How I Tackled The Dreaded Dissertation

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Hello fellow bookworms! It’s Sunday, so I decided to prepare a discussion style post for today. It’s not necessarily completely book related, but more a helpful hints and tips post for all you university students out there. As many of you know, I’m in my final year of university, which means I was required to write a dissertation. For those of you who don’t know what a dissertation is, it’s basically an extended piece of writing, like an essay but quadruple the length. Due to the fact that I study a creative course, I also have to complete one last project, the Final Major, which means I had slightly less time to concentrate on my dissertation (but it also meant it was a bit shorter than most!) I wanted to share a few things I did throughout the research and writing process which might help some of you, whether you’re just starting uni or panicking about essay writing (yes, these hints will hopefully help with essays too!)

Just a quick note to say I only handed my dissertation in early last week, so I don’t have my marks back yet, so if I end up failing I’ll let you know so you can completely ignore all the things I say in this post!

Start thinking of ideas over the summer

You know you have to write a dissertation, so why not start getting ideas about what you want to write about while you have the time to think and not drowning in other work to do. You might already have a rough idea what you want to do, but you have to have a fairly specific topic, but still open enough so you can conduct extensive and in depth research on it. Not too big, but not too small! Your supervisor can help, if you present them with some ideas, they can assist you in narrowing down the field of study.

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Begin researching straight away

As soon as you have that rough idea, and you’re back at uni with the resources available to you, start researching. Gather quotes that interest you around the topic, and find books that might be of note later on. I did some reading before my first meeting with my supervisor, and I ended up actually using some of the quotes I found in that research session in the final dissertation! Get a head start, you won’t regret it!

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Engage fully with your supervisor

It is so important to go to every meeting with your supervisor, and if you have a question about anything you are unsure of, email them, or organise an extra meeting with them if it’s quite a complex question, or if you are confused. They are there to support you every step of the way, so make sure you take advantage of them being there while you can. When it’s one week from the deadline and you are asking questions you should have known weeks ago, they probably won’t be too pleased! Your supervisor and your connection with them throughout the dissertation period will be invaluable, so make sure you get on well with them, and ask as many questions as possible. Pick their brains, because they know what they’re talking about!

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Keep up with the workload

I’m not going to lie by saying a dissertation isn’t hard, because it is, but it’s even harder if you don’t keep up with the work. If you can, do a little bit every day, and write down everything that comes into your head, even if you think it might not be relevant in the end. Do some research, even if it’s just half an hour a day, you will soon see your research and collection of quotes growing. The more you read, the more questions you can ask your supervisor as well, which means they can point you in the right direction. if you don’t keep up with the research, how are they meant to know how to help? It will also save a lot of stress in the long run.

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Get to know the guidelines

Most supervisors will tell you before you even start meeting with them that the dissertation will have to be formatted in a certain way. This includes making sure you have the correct font size, line spacing, and chapter system. Nailing the formatting, and knowing exactly how it needs to be presented in the first few weeks of researching will save a lot of stress at the end, because it’s one less thing to worry about.

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Immerse yourself

It’s no good writing about a subject half-heartedly. To write a really good dissertation, just like any essay, you really have to immerse yourself in your topic. Try to know everything about this small corner of the world you have decided to research, know it so well that you don’t stumble if someone questions you about it. Getting to know your topic inside out will make you more confident when it comes to writing the dissertation.

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Know when to stop researching

Even when I started the writing process, I still came across a few things I needed to research or get quotes to back up my argument, but it is so important to know when you have enough research to start writing, otherwise you really could be stuck researching forever. Set yourself parameters for everything you think you need to know about your topic and research them in as much depth as possible. Once you feel all bases are covered, start writing! Starting the writing process is the scariest part but it also feels so good, because you are on the home stretch. Researching and finding the information you need to form your argument can be the most stressful part!

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Use the holidays

You’ll hate me for saying this, but you need to make use of your Christmas holidays. Personally, I wrote my first draft over Christmas, and while it meant I didn’t have a lot of free time to relax, I was ahead of schedule when I got back in January. This also means that, as soon as the first draft is written, that’s it. All of your ideas are down on paper, and editing is a breeze compared to everything you have tackled up until then! But please make sure you do take time to relax as well, to keep the stress levels down (if possible!)

