Tips for getting good grades on final year research projects

I remember asking myself this question multiple times as I prepared for my final year project. From report writing to submission to the presentation.

What’s the formula for success?

Good news for you is that I found a suitable answer to that question.

Now, stay with me, ok, I will cover a lot of ground, and I’ll do it quickly.

Step 1: Get to know your Supervisor

Your supervisor is the most critical component of your final year project. Yes, the most important.

Your supervisor approves your topic, report and defends you on presentation day. So, doesn’t that sound like someone who should be on your side?

Now that we’re all in agreement, at least I hope we’re all in agreement, let’s focus on what exactly you need to do to get a good grade in your final year research project as regards the aspects that concern your project supervisor.

The First Step in Step 1: Ask Alumni for help

Find out from previous student supervised by the same supervisor about said supervisor. Ask them everything.

What topics he accepted.

What topics he rejected.

How he likes his coffee in the morning.

When and where he loves being reached out.

As much information as you can get, get.

Second Step: Find and Study Old Project Paper accepted by the same supervisor

Study the final year project research papers of other students that the supervisor has accepted. You’ll learn a lot about their prepared writing and research style. It’s not enough to write a good paper or perform a professional research approach if your supervisor isn’t impressed it’s not going to be utilized and you’re wasting your time.

Third Step: Introduce Yourself

Some supervisors have lots of students, some less. Some of them memorize their student’s names and faces, and some don’t. You shouldn’t expect the lecturer to know who you are. It is important to introduce yourself when you arrive to see them by telling them your name and the course you are taking. It’s all about courteousness and setting the proper tone for future discussions.

I once had a lecturer that always asked for my name every time, I went to see him. That isn’t different for supervisors, especially for one’s with multiple school commitments.

At first, I was offended. Later I learnt he lectured at three different universities and taught almost a thousand students! It was unrealistic to expect him to know every student by name.

Fourth Step: Accept Feedback

It’s not always a matter of agreeing with the feedback of your final year project supervisor, it’s about ensuring your supervisor is confident in your desire to satisfy their requirements. This is of great help to you when you’re presenting as even if you present an incorrect view on a topic, your supervisor will jump to your rescue because it’s their view not yours.

I hope that wasn’t complicated to understand. In case it was; basically, your supervisor will have your back if you are presenting a view h believes in, no matter the feedback from the panel.

Step 2: Do the Research

This might seem redundant but, yes, do the research. Most students simply search, copy, edit. That’s very bad practice. Effective research will be your ticket to success, no matter how good of a writer you are. It doesn’t matter how much you think you know about the topic, if you don’t cite your argument and findings, your paper will be viewed as an opinion piece or simply plagiarism.

It may go without saying, but use resources that are from a legitimate source. If you are searching online, only use reputable websites to build your argument from. The best place to start looking is your university’s library. Not only will they have tons of print sources to use, they will also have access to reputable online resource databases like Google Scholars, newspapers, Academic OneFile, and other scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. The quality of your sources will speak to the quality of your argument.

Use your own curiosity to guide you when coming up with a thesis. You want to choose a thesis that is original but has enough resources on the topic to draw conclusions from. Try to ask a question that warrants deep reflection and can only be answered in a well-thought-out argument. Brainstorm topics when you are first starting out, do some research on your top three or five, and then choose the one that you are most passionate about.

Choose a topic that is relevant to your field of study, timely, sparks your interest, and is able to be answered in the page limit and time you are given to write the paper. While you don’t want to run out of things to say, you also want to be able to hit all of the main points.

Step 3: After writing your research paper, reference it properly, proofread and edit

The references page should acknowledge all the resources used for obtaining information.

The support should be cited according to either APA or CBE guidelines. Examples of citations can be found on the submissions page of the website.

This is the final step when writing a research paper and you will repeat this process several times. Well, that’s if you want to get a good score. I’ll assume you do.

Editing is part of the revision process as well, but try not to get bogged down with correct spelling and sentence structure until the very end. The logic of your argument is more important than what comma goes where.

After the initial proofreading and editing, it’s time to proofread once again, this time be on the lookout for:

  • Repetitions
  • Incomplete sentences
  • Dangling modifiers
  • Easily confused words (such as to, too, and two)
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Apostrophes for possessives and plurals
  • Quotation rules obeyed
  • Comma use
  • Contractions
  • Done? Awesome!

Next, it’s time to give it to a professional proofreader, friend or family to proofread one more time. You don’t have to take their opinions but seeing the research paper from their eyes will allow you to know if the intended message was properly communicated.

Step 4: Use simple slides

The slides themselves were never intended to be the “star of the show” (the star, of course, is your audience). People came to hear you and be moved or informed (or both) by you and your information. Do not allow your message and your storytelling technique to get wrecked by unnecessarily complicated, busy, and junk-filled slides.

Nothing in your slide should be redundant. “White space” and/or “negative space” is your friend.

Resist the desire to fill empty areas on your slide with random graphics or text.

Step 5: On presentation day, dress for success

The first impression you would make once you walk into the room is with your dressing. As a lady, your hair should be neat, makeup mild, outfit color conservative, and decent. Go for shoes that would enable you to walk confidently and smartly, avoid heels at all cost, except if they are the low comfy ones. Also, desist from using colorful hair extensions; black or brown should do. Overall, your appearance should be formal. As a gentleman, your hair cut should be neat and low, beards trimmed or shaved entirely. Ensure that whatever shirt or suit you choose to wear will be snugly fit and well ironed. Invest in wearing matching accessories, and combine your colors well (ask any female friend if you need to).

Project defense will be a real walkover for you if you carry out all these tips. Enjoy your project defense.

Step 6: Get your facts right and carefully answer your questions

One thing you wouldn’t find funny on defense day is having to explain facts you are not sure of. Most defense panels are comprised of people who would go to great lengths to ensure that whatever data you present is correct. If you are not sure about an idea, fact, or figure, desist from using it because it could embarrass you.

If you are asked a question you do not have an instant answer to, repeat/rephrase the question before responding. This will give you enough time to think of the right answer. Whenever possible, avoid an argument with an external examiner, but wherever you have solid ideas that you can support, express them. Make sure your answers help the earlier points you made from the onset of your defense. If you are asked a question that sounds opinionated or aggressive, try to rephrase the question before answering it. You can rephrase the question with a phrase like; “If I comprehend your query…” You can also suggest an alternative question with phrases such as: “I believe the question
should be; “If I get you correctly; In my opinion, a suitable solution which would be appropriate is…” etc.

In Conclusion

A getting a good grade in your final year project is like running for office, it’s about what you know, who you know, how well they know you and you know what you know and how well you can present the information you know.

Good luck guys!!!