Dissertations Aren’t so Daunting

After 8 months of preparing, last week I finally finished my dissertation, and it wasn’t as daunting as I thought at all!

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At university, around about a year ago we were asked to write our dissertation proposals. I remember a feeling of dread washing over me as we were instructed we would need to write 12,000 words on a topic completely of our own choosing. What am I going to write about? Why is it relevant? How the heck am I going to write 12,000 words? Are all questions I asked myself, when in reality the thought of an impending dissertation is way more daunting than actually writing it.

After much deliberation on topics I finally settled on researching online dating, as it has now become a phenomenon with the advent of Tinder. After numerous meetings with my dissertation supervisor I finally narrowed my study down to exploring how young adults are impacted by their increased participation in online dating. I chose this topic as it was original and relevant to today’s trends in finding love and dating.

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With a clear topic in mind I began my literature review. I was told early on that my final bibliography should be three pages long, again another daunting thought, but this was more than easy to achieve. I researched my topic vastly using journals, books, newspaper articles, magazine articles, websites, and documentaries to explore theories on youth, academia on online dating and studies on sex and relationships. After reading through my notes I noticed some common themes in the literature, so wrote up my review under corresponding sub-headings.

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Next I had to devise and conduct a rich methodology that would give me an abundance of relevant qualitative data. I thought the best way to achieve this was to conduct focus groups, which was something I had never done before. Although seemingly easy on paper, finding participants for my focus groups was a little difficult. I knew a handful of online daters myself, so I asked them to invite their friends along to the focus groups too, so I had more data to analyse. On the day of conducting my first group I was so nervous, but I had nothing to worry about. After using prompt questions, the groups talked abundantly amongst themselves on the topics, resulting in me having 21 pages of transcripts to analyse.

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Again, all that data seemed daunting to draw conclusions from, but by outlining key areas of my study, or hypothesise, I knew exactly what I was looking for and began to extract relevant data to research further in my findings. Writing up my findings was the longest part of the process, but was hugely rewarding after finishing. I then included a conclusion and writ my introduction to the dissertation last, and then presented my research as a recognisable dissertation.

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After reading through the 89 page document numerous times I was finally ready to get it printed and handed in before the deadline. Holding the printed and binded document in my hand, however cheesy this sounds, made me feel elated and so proud. After 8 months of planning, reading, researching, interviewing and analysing my idea had finally come together in the form of a 12,087 word dissertation. And I have to admit there was a lot of cocktails with the uni girls to celebrate.

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As I now approach my final week ever at university I know I will look back on my time at USW fondly, and forget about all the stresses I have endured, as the rewards and experiences have been so much more memorable.

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