Do you know anyone going to university or college who will need to write a dissertation at some point in their course?
Under the name April Taylor, I have just published a short e-book aimed at students. “Cutting Through The Academic Crap: An Informal Guide to Writing Your Dissertation” is available from Amazon. http://amzn.to/OYcuoT
Why did I feel the need to write it? Read on.
There used to be a joke, which turned about to be the truth regarding an EU directive about cucumbers. It amounted to a terrifying number of words when compared to the American Bill of Rights. Scary when you consider that the first deals with a salad vegetable and the second the rights of a nation’s individuals.
My mother’s generation always believed in the value of long-winded pomposity over short, clear and to the point writing. There are still people around who believe that they will appear more intellectual if they use fifty words when five would do.
I have to admit to a prejudice against some academics on this score and never more so than when I wrote the dissertation for my M.Sc. I remember sitting in the lecture room feeling that I made two short planks look intelligent. And why? Because instead of explaining and advising us in clear concise English, the tutors spouted terminology and jargon sowing confusion and fear.
Fast forward a few years and the incredibly intelligent and talented son of a friend was working himself into a nervous breakdown over his dissertation. I was angry. More than that, I determined to do something about it. We spent a long weekend making sense of his jumbled notes. Had he been given guidance by his tutors? Yes, but they kept changing their minds. The saddest thing was that he knew exactly what he wanted to say, but nobody had told him in plain uncomplicated language how to say it. Worse, they hadn’t even hinted at how much knowledge of the software he would need. Hence the book.
It covers not just how to put a dissertation together, but how to organise your notes, how to use your time effectively, how to manipulate Word and what to do if it all goes wrong. If it saves just one student from the hell my friend went through, I shall be delighted.