Library

11 March 2015

Get started on your writing task


You’ve been working for days, even weeks, and you still don’t have one word of your essay written. You really have worked hard but have nothing to show for it.

Fear not! All the groundwork has prepared you well, and the writing should take nowhere near as long as the preparation. Sometimes just sitting down and starting to type is the toughest hurdle to clear. The steps in this blog entry will help you fly over it, leaving it far behind you! .... by Damian Gleeson, Learning Skills Adviser.


Have you fully analysed the topic?

If you don’t analyse it fully, you may not avail yourself of all marks on offer. Essay topics always have the same key ingredients: direction words that tell you what to do, topic words and limiting words that set the required scope. Be very clear that you understand what your tutor requires from you. There are several possible genres that might form part of your writing assessment. Be sure that you know what each genre entails. The Library’s Language and Learning Online is a useful resource to guide you. Several faculties at Monash have their own style guides, like BusEco’s Q Manual and IT’s Style Guide. Check your unit guide and Moodle sites for further information.

Have you done your research?


This does not mean using Google. Anyone can do that. Monash University spends millions on subscriptions to databases and journals, and it is your privilege as a Monash student to use them. So use them! Library Guides are a good starting point for finding discipline-specific databases and journals. Also, don’t forget your lecture and tutorial notes and required/recommended weekly reading. When you start writing you’ll probably find you’ll need to go back and research some aspects of your topic more. This is normal and to be expected. It means you are becoming suitably focused on key aspects that require rigour. Good for you!

Make a plan, Stan. Then use it to structure your work, Bjork.

An unplanned essay is potentially a recipe for disaster. As a bare minimum, note your academic position/thesis and the subject of each body paragraph. This should assist you in maintaining a clear, structured response to the assignment question. Remember that each paragraph should consist of one idea that is explained in detail, supported by evidence and examples and linked back to the topic in order to prove its relevance. To do this in 1 - 3 sentences is impossible. If your paragraph is longer than a page, there is probably more than one main idea or there is too much detail. Don't forget a clear introduction that
  • provides a general intro to the topic
  • tells your reader about your particular focus
  • offers a thesis statement indicating your academic position
  • previews your work’s structure, showing how you intend to achieve your stated goal.
A conclusion is also necessary, summarising what you achieved and how you achieved it in your assignment, as well as providing a big picture statement of what it all means in the wider context.

Ready? Set? Write!

There are countless excuses to stop you from sitting down and typing your assignment. None of them is likely to justify your inertia. Once you actually start writing, you should find all that research, reading, planning and thinking has put you in a position where the flow quickly becomes a torrent. Get it all out of you as fast as you can! You can edit and proofread it all later. Go!

You may have doubts about whether your work is at the level your tutor expects or not. This may be because you are new to university, the first in your family or among your friends to undertake tertiary study, or you are returning to study after a long break. Fear not! Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers work at your library’s Research and Learning Point for a few hours a day at most branches. At drop ins they can provide tips, advice and feedback on all the research and academic work you need to do. There is no need for an appointment and you’ll be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.



No comments:

Post a Comment




About the Blog

Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

If you believe that copyright material is available on this blog in such a way that infringes copyright, please contact our designated representative

.