Study Hack – Writing

SkeletonplanAcademic writing can be tough whether it be writing an essay or a literature review. We have some great resources in QUT Cite Write which will help you to get started, no matter what writing style you need.

First things first, make a skeleton plan. You can do this for your whole assignment and there are a lot of templates that can help you with this and some of them sound good! Try the hamburger or the diamond templates. After this, you can follow the same template (or try a new one) for each of your paragraphs. Use these templates to decide what information will go where. This will make it a whole lot easier to start writing when you know exactly what you are trying to say and when you want to say it.

ProofreadyourwrokOnce you have finished your assignment it is important that you edit and proof read. Check your grammar, punctuation and the flow of your words. Get someone else to have a look at it for you as a fresh pair of eyes may spot something you have missed. By editing and proof reading your work you will make sure your assignment works as a whole and most important of all, that it answers your task question.

Need more help? Visit QUT Support for learning.

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.

 

SAGE Best QUT Higher Degree Research Paper Award 2015

Photo courtesy of QUT Library

SAGE is offering a $1,500 prize to the best paper submitted for publication by a QUT Higher Degree Research (HDR) student.

The award will go to the QUT HDR student who is the lead author on a manuscript judged the best paper, and submitted to a SAGE peer reviewed journal. You have until 30 June 2015 to enter, so sharpen those pencils!

To be eligible to enter, you must:

  • be a current QUT Higher Degree Research Student (QUT MOPP: D/5.3 Higher degree research candidates)
  • be the lead author on a manuscript submitted for publication in a refereed (peer-reviewed) SAGE journal between 21 October 2014 and 30 June 2015, whether or not the manuscript is accepted for publication or published in the relevant journal
  • have played a significant role in data collection, data analysis, and preparation of the manuscript

Please note that submission of the manuscript does not guarantee publication. See the full terms and conditions and if you’d like more information contact library.research@qut.edu.au.

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?

 

 

 

Novelember

'Writing = Breathing' by Joe Flood (CC BY-ND 2.0)

‘Writing = Breathing’ by Joe Flood (CC BY-ND 2.0)

November is many things. In addition to Movember, Melbourne cup, end of semester (woot!) and start-christmas-shopping month it is also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought, even fleetingly, about writing a novel.

NaNoWriMo was established in 1999 in San Francisco. It is also a  nonprofit that believes stories matter and its aim is to get would-be writers writing. It’s first year, 1999, had 21 participants. This year, it is expected that 4000,000 participants from across 6 continents will take part. Last year 667 Brisbane would be wordsmiths were involved in NaNoWriMo reaching an average word count of 26, 575 each.

Your challenge, if you choose to accept, is to pen 50,000 words of your great literary work in the 30 days of November. If that seems just a tad too ambitious, why not just get started and see where it ends up?

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus,  Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder

Sign up here and get started on your soon to be best-selling (or at least critically acclaimed) prose.

And if you’re looking for a quiet place to write then the new individual cubes on Level 6 Silent Zone of the QUT Library at Gardens Point are now open and can be booked here.

 

So, learning to knit ISN’T going to help with my essay?

Procrastination-001 by  Ludie Cochrane (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Procrastination-001 by Ludie Cochrane (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Sorry procrastinators and those who thrive on the adrenaline rush of last-minute essay completion – the results are in and it’s not good news. A study out of the University of Warwick Business School has shown that students who hand in assignments at the last minute face a five per cent drop in marks when compared with those who submitted 24 hours or more before it was due.

The paper, Time of submission: An indicator of procrastination and a correlate of performance on undergraduate marketing assignments, which was presented at the European Marketing Academy conference investigated 504 first-year students’ and 273 third-year students’ end of term assignments

Work handed in ahead of schedule was far more likely to be awarded a distinction than work not handed in until much closer to the deadline. The average mark dropped by the hour until those handing in the paper at the last minute produced the worst results. Those that literally handed work in at the last minute could see as much as a five per cent drop on score, from 64.17 to 59.00 — taking them a whole grade lower.

Image provided by David Arnott and Scott Dacko, of Warwick Business School http://www.wbs.ac.uk/news/leaving-essays-to-the-last-minute-ruins-students-grades/

So what can you do about your procrastination habit?  How do you stop yourself from meandering into the depths of pointless activities, random hobbies (not that there isn’t value in knowing how to knit) and delaying the inevitable task ahead?

It’s all about time management.

  • The nifty QUT Library Assignment Calculator can keep you on track to complete an assignment with plenty of time to spare – including reminding you to take breaks and have some fun along the way!
  • For a more long-range view of how to manage your time across the semester, the QUT Library Semester & Weekly Planning guide can help you see at a glance what’s looming and help you juggle all your competing priorities.
  • For specific essay help, the Library Writing an Essay guide as well as our most popular resource, the Writing Structure Overview, specifically address the requirements of essay writing.

Also, check out our related QUT Library Blog post Writing great Assignments for more tips and save the knitting until semester break.

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!

 

Look out, behind you! It’s some Bad Science!

As we all know, evaluating your resources is an important part of the research process. However, all resources aren’t created equal so how do you know whether what you’ve found is good or bad on the spectrum of quality?

Firstly you can attend a class in the QUT Library such as ‘Researching Made Easy’ or complete the STUDYSMART online Module on Evaluating Resources.

In celebration of National Science Week here’s some additional  tips for the Scientists amongst us for spotting ‘Bad Science’ when evaluating the quality of our information resources. Below are 12 key things to look for when evaluating articles in the areas of Science or Medicine – in a handy, colourful, graphic form – to make assessing the quality of your articles that much easier. Key steps in evaluation include: the size of the sample in any research; no control group used in experiments; and looking for possible author bias or a conflict of interest.

So now you can evaluate with ease and banish bad science from your research forever!

'Spotting Bad Science' by Compound Interest (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

‘Spotting Bad Science’ by Compound Interest (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

World Book and Copyright Day

UNESCO celebrates World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, an annual event where libraries around the world promote reading and the enjoyment of books.

Copyright is closely linked with the book publishing industry but is also relevant to us all when we are looking for content to reuse in the things we create. It is important to give credit where credit is due and provide the correct attribution details when you use the words, images or ideas of someone else.

AltamiraBison

Painting of a bison in the cave of Altamira by Rameessos (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When I am looking for free images to use in my work I like to use Google Advanced Image SearchFlickr Advanced Search or Wikimedia Commons. These tools allow you to limit to Creative Commons licensed or public domain content.  Creative Commons is an organisation that supports the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge and even has tools that make creating licenses for your own content easy.

These tools are good because they make it easy to find what you need without worrying about the complicated stuff.