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Taking a break before doing dissertation - good or bad?

User: gas1883 - 12 January 2016 17:30

Hi everyone,

First time poster (former) long distance studier. I have only just come across the forum and it seems like a good place to put this out there, I am sure many of your have faced similar issues.

I am about to start the final module of my distance MA in Applied Linguistics. I have worked through it while working full time for 18 months overseas, but came back to the UK 3 months ago and continued working on it while working sporadically.

I am now split between what to do at the end of this final module that I have just begun.
- I could settle for a diploma and travel
- Take a break and travel then come back to the dissertation later
- Dive straight in and go through it without a break.

My inclination is to do the final module and backpack for 6 months, I haven't had a holiday for over two years and love travelling, and like to think that the travelling might help motivate/inspire me to do the dissertation when I get back in addition to securing more stable part-time or flexible work.

The other school of thought is that if I were to stick around now I wouldn't lose any momentum of course, and I could get the MA done quicker. If/when my dissertation is done I don't want to travel then I don't think, I would rather keep my eye on the ball in terms of career etc.

Anyone with any thoughts/experiences regarding if/when is a good time to take a break?
Interested in all views, thanks!

User: chickpea - 13 January 2016 10:44

Hi there,

I did a distance learning MSc, and had a break of 2-3 years between the modules and the dissertation, not through choice but because various life events got in the way and I had to keep postponing. The down side of this was that some of the research methods were not fresh in my mind and I had to pedal a bit harder to get back up to speed and do the research, but what I did find was that I had been mulling over my proposal ideas in the time away from it, and felt as if my proposal was a little better developed as a result. I think if you feel this is your only chance to have a proper break and travel, you'll still be able to do the dissertation when you get back - just be aware that you'll need to do some revision!

User: AOE26 - 13 January 2016 11:46

I went straight into my dissertation but I think it is a personal choice. I feared I'd get too comfortable (or I'd talk myself out of it) and end up not doing it - as there is always an excuse! Similarly someone in my year had an enforced year off and flew through their dissertation with no problems.

User: satchi - 13 January 2016 13:18

hi gas,
wow where are you thinking of going??? I would love a holiday!

I guess it depends on what kind of person one is -- can you work after a long break??? like start again BOOOM! VROOOM and off you go..

If it were me, I would stick with diving straight in and finish up, so that I can travel with complete peace of mind. At the end of the day, that piece of work is still waiting for me, so I might as well finish it, and then go VROOOM on my holiday.

best of luck!!!
love satchi

User: gas1883 - 16 January 2016 02:11

Thank you for the replies.

@chickpea - Sure, being rusty after a break is something to be wary of. Strike while the iron is hot and all that. Studying by distance does afford that freedom to down tools for a bit which I like the idea of, even if I haven;t taken advantage of it yet.

@AOE26 - If you took a break and ended up doing something else that fun/great/interesting/had prospects etc then why do back to a dissertation right? unless you were especially set on it. This is one reason why I am doing the last module now, right after the previous one, so there is no break of chance for something to get in the way. You know, one the invoice arrives nothing stops me from studying hard then! :D. At least if I travel and something pulls me away from studying I'll have a post-grad diploma, though I'm not sure of their value alone, it's still something.

@satchi - probably central and south america. yes peace of mind would be nice, I suppose it comes down to individual ambition and timing. I can pick things up after a long break, sure, but as others mentioned how sharp can you be? can you be in the zone? on the other hand I think a lot of ideas and fresh thinking can come from 'getting out there' etc which may or may not be helpful academically.

User: gas1883 - 04 January 2018 05:39

Well, it's been a while since posting on here.

Why not update?

I did take a break, from April 2016 to October 2016
Submitted my proposal in October/November 2016...got that approved months later.

From February 2017 to the end of August last year completed the dissertation.
Pass with Merit awarded last September-ish.

Now what!?

User: tru - 04 January 2018 06:56

Now you get a job and do something that you enjoy after putting all those hard yards to get your PhD.