Friday, 16 September 2016

Writing in Your Own Words – A Guide

Learning Research & Organisational Skills

Build a well written argument with logical progression, using supporting evidence.
Supporting evidence includes:

  • Quoting: directly from another academic’s book or article.
  • Paraphrasing: describing the academics work by putting it into your own words.
  • Referencing: acknowledging the information you have and where you found it. See Guide to Creating Your Referencing List.  

For tasks that require you to make an argument for a particular theory or approach, ensure that:

  • Your argument is balanced.
  • Use evidence to support your argument.
  • Provide competing material, ensuring that you understand the differences between fact and conjecture.

If your discussion is not definitely true, or possibly true, you can use phrases such as: ‘This suggests that…’ or ‘It is possible that…’. This is an academic requirement and is especially important in science and technology subjects.

To express someone else’s argument by reformulating the words of the original author, improves your understanding of the subject and avoids plagiarism.

How you reformulate the words depends on your writing style and the subject. The following points will help:

  • Change the structure of the argument and sentences. Choosing the appropriate/relevant elements of the original argument to suit the aims of your task/objectives.
  • Choose elements from the original published work that is pertinent to your needs.
  • Provide evidence and reasons to indicate and support your opinions/conclusions.

As you study and write your notes, do not  just copy the text directly, write in your own words, phrasing and interpreting it in your own way.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Note Taking - Annotation & Revision

There are many different methods and systems for note taking - you may have even created your own.

Our students have looked at many different methods and systems for note taking and have adapted their style, to suit their needs.

The following method of note taking can be carried out on your device, but our students prefer to keep their notes in notebooks, mainly because they can take their time to absorb information and also to give their eyes a rest from the many screens that we use today!

Our students annotate their notes: .PDF

Title: The title of your topic/subject - Useful for planning your revision.

Annotate Column - This is where you write key points, reminders, research reminders; about the text/notes in the adjacent column. Also you can add cues here about your notes, which will again also help for your revision sessions.

Note Taking Column - Record your notes here. For actual note taking, this section may start out more detailed, when it comes to the revision stage of your learning you should be able to summarize a lot of your notes.

Record your notes and use short paragraphs, making sure where you can to leave white space between them.

After recoding your notes you can note any points to question and research in more detail. Also make notes about any thoughts and ideas you have - this will help you later, in further research and revision.

Try to look at your annotation column often so that you can summarize your notes further.

Remember to reflect on what you have learnt - it can also help to compete a shortened version of your notes pages.

Make sure that you review your notes regularly, reading aloud by yourself or with a study buddy.

In the summary section of your note taking page summarize each paragraph you have written, so that this helps you to remember the content in more detail.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Planning Your Search - Evaluating Your Information

Evaluating your Information

To help you decide whether you have the right information, which is relevant and from reliable sources, consider the following:

Do not accept information as reliable, when it can be amended/changed by anyone.

Do not just rely on one source – find several sources on the same topic.


S trategic Have a clear search strategy, decide what you need to look for.

Consider the relevance of the information you find based on your present needs, for example the context in which you are working and your current level of study.

E vidence Can you find any evidence that the information you have found is reliable? This can be difficult to assess, as information can be presented in many different ways.

Indicators of Reliable Sources:

Authors - Are you able to identify the author, or organisation?

Is the author an acknowledged expert in their subject area?

Has the author published other books or papers?

Has the authors work been cited in literature, produced by others in a particular subject/field?

Organisations – Does the organisation have a well established history?

What type of organisation are they?, for example research, statutory body, voluntary or a commercial company and is there a point of contact if you wanted to verify information or find out more?


A ccount Take into account the following when you identify information:

Is the information objective and balanced?

Beware of potential bias – hidden bias, whether deliberate or not can be misleading.

R eviews There are many reviews on the internet to look at. You will also come across systematic reviews and overviews.

Using reviews, systematic reviews and overviews you should be able to collect a large amount of research on your topic/question.

C urrent Is the information you have found current?

Is it clear when the information was produced?

Is the date of the information relevant to your requirements?

Is the information obsolete or has it been superseded?

H ow? How was your information produced?

Knowing how information has been published helps you to identify its reliability. Consider the following:

Anyone can publish information on the world wide web. This information should be judged on its own merit and with reference to the author’s credentials – quality is not guaranteed.

Most academic journals in print are peer reviewed. At least two experts have evaluated the information before publication.

e-Journals do not have a peer review process, so check the value of the information, using reviews and other points listed in SEARCH, above.

Evaluating Your Information .PDF Document and Templates can be found here: