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Dealing with first draft dissertation fallout

So, you've handed in a draft of your dissertation (well done!) but now it's covered in red pen, and you're being told to make a ton of changes. This can be incredibly stressful - but don't worry, it's normal. Here's how to deal with the fallout from your first draft.

Don't Panic This is easier said than done, but it's vitally important that you don't panic. Remember: this is normal. Your dissertation is not awful, you haven't made lots of silly mistakes and your supervisor doesn't think you're an idiot. This is why you've done a first draft after all - so that you can figure out how to improve it!  Hopefully, your supervisor said some positive things about it to you - try to focus on these. Even if they didn't, the fact that they've considered it worth carrying on with speaks volumes. This is the hardest step, but getting over the initial instinct to panic is half the battle.

Break It Into Pieces Don't try to tackle all of the changes at once. Instead, break it down into sections. Whether you do it chapter by chapter, or in types of criticisms, breaking it down into smaller, manageable bits is the best way to start editing it. If you're struggling to do this, see if your supervisor can help you prioritise - maybe working from most to least important, or so on. They're there to help you do the best you can, so don't be scared to ask. If you do have an issue with how your supervisor is acting, talk to someone !

Don't Delete It It's very tempting in a fit of stress to just want to delete everything and start again. Don't do this. You will regret it. Yes, start a new version entirely if you must, but whatever you do: don't delete the original. Or it's backup . You will want to go back to it - trust us.

Look For Themes Are there consistent themes in the criticism? For instance, do you often make the same grammatical mistake, or is there one strand of argument that's not that convincing. Compile a list of these themes, and refer back to it when rewriting or adding new content. That way, you can avoid making the same mistakes over again, leaving you with less editing in the future!

Track Changes Do you know about the track changes option most word processors have these days? If not, now is a good time to check things out. It's a great way of keeping an eye on what you've changed, as well as being able to leave yourself notes of just why you did. Just don't save over the original - ideally, you want the original draft and a second copy that has track changes turned on. Just in case. You can't be too careful with these things, after all!

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