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Library Guides

Starting Your Dissertation: Planning

A Guide

Planning Your Time

The dissertation is a large project, so it needs careful planning. To organise your time, you can try the following:  

  • Break down the dissertation into smaller stages to complete (e.g., literature search, read materials, data collection, write literature review section…). 

  • Create a schedule. Working backwards from your deadline, decide when you will complete each stage. 

  • Set aside time to regularly work on the dissertation. 

  • Consider what times of day you are most alert and what makes a suitable space to study. 

  • Identify a specific task to work on. 

  • If overwhelmed, try to identify one task that needs doing rather than focusing on the larger project. 

  • Leave time to redraft, proof-read, format, and complete the reference list. 

Gantt Charts

As the dissertation project involves certain processes to take place simultaneously, rather than in a sequence, you can use a Gantt chart to organise your time.  

A Gantt chart is a bar chart which shows the schedule for a project. The project is broken down into key tasks/elements to be completed. A start and finish date for each task/element of the project is given. Some tasks are scheduled at the same time or may overlap. Others will start when a task has been completed. 

To produce a Gantt chart, you can use Word, Excel (see example in the attachment) or an online planner.

  • Tom's Planner. There's an example for you to use to complete your plan. 
  • Excel: example of Gantt Chart in Excel. This is an example of a Gantt chart which can be used to generate a plan of work (timeline) for your dissertation. You can download and edit it as you please. The chart has been created by the University of Leicester. 

Gantt chart using Excel