Be prepared: Getting the best out of Study Solutions!

" Day133: Flickr keeps you studying!" By Abdulrahman AlZe3bi. CC BY-NC 2.0

” Day133: Flickr keeps you studying!” By Abdulrahman AlZe3bi. CC BY-NC 2.0

At the Library, there really is no such thing as a stupid question. Did you know that the most common question we get asked is, “Where are the bathrooms?” Helping you to find the bathroom is just one of the many ways we can help in the Library.

Many students get stuck with pesky research, writing and referencing questions over the course of the semester. At every branch Library, you can have your researching and referencing questions answered straight away at the Library Helpdesk. Our staff are trained to help you get started and point you in the right direction to get your assignments started.

If you have a longer or more complicated question, the Library can provide support for your studies through a Study Solutions appointment. By booking a Study Solutions appointment, you can get a 25 minute face to face appointment for help with your study, research and assignments. From understanding your assignment question, providing feedback on a draft, to working in groups, or organising your work/study load, we are here to help.

You can book a 25 minute consultation from Week 3. Bookings open a week in advance and fill up quickly – so be prepared and book early.

If you miss out on an appointment, never fear! Drop-in sessions are available at both Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove libraries from 12pm-2pm, Tuesday to Thursday. The time of your consultation will depend on how many students are waiting – so be prepared and have your burning question ready and waiting to maximise your time.

So! You’ve booked a consultation or you’re planning on coming to a drop-in session…. what can you do to prepare yourself to get the best out of your Study Solutions session?

1. Be on time! Make sure to note the date, time, and location of your consultation. Write it in your phone, diary, or the back of your hand. Remember you can keep track of your bookings online.

2. Come to your consultation with something specific to work on. Whether it be your assignment question, your draft, a particular study issue you’ve been having, or a question about a resource – this helps us to tailor the support specifically to your needs. Please remember that library staff cannot proofread assignments for you, we can give you tips and strategies so you can proofread yourself (hint: read your assignment out loud to the mirror!).

3. Check our online study resources and see if your question is answered there. If you familiar yourself with resources such as Cite Write, Studywell, and Studysmart, you’ll be well on your way to being a top student on your own!

4. If you’re looking for specific academic language and learning support you can get in touch with Academic Language and Learning Services (ALLS) to arrange an appointment. Language and Learning Educators are specially trained to help students and staff who need help with speaking and writing.

 

Grammar speed dating

Kommas retten Leben! (Commas save lives!) by  Peter Ihlenfeld  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Kommas retten Leben! (Commas save lives!) by Peter Ihlenfeld (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

What if I told you that you could learn basic English grammar rules in just 6 minutes?

Freely available podcasts, available each week to download from the BBC, tackle a fundamental aspect of English Grammar and dismantle, demystify, give examples and even test you – all in 6 minutes. English Grammar is certainly not easy but these help to demystify adverbs, differentiate past, present and continuous tense and look at the subtle difference between ‘must’ and ‘have to’.

QUT Library also has numerous resources on the topics of grammar and punctuation. These are a selection of our resources that make the topic a little easier to digest in an easy-to-read, simple, jaunty way!

Eats, shoots and leaves / Lynne Truss.  This book isn’t about the eating habits of pandas, but rather a lighthearted look at the importance and rules regarding grammar and punctuation. The title is derived from a (bad?) joke about bad punctuation:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

“Why?” asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“Well, I’m a panda,” he says. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.

Grammar Girl presents the ultimate writing guide for students / Mignon Fogarty       Grammar GIrl (aka Mignon Fogarty) has won multiple awards for her free podcasts on all things grammar, language, writing and punctuation Some of her most popular topics include: Affect versus effect; I.e versus E.g and Fish or Fishes?

The briefest punctuation guide ever! / Ruth Colman. Not sure when you should start a new sentence? Or whether a comma should go before or after a word? Or if you should use an apostrophe or not?This guide answers all the basics in only 43 pages.

Perhaps getting ‘grammar savvy’ isn’t as time consuming as you thought?

 

 

 

Because proofreading!

The now notorious bus stop in Bristol. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Bup? Really? Anyone who saw this picture in the media last week would have been incredulous at how on earth these sign writers managed this spelling absurdity: ‘Bup Stop’. Read the full story here.

Still, it does prove how easily spelling and grammar mistakes can slip through unnoticed. Your spelling mistakes are unlikely to trend on Twitter of course but the consequences and damage to your marks can be high.

Whereas editing looks at the ‘bigger picture’ of your writing: structure,style and task requirements, proofreading drills down to the finer points: spelling, grammar, word choice and punctuation.

Here are some key tips for proofreading:

  • Read your assignment out loud one sentence at a time. Often mistakes are easier to hear than see.
  • A sentence should only have one point. If it’s longer than two or three lines perhaps it should be more than one sentence
  • Use a spell checker – but do not rely on it!
  • Learn to spell the words and jargon and that you will be using often.
  • Check your work by reading it backwards. You’ll concentrate on each word individually this way rather than seeing what’s expected.
  • Get a critical friend – no, not a ‘frenemy’ but someone who can read your work and spot mistakes and give constructive feedback.

You can read more on the Editing and Proofreading on QUT Library’s Studywell.

Writing great assignments

 

"Maze Starts Here" by Michael Coghlan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Maze Starts Here” by Michael Coghlan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The secret to writing great assignments is all about how you begin and end the process. Take the time to plan and edit to make your writing clear, logical, relevant and … great!

