In these unprecedented times under this pandemic, with a lockdown that will only be eased gradually in the UK, it is understandable that some may be concerned about how to start or how to continue their dissertation projects. Here are some tips and suggestions to encourage you to keep going!
Be prepared to make changes
Have you already made plans to start of your dissertation but can’t find some of your primary texts? Did your methodology rely on using certain resources from your department or your library? Well given that we can no longer physically access the university, I am afraid that may mean that you will need to change certain aspects of your dissertation. That might mean changing your methodology and/or some of the primary texts that you planned to use. At worst, it may mean changing your dissertation question altogether in order to adapt to the precarious situation we find ourselves in. But you will have help. Which lead me to my next point…
Keep in touch with your supervisor
Often a lifeline and a place of support under normal circumstances, your supervisor will become even more of a superhero in these times. The important thing is to be honest with them. If you have not started and don’t know where to begin, take the initiative to ask for some direction concerning how to find the resources to get started and websites to check out. If you already have a basic plan, try out your main ideas with them. Do not forget that supervisors are there to help you write your best work and they are likely to be marking the final copy. So, accept their help and set-up virtual meetings with them on a regular basis. Their advice will benefit you greatly.
Your library is still here for you!
The Library doors may be closed but they are still operating online. You can still check out the Library’s ebook selection and databases for online sources here. If they do not have the ebook that you want, they have also set up a ‘request an ebook’ form where you can recommend titles that the Library can buy online copies of. And if they are unable to find that copy for you, there is no harm in asking your Subject Librarian for advice as they might know alternative databases and websites where you can find your desired title.
Regular extended breaks
What I mean here is not only should you be seeking to have regular breaks throughout the day to space out the chunks of work you do but you should also aim for a day off each week and another two or three consecutive days of non-activity in a month. This is especially important for those who will be working on their dissertation projects throughout the summer. These few days are enough for you to recuperate, rest and do an activity that you enjoy, but it is not too long a break where you lose the momentum of your dissertation. These short bursts of downtime spread out across the month will ensure a healthy mind that can be regularly refreshed for the next spell of work. It decreases risk of burn-out and should help bring out a better quality (and hopefully quantity) of work when your breaks are over.
You are not alone
In these times of social distancing it is very easy to forget that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. Whether it be a lack of motivation, worrying about resources, ideas having to be changed and even just boredom at times, you can rest assured that most of us are going through the same thing. So why not branch out to your classmates and friends for a virtual chat about the stresses of doing a dissertation? You can also study together virtually too, if you like working in groups and you miss the companionship whilst studying. Overall it is important to stick together even whilst apart in order to get through the tricky business of dissertation under lockdown.
Do you agree with my tips? What have you been doing to write up your dissertation during the lockdown? Tweet us at @warwicklibrary, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.