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The Writing Guide

Planning, researching, writing, referencing and drafting your assignments



Referencing Points

Before you write your references:

  • Go over the information you have in your assignment, and make sure you've got a reference for every piece of information you have because read, heard or watched it somewhere. Make sure you know "who said what"
  • Check to make sure you have all the details you need to reference all of your sources, and find any missing pieces
  • Set aside plenty of time so you don't make last minute mistakes.

As you write your references:

  • Check the style to make sure you are using the correct patterns - watch carefully for punctuation (this is what trips up most people)
  • Work on your in-text citations and your reference list at the same time - it helps you make sure everything matches.
  • Always check references you've copied to make sure you don't copy over mistakes (never trust the "cite this" button to do a perfect job).

After you write your references:

  • Ask someone to look at your references and give you feedback (the librarians can do this for you - just remember we don't proofread, we only give feedback).
  • Set aside your entire assignment for at least a day, then go over your draft before you hand it in - making sure that you include your references in the editing step.

Research underpins your assignment

sandwich on a plateYour 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.

"Your lecturers don't care about your opinion - they care about your informed opinion."

(Sharon Bryan, personal communication, July 22, 2020)

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