Monday, 26 April 2010

What I've Learned About Writing a Dissertation.

Finally it's all done! My dissertation is out of the way, all finished, all printed and bound. I'll post a copy online once it's been handed in, I don't want any risk of anyone claiming it as their own or anything.
I think it reads pretty well, I'm especially proud of the primary research. I think all in all it provides a pretty good grounding on many of the issues surrounding digital consoles in live audio.
It struck me that there was a lot that I could have done to make my life a lot easier, most of which I was told and ignored. I thought I'd post a list of the key lessons I learned, so that any undergraduates preparing to write their dissertation might be a bit more prepared.

1) Pick a Topic You Will Enjoy
I'd argue this is the most important point, and it's one I did actually obey. Needless to say it's a world easier to write 10000 words. More importantly though its a lot easier to read around a topic that genuinely interests you, and its near on impossible to pretend to be interested interviewing people about a topic you dont care about.

2) Start Early
Everyone says this and everyone ignores it also. It's only human nature to leave things till the last minute and when all your friends are doing them same it makes it all the harder. A better way to think about it is decide on a topic early and start reading around it. Take notes on everything you read.Other things you can start doing early is finding people who know people that you can interview.

3)Structure Your Essay Well, and Early
If your essay is well structured it will not only be easy to read, but much easier to break up into managable chunks and write. As silly as it sounds, the thing that helped me be most productive was writing a time table of topics I should write every day. Of course you're not going to stick to it, but at least you won't be sitting there wondering what you should be writing.

4)Use a Refferancing Program
I don't think I could have written my dissertation without the help of Zotero, a free plug in for Firefox which can connect to either Word or Open Office. Refferancing is the most tedious part of writing an academic paper and there really is no need to to it manually.
In addition, for a dissertation like mine, where most of my secondary research came from websites, it allows you to take notes all over the pages, automatically back up all of your sources, both on your computer and on their web servers automatically.
Zotero also automatically populates your refferance list and bibliography, as well as formatting and alphabetizing them.
There's also a social networking feature which I found to be mostly useless but might be of use to other people (my profile)


  1. Glad to hear your Disseration went well mate, given me some good tips for mine next year. Really enjoying that Zotero addon too, cheers for that!


  2. steve.dave "Lol"

  3. It is very helpful guidelines for me, I expect you will share this type of tips in future carry on
    Quality Dissertation