Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Dissertation Tips and Tricks

I've been missing in action since many days together because I was working on my final year dissertation. I was so busy that I couldn't write my blog at all. Because of these due dates and deadlines, I couldn't continue the A to Z Challenge, which I regret deeply. I seriously followed it till letter J, and then jumped on to N directly. I haven't written ever since. Last I updated my blog was on 17th April and today is 26th. Yesterday, finally, my research guide approved my 160 pages final draft and signed on the three spiral bound copies. All I have to do now is submit it in college, along with three CDs that would have soft copies of my work, and I'm done. Our viva and black book submission will be in June.

While working on dissertation, I came across many moments where I regretted not doing few clever things before. Hence, all you people still working on dissertation or are about to start it, I suggest you to follow these tips for stress-free work. (I'm gonna later be sharing tutorials on different tips from this post.)

 

ORGANIZE ALL YOUR WORK
Not just your papers, but different stuff you come across on internet that you would like to refer or use in your dissertation. For documents and other cut-outs, use one folder to stash in everything related to your dissertation. And for online articles and pictures, create a folder named dissertation and simply put everything in it--SPSS files, charts, pictures, excel sheets, word documents, PDFs, etc.

MIND MAPPING
Before starting, make a mind map of important words in your dissertation title. For example, my topic is 'A Survey On The Factors That Affect The Making Of A Lifestyle Blog Post Title Appealing'. Here I would make a mind map for each word like 'lifestyle', 'lifestyle blog', 'blog post', 'blog post title', and 'appealing'. 
By doing this, you have concepts ready that would help you to later mention about them in introduction, definitions, and in review of literature chapter. If you have a detailed study, your guide won't send last minute corrections and also, more the relevant information, the better.

DO NOT FORGET TO PRESS CTRL+S AFTER EVERY FEW SENTENCES
I'm obsessed with these two keys. Every time I type in two-three sentences, I hit Ctrl+S because saving work is important. If there are power-cuts or any other mishap, you don't wanna lose the data, do you?

SAVE IT ON GOOGLE DRIVE OR ONEDRIVE FROM TIME TO TIME
Every Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 PC have a OneDrive folder where you can save your data on cloud. Once you're done working a chunk of really tough work, go to File > Save As > OneDrive > Documents. After saving the file in your OneDrive folder, repeat the steps and click on This PC instead of OneDrive. This way, your work gets saved on cloud, so no matter if your PC goes blank while working, you have your file on the cloud. If you don't have an inbuilt OneDrive option, you can download Google Drive software and similarly save your stuff. 

MEET ALL THE COLLOQUIUM DEADLINES
No matter how less you work, make sure you present your study properly at every colloquium. Colloquiums are like progress-stops where you present your progress. Many people from my class had not taken this seriously and few of them used to remain absent too. Remember, colloquiums have marks and they indirectly push you to meet the final deadline. 

START WITH INTRODUCTION, ROL, AND METHODOLOGY
Start writing these three chapters and don't forget to send your work to your guide from time to time. Apart from working towards meeting goals of colloquiums, write the first three chapters side by side. These chapters require most of the time. 

USE GOOGLE SCHOLAR FOR PREVIOUSLY DONE RESEARCH STUDIES
I learnt about this pretty late as I had worked on 80% of my first three chapters before finding Google Scholar out. I used to crib about how there were not many research studies related to my topic, but ever since my best friend Amrita told me about it, it's like I've found treasure. I got countless of studies related to my topic. Just make sure that you un-check the 'include patents' box, to be on the safer side.

AUTOMATIC INDEX AND LIST OF FIGURES/TABLES
This one's a technical tip. There are three types of indexes that people usually put in their dissertation--index for chapters and key concepts, index for charts/figures, and index for tables. Once you're done writing a 150 word long research study, creating an index is hell of a job. (You might even cry while doing it!) Best way is to follow a trick as you type, which will give you automatic index. I will write a detailed tutorial on this, but for now, I'll give a gist. For index with chapters and key concepts, your chapters are your "Heading 1", your main key concepts are "Heading 2" and other key concepts are "Heading 3". These are the 'Styles' you have to apply to respective concepts while working on your dissertation. You might not understand any of this now, but I'll share a tutorial in a day or two.


I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any other doubt, do not hesitate to ask me!

xoxo