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Writing the first draft

Don’t write in chapter order. I always leave the introduction until last, because even though you have an idea of what you want to talk about in each section, your writing can take you to wild places, and you can end up discussing some things you didn’t initially plan to discuss. Write the main chapters first, and make sure you form a strong argument. They say the reader shouldn’t have to read a sentence twice to understand it, so make sure the writing is clear. I learnt a great argument structure in school, which was known as P.E.E. Some of you may know it, but it stands for Point, Example, Explain. You need to go slightly further with a dissertation considering the level of work that is expected, so I swap the Explain for Analyse (P.E.A, it still works!). Make your point, give an example in the form of an visual or description, and then analyse that point. That structure was really helpful for me to make sure I was fully explaining my arguments. Do this for every point you make, making sure you back up everything you say with quotes, and you’re on the right track. I recommend finishing your first draft slightly under the word count, so when you come to edit, if you’re adding loads in, you don’t tip over the maximum (I was so close to doing this, but I managed to keep it under the max word count by about 100 words in the end!)

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Editing

Once the first draft is written, editing feels a lot easier. All of your ideas are there, and you just have to make sure they are explained clearly, and you are getting your point across without using too many words. Simplify it right down, and get others to read parts you are unsure of. You have just spent 4 months researching and writing, you know the topic so well it makes absolute sense to you, but someone who knows nothing about the topic needs to be able to understand the point you are trying to make. Now no offence to any members of your family, but get them to read it, because if they can understand it, it means you have done a good job! In the end, I completed about 5 edits of my dissertation, each one taking about a week to complete. There is so much to keep in your mind when reading through your writing, so it’s sometimes easier to just focus on one thing at a time, for example, does everything make sense, have I explained this clearly, have I backed up my argument, etc. These are all key things to be on the lookout for. Whilst editing, make sure you make a note of any parts you are unsure about, and get your supervisor to read through them in your meetings. They will be able to see if there is anything missing, or reassure you that it does make sense and you are just overthinking it (which happened to me quite a bit!)

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Print and finish early

It may seem like a waste of time, but printing early and handing in even a few days before the deadline saves so much stress on your end. Make sure your printing is fairly good quality, and all the pages are in the right order. If you need to bind the dissertation, make sure this is done in good time in case something goes wrong and you have reprint and rebind it. Giving yourself that extra time means you have leeway if things go wrong. You also feel a lot less rushed, which means less stress (and it also makes you look super organised if your ready to hand in days before anyone else!)

And once you’ve printed, bound, and slotted your piece of blood, sweat and tears dissertation into your supervisor’s pigeon hole, all will feel right with the world, and a weight will be lifted off your shoulders…until it’s time to start the next assignment!

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For those of you who are writing your dissertation now, or getting to the point where you are thinking about writing, even if you’re not writing it until next year, I wish you all the best of luck, and I hope you found these hints and tips on how I tackled the dissertation helpful to your own studies. Feel free to leave comments if you want to know anything else, and I will try my best to help. Of course, I am only a student, but I can advise the best I can based on my own experience!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

All gifs from giphy.com

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Do You Really Love Tea?

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Hello fellow bookworms! This is a really quick post today, as I am in need of your assistance. I’m currently completing my Final Major Project in my final year at university, and it’s all about tea! I’ve designed a survey, it’s super short and takes less than 5 minutes to complete! I would be so grateful if anyone who read this would be so kind as to answer a few questions about your tea drinking habits, it would be a massive help to me!

Here’s link in case you feel the need to help a fellow reader out: https://s.surveyplanet.com/rk-9uFOUM

Thanks a bunch!

Jade 🙂

Hello, My Old Friend… Books That Have Been On My TBR, like, Forever

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Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Most of us are familiar with Top Ten Tuesday by now, but if your new to this, a topic is given every Tuesday and the blogger then produces a top ten list of books to fit the weekly subject. The topic this week is Top Ten TBR Veterans. These are books that ave been sat on my TBR pile for as long as I have had a TBR pile, which I still haven’t got round to reading…

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

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Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

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Confess by Colleen Hoover

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Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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I will be reading this trilogy next so it won’t be a TBR veteran for long!

