The IAD PGT Team recently held a questions and answers panel on dissertations. This was an opportunity for current masters students to ask questions of former masters students and experienced university staff.
The questions covered various themes around writing dissertations, from How to Choose the Topic to Tools for Writing Your Dissertation. This post focuses on the planning of your dissertation, choosing your methodology, and reading and writing. This post also highlights some of the tools available to help with writing your dissertation.
Reading and Writing
- Most people will use different techniques, some people will read then write whilst others will interleave the two activities.
- Annotate articles/ references as you are reading – the notes will help you in structuring your dissertation chapters.
- Read previous dissertations – see what is expected, ask your library, programme director or supervisor.
There are various writing strategies which you might find useful for writing your dissertation. The following are examples of some of the tools other students have used to help with their writing strategies.
Free writing is a technique often used to overcome writer’s block. It’s usually easy to do. Set yourself a time limit and write on a chosen topic; don’t worry about spelling, grammar or sentence structure. Here are some basic rules to follow;
- Give yourself a time limit, (5 to 15 minutes). Then stop.
- Choose a topic (it could be part of an essay or chapter)
- Keep writing/typing until the time is up. Even if that means going off topic.
- Don’t make corrections and pay no attend to spelling, grammar etc
- When the time is up, revise what you have written. Highlight the sections which contain ideas, or phrases that you want to write more on.
This is really an editing technique. When you write something and read it over and over again, you’ll start to read what you think is there, not what you’ve actually written. Fresh eyes is putting your writing down for a few hours, or a few days and then going back to it. Re-reading it with fresh eyes. Combining the fresh eyes technique with reading sections out of sequence or back to front can be a useful proof-reading method.
Tools for Writing Your Dissertation
- IAD PGT Dissertation Resources Page http://edin.ac/1i4N7PY
- IAD PGT Dissertation Planner http://edin.ac/1FTvWOk
- Make use of available software
- Mendeley, Endnote and Zotero (Reference Managers) – IS offer workshops on how to use the software http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/learning-resources/basic-it-library
- Mind Genius 5.0 (Mind Mapping Software is available on all open access computers).
- Evernote Web – ideal for note taking and can be synced across multiple devices https://evernote.com/