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Forums > Social Chat > Help and advice for a struggling student

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ASTRO FAERIE
BRONZE Member since Mar 2003

ASTRO FAERIE

ummmmmmm.............
Location: Rotherham, UK

Total posts: 724
Posted:Im trying to write my dissertation.
I have got all my notes ready, i know the subject, but im finding it hard to work out how to start.
I have an introduction, but when it comes to writing the important stuff, i seem to be all jumbled, and don't know where to start.
Any calming advice, or any advice on methods which help/helped you in this matter would be invaluable to me.
I'd really appreciate any good advice on this please guys. smile


Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realise that we
cannot eat money.

Cree Indian, 1909

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[Nx?]
BRONZE Member since Nov 2001

[Nx?]

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Europe,Scotland,Both

Total posts: 3749
Posted:yo,

diffrent dissertations requite diffrent things, but maybe if thease apply you might want to make an essay plan along thease lines.

what is the feild of your enquiry?

what is the nature of your inquiry?

what work has been done previously that is relevent?

summerise the previous work, and why it is relevent.

examine the previous material and decide how it fits with your own enquiry.

construct argumnets agianst with supporting material

construct arguments for.

synthesise the two arguments to produce your overall thesis, decide upon your final supporting material.

summerise the full enquiry, which should be a reflection of your intial question and feild of enquiry.

have a cup of tea.


sounds like you got all the stuff but not sorted it out yet, just be a bit methodical about it.

T wave


This is a post by tom, all spelling is deleberate
-><- Kallisti

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas

Total posts: 3899
Posted:good god... writing my Ph.D. dissertation was about the worst thing I have ever willfully subjected myself to!



If your dissertation involves lots of figures, then I found it best to arrange them all in an order that makes a sensible progression (ie, I need this figure first to explain features in this one or techniques used in that one). I think the next thing I did was write my table of contents, which sort of serves as an outline. Mind you I think I reworked that about 100 times before I even started writing, and then continuously while I was writing.



The other thing I did was to start writing each section and subsection as different Word documents. this way, when I finally did find a suitable order for everything, it was easier to merge subsection and section documents into chapter documents than to cut and paste and rearrange in one huge document.



I also looked at it in the context of telling a story about how I came to my final conclusions - I needed to learn this before I could conclude that, which I needed to prove such and such...


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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originalsmit
SILVER Member since Aug 2003

originalsmit

addict
Location: nottingham, england. cornwall ...

Total posts: 469
Posted:easy just wait till three days before its due to be in, go on a drinking binge so you have a nice big hangover.
then stay up for the next 48 hours eating nescafe out of the jar with a big spoon so you are actually able to stay awake long enough to be able to put in the requisite number of words.
mmmmmm mmmmmm taste that coffee goodness.


my original signature was tooo long.
this one is shorter

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spritie
SILVER Member since Sep 2001

spritie

Pooh-Bah
Location: Galveston, TX

Total posts: 2014
Posted:I went about writing my thesis almost completely backwards from Vanize...

Mine consisted of a comparison of three different methods, so in one section, I had to describe each method. But, before I could do this, I needed a background section on the terminology. This section could also contain previous work on the topic.

My third section was then what I had done which contained 180 figures and their explanation. I didn't have to prove anything or create any new methods, but if you did, those should probably go in a section like this. Because I didn't create anything new, I had to explain why I did what I did to compare them.

My last section was the actual results of the comparison and why one method worked better than one in some cases, and another worked the best in some other cases as well as the pros and cons of working with the different methods.

I found my intro. section was the most difficult to write, and thus I did it last. I do agree that creating an outline first is very helpful, as well as writing each section as a separate word doc. I watched how that was very helpful for Vanize, and I wished I had done it for mine as it was a pain in the butt to cut-and-paste that much info and keep the figure numbers correct.

The best thing I would suggest doing is just start with the area you feel most confident in. Once you just get a few sentences on paper, you will be surprised at how quickly some more will follow. Once you get stuck on a given section, try switching to another. Each time I did this, I would almost instantly think of new things to discuss in the other section. Too bad I didn't stop to write those down as I forgot them before I made it back to the other section.

Good luck, and life does get better once the darn thing is turned in!

beerchug


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Dom
BRONZE Member since Dec 2001

Dom

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bristol, UK

Total posts: 3009
Posted:The advantage of computers is that you can write down jumbled ideas, then re-order, expand, delete and edit until it takes shape. This is what do (I sometimes have to write big documents for work) - getting all the ideas down, then making it proper. Vanize's suggestion of a logical table of contents is a really good idea and helps direct your thinking.

Good luck!


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mcp
PLATINUM Member since May 2003

mcp

Flying Water Muppet
Location: Edin-borrow.

Total posts: 5276
Posted:Well if writing a dissertationis anything like writing code, the thinking about it bit is the most important. The more time you spend thinking about the order of your arguments, what your going to write, the structure etc... Until you've almost planned what each paragraph is going to say, the easier the writing will be. (After all, you've only got to fill in the actual words.. smile ) You'll just write the dissertation, instead of with every paragraph thinking about weather it's in the right place, if it's appropriate to the argument, etc.. You can just concentrate on the writing if the outline is detailed enough.

That's just my view though. Hoep it helps... !


"the now legendary" - Kaskade
"the still legendary" - Kaskade

I spunked in my friend's aquarium and the fish ate it. I love all fish. Especially the pink ones. They are my bitches. - Anon.

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jemima (jem)
SILVER Member since Dec 2002

jemima (jem)

Pooh-Bah
Location: london

Total posts: 1750
Posted:hmm
:sandalwood josticks "proper ones" not year crappy pound shop ones

:chocolate

:relax

:go for it !

