1. Understanding the Question – Comprehensive analysis of the title or question:
- Read it several times
- How many sections are there?
- Break up into key words/segments – Underline/highlight key words
- What do they mean?
- How can they be interpreted?
- How does it link to course lectures?
- What else do I need to find out?
- Discuss with others
Make a list of:
- All the questions ideas that have arisen from analysing question/title
- All the information that needs to be found
- Where to get the answers: notes, books, library …
3. Read quickly to find information
- Use contents page, index, headings, sub headings
- Read first sentence, summary, conclusion
- Scan for key words, phrases
4. Read carefully to improve understanding of the information
- Pay attention to what you are reading
- Try to prevent your mind from wandering
- Re-read ‘missed’ material
- Be an active reader – Make outline notes, draw sketches, boxes, doodles to organise ideas
5. Tips on Note-taking
- Develop good note-taking
- Note sources for referencing
- Put quotation marks round direct quotes
- Have a system for keeping notes ( I use endnote. Easy way to organise your references)
6. Analyse the Information
- Find links, themes, differences etc
- Cross reference the information: use a map, coloured post-its’, coloured highlights
- Draw graphs, bar charts if relevant
- Be critical – ask: which information is important, is the question being answered? – only use relevant information
- Look at the bigger picture
- Be independent and draw your own conclusions
7. Writing the Essay
- Do a rough draft – Don’t expect to it get right first time
- Use own words – Keep direct quotes to a minimum
- Include references to ALL work that is not your own
- Draw diagrams/graphs to illustrate and explain, where appropriate
- Proof read draft and edit – more than once if necessary
8. How to Acknowledge your Sources
- Word-for-word: quotation marks and reference [i.e. make a footnote, endnote or put information in brackets if using Harvard system].
- Author’s idea in your own words (paraphrase): no quotation marks, but reference.
- No need to reference things that are common knowledge