When it came to thinking of what photo to put with this post, I wasn’t really sure. Didn’t really think a photo of me looking stressed af was appropriate. So, I settled for a bit more of a cosy photo, as even though the D word can make any student go a bit cray, I want to approach this topic in a way that will hopefully make you feel a bit more calm and give you a bit of guidance (grab a cuppa if you fancy it too). That’s right, it’s the marvellous thing all us students know and love (not): dissertation. I’m in the midst of collecting and analysing data for mine now, woop woop.
If you’re a second year university student, then it might be getting to that time of year when your tutors want you to start thinking about what you actually want to write your dissertation about. And let me tell you, I know how that feels. Alarm bells start ringing and you’re like, how the hell am I going to write 10,000 words on one specific topic?! So, I’m going to give you a few tips which will hopefully get your mind thinking.
It sounds obvious, but choose a topic that genuinely interests you
I can’t stress the importance of this point enough. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on your dissertation, especially in the beginning during the initial research phase for your literature review. You’re not going to want to spend hours and hours reading through articles and similar previous studies that bore you. Choose something that not only relates to your uni course, but something that you are genuinely passionate about and want to explore further. This can be linked in some way to your general interests or hobbies, for example my dissertation is heavily focused on fashion influencer marketing and consumer behaviour. From the perspective of a student who is currently undergoing the data collection process, I can tell you that investigating something that you are actually interested in is really insightful.
Whilst you want your dissertation to be really interesting and fun, keep your topic realistic. This will only make it easier for you in the long run! For example, if you’re doing a social sciences dissertation like myself (i.e. collecting data from a sample of a population, e.g. 18-30 year olds from the UK) then make sure you will actually be able to reach this sample easily to collect data. You have to rely on other people a lot in your dissertation, so making it that little bit easier for yourself will make you feel a lot calmer.
Find a niche
When you are coming up with potential topic ideas, you need to consider if these topics are really worth researching. Will your research add something new to the broad topic area? The whole idea of your dissertation is that you are filling a research gap in some way. But, don’t fear, the more you read, the more you will be able to establish this gap! Reading can be long-winded and boring, but just keep these articles bookmarked so you can easily look back at anything interesting for future reference.
For example, you might read a load of previous studies that focuses on Instagram’s impact on self-image in females, however your gap could be that you focus on males instead. That kind of thing! Your tutor will definitely help you with this as well. It might seem scary at first to find something that’s got a unique ‘angle’ but you will find one – I did!
It’s easier said than done, but just try to remember that everything will come together in the end. The initial stages of any thinking process is hard, so just try to brainstorm different ideas and go with your heart. Your tutor and your fellow students will be there as well to give you guidance and support, as at the end of the day, they’ll be feeling exactly the same as you. And try not to worry about thinking of a dead set idea right at the start, chances are that things will change ever so slightly along the way and that’s okay! The thing that I really had to teach myself with my dissertation is to go with the flow.
I’d love to know what you’re thinking of doing your dissertation on, or what yours was on if you’ve already done it/are doing it right now! It might help give others having a little scroll of the comments section some further inspiration as well. Fellow students, you got this!