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Report and dissertation writing

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The first step in your report or dissertation is always the idea. This may be provided to you in the form of a statement from your lecturer or you may be asked to tackle something of your own creation. It's always important to understand what the statement is inferring as it's this understanding that'll inform your research.

Here are two key tips and four steps to help you with planning a report or dissertation, each with an excerpt from a SAGE Study Skills book


Self-assessment Sheet


Trying to put yourself in the shoes of your grader can help you pick up some important marks. Download and use the self-assessment sheet to grade your own work before you hand it in.



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Plan Better

Laying out a solid plan is key to good time management, alongside maintaining motivation and discipline. It will also help you avoid any last minute stress over an approaching deadline.





Step 1 - incubate your idea


Originality is key here. Your report needs to build on what's been said - not just repeat it. It must agree, disagree, criticise, and dissect what's come before to form your argument. Find out how to Get a Better Grade with the help of this extract on originality.

Get a better grade


Step 2 - research, research, research


Research is a process that will be continuous throughout your coursework. However, you'll need to do the bulk of it before you start writing. But how do you start? This extract offers guidance on finding inspiration, selecting a theme and developing it into your research question.

start researching



Step 3 - write, write, write


Right, now it's time to write. You need to focus and figure out what works for you.

Once you've done that you'll be able to sit down and write. Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield, have written a comprehensive guide to writing great essays, which you can access and use.

Great essay writing


Step 4 - format and finalise


So you've done your incubating, research, and the majority of your writing. Now's the time to make your work look presentable. Good presentation and good English will help you get a good grade, so read the extract below on presentation and academic conventions to get this final step right.




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Lab report writing is very different from writing essays or literature reviews. The super quick video below offers some practical tips to help you produce a great lab report before you write, when you write and after you have written - courtesy of Diana Hopkins.

Tips taken from: Get a Better Grade, Essential Study Skills, Doing Your Social Science DissertationYour Undergraduate Dissertation and Write Your Lab Report.