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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: time management

Student Post: My Ten Most Important Tips for successfully completing your dissertation!

Nickie Phillips

Most students in their last year write a dissertation, this is more than just another assignment or essay, it is a piece of work that requires a substantial amount of time for preparing, researching and writing. It is also a piece of work that you should be proud of.  I have just recently submitted mine and wanted to share with you some of the lessons I have learnt along the way.  

 

Choose carefully

Each student will take a different approach when planning their dissertation, as they will be doing something totally different especially as it is intended to be an original piece of work. As there is an unlimited amount of topics in which you can choose from, I would recommend choosing a topic that you are highly interested in and believe needs addressing in the future, perhaps it could be good to choose something that has possibly affected you in some way too or relates to an organisation that you may want to work for after graduating.

 

Small chunks

The importance of making small and regular goals, or deadlines, will become very clear when writing. I found this very useful when writing mine as it kept me motivated and on track. Despite this though, I often found myself pushing back deadlines because I came unstuck or had hit a wall in my work. So you do need to be flexible when making these deadlines and not get too down when goals are not first met.

 

Working with your supervisor

Overcoming the difficult times was something I found easier to do when helped by my tutor. This sounds like common sense, however some of my friends did not work closely with their tutor during writing their dissertation. You need to know what your tutor expects from you and what to expect from your tutor. I regularly met up with mine for reassurance, or for guidance, and soon whatever I was having trouble with had gone.

 

Take on board your feedback

Working closely with your tutor also ensures that you receive feedback regularly, whether this is positive or negative. It is also worth pointing out that criticism needs to be taken well. This can be a difficult skill, but I often expected criticism rather than hearing a positive piece of feedback, so I never reacted badly to this. You just need to realise that all feedback whether positive or negative, helps.

 

During the course of writing your dissertation there will definitely be times when you want to quit and throw it away, just keep at it and breathe. Remember what you’re doing and what it is for. Like I said at the beginning, you should see it as something to be proud of.

 

 

Write small draft chapters

I would say it is best to write up a draft copy of each chapter rather than write up a full draft of a dissertation to show your tutor. This allows your tutor to specify the feedback on each chapter, plus this gives yourself a better chance of understanding what the feedback means because it’s broken down.

 

Ask others for help

There is nothing stopping you from asking someone other than your tutor to look at your work as well. Ask a couple of friends or family to read through it, as a fresh perspective and a fresh mind will pick up on slight mistakes you have missed and give you advice on things.

 

Read, read, read!

Read lots of books, journals, articles etc. Anything that is relevant read it. There is probably something in there that you can relate to or use. It help inform your thinking and ultimately what you write.

 

Recreate & give yourself mini rewards

Don’t forget about giving yourself time off, as long as it is at the right times. You cannot write your dissertation in one sitting, nor a chapter. Reward yourself when you have made an argument or filled x amount of tables in. Remember that you need time away from your dissertation to socialise, relax, eat etc. The standard of your work will benefit from this. However, don’t take too long a break so that you lose the motivation to carry on working later. You have to complete it sometime and don’t keep pushing it back and back.

 

Hard choices

There will be times when your friends are going off to do something exciting and in reality you just can’t afford to join them – accept this and crack on. This is your dissertation; you need to put more effort and commitment in to this than any other piece of work to date. Deliver something worthy of the hard work your putting in.

 

 

Allow time for editing & printing

Finally, give yourself enough time to edit, print and bind, don’t be falling at the last hurdle. It will take you much longer than you think!

 

Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate!

 

Question:

 

  1. If you have completed your dissertation, what advice would you add to this?

 

 

 

 

By Jordan Winter

 

Image courtesy of freedigitalimages.net by

Student Post: Time Management and Stress of Deadlines.

Nickie Phillips

One thing that most students seem to find difficult at times is managing our time effectively, as a result, this can lead to much stress when deadlines are approaching.  When I was at college studying an Access Course, I was a last-minute 'panicker', convinced that “I performed better under pressure” and left everything until two days before the deadline. However, upon starting university, I realised this way of working was not going to be effective for me anymore! Image

As a mature student living alone and 20 miles away from campus, this leads to further pressure. Travelling to and from uni during rush hour can take up to an hour and a half each way. Alongside this, work commitments and the demands of occasional care responsibilities means that 2 weekends a month I have to be in Nottingham caring for an elderly relative. As a result, time often feels scarce! Therefore, for me, organisation and early preparation is essential for meeting deadlines and managing the stress often associated with them. To help combat this, I find that being organised is the only way I can manage.

At the start of each term, I familiarise myself with the assessments for each module and their deadlines which are often close together. Once I am familiar with these, I make a list of the assessment methods and deadlines and stick it on the wall above my computer. After that,  each time I go on the computer to check 'Facebook' or otherwise waste time, I am reminded that I do not have time to procrastinate! After making this list, I establish the time demands of each assessment; for example, a 3,500 word essay is going to involve significantly more preparation than a 2,000 word essay! This means that rather than waiting until a month before the deadlines and panicking, I effectively have a whole term to complete each assignment. Another benefit of early preparation is that it is much easier to find the books you require from the library before everyone else on your course wants the same books later in the term only to find they are all out on loan already!

Once I have the books, I begin reading around the subject. Some modules reveal the essay questions at the beginning of the term which proves advantageous as you can promptly decide which one you are going to attempt. This means, effectively, that as soon as the questions are released, the rest of the term can be used to prepare and complete assignments.   I also find it helps to break down essays- for example, a 3,000 word essay due in 10 weeks equates to only 300 words a week - which feels much less demanding! By tackling a proportion of the work each week, it seems more manageable and prevents panicking in in the weeks immediately approaching the deadline.  Working in this way also allows plenty of time to discuss things with lecturers if you are having problems or struggling to understand anything.

I also find that by spending time to work on things each day or week, the assignments are normally completed ahead of the deadlines.  Even if you don’t want to submit the work early, it allows time to proof-read your work and look over the assessment criteria (normally outlined in the module handbook) to ensure that you have covered the learning outcomes.  It also allows time to make alterations if necessary.   Also, once the work is done, you are then free to focus on exam preparation without the distraction or added stress of the other work.

On a practical level, each week or fortnight I go through my diary and identify what time I have free each day to study and devise a suitable study timetable.  I usually stick to this rigidly which can be difficult, and at times I fail- as we all do! It involves a lot of discipline, motivation, and sometimes - sacrifices too.  Let’s face it, an evening in the pub with friends usually seems more appealing than a mountain of textbooks!  It is easy to procrastinate and for things to sometimes seem tedious but for me, when these thoughts or procrastinating takes over, I begin to feel overwhelmed and my stress levels rise, particularly when I think of the demands of my other commitments.  This is why this way of working works for me.  Yes, I make sacrifices and at time wish I was out doing other things, but ultimately I get the work finished promptly and keep the stress levels to the minimum level possible!

Questions:

  1. How do you cope with the stress of deadlines? 
  2. Are you a ‘last-minute panicker’ or do you prefer time to plan and prepare?

By Rebecca Baird Parker

 

photo courtesy of free digital photos.net - Michal Marcol