Completing a dissertation is a time-consuming task. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of work that you have to do. Being organised and planning your activities will help you include all of the aspects that you need and avoid a last minute rush that may affect the quality of your work. There a several organisational tools that could help you -  see below for details of log books and Gannt charts. 

Log book

You may find it useful to keep a log of the many different aspects of your research. It will help you to keep track of what you intend to do and what you have already done. Keeping a log book may not be expected by your supervisor, but it will be an invaluable personal record of your progress.

Your log book might include any or all of the following:

  • Diary of what you did and when. 
  • Target dates and deadlines. 
  • Ideas that you have in the middle of the night, or more convenient times. 
  • Current awareness alerts. 
  • Potential problems and possible solutions. 
  • Search terms you have used. 
  • Sources you have consulted or intend to consult. 
  • References for your bibliography. 
  • Queries for your supervisor. 
  • Questions for the librarian. 
  • Names and contact details of relevant people. 
  • Web addresses. 
  • Expenses, if applicable. 

A suggested log book template [DOC] can be downloaded which you may copy and amend as required.

 

Gantt Chart

Another planning tool is a Gantt chart. This a simpler tool than a log book, but requires you to estimate the time you will spend on each section of your dissertation and when you can expect to complete different milestones. It is essentially a timetable. It will help you meet deadlines and avoid time drifting, so that you don’t have a rush at the end. It will also help you judge if what you have planned is feasible in the time available.

To draw a Gantt chart, draw a grid, enter the tasks down the left-column and the months or weeks across the top. Take a look at the example within the video below created using MindView 4 software:

 

Creating a simple Gantt chart using MindView 4 software

Transcript of creating a Gantt chart using MindView 4 [DOC]

MindView 4 software has a Gantt chart template which is easy to use. Visit http://software.bolton.ac.uk/ to add MindView 4 to your start menu (on campus only) if it isn't there already or ask at the IT Support Desk.

 

Owl's Top Hoot

See our study skills booklet Preparing for Dissertations and Projects [PDF] for further planning techniques by David Rudd.