Keeping your writing focused

While it may seem obvious to say that academic writing must stay focused, and that all information included in an essay/thesis should be relevant to the question/topic, this is sometimes easier said than done. In this week’s blog, we discuss some strategies for keeping your writing focused and avoiding irrelevancies, both during researching and during writing. Analysing the task The first step in any academic writing process should be an analysis of the task. For what purpose will you be writing? For example, is it to compare two arguments, to analyse a problem and propose a solution, or to describe the design and findings of an experiment. What should the scope of your response be? That is, how much depth/detail …

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Avoiding Americanisms when using Australian/British English

  It is often difficult for people writing in Australian English to hold to the conventions of Australian English, due largely to our regular exposure to American English in academic writing. In this week’s blog, we will review some important differences between Australian and American English writing conventions. The aim is to alert you to some of the more common mistakes. Note: Download our handy Cheat Sheet to help you remember the most common differences. You can keep it with your study materials for quick reference: . Spelling The first big difference between these two systems lies in spelling. For instance, American English uses iza, ize, izi and yze, while Australian English uses isa, ise, isi and yse. Thus, ‘realize’ is …

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What is the difference between a primary and secondary source

  In conducting research, you can normally find both primary and secondary sources that can be used. It is important for students to recognise the difference between a primary and a secondary source and know how to use them appropriately. Bonus: Download a summary of this post to keep for reference.  A primary source, as the name implies, is a primary or original document or physical object that was written or created: • at the time the situation under study happens; or • by a person who experienced or witnessed the situation directly or has direct knowledge of it. Examples of primary sources include: • Personal documents: diaries, novels, speeches, letters, personal narratives, interviews, firsthand stories, emails • Documents from research studies: theses, experiment results, reports, data …

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Writing Essays Well: Introductions, Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

Introductions In order for the first paragraph of an essay to actually be a proper introduction (in other words, for it to fulfill the requirements of a proper introduction), it must do two things. These two things are: 1) Include a thesis statement. 2) Provide a preview or essay plan for the essay. So what do these two things mean? 1) A thesis statement is the sentence (or sometimes sentences) that tells the reader what the position of the author is. When you are given an essay question, the thesis statement is your clear and concise answer to the question. For example, if an essay question was ‘What were the causes of the Holocaust in World War II?’ then your …

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Shortened Phrases

A shortened phrase is an abbreviation of a group of words form a phrase or name that have been contracted for ease of writing. They are especially useful in essays and theses that repeat the same phrase or name many times. Understanding their correct usage can help avoid errors and confusion, and add to the polished appearance of your document. There are two types of shortened phrases: acronyms and initialisms. An acronym is a shortened phrase that usually contains the first letter of each word from a phrase. An acronym is pronounced as a word, for example: ‘SACE’ and ‘CAPA’. An initialism is similar to an acronym; however, it is not pronounced like a word—each letter is pronounced as though …

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Shortened Words and Symbols

The correct usage of shortened words and symbols can be confusing for some writers. This does not need to be the case: there are a few basic rules to understand that can ensure these are used correctly and consistently. Shortened words are comprised of two types: abbreviations and contractions. Not understanding the difference between these two types of shortened words can lead to common errors. An abbreviation contains the first letter of a word and one or more other letters, but not the last letter of the word. An abbreviation always has a full stop immediately after it. For example, the abbreviated form for ’Victoria’ is ‘Vic.’. If an abbreviation is used at the end of a sentence that ends …

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