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10 Useful Ways To Perfect Your Dissertation

10 Useful Ways To Perfect Your Dissertation

Writing your dissertation is certainly not an easy task. It is hard to know where to start when so much depends on this one paper. These 10 tips will help you structure your thoughts and make a compelling argument. So get some coffee or tea, grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started!

1. Do Your Research

Your dissertation will not be successful without solid research. Find scholarly journal articles and books on your topic. Make sure you have a good selection from which to choose your material. Websites like Google Scholar can be particularly helpful.

2. Get Organized

Write down your sources on flashcards as you go. You can color code your sources so each source gets its own color of flashcards. Write the quote or concept you will use on one side of the card and the properly formatted source on the back. Keep these with you as you write to make the process easier.

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3. Create an Outline

Once you have a solid idea of where you would like your dissertation to go, create an outline. Write out your main points as their own sections. Then, beneath each point, draft several topics for which you have supporting research. The outline is extremely important because it will give you an idea of what areas still need more research before you start writing. It can also help you to structure your thoughts before you get in too deep.

4. Take Advantage of Writing Tools

As you write, take advantage of the many online resources that can assist you. Once the paper is written, Plag Tracker can make sure that you have not quoted anything without giving proper credit. There are many more, so do your research.

5. Perfect Your Bibliography

Make sure you have a sufficient number of primary and secondary sources. Ask your professor what style to use when referencing them. You can use online tools like Citation Machine to help with this process.

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6. Give Proper Credit

This is your dissertation, and many of the ideas are yours alone. But some are not. You certainly learned from others. Be sure to give proper credit when citing ideas that are not originally yours.

7. Manage Your Time

Don’t sit down and expect to brilliantly write your whole thesis at once. Set a solid schedule. Choose when you will research your topic. How many hours will you need? Make sure to build in time to organize your thoughts and create flashcards for your sources. You can use Toggl to help manage your time when working on multiple parts of your dissertation at once.

8. Walk Away

At some point, you will no longer be able to be objective about your dissertation. When you are so close to the material, it is easy to think you’ve explained yourself, when you are actually missing a large piece of explanation. It can also be easy to miss typos or confusing sentences. Walk away for a few days. Give yourself a break. Do something fun and engaging. Read books that have nothing to do with your topic. Then, when you come back to your dissertation, it will feel new again.

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9. Structure Your Sentences

Determine your main points, and write each point in its own sentence. Do not diminish them by grouping them together. Avoid passive voice when writing. As you move forward with writing the dissertation, you can incorporate these sentences or rewrite them as necessary. One resource that can help strengthen your sentences is After The Deadline. You just copy and paste your writing into their free platform, and it tells you how to improve the writing.

10. Write the Introduction Last

It is tempting to write out your introduction first. Some people feel that if they have the introduction down, they will be able to use it as an outline for the rest of the paper. But the introduction will be much easier to write once you have completed the paper. Your dissertation might take a different shape than you originally expected. Write the introduction after the rest of the paper is finished.

There will be times when finishing this dissertation seems impossible. Take it in pieces. You can always walk away for a while to get a fresh perspective. Then come back and tackle it like the rock star you are!

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Featured photo credit: peter honeyman via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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