Undergraduate dissertations

Getting it down on paper

Because of the length of time it takes to complete a dissertation, it is important to start writing straight away.

A common trap students engaged in research fall into is to spend too much time reading and as a result have too little time left for writing.

So start writing – and write straight onto the computer. The sooner you start writing, the sooner you will start to have a piece of writing you can work with. Even if you start writing rubbish, you can only make it better – which is better than having nothing at all.

If you are really struggling to start, try some writing games:

Exam – imagine you have nothing but a pen and paper and you have to answer a question on your topic.

Letter – try writing a letter explaining your topic and the argument you are going to make.

Quotes – copy out important passages from textbooks and journals and arrange them under headings and then try to link them together – make sure you reference everything correctly as you do this.

Presentation – imagine you have to make a 15 minute presentation to classmates on the key aspects of your topic.

Brainstorm – write down your topic and its in-depth areas – then make notes about each of the areas: what do you know? What do you need to find out?

However you decide to start doing it, the writing should be an ongoing process.