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Magdalena

April 23rd, 2023

How not to let your dissertation defeat you – 5 essential tips

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Magdalena

April 23rd, 2023

How not to let your dissertation defeat you – 5 essential tips

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

For a master’s student whose degree lasts one year, the prospect of a dissertation can be daunting. After all, we have only just started the course at LSE and it’s time to submit an abstract and research proposal already? Time flies and it might be terrifying when you have to care about a dissertation on top of the workload you have.

The key, however, is preparation. You don’t have to actively work on your dissertation, but keep it at the back of your mind from the beginning of your programme. Here are my tips on how to approach that.

1. Keep a notebook for ideas

The single most useful thing that I have done is keeping a notebook to write down anything and everything that is connected to my subject that I find interesting. These are concepts, definitions, short ideas, quotations, opinions that I’ve read on insta stories, statements by prominent scholars, fragments of books and articles… The list goes on.

This helped me massively when the time came to narrow down what I want to focus on in my dissertation.

Of course, in your case, it doesn’t need to be a physical notebook – a page in your notes app will do just fine. The key is to be open to inspirations from the beginning (and write them down because they might go away as fast as they came).

2. Read beyond the essentials

If the topic interests you, don’t limit yourself to the essential readings for classes but explore the reading list and dive into the topics deeper. Not only does it help you with the particular course but also extends your intellectual horizons and develops you as a student. The concept of economic reading and abstracts are your friends in this initiative.

3. Use opportunities for “trial runs”

Your courses are an excellent opportunity to see if the topic interests you enough to write a dissertation in this area as well as gain a wide understanding of the key concepts and debates that might constitute the basis for your own project.

Similarly, many courses give you a chance to “test” if your idea for a research project is viable. For example, the assessments in core courses in the MSc Sociology are a research proposal for quantitative methods and a research report for qualitative methods. Thus, they’re designed in a way that helps you come up with a concrete and feasible research plan (and even actually conduct it in the case of qualitative methods).

Seek those opportunities by approaching your courses wisely.

4. Take advantage of professors’ office hours

Throughout the whole academic year, you can book individual sessions with all the professors. That’s an excellent way to try out your ideas with leading experts in the field of your interest, beyond your dissertation supervisor.

Make sure to be prepared and ask them specific questions to make the most of the meeting.

5. Use LSE resources

LSE LIFE has plenty of resources on offer to help students with dissertations. While there are many materials online with advice on specific aspects you might be struggling with, there’s also a chance to book a one-to-one study advisor to provide help with anything that you need. LSE LIFE also organises events dedicated to dissertation writing throughout the year.

The bottom line is – there’s plenty of help available if you need it.

About the author

Magdalena

Hi, I’m Magda, a Sociology master’s student coming from Poland. I’m interested in the issues of class and social stratification as well as history, which I studied for my undergraduate degree. I have an artistic soul and enjoy literature, cinema and theatre.

Posted In: Student life | Study: Masters

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