On November 15th I handed in my dissertation, and officially completed my MSc.
Having finished is a strange concept; I haven’t got used to not spending most of the day writing yet. Not spending all my time thinking about my dissertation and the ideas surrounding it also means I’m catching up with a lot of ideas I had been ignoring (and plenty of tasks I had been ignoring too).
It also means I’ve had some time to think about the dissertation module as a whole and about elements I wish I’d done differently. Beyond the obvious wish that I’d procrastinated less, one part that I know I would change is supervision.
Part of the issue was my project being unique among the external projects. Each person doing an external project had two supervisors, one based in the Sci-Comm unit at UWE and one based within the organisation they were working with. The intention was for the external supervisor to handle questions about the research and practical advice, and for the UWE supervisor to cover academic advice, assignment questions, and writing feedback.
However, my project was based in UWE, making mine a bit different. I completely missed that the two-supervisor structure was information-based not location-based, and as a result only talked to the researcher I was working with, never really interacting with the SCU- based supervisor at all. I felt it was unnecessary to have two people doing the same role, only realising as I got to the writing in earnest stage that they were two different roles all along.
Right now, I wish I’d taken up some of the opportunities I had to seek advice and feedback. Talking to the other people on my course after submission showed me that I’m kind of going in blind with the final dissertation, when I could have asked questions and found out earlier which parts were working well and which were not. It means that if I’ve done something wrong, I won’t know until I get my final marks back.
I also don’t know whether the style I’ve used is exactly what they were looking for in the mark scheme. In previous assignments, I’ve sometimes slipped back into terminology or formatting instructions from my BSc, so I hope I haven’t accidentally done the same here. I’m also worried about my writing now, and whether the way I’ve written my dissertation is what they had in mind. The style guide says to be scientific but to keep things clear, and I don’t know if what I’ve written conveys both of those aspects as intended.
However, I do know that I’ve fixed the largest issue in my proposal and presentation. Both were criticised for lacking detail about my methodology: however, the method has been fleshed out more and has the details missed in the proposal and presentation. Also, I’m fairly happy with how my literature review turned out, while also interested in how my discussion will fare due to it featuring some unexpected tangents.
On the other hand, my weakest section will be the results section. I tried to use a regression model to predict how my 4 independent variables would impact my dependent variable, which sounded like a good idea until I ran the model and then had no idea what to do next. So I feel like my results are underdeveloped because of choosing a strategy I didn’t know well: I could have gone further, such as working out whether differences in the average participation levels were similar to those in existing research, rather than just reporting them. Also, I’m sure there were ways I could have refined the regression model after first running it: I just didn’t know them and didn’t know the point where refinement and reworking would become p-hacking.
Despite the amount of tearing down the work I’ve done here, I am fairly happy with it. I just don’t know whether my judgement of what I’ve done will match up with its evaluation, so I’m a little nervous about what it will be recieved.