Dissertation Stress (A brief guide)

Dissertation Stress

In this guide, we will discuss what is dissertation stress and how to cope with it.

Dissertation stress: what is it?

Dissertation stress is something most (if not all) university students have to go through, especially since it is the most crucial part to finally obtain your degree after so many years invested, many sleepless nights, exams and hard work. 

Many people avoid talking about it because it can even add more stress to the situation, however, you can feel how the clock keeps ticking and you are actually running out of time.

Also, because of your dissertation is just one of the many things in your list  of things to do 

In addition, you are already feeling the stress, the fear and the pressure can be experienced as a lot to take in and handle on your own.

But, is it possible to write a stress-free dissertation?

Here we will discuss some tips and tricks that can help you cope with the stress, allowing you to approach it in a more pragmatical way. 

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Dissertation Stress (A brief guide)

Mental health has always been a concern to most academics and university staff, it is important to get some help if you feel you are about to have a nervous breakdown due to all the stress while writing your dissertation. 

Remember, while thinking about your dissertation topic, getting some ideas and starting to write your first draft can take a while so don’t be discouraged by it if it is not perfect the first time.

This is a process and you need to acknowledge it requires a structure and some steps to follow.

We know how difficult it can be to enjoy this type of process when all you can see is the requirements and the “x” amount of words that need to fill the paper, but as soon as you start writing your first sentence, everything will become clearer and all the other words will follow. 

Remember, dissertation stress is very real and we need to be prepared to manage and develop coping skills to have a better experience. 

Causes of dissertation stress

There are many causes of dissertation stress, here we name a few according to thesishelpers.com:

  • The deadline is approaching fast and you are not even halfway finished with your dissertation. 
  • The topic is too complex and you are struggling to make any meaningful progress, this starts to make you feel anxious and frustrated.
  • There are too many things you need to work on, you can’t get enough sleep or when you actually do go to sleep you have nightmares. 
  • You don’t know how to write the paper and can’t find any help anywhere, either because your tutor or supervisor is not supporting or guiding you as you expect them to. 
  • You’ve have received bad feedback from your thesis supervisor and this is discouraging you and making you feel it is pointless, you are not good enough and you may fail your dissertation. 

How can I cope with dissertation stress?

Well, it is important to take into consideration some of the following tips.

Having the right tutor

Probably you have heard other students, about to submit their dissertation, complaining about their dissertation tutors or supervisors.

You have to be certain your tutor or supervisor is the right for you. 

This can be very tricky but if you have chosen your tutor or supervisor already and you are not feeling completely satisfied with how the dissertation meetings have gone through or they haven’t been of much help then save yourself some time and headaches and express your concern.

If you wait a few weeks before submitting your dissertation then there is little that could be done and this will add even more stress. 

Avoid talking about your dissertation outside University

If you are going away on holiday or just visiting family or friends and you start talking about your dissertation, this may keep your anxiety and stress levels sky-high.

Try to disconnect from the situation and the academic context when you are not physically there. 

Social life

Probably you won’t have much time to go out with friends for drinking or pub-crawling but remember that you will have plenty of time later on when you hit the “submit” button and deliver your final product.

It is important to set goals and remain focus on how you would achieve working on your dissertation even if you may have to miss some nights out with your friends.

It will totally worth it in the end!

Dissertation Stress (A brief guide)

Eating and sleeping well

Remember that eating and sleeping well is essential, this will help you feel more in control, think clearly and also avoid getting sick as often especially with the stationary flu virus always going around awaiting to claim the next victim. 

The key here is to have a schedule and organize your time so you can actually have some to sleep and boost your energy levels.

It is hard to balance everything going on in your life at that precise moment but it is not impossible!

Plan your dissertation in advance

It is absolutely crucial to sit down and set up a realistic plan that results in you nailing your dissertation.

You can plan this with the help of your supervisor or tutor, set some goals and deadlines to show your advances.

If you procrastinate and just go with the flow, you will probably feel very frustrated and stressed a few weeks before the deadline submission. 

Start by writing some ideas and try to structure your dissertation from the beginning.  

Avoid restructuring your dissertation

Sometimes you will feel as if your work is not good enough or you may feel tempted to start again or restructure it.

