The Dissertation Blog – Week One

So, here comes an idea I thought of and really wanted to put into vlog form. But it’s difficult to plan vlogs around it when big parts of my dissertation actually involve travelling to places I can’t document in video form, and also spending large amounts of time in the library. So you’re going to have to deal with me blogging it. Hopefully, this will be just as enjoyable!

The 11th September marked one very obvious, sombre occasion and another, slightly less obvious one – the first day of term for Aberdeen University students. And for those of us 4th year students in the School of Biological Sciences, that means the dreaded dissertation, honours project, thesis, whatever you want to call it, officially began! The next four months will be filled up by a range of experiences for everyone! Lab work, field work, risk assessments, desk based analysis, shouting at statistical analysis software, or maybe being sat out in the cold and rain for hours on end. We’re all here, all powering through.

I don’t feel like I can fully document my experience without going into details as to what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m going to be analysing a data set taken from a sample of harbour seals that live in the Moray Firth, and analysing whether they are forced to change their diving behaviour in response to buoyancy. Basically, is it better for them to be fat or thin? It’s a desk based study using an exciting data set that I am very lucky to be let loose on!

Seals, baby seals and seals wearing questionable hats (ahem, sensors!) – Taken at Loch Fleet, Dornoch, Scotland.

So, how did I spend my first week thinking about this all important question? To be honest, I did very little. Procrastination is my biggest sin – I’m a pro! I spent a lot of time talking about how I wanted to go to the library, then casually missed my alarm and didn’t go. Or, got up for the alarm and spent around 4 hours doing my makeup and hair because you need to look good for the library, obvs! And also, it was time not spent at the library. Go figure!

I started the week well – the previous week was freshers week and in my other role as the captain of the Sub Aqua club, I had a hand in organizing our stall at the uni sports fair and getting in some potential new members. We were supposed to have our first try dive last Thursday, but the SU double booked our pool slot, so we lost a week! Ah well. On Friday I picked up my friend and drove up to Cromarty, where my supervisor is based, to discuss the final points to consider before going into research and analysis mode. On the Saturday, we helped out at the “Doors Open” day letting visitors go up the Lighthouse and telling them all about the Moray Firth and why it’s so important. I had a lot of fun that day – scientific outreach is part of my volunteering job and despite some rubbish instances of working in with the public, people love to ask you questions about science and have someone that knows what they’re talking about answer!

Lighthouse Field Station – Part of the University of Aberdeen – Cromarty, Scotland

And when I got back home, my productivity ended! I had a lecture on Monday that was supposed to be a Q&A session but when I got the email through that said “The slides will be online, you only really need to worry about not being there if you have a question” I found myself unmotivated to attend. On Thursday I attended the lecture based on my honours essay (another assignment that needs to be done by mid-November, give me strength!), before actually making it to the library for three hours and getting some solid reading in, before heading to the the Sub Aqua clubroom to get kit ready for our first try dive. Yay, it’s finally going ahead!

Or it was, until we found out our promised minibus for transporting kit hadn’t actually been arranged! Cue us being twenty minutes late to actually get kit over, and thanking anyone who would listen that our DO had his car that day, or else we would’ve had to cancel! 6 potential trainees successfully in the water and one whiney email later, and it was time for a pint! The next day I slept in, did no work and made brownies. But I finally sent my broken phone off to get the cracked screen repaired! Go me!

So, all in all, week one was unproductive. I have my dissertation plan due in on the 25th, and I promise myself I’ll get to the library next week!

Providing the alarm on my old phone doesn’t crash like it used to… God I miss my Pixel!

And to all of you embracing the final year dissertation, I pray for you!

Rachel xxx

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