(Posted to the wrong blog in error, sorry!)
One piece of advice I give my MSc students is to create a single document for their dissertation, and don’t be tempted to use separate documents for each chapter.
I have a pretty fair argument for this ‘all in one’ approach, which I had great opportunity to extemporise at great length about last week when I took a dozen sometimes nervous researchers through my first research methods module. I still think a dissertation (or thesis) is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a psychological as well as practical approach, a holistic view to the document and creating as a single document means that you more easily create links (and cross references).
I’m beginning to suffer however for adopting this approach to my own thesis, as it approaches 126 pages and 30k words. It now takes about a minute just to load up, and another thirty seconds or so to chunter and give me an accurate page/word count. Strangely the word count goes up before heading down.
I could split the document into chapter by chapter, and finally merge them back together into a document at the end. Or I could try and import into Scrivener, a package I’ve used for my creative writing efforts in the past, but I’m scared about what will happen to the ninety-seven references that are already within the document. It would get around my ‘save anxiety’, Word for Mac has never implemented the ‘versions’ version control that’s at the core of its own productivity packages – which I have old versions of anyhow.
I think I’m too committed for major change, after all I’ve only got 20k more words to go. But it’s annoying that what I’ve always deemed ‘good advice’, when you get to a certain document size may not be the best advice.
In other news, I’ve made contact with my supervisor again, and we’ve got a strategy for going forward (glad we’ve ruled out time machines). I’m chugging along, not yet up to full speed, but getting there. I’ve also booked a weekend in December up in Lancaster, unfortunately my supervisor won’t be around, but I’m sure I can still be productive in-between included visits to the Castle, and the local Brewery.