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Academic Writing

Writing for Undergraduates

Purpose of academic writing allows you to demonstrate the following:

Research skills: Find the suggested reading, demonstrate the ability to use suitable resources. Also to track these resources (Referencing / Citing).

Ability to review literature & critically think: your ability to separate fact from opinion. To draw conclusions based on the facts you discovered in literature.

Formulate and argument & support with evidence: It is your opportunity to carefully arrange and support a topic from a specific viewpoint.

How to write successfully

To write successfully ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who is your audience? 
    • Lecturer / Professor / Tutor / Peers
  2. In what context is this being written?
    • An assignment given and designed for you to demonstrate the information you have learned.
  3. What is your message?
    • This should be your interpretation of the topic based on your self-study.
  4. What is its purpose?
    • Demonstrate your learning and critical thinking to obtain a good grade

Academic Writing for Undergraduates

Academic essays are formal pieces of writing the need to be written in a specific way. The purpose of this type of writing is to persuade the reader of your argument based on evidence. It is important to make both sides of the argument.

The style and the method of argument that you should use will be provided by your department. Please consult your handbook.

Searching for resources

You may be required to find additional information resources for your assignment. The key steps include:

  • planning your search before carrying it out, which will save you time
  • narrowing and focusing your search to exclude less relevant results
  • evaluating what you find, so you can decide what to include in your assignment
  • keeping track of the sources you intend to use

The resources that are available to you are:

Applying the following principles will help you search for relevant information more effectively.

  • Choose effective search terms (keywords
  • Use the advanced search option (if available)
  • Use Boolean operators

From Research Question to finding 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.

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

Watch me develop a research question using concept mapping in this video.

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.

Essay structure

Boolean Searching

Boolean searching is a search that allows you to  combine keywords with operators. These operators are used to connect and define the relationship between your search terms.

AND: Is an inclusive search term. It limits your search by making it more specific by insisting on finding all the words in conjunction with each other. Example: Online courses AND academic performance

OR: Flexible inclusive term. Broadens your search. Makes it less specific to allow for more results. Example: online courses OR Web-based instruction

NOT: Exclusive search term. Narrows your search by omitting terms you don't want to find. Example: higher education NOT community colleges