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Writing

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Top 3 Write Up tips

Write Up is a wonderful support service for students and I feel so lucky to be one of the facilitators for the team.
We get students to work together, give feedback and provide support for understanding, responding and structuring assignment tasks, checking and integrating research, and help with language.
So far, we’ve had students from a wide array of faculties, and I thought I would share the most common issues that students have asked us for help with.

Here are my top three writing tips
    1. Before you even set pen to paper, get organised! Gather all your resources together from your tutes and lectures (especially your assignment task sheet with the criteria!). Now you’re all set to begin. Your task sheet is your treasure map. It is your guide to what you need to cover in your assignment.

    2. Keep your sentences short for clarity—if you see any sentences that are running over 3 or 4 lines, it’s time to break them up with full stops!

    3. Always be specific about the ‘subject’ of your sentence and who you are referring to. For example, if you are currently referring to your theorists as ‘they’, it’s time to use their name, or be more specific about their role. Make your writing as clear for the reader as you can. If you only use words like ‘they’ or ‘she/he’ the reader won’t know if you’re talking about the ‘nurses’ or the ‘patients’. Don’t make them guess!

We look forward to seeing you in one of our Write Up sessions.
They’re fun and helpful and we can’t wait to meet you all.

Anna
Write Up facilitator

Effective writing with APA 7th edition

When writing university assignments you have to acknowledge quotations, information and ideas taken from other authors. At QUT the four commonly used styles for citing and referencing are APA, Harvard, AGLC and Vancouver. APA Style is used in many disciplines but it is most commonly required in Health and Education.

This online tutorial has been adapted from APA’s tool for teaching and learning effective writing. It takes you through the basics of seventh edition APA Style, including format, and organisation; academic writing style; grammar and usage; tables and figures; in-text citations, paraphrasing, and quotations; and reference list format and order.

You can also find more information on seventh edition APA Style in the official Publication Manual (7th ed.) and the Style and Grammar Guidelines section of the APA Style website.

These days there are also heaps of tools that can help you manage your readings and referencing. While they might seem to make things quicker and easier, it’s important to know that they are not 100% reliable. Make sure you fully understand the elements and construction of citing and referencing.

Detailed examples can be found on QUT cite|write which has been designed to help you create references that meet the requirements of the university and your specific units. For EVERY assessment task you do make sure you check the task instructions carefully and ask your lecturer/tutor if you are not sure which style you need to use.

5 tips for proofreading your assignment

Nearly time to submit that assignment? You’re probably sick of looking at it but don’t let basic errors and typos affect your grade. Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process which focuses on surface errors such as mistakes in spelling, grammar, citation and punctuation. Take time to do a last minute proofread to look for those all-important details. Here are our top tips for proofreading.

Use Tools on Word
As a starting point use the tools available to you such as the Editor (hit F7) in Word which checks spelling, grammar and style. Set your Proofing Language to Australian English (AU) by finding ‘Language’ in the Review menu and selecting the required language. This will underline any words that are not spelled correctly so that you can correct them if necessary. Just remember that some terminology may not come up in a spellcheck so it’s always best to confirm you have it right.

Print a Copy
No doubt you’ve already spent weeks staring at a computer screen so your eyes need a break. It can really help to print your essay out and make changes with a different colour on the hard copy. Changing the format of your writing will help you to pick up all those little errors that you didn’t notice when your were writing and editing.

Read Aloud

It sounds simple but reading your writing out loud can help you to identify grammatical errors as well as content that is incorrect or confusing. If you notice any particularly long sentences, think about where they could be split to make your points clearer. Complex sentences may sound impressive, but they often leave the reader wondering what your main point is.

Check your Citations
Always refer to your task instructions and QUT cite|write for accurate citing and referencing information. Check each citation as you go and make sure it follows the examples given exactly. Don’t forget to check the placement of the parentheses, commas and full stops.

