Study Hack – Academic Honesty, what is it?

What is Academic honesty? You might have heard it referred to as plagiarism or cheating, at QUT we have a huge pile of resources to help you give credit where credit is due and be authentic in your studies.

BelieveOnline_JBSo what do you do if you have a whole bunch of great resources you want to use in your assignment? First off, it is great that you have found some resources relevant to your assignment but remember to have a good look at what your source is and where it came from. You want to use good quality information to back up your ideas and arguments. So make sure you don’t quote any information you haven’t verified!

findingInfoEasy_JB Next, you need to work the information into your assignment. You do this by direct quoting, summarising or paraphrasing their work. Remember, direct quotes should only take up 10% of your word count. Paraphrasing is the hardest but recommended. It is worthwhile aiming for as you can demonstrate your own understanding and show off your critical thinking skills! How to Paraphrase will give you some helpful tips so that you can put your best foot forward.

The final step you need to make is to acknowledge the work of the people whose resources you think are awesome have used in your assignment. Referencing or citing another person’s work is really important and there is loads of information about how to do this on QUT CiteWrite.

To avoid plagiarism make sure you reference and give credit to those who have come before you. And don’t forget, pictures and music need to be referenced too!

Need more help? Come and see us at the Library Help desk. No appointment needed.

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!

 

Literature Review vs. Essay.

It is easy to get confused about the difference between literature reviews and essays because these two writing structures can be based on the same research.  However, the main difference is on where the emphasis is placed.

The purpose of an essay is to use what is known about a subject to prove an argument or point of view.  Not all of the knowledge of a topic may be used in an essay, but only what is relevant to the argument.  In an essay, mentioning the people who discovered or developed the knowledge is generally only for referencing purposes.

On the other hand, a literature review is designed to be a critical analysis of all the knowledge that has been discovered about a subject.  Its purpose is to examine all that others have already discovered about the subject and the researchers working on the subject are considered to be key.

At a sentence level, one way to emphasise a particular aspect of a subject is to place that aspect at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs.

In an essay, where the focus is on the knowledge itself, it is put to the front of sentences.  For example:

Playing computer and video games have risen dramatically in popularity.  It is estimated that three billion hours of gaming are played globally each week.  The major reason for this is because players are able to tap into a high level of emotional satisfaction that is difficult to experience in everyday life (McGonigal, 2011).

However, in literature reviews what is considered to be more important are the authors and researchers who found or developed the information.  Therefore they appear at the beginning of sentences.

 Jane McGonigal (2011) estimates that three billion hours of gaming are played globally every week.  Her research suggests that the major reason for this is because players are able to tap into a high level of emotional satisfaction that is difficult to experience in everyday life.

This is not to say that both kinds of sentences can be used in both types of writing.  However, the overall trend for essays is to emphasise the information, whereas for literature reviews the trend is to emphasise the authors.

For more on the differences between the structure of essays and the structure of literature reviews,  check out QUT Cite|Write

Studywell

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Your grades are important. Your time is precious. Are you ready for extreme study?

Time management, reading, notetaking, researching, writing, referencing, teamwork, presenting and exam preparation … Studywell has something for you just when you need it most.

With practical study tools, guides, videos and links to useful resources, Studywell is your one-stop shop for academic success.

Go on. Get your edge. www.studywell.library.qut.edu.au

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