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STUDENT ORIENTATION 2011. Writing a dissertation Sara Steinke. Aims of session. How writing a dissertation differs from writing an essay Writing your thesis Structuring your thesis Managing your supervisor Preparing for your viva. Think about the following. What are the

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Writing a dissertation Sara Steinke


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    1. STUDENT ORIENTATION 2011 Writing a dissertationSara Steinke

    2. Aims of session • How writing a dissertation differs from writing an essay • Writing your thesis • Structuring your thesis • Managing your supervisor • Preparing for your viva

    3. Think about the following What are the similarities between writing a dissertation and writing an essay? • Follows basic procedure • Adheres to academic conventions • Involves research skills • Includes writing in prose • Requires analytical reading / writing skills

    4. Think about the following What are the differences between writing a dissertation and writing an essay? • Independence • Individual designed piece of work • Personal involvement • Time management • Self-management and motivation • Literature search • Presentation/structure • Methodology

    5. Structuring your dissertation • Title page • Abstract • Acknowledgments • Table of contents • Introduction • Literature review • Theoretical framework / methodology • Finding analysis • Analysis • Conclusions • Footnotes / endnotes • References • Appendices

    6. How to manage your supervisor? • You will be allocated a personal supervisor to support you while you are writing your dissertation • Do not delay your first meeting with supervisor – help with narrowing your topic – assistance with the dissertation writing process

    7. Preparing for you viva Before the Viva • Read your dissertation over and over again so you know it inside out • Does your University run a viva preparation course? If so, get on it. • Write out what you think the main contributions of your dissertation are. • Compile a list of key themes, and consider how they relate to each other • Write out chapter summaries of each chapter so that you're clear on what each chapter achieves, what its central arguments are. • Prepare example answers and take your notes in with you. • Get fellow students to ask you the questions you dread, and have a mock viva with your supervisor. • Use post-it notes to flag significant pages in your dissertations. • Make sure you understand your University's regulations about procedures for corrections (minor or major). During the Viva • Know what you have to defend and what you can let go. • Examiners may ask you about 'fuzzy' terminology to clarify their usage. • Examiners are trying to assess your competence in the wider field in which you're situated, so you should link what you've done to some of the big debates in your field. • Don't worry if some of the questions seem a little aggressive or unsympathetic. You are not being personally attacked. Relish the chance to defend what you've worked so hard on for so long. • Relax and enjoy the viva. It is the first (and probably the last) chance where you'll have the undivided attention of two people interested in your work. Remember that you will know more about the subject than they do.

    8. Recap of session • Identified similarities and differences between writing a dissertation and writing an essay – literature review, methodology, self management and motivation • Structuring your thesis – reflections above • Managing your supervisor – it is your responsibility; take control • Preparing for your viva – practice and preparation

    9. http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/ support/phd-support http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/ support/dissertations/pg_dissertations http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/studentlife/ postgraduate/index.asp http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/studentlife/ postgraduate/writing.asp Wisker, G. (2007) The Postgraduate Research Handbook (Palgrave)