Summer Project Tips

Sarah Borg, MSc Public Health (Health Promotion stream), shares her helpful advice for completing a Master’s summer project at the School:

Set an early date for your first draft

  • My supervisor told me early on she wanted my draft about a month before the due date. I work best under pressure so having this deadline really motivated me to get working on my project

Ask as many people as you can to read your project

  • Even if you are happy with your work, another perspective will pick up on things you may not have
  • It’s always worth seeing if your point has come across. If your reader tells you that you didn’t cover something that you thought you had, it means that you didn’t explain it well enough
  • If you want other people to read your draft with enough time for you to make changes based on their comments, you really need to have one ready at least 1-2 weeks before it is due

Use a reference management software package like EndNote

  • I had over 100 references and used Vancouver referencing so as not to eat into my word count. I cannot imagine doing this manually. If you have never used a reference manager before, make sure you learn to do so before you start your project. Make it your mission for one of your earlier assignments in the academic year. You can download EndNote for free through the School. Otherwise, Mendeley is free online for anyone. The programs are frustrating at first when you are learning how to use them, but it won’t take you long to pick it up. However, you don’t want to be figuring out how to use them for your project
  • The School runs very useful courses during the year on how to use EndNote
  • The friendly IT staff can always help you if you get stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to get EndNote to run through Microsoft Word on my Mac. It only took them five minutes to sort it out for me

Work a little bit every day

  • It may seem like you have a stupidly long amount of time to work on your project. Make sure you put aside 30 minutes a day over summer, otherwise, you will have too much work to do at the end. Make a timetable of the steps you need to take, for example, 1. Literature search, 2. Introduction etc., so you have an idea of how much you need to accomplish

Read the Project Handbook

  • Everything you need to know is in there. I know it’s long but literally every question you have is answered in there. What font do I need to use? How to I structure my project? What do I need to include in my project? How many words should my introduction be? What day is my project due? Do I need to get it bound?… It’s all in there!

Can’t get access to an article?

  • If the School doesn’t subscribe to a journal, you won’t be able to access the articles. These are your options:
  1. Google the article, it might be available freely online
  2. If you have access to any other institutions, for example, any universities or hospitals that you have library login access to, you can check if they have access to the article
  3. Email the corresponding author asking for a copy. They are usually flattered you are interested in their work, and they almost always respond within the hour.
  4. Try the British or Senate House Library. You are eligible for a library card and can use their online search system for articles
  5. If the School doesn’t have access, it will allow you to see if any other London Universities have access. If they do, you can go to the institution and load the article onto a USB using their computers. If you are unsure how to do this, ask a School librarian to help you out. Also, the Library runs courses throughout the year on literature searching and accessing journal articles

Attend the Library literature search training sessions

  • These invaluable sessions run by the Library during the academic year, allow you to literally conduct your project literature search with a librarian there to guide you through the process
  • However, this requires you to have a good idea of your research question before you attend. Make sure you put significant thought into your project beforehand

Read Sarah’s blog about her summer project

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