I sat a home thinking about the massive task that completing a Masters in Research was going to be when my mind wandered back to when I was younger (in my teens I think) and I was at home watching an episode of “Soldier Soldier” (you know, that drama about an army platoon that starred Robson and Jerome!). The sergeant was briefing his platoon and he said the immortal words “Remember the 7 Ps” to which the platoon responded in unison “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance!” (Edited for language!).
True for the army and certainly true for the police. I can recall policing operations that I was involved in which took meticulous planning and preparation. From the examination of the problem, the intelligence package supplied (or in many cases researched and put together myself!), the selection and placement of staff, physical equipment such as cars, observation logs etc, overtime (remember that?), reconnaissance of the location, briefing materials etc. With all this done most policing operations go off well, with the appropriate results, as opposed to those that are rushed, thrown together at the last minute (yes I have been involved with those too!) which often result in abject failure (if failure can be admitted to!).
…and then I looked back to last year when I was entering my final year of the CCCU BSc(Hons) in Policing, the final dissertation. Now I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist, and so I spent the Summer Vacation before we even started work on the dissertation, thinking about and deciding on a topic and beginning the reading. Over that Summer I had read over 80 sources in support of the topic, and I was also able to produce a rough plan of the dissertation. As a result I was able to stay ahead of where I needed to be and my regular meetings with my dissertation tutor were easier. Not only that, as a result I had much more time to tweek and refocus my topic; and I was also able to develop my arguments to a much more academically rigorous form. All of this planning and preparation made my dissertation writing a very pleasurable and (relatively stress free) experience; and also to a mark which led to a 1st class degree.
This experience I was then able to pass on to prospective students on that programme during the information sessions I was invited to address, and to you the reader of this blog. If I can give any advice to you it would be to read, read and read! This reading will help you plan out your assignments large and small, and if you plan to go on to postgraduate study (as I have done with the Paul McKeever Scholarship) your experience (academic or professional) will be much easier, rewarding and productive (or at least less daunting!).