Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Maybe something useful......

Hi guys, firstly, can I just say that I have not written this list myself. I have gotten it from the Palgrave Study Skills book, I personally believe whilst the book is useful, it is a bit scattered and things are here, there and everywhere. So I decided to try and simplify it and write up a word document for my own personal use. But then I thought I might as well post it on here for you guys too. So I hope you find it useful! :)

**For some reason, for each point of the procedure, the net has decided to put it as number 1 for all of them. Ha, that's silly. I did have them all numbered correctly in my word document so I have no idea why they have changed, so just ignore it. They are all in order despite all being labelled as number 1! (I can't change it without messing up the layout!)

A seven-point procedure for writing assignments
  • Examine the title and course notes very carefully. What exactly is required?
  • Write one line to sum up your basic opinion on argument. Adapt it as soon as you proceed.
  • Brainstorm to record what you already know.
  • What do you need to read or find out?
Analysing the title.
If you do not answer the question, you will get zero marks. Write about what the question asks, not what you want to write!
  • Underline or highlight words which tell you which approach to take.
  • Underline words which guide you on how to select the subject matter of the assignment.
  • Write it out more fully, putting it in your own words. What is the assignment really looking for? What is the central question.
  • How does the title link to what you have heard in lectures? What else does it ask you to find out?
Make notes.
  • Note obvious questions prompted by the title, such as ‘Why did this happen?’, ‘How often?’ etc.
  • Ask yourself why this question was set. Is there some public or academic controversy you should know about? Are there important issues to include?
  • Note down your reflections on the title, and your opinions.
  • What do you not know yet? Where or how can you find out more? 
Use the title.
  • Put the title where you can see it easily.
  • Keep checking the exact wording. As you research and write, remind yourself of the exact wording of the title. It is easy to forget the focus of the title and drift off on a tangent.
  • In your ‘introduction’ (the first paragraph of your writing, refer directly to the title in order to focus your reading. Say how you interpret the title.
  • In your conclusion, refer back to the title. Link your final sentence to the question contained in the title.
  • Be selective - you can’t use everything.
  • Write a set of questions to guide your research - and look for answers.
  • Check the word limit to see how much information you can use for each point.
  • Keep a notebook nearby to jot down ideas.
Types of material.
  • Factual information.
  • Ideas, theories, opinions.
  • Experience.
  • Books, articles, official reports, surveys.
  • Data from laboratory work, projects, internet, interviews etc.
  • Television, radio, newspapers, videos.
  • Keep asking yourself: ‘Do I need the information?’ ‘How will I use this information?’
  • Brainstorming, pattern notes, linear notes, etc. 
  • Where you found the info and ideas - for your references list.
  • Notes of themes, theories, dates, names, data, explanations, examples, details, evidence, page numbers.
  • Make a big chart to link ideas and details.
  • Make a rough outline plan early on - you can refine it as you go along.
  • Keep checking what you are doing, careful planning helps to prevent repetition, helps to organise and clarifies your thinking.
When you have gathered the information, think about where you have got to.
  • What have you discovered?
  • Has your viewpoint changed?
  • Have you clarified your argument?
  • Have you enough evidence/examples?
  • What arguments or evidence oppose your POV?
  • Is it clearer to you why this task was set?
Now structure your writing.
  • Refine your plan. Work out the order to introduce your ideas, using patten notes or headings and points.
  • Work out how many words you can write on each point. What must you leave out?
  • Write a first draft, write quickly, it is only a first draft. You may find it easier to type headings onto the computer first.
  • To begin with, state things clearly and simply in short sentences.
Develop your first draft. You may need to do this a few times. Leave time between drafts for your ideas to simmer.
  • Rewrite your early draft.
  • Adapt the structure and organise the writing into paragraphs.
  • Make sure your argument is clear to readers.
  • Check that you have included evidence and examples to support your points.
  • Write out your references (or bibliography).
Writing drafts.
Writing is easier if research, planning and organising have already been done.
Draft 1: a quick draft to get ideas down.
  • Write out your interpretation of the title/question.
  • Write out your central idea or main line of reasoning.
  • Write headings and subheadings from your plan, but leave these out of your final draft.
  • Add in details below each heading.
  • Use your plan. Keep referring back to it.
Draft 2: Fine-tune the structure.
  • Checkin that information is grouped and ordered - especially into paragraphs. If not, colour-code and number paragraphs in the order in which you will rewrite them. 
  • Check that the line of argument is clear from one paragraph to the next - if necessary, add in sentences to link ideas.
Draft 3: Fine-tune the style.
  • Read it aloud, does it flow? If not, add in sentences or details where needed.
Draft 4: Finishing touches.
  • Aim to leave at least a day between drafts. After a break, you will find it easier to spot passages that need rephrasing.
    • Does it make sense?
    • Have you used the appropriate structure? Is connected information grouped together? Is information presented in the best order? Is the work well paragraphed? 
    • Have you backed your argument with evidence, examples, details, and/or research?
    • Is the source of your information clear? Are your quotations accurate? Are references written clearly?
    • Is the text easy to read?
    • Are any sections confusing?
    • Is it precise enough?
    • Is the style appropriate?
    • Does it follow any presentation guidelines you were given?
    • Look for mistakes such as typing or spelling errors. Look up doubtful spellings or ask someone. Look up doubtful spellings or ask someone.
    • If you used the computer’s spellchecker, check especially for words that may have been correctly but were wrong words. Eg, there and their.
Drafting on the computer.
    • Drafting on the computer is a continual process - you will probably find you make many small corrections and move texts about as you go along. Leave spellchecking until the final draft.
    • If you intend to make major changes to a draft, save a copy of the document with a number at the end of the name. Then edit the copy. If you change your mind, you can revert to the earlier draft, or use information from it.
    • In case of loss, print out drafts as hard copies and keep copies of files on a CD or a memory stick.
Print your essay.
It is easier to read and edit your work on paper printouts than working onscreen.
Edit and check your final draft.
  • Read it aloud to check that is is clearly written.
  • Keep redrafting until you are happy with the text.

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