writing a dissertation advice piece to help future diss writers, so that no-one ends up in the same mess I found myself. 

If you have ANYTHING you want to tell people who are going to be writing their dissertation, advice you learnt from your experience, then please let me know in the comments. 


You can catch up on my whole Dissertation process & if you want to share your #dissertation story then please let me know in the comments or via twitter. 

  • Liesa V

    I am completely the same! Thinking you’ve got enough time and then starting to panic, resulting a rushed result. And every time I tell myself I’ll start earlier next time, haha. Good luck! xx

  • Thanks Liesa, I was even worse when I first started university. I used to leave everything to about 4 days before it was due, now at least I start a good 2 weeks before the deadline!

  • “I am going to be writing a dissertation advice piece to help future diss writers…”
    Yes please! I’m about to start my master thesis but I already have a feeling that I’ve lost ground under my feet.

    Your dissertation advice will be really appreciated! You already have one reader, that’s for sure!

  • I’m very glad you are finding it useful & I shall have that post up in the next few weeks. Thanks Juraj!

  • Awesome! Really looking forward to reading it.

  • This is a wonderful book when you plan to do the research (of any kind)! http://amzn.to/1oxAFbI Do you know it? Some great tips in there. I wish I found it few years ago.

  • Holly Houghton

    “But the thing is, going through this whole dissertation process, I understand that whilst university is incredibly useful, a grade in an essay doesn’t represent who I am. My abilities as an event professional does not lie in how well I am at coherently writing an academic argument or conducting my own research.” This just brings home some of the truth that education doesn’t actually define who you are as a person and your ability to actually do the Job in which you choose to take on after graduation. I’m in the process of completing my dissertation and in exactly the same boat as you were, slightly more unprepared than I anticipated! But having read this article, I actually feel more assured that no matter what grade I get, its my skills and experience that should count. The degree will only account for a small part of graduate employment. Thank you! 🙂

  • I’m really glad this helped Holly! I started the series so that other people would know they are not the only one struggling! You will do fine in your dissertation & regardless it won’t define who you are or what you are capable of doing! Good Luck x

  • I’ve not read it, but thanks for the recommendation Juraj!