Category Archives: MA Dissertation Progress

08/08 Dissertation Progress: Stagnation?


  • Went on a couple of road trips on Saturday and Sunday, which meant that there was no time for dissertation work. I took a book along, which I skimmed through, though.
  • Monday included a bit of a panic meltdown, but I managed to salvage the day with some reading and organising of things.
  • Haven’t written anything of worth yet. Am worried.
  • A friend suggested I start listing what sub-topics I’m going to write about in each section, which I’m doing (roughly), and it helps.
  • I’ve been going through a bunch of books and typing down relevant bits, as well as sourcing from those books a list of aforementioned sub-topics.
  • I sorted a pile of papers, and that has cleared my head a little.
  • There’s still very much a feeling of stagnation within me, because even though I feel like I’m getting somewhere (because I’m actually going through things and thinking about my topic), at the same time I truly feel like I’m getting nowhere (because I can’t say that I’ve written any worthy chunk of writing yet).
  • My plan is to go through another set of books/papers today, although my research was so thorough during the last eight months that now I’m utterly overwhelmed by the volume of things I should be going through.
  • Most of the advice I’m getting is: JUST START WRITING. I want to do that. I probably should do that. But I’m still not at that stage where I’m comfortable to start contributing to those 20,000 words.
  • It has to happen very soon though.

03/08 Dissertation Progress: a great big monolith

  • I read this really encouraging post online entitled How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dissertation. Read it!
  • After blogging last night I actually got to grips with my dissertation structure. I made separate Word documents for each large chunk of my thesis, and wrote out a dissertation outline and stuck it on my wall right above my desk.
  • I also had a good look at style and practical notes written in our MA handbook – I wrote out an A4’s worth of important notes, e.g. single quotation marks, double-spaced, numbers under one hundred should be written in words, etc.
  • I jotted down some notes in relation to my “British policy” chapter on a piece of paper, in list form. I do like lists.
  • I finished going through an “easier”, general history book about the period I’m tackling. It helped with my more general context.
  • I found a couple of books on Google Books.
  • I started a Word document called “Bibliography”, so now I have a place to dump all my references. Yay!
  • One of the library books I got a couple of days ago is provingĀ really relevant. I’m hoping to finish it tonight. Only a few pages left, so that should be good.
  • Yeah, I’m not doing a lot of constructive writing (which is what I should be doing), but at least I’m forming ideas and jotting down my own thoughts and strands of text which might make it to the final draft. Hopefully. Yes.

02/08 Dissertation Progress: the panic sets in

This might turn into a short series of regular posts as I’m working on my MA dissertation (due 7 September). 20,000 words.

  • My room is finally in some sort of order. This means that I have no excuse and I should start writing my dissertation in a constructive manner.
  • I picked up a couple more books from the library yesterday. I found one which is quite basic, but incredibly helpful in giving me the bigger picture of the period I’m dealing with. Great to ease me back into working on my dissertation.
  • I’ve spent a long time researching and reading since January, but I haven’t done any constructive writing yet. This has to change NOW.
  • I jotted down some thoughts while reading a book today. Maybe they’re the first “proper” words that will make it to the final draft of my dissertation?
  • I’ve cleared my schedule as much as possible, and finished all errands and bits and bobs as much as I could, so that now I’m looking at a long stretch of time over the next 4 weeks which is going to (itĀ has to) be devoted to dissertation-dissertation-dissertation.
  • All dissertation-related books and papers are neatly stacked by my desk in my room. That’s a good step to have completed.
  • I’m not sure where I’m going to be more productive. I might try and pop over to a postgraduate study room or the awesome new wing of our Bill Bryson Library, maybe that will be conducive to productivity.
  • Now I’m going to read more of my more basic and “easy” book, and perhaps jot down a few more thoughts. I really should acquaint myself more intimately with my dissertation structure, too. Maybe I can treat this as four or five long essays, and then work on merging them together later. Hmmm.

*eats a dried apricot*