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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 September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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