Postgrad Study: The Final Stretch…

Stretch So you've made it through the first six months of your masters degree. You've taken classes, you've chosen a subject for your thesis (and had it approved!). But somehow that first flush of enthusiasm is wearing off...

1) Don't Panic Of course it's a cliché, but almost everyone who's undertaken postgraduate study will have felt their enthusiasm waning at one point, or more than one point. Don't let yourself be convinced that it's only going to get worse! Take a day or two off if you can, or read around a different aspect of your subject if you can't get away from it altogether. There's no need to spend every day working on the same thing.

2) Talk to people Your supervisor, advisor or mentors within your department will have seen people in this situation before. They will not think any less of you for asking for help or pointers; they may well respect you for realising that advice would be appropriate. If you're struggling, they will be able to suggest resources or pointers for you. And don't forget the other students on your course; you can support one another as well. You won't be the only one.

3) Start small and work upwards You may not have written anything as large as your thesis before now. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you must start at the beginning, go on to the end, and then stop. In fact your introduction is often one of the last pieces you write! Once you've planned the structure of the thesis, break it down into smaller areas and then start working on one of those. Almost every thesis starts out as a loosely joined set of chunks of writing before coalescing into a whole.

4) Keep track of your references As you cover topics in classes and read around your subject, make sure that you keep track of your references: who said what, and where they said it. There is nothing worse than having to go back through tens or hundreds of books or articles, looking for that one quote that you're desperate to include. You'll need to know what format your institution will want for references, but that can come later as long as you have the right information to start with.

5) Don't overwork When you're coming up to the deadline for submitting your thesis, you will probably work some late nights and weekends. However, if you start working all hours when you still have six months to go, you will certainly burn out and run the risk of not finishing your work on time, or having to hand in something substandard because you just don't have the energy any longer. If you have a partner and/or family, they are (hopefully) being supportive of your study; spend some time with them! They would prefer to see your face occasionally, not just your back hunched over your laptop.

Good luck! You'll make it.

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