Take a few minutes away from your computer screen or your notebook and breathe so you can think clearly what to do next. 

Don’t think about it too much, if you are not certain about how your work is coming along and you have some questions talk to your tutor or supervisor about it.

They may actually give you peace of mind and will probably tell you restructuring at that point can make you waste more time and effort. 

Dissertation Stress (A brief guide)

Deleting and removing

You have to prepare yourself to cut out some pieces of your dissertation that initially seemed like very good ideas and made a lot of sense at the time but as long as you keep revising your work you will have even greater ideas and you will have to face the reality of removing some pieces of information.

Don’t let stress take over and control the way your dissertation is going because it can actually confuse you and make you hesitate.

Also, remember to take a look at the referencing guide and make sure you are citing and referencing in the right format.

This will save you a lot of time later on. 

Printing your dissertation 

After reviewing and making some final adjustments, it is time to print your dissertation and deliver the final product to conclude this chapter of your life.

Once you deliver it, there is no turning back but as soon as you do, you will feel how there is an enormous weight lifted from your shoulders, you will feel very proud even if you feel a bit guilty for the amount of paper used for it. 

Presenting your results

This is the part where most students feel more anxious about if you are required to present your results to a panel of judges or to an audience.

Don’t stress about it much, you have been working on it for a very long time and there is no one else in the world that knows more about your dissertation topic and results than you.

Just remain confidence and pretend you are telling a story, this will help you remain calm and confident about what you are saying. 

You have researched, found the gaps in the literature reviewed and can actually say that your findings matter and they fill the gaps.  

Graduation 

Now it is time to celebrate, look back into all the stress and sleepless nights, all the hard work and the nights you decided to stay into work on your dissertation to be able to submit everything on time.

Be proud of yourself, you managed it, survived and delivered!

Dissertation Stress (A brief guide)

Why is this blog about dissertation stress important?

It is extremely important to take into consideration that writing a dissertation is not easy, it is a process that requires time invested, effort and hard work.

You need to start as early as you can and set deadlines to show some drafts to your tutor or supervisor, so they can actually be your guide and support you from beginning to end. 

Additionally, it is necessary to know your limits and how you are feeling during this long process.

If you feel unwell, stressed or depressed we advise you to seek help either from your tutor or supervisor, another academic or a counselor, so you can actually start feeling better and avoid any delays in your work.  

Please feel free to comment on the content of “dissertation stress” in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about dissertation stress

Can you write a dissertation in 2 weeks?

It is possible to write a dissertation in 2 weeks but certainly, it is not recommended.

This can really stress you out when you see the calendar and realize time is running out, you feel guilty for starting so late and it may even prevent you from giving your 100%. 

Some people have even written a 20.000-word dissertation in a week but expected results can definitely vary. 

Is a dissertation just a long essay?

A dissertation and a long essay may differ on the length.

An essay is a short piece of writing about a particular subject or topic, while a dissertation is a structured book-length discussion about a subject or topic that derives into conclusions supported by the literature and existing research.

Can you fail a dissertation?

Yes, you can fail your dissertation but don’t worry, in most cases, you can be given another opportunity to re-submit it at a later date (previously agreed on or set).

As it is the case with a module failure, the mark awarded when re-submitting your dissertation will usually be capped at a bare pass level.

What are the 5 chapters of a dissertation?

Usually, the dissertation chapters are:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Findings
  • Conclusions, discussion, and future considerations

How long does it take to write a dissertation?

The time you can take to write your dissertation will vary but the average would be between 12-18 months, depending on the time you have had to set a plan an collect your research data.

If everything goes according to your dissertation plan then you can even finish earlier but if there is a delay you can actually take a bit longer to finish. 

Recommended reading

  • How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation (Macmillan Study Skills)
  • Succeeding with Your Master’s Dissertation: Step-by-step Handbook, 4th Edition
  • Writing a Dissertation For Dummies
  • Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide (Macmillan Study Skills)
  • The Five Day Dissertation: A First Class Guide To Finishing Your Dissertation In Record Time

References

Collegiate-ac.com

LSE: You CAN spell Dissertation without stress (I tried)

thesishelpers.com/blog/dissertation-stress/

Theguardian.com

Dissertation Stress (A brief guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.