:stop worrying you know you can do it

:nother jostick

:take a deep breath plan what you are going to include

:set yourself achievable targets

:take a rest

:achieve your achievable targets

:aaand relax


Never assume
Always Acknowledge

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Whenever I have a big academic paper to write, I do things in a very strict order.

First, I make a list of things I want to accomplish on each day. I make these lists very reasonable and once I've accomplished what's on the list for the day, I stop. Even if I'm done with it in 30 minutes.

So first, DON'T just start writing. Come up with an outline of what points you are going to try to make. Don't even worry about references yet. The next step is to start writing: just plan on finishing one section (or part of a section) each day. Depending on how you get references (are they online or do you have to go to a library?) you may need to get them first, and you can do that based on your outline.

Am I giving you an idea of how to break this down into manageable chunks?


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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pounce
SILVER Member since Jan 2003

pounce

All the neurotic makings of America's lesser known sweetheart
Location: body in Las Vegas, heart all a...

Total posts: 9831
Posted:ya as nx said, a lot depends on the area of study you are doing, as different disciplines dictate the structure of the dissertation.

i know writing my lit review chapter was the hardest thing ever. i actually turned it in late cause it was impossible to start. but once i got going, i was on a roll.

i don't know what topic yours is on, but for my lit review chapter (psychology), i wrote out an outline, organized my references in piles by the points i wanted to cover (theory and then my variables: self-esteem, gender roles, assertiveness, body esteem). and i just kinda dove in. like dom said, it was great doing it on the computer cause i did move things around, and cut and paste, and edit, and edit, and edit.

also, get some dissertations in the similar subject area and look at how they structured it or started their chapters. it might spark some ideas for you.


I was always scared with my mother's obsession with the good scissors. It made me wonder if there were evil scissors lurking in the house somewhere.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

**giggles**

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Tao Star


Tao Star

Pooh-Bah
Location: Bristol

Total posts: 1662
Posted:don't know if you think like me, but if you do then using a computer is impossible cos i need to seperate everything out so i can see what is what.

i generally seperate all my sources and stuff in to piles al over the living room andwork from them that way.
or i write all the points i want to make on cards and sort them in to piles.

just helps me organise things to start with so i can get going.

Good luck smile


I had a dream that my friend had a
strong-bad pop up book,
it was the book of my dreams.

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Lux
BRONZE Member since Aug 2003

member
Location: Cornwall/ Brighton, England

Total posts: 71
Posted:i would say that the general trend here is to list everything you need to write about, and thats how i do essays. Its so much easier if you write a simple plan of the paragraph titles, then do another plan which has a summery of each paragraph, then do another plan with the paragraphs in the right order (as they'll change a bit) and then seeing as you've probably researched till your eyes fell out you can probably sit there and just write the damn thing using the plan to jog your memory as yto what your writing about. Having your research in paragraph-piles so you can just grab whatever you need to refernece is usefull too.

starting with the paragraph you feel the most confident about is always good too. even if its the conclusion - at least you know what you want to say!

its never as bad as you think it will be.

good luck!


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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Planning the big picture before starting. Some people find it easiest to use a 'mind map' approach i.e. all the points you're going to make in boxes on a big sheet of paper. Then link related ones with lines.

Redo it a few times so it gets clearer and clearer.

You may well find that the structure changes as you write it, so it's safe to not worry about intros and conclusions till the end.

Ultimately you're aiming for a map of the sturucture of your final dissertation; then when you write the thing it's just a matter of expanding each of the boxes with paragraphs.

Other advice is to get it started and stay on top of it, doing a bit each day.

Aim to be positive, writing a dissertation can be just as much a creative act as producing artwork.

The good thing about getting the overall structure first is that you're then free to jump around at will when writing the sections- make it fun, put something of yourself into it and be proud of its progress.

Make sure your back up strategy verges on paranoia; keep copies on several different floppies, your hard drive and a friends hard drive.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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Dunc
GOLD Member since Aug 2003

Dunc

playing the days away
Location: The Middle lands

Total posts: 7263
Posted:PHEW!

*wipes brow and becomes glad that his studies in engineering and accountancy are long finished and now only has 18 months of Inventory and Operations Management left to do and that doesnt involve any disserations*

Good Luck on getting it all done wave I'm sure you'll have it laid down and looking (and of course reading) fab in no time! biggrin


Let's relight this forum ubblove

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ASTRO FAERIE
BRONZE Member since Mar 2003

ASTRO FAERIE

ummmmmmm.............
Location: Rotherham, UK

Total posts: 724
Posted:Wow! thanx for all the advice guys. Ive taken a lot on board.
Ive sat this afternoon, and made an entire plan of the entire dissertation, ie. which questions and answer to cover etc. I have it all in rough bullet points so all i need to do now, is write it in full.
The help and support on this is great, thanx so much everyone. hug ubblove


Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realise that we
cannot eat money.

Cree Indian, 1909

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ASTRO FAERIE
BRONZE Member since Mar 2003

ASTRO FAERIE

ummmmmmm.............
Location: Rotherham, UK

Total posts: 724
Posted:Hmmmmmm pretty much done the max is 8800words, i have 8794 biggrin, lucky huh?

phew, cant wait ti hand it in, fed up now. frown

EDITED_BY: ASTRO FAERIE (1079306256)


Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realise that we
cannot eat money.

Cree Indian, 1909

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Add seven more words, just to see if they notice. biggrin

weavesmiley


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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ASTRO FAERIE
BRONZE Member since Mar 2003

ASTRO FAERIE

ummmmmmm.............
Location: Rotherham, UK

Total posts: 724
Posted:Yeah , but the way im panicking it isnt worth the risk ubblol

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realise that we
cannot eat money.

Cree Indian, 1909

Delete