I promise you – there are some benefits!
I have now finished all of my assignments for my final year at university, and I feel like I can reflect on the time I spent preparing and writing my dissertation. I will admit, I did find some times stressful, and times where I didn’t feel like my research project was worth anything. But you do pull through these moments, and if you put in enough work, you can end up with something you’re really proud of. I haven’t received my grade yet, but I can say I have learnt a lot over the course of writing a dissertation, and I hope this calms the nerves of some of you who are starting to think about one. Here are some of the pros of doing a dissertation:
- The scale of the research project.
You go from having random ideas about the area you want to do your research in, to having a fully written, bound research project which you are an expert in. At the beginning, you feel like everyone has done your research, but by the end of it, you’ve found a gap in the research and you’ve probably filled it. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you’re not sure what’s ‘original’ about your project – just start with some ideas, and perhaps an academic that inspires you. You may not feel like you’ll ever get to the point where the end product is in your hands, but try not to think about that just now. You will get there eventually, but for now it’s important to make notes about areas of research you enjoy!
- You’ve gained so many skills along the way.
As this is a large project, you will have gained so many skills relevant for any job application you decide to make when you finish university. A few that I use in my applications/interviews are:
- Time Management. Not only have you been balancing your dissertation alongside other modules, but you’ve learnt to prioritise certain types of work over others depending on deadlines. To do this, a lot of planning was involved, to ensure that I met personal goals each week and made progress.
- Communication. In many of the sessions surrounding my dissertation, I often had to explain, in lay-person’s terms, what my research project was all about. This involved explaining difficult concepts that people on my course were not familiar with, and communicating in a way that was suitable for the audience I was addressing.
- Adaptability. I would often have to adapt different parts of the dissertation to fit the needs of the project, or change my writing direction. You learn to keep calm under these circumstances, and learn to change areas that are not working, as you would in a job!
- You’re doing a subject you enjoy (hopefully!).
Even though it’s easy to get lost in the stress of writing a dissertation, you cannot forget that you started this project in an area you enjoyed. I sometimes had to bring myself back to reality and remember that I would much rather be researching something I love than doing a module I might not enjoy. My main piece of advice would be to hang in there – there was often times when I had no idea what I was doing, but there is so much support around you to point you in the right direction. Even thinking of an idea is excellent, and shows you’re capable of bringing the project to an end and receiving the grade you worked hard for.
I hope these few tips makes you less nervous for starting a dissertation, and remember; you are amazing!