Take Micro Breaks!
Writing is hard work so it’s important to take regular breaks throughout the process. Plan to have five-minute breaks every half hour to allow your brain to work at its best. If possible, go outside and get some fresh air to avoid feeling sleepy. Also, make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of water to help you work at your best!

Proofreading can be tedious but it’s worth investing time into ensuring your writing is error-free and meets the assessment task requirements.

Choosing the best verb tense

Verbs provide important information to the reader. Deciding on the correct tense can be confusing when writing about research but it’s important to use verbs consistently and correctly to create a logical, coherent flow in your writing. In academic writing there’s no single rule to follow regarding verb tense but there are some basic guidelines to help check your writing for consistency.

Start with the following verb tenses to report information in your writing.


For more tips on grammar and writing style visit the APA Style Blog. If you want to learn more about grammar check out our other posts.

Designing academic posters

Poster presentations are a visual way to convey information and can help develop your ability to communicate effectively to an audience. The purpose of an academic poster is to present information for others to view easily and to encourage an exchange of ideas between the presenter and the audience. Most poster presentations include the poster itself as well as a short explanation but this may depend on your specific assessment task instructions.

As an academic poster is different from a written report or a presentation you need to approach the task with the key elements in mind. Auckland University’s website, Designing Academic Posters, is a great resource to assist with basic poster design as it steps you through each stage of the process. There are handy tips on planning and designing your poster as well as software for sharing.

A screen capture of the Designing Academic Posters website

 

Academic phrases for writing

Find writing a challenge? Can’t think of another way to express yourself?

The Academic Phrasebank is a fantastic resource if you want to improve your academic writing or need assistance writing up your research. The main menu is arranged according to the sections of a typical research paper but it also includes the following general communicative functions of academic writing:

  • Being Cautious
  • Being Critical
  • Classifying and Listing
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Defining Terms
  • Describing Trends
  • Describing Quantities
  • Explaining Causality
  • Giving Examples
  • Signalling Transition
  • Writing about the Past
  • The phrases can be used to assist you in thinking about the content and organisation of your written work, or you can incorporate them into your writing where appropriate. Just make sure you know what they mean!

    There is also a Kindle or PDF download version available.

    Academic Phrasebank website

    Plan your writing

    It may be tempting to start writing as soon as you get your assessment task but creating a really good plan can help you achieve a higher grade. The planning process begins from the moment you analyse your essay question and start brainstorming. An effective plan can help organise your ideas and identify where you need to do more research.

    Having a really detailed plan for any writing task can ensure that:

  • you have fully understood the task and topic.
  • your ideas are clear and organised in a logical way.
  • you have relevant arguments supported by evidence.
  • you don’t go ‘off-topic’.
  • you can see areas for improvement.
  • Writing reflections in Education

    During your course you’ll be expected to complete a range of written assessments. Most people are familiar with essays and reports but writing a reflection for the first time can be a challenge. Reflective writing requires you to draw connections between theory and experience or learning in order to create new understanding.

    This sequence of activities from Monash University provides useful explanations of the characteristics of reflective writing for students in the Education discipline.

    Using phrasal verbs

    A phrasal verb is a verb that is made up of a main verb combined with an adverb or a preposition, or both. Sometimes the meaning is really obvious but more often than not the meaning cannot be guessed by looking at the individual words. For example, look up can mean ‘look in an upward direction’ whereas give up means to ‘stop trying to do something’.

    Check out English Grammar Online to learn about phrasal verbs containing up, on, turn, out, down, off, look, come, get and go. The site includes short quizzes to test understanding.

    The process of reflection

    During your course you’ll be expected to complete a range of written assessments. Most people are familiar with essays and reports but writing a reflection for the first time can be a challenge. Reflective writing requires you to draw connections between theory and experience or learning in order to create new understanding.

    This short video from the University of Hull explains the differences between descriptive and reflective writing, and points out the benefits of hindsight in improving future experiences.

    Source: https://youtu.be/b1eEPp5VSIY