Ask Augusta – faithful solutions to all your dissertation woes

As dissertation deadlines begin to loom over fourth years this week, Augusta helps six lucky students with their most pressing problems:

Help! I handed in my dissertation a week early and now none of my friends want to speak to me. They keep telling me that I just don’t understand what they’re going through, but I do! (Anonymous Beaver)

First of all, congratulations! Completing your dissertation is a rite of passage for all students Beaver, and completing it early is a feat worthy of praise. However, and believe me I hate to say this, but I doubt you really can understand your friends’ plight. It sounds unlikely that you’ve struggled through the sleepless nights and delirious coffee-fueled days that usually accompany the days leading up the hand-in. I’d recommend you send up a prayer to Raphael, patron saint of friendships, this week and ask him to watch over your pals so that you can pick up where you left off when it’s all over.    

Help! My dissertation is due on Thursday but I haven’t started yet. I took out some books a few weeks ago but haven’t even skim-read them! (Anonymous Sloth)

Oh dear. If you get your skates on now you should still be able to submit something passable. Pray regularly to Saint Expedito for good luck and to keep you from procrastination – don’t pray for too long though, as that counts as procrastination too.

Help! I’m a seasoned caffeine addict and spilt my Starbucks grande soya latte all over the keyboard of my laptop. Only half the keys work and I’m struggling to add in my footnotes. (Anonymous Koala)

I hate to break it to you Koala but you sound like a moron. Only morons know the cup sizes in Starbucks. I suggest you send up a quick prayer to Saint Christopher for protecting you from this accident as you are lucky not to have lost your whole computer. Back up your dissertation and get to the library pronto to put those footnotes in on one of their computers.

Help! I don’t have a phone with a camera and so I don’t know how I’ll take the traditional photo of myself outside the school office with my completed dissertation on deadline day! (Anonymous Caveman)

Beg, borrow or steal, Caveman, as you don’t want to miss out on this insta-perfect moment. Not only is this obligatory snap sure to rack up the likes on Facebook but it’s one for the family album as well. Clasp those hands every evening and plead with Saint Jude this week, as this is nothing if not a desperate case.

Help! I was caught using pens inside the  reading rooms at the National Library of Scotland and now I’ve been banned for life. My primary sources are only available in their archives though, what should I do?! (Anonymous Monkey)

Heavens above, what a mess. I bet you didn’t use a clear pencil case during your A Levels either, you rebel. You have two options: either make the best that you can with what you’ve already got or go back there and beg for forgiveness. Whichever road you take, this disaster was sent to teach you a lesson about obeying stationary-related rules. I’d advise you beg supplication from Saint Michael as he deals with law enforcement before trying your luck with a friendly-looking Library official.

Help! I’ve slated at least three of my supervisor’s papers in my dissertation and he’s the first marker. Should I tone it down or hope that he won’t be biased? (Anonymous Fox)

This is a tricky one but there is a balance to be had between integrity and playing the game. Remember that this is what moderators are for though! Probably best to soften your language and make sure that all your criticism is well-founded, but don’t be too apologetic. Pray earnestly to Christ for forgiveness for the pain you are about to inflict upon your supervisor.

All dissertation students are encouraged to remember St Thomas Aquinas (see above) during this tough time. Aquinas is the patron saint of all scholars and understands what you’re going through. He never finished his mammoth Summa Theologica before his death in 1274, but nonetheless, it has stood the test of time and is still revered by theologians. So even if students fail to finish their dissertations before the deadline, never fear – for your work might go down in history anyway.

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