Alice and the Fly by James Rice

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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Thank goodness for Goodreads for this post, it’s so easy to look back at the first books I added when I was just a naive bookworm with a wealth of books ahead of me! I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these, and what you thought, and feel free to link your lists down below!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

Gilmore Girls Has Changed My Life

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Hello fellow bookworms! I’ve been in a reading slump recently, and I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix… I’ve never had a chance to watch Gilmore Girls, there are so many series and I’ve always been so busy, but I wanted something new to watch in the new year, and my sister wouldn’t stop saying how much I would enjoy it, so I gave it a go. Here’s how, since watching, Gilmore Girls has changed my life…

Motivation

This seems like a strange one, seeing as watching TV is something that usually takes away any productive time, but because Gilmore Girls isn’t a show you have to binge watch (although it’s nice to have the occasional marathon!), it’s easier to watch on work breaks and in the evening. Watching Rory study, working hard and succeeding in everything she sets out to do has been so motivational for me to continue to work hard in the last few months of my degree, and hopefully succeed as much as she does!

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Relationships

Gilmore Girls’ characters are built on their relationships with each other. I remember, after watching the first episode, reminding my mum just how much I loved her! The relationship I have with my mum is so special, especially now I’m old enough to do more mother-daughter stuff together. Seeing Lorelai’s relationship with her parents has also made me realise how much I should appreciate my parents and spend time with them. Friendly relationships are also so important, and Rory and Paris’ relationship has taught me that friendship is a rocky road, but when it succeeds it really is great!

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I think one of the main relationships present, however, is the romantic ones! I know it never happens like it does in the movies or on the TV, but it was so inspiring seeing how Lorelai and Rory deals with everything their boyfriends threw at them. I’m only at the beginning of Season 5, so no Rory/Logan or Luke/Lorelai spoilers please! It’s also been motivational for me to try a bit harder socialising and meeting new people, as I can see how amazing being in a relationship can be!

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Live more

Besides working my socks off at uni, Gilmore Girls has been inspired me to really live my life, and not be scared to do things outside my comfort zone. Lorelai and Sookie realised their dream with founding the Dragonfly Inn, and it wouldn’t have been possible without taking risks, as well as working hard! There were plenty of things Rory did with Jess that she never would have dreamed of doing, and it made me realise how important it is to live a little bit more. You only live one life, right?!

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Laugh more

Sometimes stuff that seems like a big deal really doesn’t matter in the long run, and we should just laugh it off like we would do in years to come anyway! Enjoy comedy and funny cat pictures, and stop worrying too much about the future. Live in the here and now, and laugh it off! It’s great seeing how the characters of Gilmore Girls deal with their problems, and Lorelai is always looking on the bright side of life, making jokes and seeing the best in difficult situations.

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Eat more

I often worry about how much I eat, especially junk food, and I don’t think I would ever go as far as eating out all the time or having takeaways and junk food on hand, but I’ve come to appreciate the fact that it’s okay to treat myself, it all comes down to living more and having a more exciting life!

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That’s it for today’s post, I had so much fun writing this and thinking about how much this programme has influenced me, and if you’ve never watched Gilmore Girls, I highly recommend it! It’s such a feel good show and the characters are great, perfect for when you’re in a bit of a reading slump!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

All gifs from giphy.com

What I Read (or rather didn’t read…) in January

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Hello fellow bookworms! I can’t believe January is over already! Time moves too fast for my liking, especially now I’m in my last months of university and, as much as the work is really piling up now, I don’t think I want to leave and go into the big wide world… I have to adult! Anyway, because I’ve has so much work to be getting on with, I’ve barely had any time to fit reading in! I’ve only really managed one full book this month… the start of the year reading slump didn’t help either…

What books have I read this month?

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

What am I currently reading?

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

I’m already behind on my Goodreads Challenge, and it’s only January… I’ve got the rest of the year to catch up I guess, but I’m not off to a great start!

Average Rating: 4.25

Number of total pages read: 930

Books read toward 2017 Book Challenge goal: 1.75/50 books

Books I plan to read in February:

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Mara Dyer trilogy, but I thought it was about time I read them and formed my own opinion, and hopefully I’ll get them all read in February!

What do you think of the books I’ve read this month? What about the ones I plan on reading? Leave your comments below, and book recommendations are always welcome!

Happy February and Happy Blogging!

