May 2017: Essays and the dissertation

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I had a wonderful Easter break travelling in Europe, but then I came back to the reality of studying a master and realised I would need to work very hard to meet the assignments deadlines.
Although I did some reading and writing before the trip, it was not enough. While I attended the last week of classes, I was struggling with all the essays I had to do.

I don’t know if I already mentioned this, but luckily this semester we don’t have exams, so the units are assessed with essays and some of them with presentations too. That means a lot of reading and writing and in my case much time working because I’m a little slow to write, even more in English.

I would say that the key factors to getting ahead with the essays are the reading and the writing outline. I suggest you research as much as you can about the designated or selected topic, skim and filter the papers, scan those more important, and from there, create a general outline of your final essay. Once you have the outline, confirm with the professor whether it is close to what he/she is looking for. Finally, start to read more carefully every essential paper, and write some ideas as you read, don’t wait to write after finishing all the reading. Well, that works for me; you will find the method that better suits you.

Anyway, the assignments are past now. I finally overcame three stressful weeks, the classes are ended and basically the semester too. Now it’s time to focus on the dissertation. With the end of classes you feel like you are on vacation, and although it’s almost summer, the truth is that the programme has not ended and another stage of hard work is beginning. We only have four months to write our dissertation; therefore, we need to use that time wisely. I would like to give some pieces of advice that I think are useful to go forward in this process.

First, choose your topic at the end of the first semester and look for a straightforward one. How? For me, that would be a topic with these characteristics: interesting, relevant and feasible. As you’re going to pass all the summer working on your dissertation, it will be better if you research about something you like a lot, either because it is related to your previous job, it is a theme that you learned during the programme and caught your attention, or it represents what you want to work on in future. The idea is to pick a subject of academic interest, obviously within the focus of Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship and that contributes to the existing knowledge.

However, you don’t have to come up with something completely new or breath-taking, so don’t worry. In fact, you maybe won’t have enough time to do something new, and therefore, it is so much better if you base your research on theories well documented in the literature.

Keep in mind that the period allocated to this project is very short, therefore, the easier you get information, the less you will stress. Also, for the feasibility of your research, if you decide to work on one or several case studies, be sure that you have or will have access to the required data; that is really important for the completion of the dissertation. In the case you don’t have previous contacts to get information or interviews from, it doesn’t mean that you can’t select that topic, you can work on that, insist on getting help and doing your best, but that process will require more time and will be more stressful. Then, if you can avoid it, that would be better.

Second, I recommend you to look for a supervisor as soon as you define your topic. Throughout both semesters you will know the experience and particular research interests of each professor, and you will have an idea of who might supervise your dissertation. Nevertheless, in case you’re not sure, you can always make a suggestion to the professor you are more confident of, or who is teaching the Research Methods unit. When you contact a supervisor early, you can make an agreement for working together and in a certain way ensure there will be a good understanding; otherwise, there is a possibility of getting one assigned randomly.

Finally, take advantage of the Research Methods unit. It is designed to guide you during the development of your research proposal and give you the tools necessary to succeed with your dissertation. The more you work during this unit, the faster you will finish your project.

I hope my advice is useful to help you going through this research process and, good luck in advance!

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Leslie Garcia

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