Skip to Main Content

Academic Writing

Starting the Process

Need to brainstorm your ideas?

Meeting as a small group to discuss a project can really kick-start the creative process.

Book a study room in the library where you can chat, spread out your plans, use whiteboards and get your assignment off to a great start. 

                Image of a group of students using the group study rooms available in Maynooth Library

Ideas to help you start your writing

Image of a blank notebook that is open with a pencil lying on one of the open pages.

Sometimes making a start on a piece of work can seem very difficult.

Be inspired by the excellent 30 tips for successful academic research and writing by Deborah Lupton from her blog "This Sociological Life" to read some proven tips for beginning your research.

Take a look at some of the resources and tools we've found for you in the tabs above.

When starting an assignment it's good to understand where you can search for information [link brings you to online tutorial on searching]. 

You can find information in our library catalogue [link brings you to online tutorial on using the catalogue] for your assignment, from a number of sources:

  • books and e-books - good for a thorough assessment of a specific topic, or a topic overview
  • journal articles and e-journals - good for a focused look at a very narrow topic and for up-to-date material
  • subject databases - huge, searchable databases containing journal articles, reviews and book chapters on broad subjects
  • other sources - subject encyclopedias, reference tools and dictionaries are useful for definitions and explanations, newspapers good for informal coverage.


Recommended Reading

Welcome to Academic Writing

The Writing Centre and MU Library have worked together to provide you with resources and information to help you develop best practices for academic writing. This guide provides an overview of the subject of academic writing as well as helpful tips and links to additional sources of information and assistance. 

The documents below provide more detailed advice by topic.

Using Maynooth LibrarySearch

Allows you to explore and locate books, articles, DVDs and more at Maynooth University Library. It offers a powerful search of the library’s content, from print materials to multimedia, to e-books and journals through the use of a single search box which quickly returns results across a range of the library’s collection.

LibrarySearch for Books & eBooks

More search options

Critical Skills for Academic Writing

Critical skills are essential if you want to be able to synthesize and use the research you find in your own essays and thesis.

The Ultimate Cheatsheet for Critical Thinking is an excellent infographic, produced by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation, that covers all the questions you should ask yourself when using information. Click on the image below to download a printable version of the infographic.

Critical Skills Programme

There are some skills that we regard as critical for a university education and that every university graduate should have.  These are also skills that are highly valued by today's employers. 

Our critical skills course aims to develop these skills early in the university learning experience.  This will aid the transition to third level while at the same time complementing and supporting disciplinary learning. It is designed to help first year students to learn, experience, practice and develop essential skills that will support their learning. These skills include:

  • Academic writing
  • Analysis and use of data
  • Analytical thinking
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Developing learning skills
  • Information processing
  • Interpersonal skills

Discover the Maynooth University Critical Skills Programmes

Starting to find Library Sources

Before you start searching the library for resources or information, you need to have some idea of what you’re looking for.

This might be recommended reading from your reading list or some keywords around the topic you're studying.

Choose a topic that interests you within your assignment guidelines. Turn it into a research question by mapping out some keywords.

Generally good research questions:

1. Can’t be answered with yes or no.

2. Are broad enough so that you can find information.

3. Are narrow enough so that you can start to answer them.

Once you have isolated some keywords, you can start to find information using LibrarySearch.