Jade 🙂

Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Most of us are familiar with Top Ten Tuesday by now, but if your new to this, a topic is given every Tuesday and the blogger then produces a top ten list of books to fit the weekly subject. The topic this week is Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read. There’s a few books I’ve picked up because they’ve been bestsellers, or there’s been loads of hype surrounding them, that I never thought I would read because the synopsis didn’t sound appealing or whatever, but I did read them, and I did enjoy them! I think it’s so important to step outside your comfort zone like that, because it opens you up to so many new genres and authors you never would’ve dreamed of reading. Here are those books that took me places I never dreamed I go…

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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I was never a high fantasy reader until I read The Mortal Instruments! I’d read Harry Potter (obviously) but that was pretty much the extent of my fantasy reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and proceeded to read the next 2 series and all the companion novels and short stories!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Before TKAM, I never read classics. I hated the fact I couldn’t understand half of what was going on in them because they were written in old language, but TKAM completely changed that! Being more of a modern classic helped me understand the storyline better, because the language was more understandable, and gave me the confidence to move on and read other classics afterwards.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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It had been on my TBR list for a while, but only because it was a popular book! I’ve never been interested in history (how I came to fall in love with Hamilton I have no idea!) so historical fiction was never my thing, but I absolutely loved how the history was still their behind this little girls life, and the novel is incredibly written it made it even mo0re enjoyable!

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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I’m not a non-fiction reader at all (although I have to be able to understand a textbook or two for my degree!) but this book took my breath away (no pun intended). It was such a rich descriptive recollection of everything this neurosurgeon went through across his career, and so moving it brought me to tears by the end!

Organ Reapers by Shay West

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This book was great! The cover was very unappealing, which put me off a bit, as well as the title being a bit gruesome. I was skeptical at first, but I found amazing characters within, and storylines that were extremely well crafted.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

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Yes, fine, I admit I’ve read all three book in the Fifty Shades trilogy. I picked up the first book a few days before my final GCSE exam and I found it highly intriguing (I was 15 at the time), and looking back, I can’t believe I read them, and at what is considered such a young age for borderline pornographic films! I can’t say I disliked them however, and I hate to say that they were ever so slightly educational when it came to things I was still quite naive about at the time!

The Hunger Games

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My first dystopian novel and series, and I really loved them all! Divergent followed this, and it was in that time when dystopia YA was really starting to take off! Again, the concept didn’t seem very pleasing (children killing each other in an arena…) but there was hype, so off I went…

 

That’s it for today, I know there’s only 7 but I couldn’t complete the list this week! I’d love to know what you think of these books, and whether you couldn’t believe you read them either, or feel free to leave a link to your list in the comments!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

Books I’ve Read But Can’t Remember

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Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Most of us are familiar with Top Ten Tuesday by now, but if your new to this, a topic is given every Tuesday and the blogger then produces a top ten list of books to fit the weekly subject. The topic this week is Top Ten Books I’ve Read But Can’t Remember The Plot. We all know those books we read ages ago that we remember absolutely loving, but years later, when someone asks what it’s about, you have no idea! This is list of all of those books for me…

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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So many people sing this book’s praises, and I remember it not being a bad book, but if someone wants details, then they’ll have to go elsewhere!

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games is such a fab series, and I remember the first and second book so well, and it helped that I could follow the story! By the time I read Mockingjay, I think I was losing the plot a but, but I still remember really enjoying it!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Such an amazing book, but I think the alternative-world building threw me off a bit. I remember most of what happens, butthe end confused a little!

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer

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One of the Twilight series I don’t seem to remember as well as the others! I vividly remember Twilight, and New Moon is kind of unforgettable with the whole werewolf thing, and of course Breaking Dawn was the finale so it’s quite easy to remember, but Eclipse is that middle book that I can’t quite seem to remember.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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I whizzed through this book a few years ago and I loved it, but I just can’t recall any details about it at all!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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Another book I loved, and fell in love with the characters as well, but can’t really remember the turn of events throughout the book!

Project 375/The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

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Great books, amazing concept and storyline, but another one that’s got so much too it and has quite a complex series of events that it’s difficult to place them.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

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Admittedly, I read this years ago, when it was first published, but it’s an adult book, and I was a young teen at the time, so trying to get the stuff to stick was a bit harder. I remember the gist, but details are hard to recall.

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

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Another book I read years ago, and while I remember the main event, the bits around the edges are blurry! I might reread it before I read the sequel!

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

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Like with Mockingjay and The Giver, the world building and action clearly throws me off! Divergent is easier to remember because it’s more setting the scene for the trilogy, and Allegiant is still fairly clear, if a little fuzzy, in my mind. Insurgent, however, is the middle book and again, its those ones that just disappear from memory.

That’s all for today! If anyone would like to enlighten me on the events in these books, then feel free! If not, then you can link your posts below so I can hop on over and check them out!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