After all the hard work you’ve put in to your dissertation, the last thing you’ll want is to lose marks on small things that were easily preventable. So make sure that you give yourself enough time to proof read properly, to check your work meets the requirements of your course unit and to print off your work so that you’re fully happy with what you hand-in.
1) Plan your time
Make a list of all the things standing between you and your dissertation being submitted and use this to plan the time you have left.
2) Create a routine.
Organising your time like a working day will really help to not only keep you focused, but is also a great way to maintain a healthy work-life balance. You will find it a lot easier to stay on task if you know exactly when your scheduled breaks are.
3) Write your introduction after your conclusion (or at least re-visit it)
Your introduction should introduce the argument you are going to make in your dissertation, while your conclusion should summarise how you have demonstrated or proven it throughout. So writing or re-writing your introduction after you’ve made and summarised your argument will ensure consistency in your work and a better flow.
4) Make sure your referencing is bulletproof
Checking your references can often be the most time consuming part of finishing your dissertation, but is also where students most commonly lose marks. Check and double check that your bibliography and references match up and contain all the information they need to and check that you’re using the right referencing style for your course. For help with referencing properly, see the My Learning Essentials guide to referencing.
5) Proof read, proof read, proof read!
Proof reading is much more than just ensuring you’ve passed the spell check on Word or having a quick read through to check for typos. You also need to think about structure, the flow of your argument and most importantly, whether you’ve answered the question!
So read through your work at least 5 times and not all in quick succession – try reading through twice, taking a break and coming back to it the next day or a couple of hours later..
When you come to proof-read your work, it is often a lot easier to do with a physical copy of your text. You may find it helpful to print out a copy of your dissertation so that you can scribble, highlight, and annotate any necessary amendments. This will also allow you to get to grips with some of the trickier theories and stay consistent throughout your writing.
Check out our 10 proofreading tips for more advice.
6) Once you think you’ve finished, take a days break before going back for a final proof-read.
Whilst we’re on proofreading, try and build in time so you can revisit your work after a break. It’s always good to have a clear head and go back to such a big project with fresh eyes. It will also help your wellbeing to just take a day to unwind and relax – a dissertation takes a huge amount of effort and time, so take a step back to acknowledge the accomplishment!
7) Ask someone else to also read through your work
A fresh pair of eyes will often be able to highlight things you’ve missed, whether it’s a sentence that doesn’t make sense or a paragraph that would work better in another place. You can even ask a friend or family member that has little knowledge of the subject of your dissertation as they might be able to spot things a subject expert can’t.
Be aware not ask course mates who have picked a similar topic though, to ensure you steer clear of plagiarism.
7) Ensure your dissertation meets the requirements of your course unit and school
The requirements are things like the word-count, how the dissertation should be bound, the length of your abstract…the list goes on. As these differ widely from school to school, be sure to check and double check your work meets the criteria. If you’re unsure where to find these requirements, check with your supervisor or programme administrator.
Finally… don’t panic… You are nearly there and you still have the chance to make real, valuable changes and additions to your project, regardless of the state it is in. Keep a clear head, allocate your time effectively, make sure you eat, make sure you sleep, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve!