July, the sun is shining, and while it seems like everyone else is out enjoying the good weather you’re stuck in the library, wondering if you will ever finish your dissertation. If you are a Masters student and you feel like you need some support – don’t worry help is at hand!
The Library Services team have Information Specialists for each School who are available to help you with research: from guidance on making the most of journals & online resources, to advice on searching more effectively, and making sure your sources are cited correctly. You can read more about the Library’s Information Specialists and get in touch with them via: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/library/contact/spec/specialists.aspx
If it’s not the information collection and analysis that’s worrying you but rather the thousands of words of academic English that are giving you sleepless nights then, in addition to the support offered by your supervisor, one of the Study Skills Advisors from the English Language Centre can offer suggestions on language, style, coherence and overall structure of your thesis/dissertation and will even offer feedback on a written sample of your work. Further details on Dissertation Clinics can be found on the Intranet (Internal only): https://internal.kcl.ac.uk/student/advice/services/drop-in/clinic.aspx
Tempting as it is to get all the (many, many) words down in a quick draft, leaving references to the last minute is an absolute nightmare. Writing your bibliography as you go along will save you a lot of unnecessary hassle. No-one wants to be the person scouring Google Scholar at 2am on the night before submission because you didn’t note down the reference of the library’s only copy of a book that has since been borrowed by someone else. Check with your department for their preferred style of referencing and remember to stick with it. The Library Services team have information about the more widely used referencing styles as well as access to referencing software such as EndNote and RefWorks: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/library/help/plagiarism/citing/index.aspx
Even if you feel as though you’ll never get it all done by September, at this point in the summer, you still have lots of time. Remember no-one can work 24/7 between now and then. Think of it as a tortoise and hare thing. Don’t exhaust yourself by spending 12 hours a day in the library (that’s for the last couple of weeks…). Weekends are there for a reason. Enjoy them. Have a book on the go that isn’t anything to do with your dissertation. Remember it’s about finding a balance that works for you. If you are tired and bored, you won’t be as productive. Make sure you are well rested and eating healthily, you’ll need some energy stored up for the final push.
Sometimes if you are feeling uninspired a change of scenery can help: try working in a different library. Remember as a King’s student you can use Senate House library or the libraries of any of the other colleges in the University of London. This can also be good way of making sure you get some work done especially if you tend to be someone who doesn’t need much of an excuse to have a chat with your mate.
Finally, if you are rueing the day you ever thought going back to university might be a nice idea, try to remember why you wanted to do your masters in the first place, be it: that qualification to help your CV stand out, the first step to an academic career, or a chance to re-train in a new profession. Stay positive, you’ll do just fine. Good luck!