Moving from FE to HE, the main difference is the style, volume and calibre of the work. Assignment writing is very different to anything I’ve ever done and it was kind of sprung on me at the start of the year.
So as an academic assignment newbie here’s my top tips for successful assignment writing.
Collect your references
Having an assignment thrust on you as a first year with no experience of academic writing can be almost daunting. But, the best way to start is not actually to start writing your assignment! I found doing a whole lot of research before even attempting to get an introduction written was the best way to go. Go collect sources, journals, articles, books and websites to collect the sort of information that’s going to be needed in your assignment. From this you’re going to be able to create a structural plan for the assignment which will then give you a clear path to follow in terms of writing.
Use your legs
So assignment writing is all sat on your bum in The Malting on a laptop? No – ebooks, websites and online articles are all great but maybe finding actual printed sources could be an asset in terms of engaging more with the topic you are writing about. There are library resources at UCB that are available and let’s not forget we’re in Birmingham, home to one of the largest libraries in the country. Going out and looking for the information gives you a chance to clear your head and get out of your apartment that smells like spaghetti Bolognese and vodka.
Use your lecturer
At the start of the year I felt bad for harassing my lecturers with questions until one assured me that that is what they are there for. Your lecturers are the ones marking your work so it makes the most sense to get as much advice off them as possible in terms of both practical and written assignments.
Cite This For Me
So referencing is hard and as much as referencing guides are useful, I’ve found a really helpful tool in Cite This For Me. It’s a website that basically formats your references in the correct way for you. All you have to do is select the type of referencing you want to do ( for example book, government publication, article, journal etc…) and then type in the author or title and select the correct source. The website then cite’s this both for your ‘in text’ citations and end reference page. This is a fast and easy-to-use tool, just ensure you don’t rely completely on this as slight edits sometimes need to be made.
Trust your proofreader
Proofreading is essential for any academic piece of work. Ensuring you give your work to someone you trust for a read is so important. Me and my friends even critiqued each others work and gave each other advice concerning sentence structure, content and grammar. Finding a proofreader is so easy – it’s just picking someone you trust who is a little more academic than you, for example a parent, sibling or friend. Lecturers are always really helpful for proofreading as well, they can’t give you the answers but can give very constructive criticism.
Academic Skills Centre
For me using the ASC was really beneficial. It’s a short drop-in session (appointments are available) but spending that 30 minutes with a tutor could make the difference between a grade. Me and a friend went to a drop-in session and it was really helpful to have a few things addressed, either in terms of questions or where I’d veered in a slightly different direction.
I hope this post gave you a few ideas about assignments and if you’ve got any more questions, tweet or DM us at @ucbloggers