Be prepared for writing your dissertation

25 January 2022

If you’re preparing to embark on your dissertation, knowing where to start can be confusing. We’ve compiled some resources and support available to help you succeed.

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Writing your dissertation marks the end of a very important stage in your educational journey. It provides you with the opportunity to collate all the analytical and critical thinking skills you have gained in your time at university.

The aim of a dissertation is to allow you to showcase your skills and ability to conduct your own research and present this in an original piece to the academic community.

The art of compiling your dissertation is difficult, but fear not, here are six things you can do to help you get dissertation-ready:

  1. Speak to your personal tutor/members of staff to find out what resources and activities your department offers to support you through their dissertation.
  2. Check out the Study Skills pages on the Students website. The Research and writing for dissertations and projects, on Moodle, in particular, is a series of online modules that will help you develop the skills associated with researching and writing an extended piece of work.
  3. Get support from UCL Library Services, where you can receive face-to-face training from Subject Liaisons and Site Librarians on how to get the most from library resources and using reference management software packages such as Endnote and Mendeley. In some departments, sessions are organised for students as part of teaching. Where this is not the case, you are welcome to contact your Subject Liaison or Site Librarian (see the full list) to arrange one.  The library skills guide is also really useful online resource at all stages of research, including referencing and managing information.
  4. If you need help with your academic writing, access the UCL Writing Lab or the Students' Union Language + Writing Support programme for students who are non-native English speakers. The Academic Phrasebank is a general online resource for academic writers and The Internet Grammar of English is a free online course in English grammar written primarily with university students in mind.
  5. Attend a UCL Digital Skills training session to upskill in using IT for dissertations or long projects. Workshops cover topics like kickstarting your literature review, using mind-mapping tools to organise your ideas, or how to manage long documents in Word.  The team also run drop-ins to provide individual support with the digital tools you need for writing your dissertation or thesis. Visit the Digital Skills Development web pages for more information.
  6. Log in to LinkedIn Learning with your UCL ID and access free online video tutorials, ranging from research design to digital tools that support long-form writing projects, as well as statistical software for running quantitative tests.

There will be challenges, but be sure to seek the support you need. Take it step by step and before you know it, you’ll have completed the most important paper of your educational career!