The 8 stages of writing a Dissertation


So its day one, you’ve just been given the information about your dissertation and you’re excited and nervous in equal measure. But you know, you can do this, it’s going to be great. You’re going to learn so much about yourself and end the process as a whole and fully developed adult. You will change your field with your unique, inspirational ideas. At least that is what you tell yourself.


It’s a couple of weeks later and it’s set in that you actually have no original ideas which would be okay if plagiarism wasn’t a thing. You were told to write a dissertation about something you were interested in or talented at but it has become painfully clear that writing about staying in bed watching Netflix for twenty four hours straight might not fill 15,000 words. Not understanding your degree or anything your lecturers said for the last two years had never been a problem before, until now.


An idea finally comes to you- idea in a very loose sense of the word (you wrote down a lot of vague sentences connected to something you might not hate in six months’ time and throw in some theoretical terminology just so it doesn’t look like you’ve lost the plot). After meeting your supervisor to talk it through you realise that you might have something. However, the notion of having nine months to do this is expelled as they give you a deadline to hand in a section for two weeks’ time. It’s starting…


You’ve turned into a nocturnal, caffeine addict who spends more time in the library than you do your own home. To say you’ve let yourself go might be a little harsh but you have looked a lot better. The months that ensue see you reach new records of time of not washing your hair, living off pasta and you develop a whole new library ‘appropriate’ wardrobe consisting predominantly of leggings and tee shirts that could be mistaken for sacks. While this is gross you can’t spend 18 hours in the library in skinny jeans, it’s just not plausible.


After a term and a half of hibernation its Easter and while you don’t want to speak to soon, you feel like you might have got there. You’ve got feedback which on the whole was okay and you’re nearing your word limit. You finally feel like you have control of your life (well your dissertation, you still look wild). You even fit in seeing friends and doing some fun things while you’re at home.


No no no no no no no no no no. You were wrong, nothing is in control, there’s so much to be done and everyone seems to be so much further ahead. It’s like some people just have more hours in the day, you return to your library hole. It’s also dawned on you that it takes time to print and bind your piece of work and while you thought you had four weeks to go, one of those weeks is going to be taken up by binding…the stress!


So the writing is done- it’s the night before you plan to go and get it bound and you feel a little victorious, you’re nearly there. All there is to tackle is the small matter of the bibliography. Now I know that without doubt, if you don’t already know this, your dissertation supervisor will tell you to reference as you go along, do it! Or if you like you could opt to spend eight hours trawling the internet for what Heath said in 2005 (as I did). You know, for the fun of it.


Finally, it’s done. You took it to be printed which was far less stressful as you initially anticipated and you have it in your hands. You can’t work out if you’re immensely proud or want it out of your sight as soon as possible. You can ditch the diet of coffee and pasta, catch up on sleep and get drunk once more! You have not turned into a adult, if anything you have regressed. You also haven’t learned a great deal about yourself, other than you can leave your hair nine days before washing it (which isn’t wholly useful) but the main point is you survived it and have developed a new found respect/ confusion towards your lecturers who choose to do this for a living.


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