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CU1022 Academic writing with Style: A well researched assignment

Online resource for CU1022 Week 8 workshops

References underpin your assignment


sandwich on a plate

Your research underpins and supports your assignment - just like a plate supports a sandwich. Your references are the visual evidence of your research.

When you are thinking about your assignment, you should always have the references in mind - build your essay on your references like you would build you sandwich on the plate (or cutting board, or table... let's not stretch this metaphor too far).

Think about writing your assignment backwards.

When you make a sandwich, you put down the plate first, then the bottom piece of bread, then the filling, and then the top piece of bread. "Build" your assignments the same way. Lay down the research you want to draw on (your references), then the conclusions you came to, then the body of the assignment where you discussed and elaborated on the evidence and the conclusions you made. Then top it all off with the introduction, which guides people through what they are about to read.

You don't have to write your assignment in that order, but it does help if you think about it in that order.

How to identify a scholarly article

ArrowIt's important to note that academic journals, in addition to articles, also publish editorials, book reviews, film reviews, letters, columns, and other marginalia that are not considered scholarly articles. Make sure you look for some other clues before deciding that you're looking at a scholarly article.


An academic article, also called a scholarly article, is an article written by an expert in an academic or professional field. These articles are intended for other experts and scholars, rather than the general public. There are several ways to determine whether an article is scholarly. While none of these are hard-and-fast rules, they can be useful clues:

  • The article is written by researcher(s), professional(s) or other expert(s).
  • The article commonly has more than one author (this isn't always true).
  • The article appears in an academic journal rather than a magazine or newspaper (but, keep in mind that not everything in an academic journal is a peer reviewed article).
  • The article is of significant length (usually over five pages).
  • The article includes a substantial bibliography or reference list.
  • The article is peer reviewed.
  • The article presents original research or analysis of a topic.
  • The article uses technical or expert-level language.



Re-used with permission thanks to Brooke Williams, Research & Instruction Services Librarian, Communication Studies & School of Journalism, Snell Library, Northeastern University.

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