The ‘D’ word – Dissertation Planning

January 9, 2013 in Afterhours, Community Internship, Dissertation, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, Slideshow, University of Bath

dissertation

As much as I’d like it to, my internship with 10gen can’t go on forever — and as 2013 rushes onwards, my return to university creeps ever closer.

This can only mean one thing; the dreaded dissertation. 

It may not seem like the most attractive prospect whilst also working a fulltime job (can anyone here say ‘exhausted‘?), but there is a lot to be said for laying the foundations of your undergraduate dissertation whilst on placement — giving yourself as much time as possible to work on your project and thus reducing your workload on returning to your studies.

So what can you do? 

    • BE REALISTIC: This cannot be stressed enough. Take an honest look at the time you have to complete your project and allocate a realistic amount of time to each of these steps, some of which will obviously take longer than others. Don’t be disheartened or overwhelmed if some take longer than you were expecting — the most important thing is that you keep your focus.
    • TALK TO YOUR COMPANY: If you’re lucky enough to have a highly supportive placement company, why not talk to them about allocating some time towards working on your dissertation?
    • THINK TOPIC: Begin by thinking about a focused and manageable topic that you know will be interesting, original and achievable.
    • THINK TEXTS: Undertake some preliminary reading and research to establish that there is appropriate source material upon which you can draw. Why not make an Amazon wishlist of relevant textbooks?
    • GET IN CONTACT: Contact your university department for guidance on whether your topic is a suitable area of research, and enquire as to which staff members in your department may be most knowledgeable on the subject.
    • GET READING: Once you’ve received the go ahead, you can begin your reading in earnest. Work towards completing the bulk of your research into your chosen topic, making sure that you manage your information effectively and retain all the relevant details you will need for your bibliography etc. I know this is a pain, but when you’re near final hand in and discover you’re not having to panic about missing references, you’ll be thankful you did it.
    • GET PLANNING: Take some time to work on a semi-detailed plan of your dissertation — identify each major section which you want it to contain. Remember to keep the final word length in mind, and perhaps even allocating a rough word length to each section, though this will probably change as your dissertation progresses.

Reiterating the need for a realistic and achievable plan, this is where it may be advisable to slow down the dissertation prep; enabling students to make progress on their final year dissertation without detrimentally affecting their placement.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘that’s enough for now‘.