Peer support for your dissertation
Writing your Masters dissertation over the summer can be a lonely business. You’ll feel less isolated – and it’ll be more enjoyable – if you set up a dissertation support group with students in or outside your discipline. Of course, you should not work together on the research or the content, but you can support each other with the process of researching and writing.
Verbalising your thoughts will help you to clarify them. Set up regular meetings and ask each other questions, such as:
- Can you explain your main argument?
- What does the key literature say about this topic?
- What are you trying to convey in this chapter/section?
If you’re unsure of the answer, talking it through may help. You might need to do more thinking or research to refine your ideas.
2 A problem shared
Share any major research challenge with your supervisor. But if you hit a minor glitch, ask your peers. Maybe you’re new to the data analysis tool you’re using, but another student knows it well and can help. Reach out for support if you’re struggling to stay focused, and discuss ways to keep on track. You could set each other deadlines to complete stages of your research project.
3 Does it make sense?
Academic writing should be clear to an intelligent reader outside the field. If you sense you may have assumed too much knowledge in a page or two of your writing, send the section to a student from a different discipline and ask if they understand or you need to explain it better.
9 June 2022
Feedback can be gold dust, but only if you reflect on it and turn it into action. Here’s how to benefit the most from it.
Critical thinking is a skill you already have, put to work in a new environment. It gets easier with practice.
The more precise your queries, the more helpful your supervisor’s answers will be. And remember — all feedback is valuable.