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Harriet's Top Tips for Dissertations and Essays

It seems like only yesterday I wrote my own dissertation, and yet essay season is back again, with the new dissertation deadline coming up on March 5th! I recently worked to ensure you had extra time to work on this module, so I hope that the deadline extension gives you the time you need to process the recent lockdown and get together the final aspects of your dissertation. I know how tough essay writing can be and struggled a lot with my own dissertation, so wanted to write a blog post with some tips and tricks of how I got through it.

Learning Lab Staff

First up is a simple one, but something not everyone thinks of doing, take advantage of the amazing staff here at Plymouth College of Art who can support you! The Learning Lab staff are truly amazing with helping you make sure your essay/dissertation is up to scratch, and I highly recommend you make the most of them by booking an appointment whenever suits you! Whether it's the structure you're struggling with or the referencing, they're great and helping you figure it all out so that you can focus on your topic. Book a session here.


Talking of referencing, make sure your new best friend is Paperpile. I'm sure you've all heard of Paperpile and hopefully you've already been using it, but if not I highly recommend it for all your referencing needs. Paperpile is a way to collect, organise, annotate and cite your research via a Google Chrome extension and integrated into Google Docs. Find out all about how to use Paperpile here.

Time Management

Time management is certainly something I wish I'd had a better grip on when I did my dissertation. It's one of those thing a lot of people talk about wanting to improve, but it's something that's quite hard to get a grip on. Personally, I find it useful to plan my time out, not necessarily day by day or hour by hour, but by setting myself goals for each day or week, such as 'complete the introduction'. There's loads of useful stuff on the Student Portal worth reading here.


My last recommendation would be to check out the wonderfully useful Float app, available on both Apple and Android. You may remember me talking about Float way back in October 2019, when I was Marketing and Enterprise Lead, as I worked with the Learning Lab team to introduce it to students.

For those of you who don't know about Float, it's a simple (and free) app designed to help support students with their essay writing by breaking down the word count into daily goals. When I was writing my dissertation, I found it really helpful in helping me feel less overwhelmed as it was broken down into much more manageable chunks, and they have now developed an add-on for Google, which is super useful to have open whilst you're writing!

The most important thing to remember is to take each day as it comes and to try and not put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to essays or your dissertation, just try your best and make the most of the help available to you!


Harriet Moore

Student Union President

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