Right now you might be thinking what is the point in reading this just now. Perhaps you might be tempted to come back to this 2 weeks before your dissertation is due…STOP, don’t make the mistake of putting your dissertation on the back burner, if you utilise the time now you’ll be well on your way to being successful make the process much easier (or less difficult perhaps).
The word dissertation is one that strikes fear in the hearts of pretty much every psychology student. They whisper about it in the hallways at some point around year 2, these whispers soon become shouts about how difficult the dissertation is, how unfair the tutors are in marking it, how it’s 1,000,000,000 words long and how theoretically everyone should have been working on this from the age of 7 and if you haven’t started yet then you might as well just give up.
Please don’t panic…with enough planning and these top tips you will find the process much less stressful, give yourself a better chance at improving your mark…and dare I say it, perhaps even enjoy it a little?
Let’s get started…
Tip #1 – Start Early:
There is a very good reason for me posting this at the start of the academic year, you need to start work on your dissertation early!
The very last position you want to put yourself in is one where you have totally limited yourself time wise.
Beleive me, this is a horrible position to be in. I’ve seen students drop out of their degree just a month before they finish because they have delayed the process of starting their dissertation.
Remeber, your dissertation isn’t the only thing you have on during your last year. You still have exams from other subjects and assignments.
I’m not trying to scare you here…or maybe I am a little…but whatever it takes to get you to understand that you NEED TO START EARLY!!
Tip #2 – Get The Right Supervisor:
Choosing a supervisor that fits into your topic well is vital.
What I will say here is that you may hear rumours about how good or bad a dissertation supervisor might be. This should be the only piece of advice you listen to from other students during your dissertation. Do a bit of research yourself and find a supervisor who is reliable and suits you and your topic well.
There’s no point in you doing a psychology dissertation on something biopsychological with a supervisor who specialises in social psychology. Make sure your supervisor is the right fit for you.
Tip #3 – Ethics/Ethics Forms:
In your psychology dissertation, there will be parts of it that you think won’t take that long but end up taking forever…it is the eternal rollercoaster of a psychology dissertation.
One of the carts on this rollercoaster is ethics and ethics forms.
This takes up much more time than you could have originally anticipated.
Having your ideas mapped out and your proposal written with the types of participants you want to use and sending it off to ethics is a time consuming and laborious process. the likelihood also is that you will have it returned to you with amendments needed.
I highly advise that this is your first port of call with regards to dissertation tasks after having your topic mapped out and selecting an appropriate supervisor.
Tip #4 – Participants:
Much like ethics, gaining participants will become one of the more challenging aspects of your dissertation.
Whether you are doing a quantitative or qualitative psychological dissertation, you will need participants.
A few issues with this though…it’s highly likely that you won’t be compensating people for their participation, therefore immediately no one will care about your dissertation or how desperate you are for participants…well maybe not no one, but far fewer people will care.
Therefore you might have to use a bit of ingenuity, are you able to use students? If so then you charging around your university, sweating profusely and screaming in the face of first years to take part in your study whilst handing them a torn information sheet and consent form might be an option.
Often universities make it an essential piece of their marking that first years take part in final year students dissertations, so you might get help this way.
Tip #5 – Stay Focused:
There will undoubtedly be students that try and terrify each other more than is necessary when it comes close to dissertation deadline.
This tip might seem self-explanatory, but it is vital that you stay focused on your work and meeting the criteria required for your dissertation and don’t get caught up with the pandemonium that ensues during this time.
This might actually be the most important tip out of all 6.
Tip #6 – Understand That It Probably Will Never Be Finished…But Finish None The Less:
There will come a point when you realise that conceivably, you could work on your dissertation for the rest of time.
First of all…obviously don’t do this.
Second of all, it’s important that you appreciate that with all the work you have put it you will want it to be the best it can be.
Be ok with finishing it up, getting feedback from your supervisor and submitting it.
Tip #7 -Referencing:
Referencing is a mind field if you’re not on top of your game with it.
My advice here is to keep records of your referencing of literature from the start and throughout.
You absolutely do not want to be scraping together all the references in the last week before the deadline.
I highly recommend you take a look at my GetPsyched video on Top Tips For Referencing.
Hopefully, these tips have been helpful. Conducting a dissertation in psychology can be extremely stressful, but like anything in higher education, the stress can be managed and you can be successful with the appropriate planning and initiatives. Just keep these tips in mind and you will be on your way to making your dissertation a success.