How to ace your dissertation

I got an A+ for mine, because I am a swot and a smug cow. Have you seen the first Harry Potter movie? Do you remember the bit when Hermione says “Well, that wasn’t very clever, was it?” like the most precocious little shit ever? That was my childhood.

If you’ve got a dissertation to write this academic year and you don’t really want to muck it up, read this. And then go away and do some work for a change instead of pissing about on the internet.

Speak to your dissertation tutor on a regular basis

I am completely serious. This is sensible advice here. There was one person on my course who didn’t hand in a dissertation at all. He didn’t even know what our tutor’s name was. He failed, funnily enough.

On this point, what I also mean is:

Suck up to your dissertation tutor

Suck up like the brown-nosing teacher’s pet you may once have been. Ahem.

Your tutor is probably overseeing a lot of students. In the case of mine, her schedule gave her 5 minutes a week to meet with each of us. If someone clearly wasn’t bothered, she spent that time helping someone who was. If you go to those meetings, and you send follow-up emails and sound serious about what you’re doing, your tutor will then put more time in to support you.

Mine started randomly showing up at my classes to drop off books from the library that she thought would help. What a woman. I emailed her when I got my grade back to thank her, and she was so chill about it.

Write something every week

I lived with someone else who was on the same course. We started our dissertations in December, and they were due in May. She sent our tutor the first draft of her first chapter in April, having only just finished it, and she was told to start over. She had a bit of a freakout. At that point I was almost done.

Attack the elephant with a fork. Even 100 words hastily typed in an afternoon are better than none.

Reference the shit out of everything in sight

I was told to include 1 reference for roughly every 50 words. That doesn’t mean every single reference has to be different. Obviously use multiple sources of information, but the more good facts you can get out of each source the better.

What I’m saying is you do actually have to read the text you’re referencing. No skimming, you lazy shits.

Drink 2 litres of energy drink

This is how I completed the final part of my dissertation. It was 7pm on a rainy spring evening, I was 1,000 words under the minimum word count, and I needed a miracle. And lo, cheap own-brand Tesco energy drinks were my saviour. I bought a 2-litre bottle and near downed it. My victory over the dissertation was celebrated with a few laps of the park to try and calm down.

Don’t lose the precious USB memory stick on the way to the print room

Oh god, that was the worst 20 minutes of my life. Keep that file under lock and key, and backed up in 7 different places just in case.

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