Every student has his/her blues, especially when it is the time to submit the final project – THE DISSERTATION. Yes, giving goose bumps to a majority of the students, thesis and dissertations are known to be a challenge. Luckily, my submission is a thing of the past, and I am grateful to remember the experience.
My dissertation was a 15,000 word challenge filled with the struggle to match the University format specifications exactly. It was more of a crusade filled with hurdles in the form of word formatting issues, uneven spacing and most importantly, getting the perfect index. Today, the above challenges are enhanced to include many new challenges such as perfect references (as per the university requirement being Harvard, MLA, Chicago or APA).
My Supervisor was not tough at all, though she looked one. All the guidelines were given to me in hard-copy, and it was a HUGE file. I formed a group of 4 to choose a topic and implement it in a known organization. My viva with the external examiner was an unforgettable experience. Here’s my experience and learning I have gained since that D day and wish, I had known a bit more during my submission.
1. Everything depends on your Supervisor. If you don’t have the right guide, you will be lost. My supervisor played a crucial role only after I had printed the dissertation and gave a very bad comment ‘If you can’t format a document, sit at home!’ But today, I see students getting better guidance on their dissertations from choosing topics to final dissertation submission. You shouldn't have a problem! However, it is essential that you build a strong rapport with your supervisor to avoid any personal differences getting in during the final submission. And believe me, it will be messy!
2. Help is always admired, and if you are getting help on developing your dissertation from your family or friends, it gets even better. However, their help should be limited to giving your suggestions during the development stage, rather than actually helping you write your draft. Even if they do, do not mention it to anyone as in academic terms, it is strict ‘NO NO.’ Your draft can be rejected if your Supervisor comes to know that you have not prepared it on your own.
3. Dissertations come with panic attacks, scary dreams, depression, heartaches and even, nervous breakdowns. Yes, I have seen many getting a panic attack and admitted to the hospital just because they couldn’t handle the pressure. And you ask how does this pressure build up? I have the answer. Imagine this…
‘The deadline is approaching and you don’t have the draft ready. Your friends have submitted their drafts already and have even received a sound feedback. Your supervisor is sending your mails on mails (lengthy ones and even scary ones) to turn in the draft within the due date. But, you are struck. The feedback from the supervisor is not helping you. What do you do! Your mind blasts up and you feel a nervous breakdown.’
I suggest do not ask your friends (classmates) for help as they will make your even more nervous. Instead, try to put in a bit more effort and always keep a track of your progress. Ensure that you follow your schedule in strict adherence. If you skip it, you are the one going to get the side effect.
4. Every dissertation draft comes with flaws. It is cycle and will definitely give you dissertation blues. It may even break your confidence in your own hard work, and will make you start everything from scratch. This will make you run out of time, and you are back to step 3 in this article. This isn't happening right! To avoid this, be serious and keep your supervisor in loop. Look for suggestions to improve your draft and try to work on it, seriously.
5. For the final submission, your University will require you to submit your copy in hard print and soft copy. Now, you are struck again as the normal printing guy you know doesn’t do dissertation printing and binding. What do you do! It’s simple. Speak to your University Supervisor or Support staff, and they will definitely help you out. But, a serious advise. Before you go for that final print, do a PR and grammar check at least thrice. You don’t want to feel embarrassed due to wanted mistakes creeping in your dissertation, leading to loss in marks. Of course, it is your hard work! You should be proud of it!
It is always good to share something that can ease the life of others. Do share your experience and how your dissertation submission experience was
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