Before

  • Plan your time carefully so that you will have time to edit before the due date. Aim to write at least one draft. This will remove the pressure to write perfectly and you’ll build momentum.
  • Know what type of assignment you’re writing. Reports, essays, critiques, annotated bibliographies, etc. have different structures, tones and styles. Know the difference before you begin.

During

  • Break the assignment into chunks and divide the word count by the number of paragraphs you plan to write. Start writing whichever paragraph you like: there is no need to write the introduction first!
  • Check regularly to ensure that your writing responds to the task sheet, the marking criteria and any other resources available on QUT Blackboard.
  • Take short breaks every hour and reward yourself when you reach the end of each section.

After

Edit and proofread by asking  these five important questions:

  1. Am I answering the assignment question?
  2. Do I use clear examples and good evidence to support my ideas?
  3. Is my assignment organised and carefully structured so a reader can follow my logic?
  4. Am I referencing correctly and consistently?
  5. Is my writing formal and free of errors? Am I using the scholarly language of my discipline: the technical terms, words and theories that are used by my lecturers and are relevant to my subject area?

For any help with writing assignments, come and see us at Study Solutions!

 

Editing your assignment

Cat waking up

Black cat, white cat by Oui-ennui (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Have you worked all weekend on an assignment only to feel that it still needs a lot of work, and you cannot bear to look at it another second? Feeling ‘over it’ is a great time to get help from the QUT Learning and Research Desk or make a Study Solutions appointment. The good news is that feeling ‘over it’ is an entirely normal part of the writing process. Acknowledge your feelings and plan for them. Know that they too will pass and that you will feel excited again as you rush towards the finish line.

Here’s a simple cycle for defeating your writer blues: break-scribble-break-rewrite

Break

Plan a break between finishing a first draft and editing your assignment. 24hrs is a good break from your work to get clarity—but even an hour or two can help you transition. During your break, print out your assignment, single-sided so that you have a physical document to scribble on for the next stage.

Scribble

When you return to your assignment, use a pencil or pen to make comments on your draft as though you were a teacher. Use arrows and comments to signify big changes. Making your work physical helps you identify flaws and improve logical flow to really boost your grade.

Break

Once you have finished marking up your draft, take a good long break, maybe take a walk, move to a different location or enjoy something totally unrelated to your assignment.

Rewrite

With your printed and scribbled-on assignment, make your corrections from beginning to end (to make sure you don’t forget any) on your computer.

You can defeat your writer blues using the break-scribble-break-rewrite cycle multiple times. The good news about editing is that you get better and better each time you practice. Just like learning guitar or surfing, writing and editing become easier with effort. Try to be gentle on yourself if you find it hard. It is hard, but it is worth it and you’ll feel great when you finally submit your work.

cat in the sun

A cat in the sun is a happy cat by Chris Pederick (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Start the Academic Year Off Right!

QUT Library is running  a range of academic skills workshops throughout the first four weeks of semester.  Whether you’re a new student just starting out, or a continuing student, who would just like to brush up on your study skills, these workshops will give you invaluable tips to help you with your studies.

All workshops are presented by your friendly Caboolture Library staff and include:

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kingbob86/5965680173/sizes/m/in/photostream/

  • Assignment research
  • The Writing process
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Effective learning and time management
  • QUT Referencing
  • Preparing for exams

See what other workshops are available and register for sessions, or click on the Workshops and tours link on the QUT Library homepage.  If you have any enquiries about the workshops please ask at the Learning and Research Desk or call the library on 5316 7420.

Finishing Assignments?

Reading over your assignment for the millionth time? Suspect there are mistakes you just can’t see? Aiming for an excellent communication mark or to highlight your professionalism?  

Studywell provides some tips and tricks to make checking over your assignment more effective. Here are some examples of what we’ve found the most helpful:

  •   Editing & Proofreading are actually two different processes. Try editing an assignment (looking at the overall structure and response to the question) before proofreading it (checking it sentence by sentence for grammar/word choice/typos/other sentence level stuff).
  •  Check you’re still on topic. During the editing process, do a quick skim read of your introduction, topic sentences, and conclusion. Does it still answer the assignment question?
  • If possible, leave the assignment for a day or overnight, after you have finished writing. A bit of space helps avoid seeing what you think you have written, rather than what’s actually on the page.
  • If you’re short on time, changing the way the document looks as you read over it can help. For example, you can print out a draft copy, change the font or sizing, to focus on the words on the page.
  •  Check that each in-text reference has a corresponding entry in the reference list. You can also compare your reference list entries against the examples on QUT cite|write.

Screenshot of Studywell

Writing. Writing. Writing.

It’s the time of semester when everyone is writing an assignment (if not several). These are our favourite free web resources for getting words on the page.

1.  Writing Structure Overview: there’s a reason this is one of the most downloaded resources on Studywell. It includes a clear visualisation of how to structure academic writing as well as a colour-coded example with explanatory notes.

2.  Thesis Generator: An online tool if you are stuck with a hypothesis for a persuasive paper/augmentative essay. Results vary – but it’s not bad for brainstorming what to include in your thesis statement.

3. What is a literature review?  Although not usually a fan of online tutorials, this guide to writing a literature review from the University of Sydney Library, covers everything I wish I had known before I wrote my first lit review. (There’s more lit review info on QUT Cite|Write as well).

4. Grammar and Punctuation: if you need to quickly check if your apostrophes are in the right places, Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) has comprehensive punctuation and grammar guides as well as exercises. (Or for a laugh, check out the guide to apostrophes provided by the Oatmeal).

Typewriter

What have you found useful on the web for writing?