Student challenge: make sense of your dissertation

27 May

Dissertation Final year students start out with a major worry: how to write around 12,000 words on a single topic. It sounds a very high hurdle.

Most end up struggling to squeeze it all in to the word count once all the reading and the research has been conducted.

Here's a paradox, though. I often find less of interest in a 12,000 word dissertation than in a 6,000 word CIPR Diploma project. The candidates are very different, of course, but the process is similar.

Could it really be that less is more? That fewer words force you to think harder and pad out less?

If so, here's a new challenge. I'd like to receive some short, 1,000 word summaries of student dissertations for publication at Behind the Spin. Think of them as an 'executive summary' of your work rather than a chance to edit down what you already have. Here are some questions to answer:

  • Why did I choose to study this subject?
  • What did other people have to say on the subject (the literature)?
  • What were my headline findings?
  • How might this be useful to me or to the PR industry?

It could be a way to bring your hard work to a wider audience – or perhaps even the important audience of graduate employers. So before you pack your beach towels, time for a bit of editing.

Articles plus author or other relevant photos should be sent to by the end of June. Earlier submissions are more likely to be published.

Photo by johnwilliamsphd on Flickr (Creative Commons)

2 Responses to “Student challenge: make sense of your dissertation”

  1. David Phillips 27/05/2010 at 11:44 am #

    No no no. Prescription writing has far too many limitations. We need better content. Length is irrelevant but so much of PR is based on scant research and so much output is condensed by using 140 brain cells. We should celebrate great content. Crafted, concise, precise and considered is not failure and you don’t notice length.
    Far too many students have been deserted by schools that cannot, or are not allowed to, teach great writing.
    I was privileged to read a second year exam script this year in which every sentence was a joy to read. So, so rare it brings tears to the eye. She has a great future.

  2. Richard Bailey 27/05/2010 at 12:03 pm #

    So where is the disagreement, David?
    I too appreciate good writing. I also believe that writing to a formula can restrict creativity.
    I’m not asking for tweet length dissertations but rather feature length articles that are long enough to explore a subject – and short enough to make an impact.
    We agree that this is a valuable public relations skill.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: