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Actually writing an essay to some people is fun but to me it's an odious task, especially when you want to write something you are not familiar or versed in. The course had being very challenging and interesting. At times I know what to write but I don't know where to start from. This makes me to stay longer in the library or on the internet looking for research materials to back up my argument. Often when I get to this stage I walk away from the essay to come back and start all over again. On several occasions I have lost focus on what I was writing, especially when I have had problems understanding the research question. This slows me down and at such junctions I always feel sad and dejected. Therefore developing academic writing styles in my discipline has been a challenging process for me. It takes several drafts from the first one to arrive at the final draft, before the submission many drafts would have been discarded. However one of my friend who is also a student, encouraged me by given me a little tutorial on writing skills, how to arrange my points, position my arguments, and conclude my essays.
Along the line, I discovered that I can speak fluently in English, using simple words to construct my tenses. But which is not good enough to write academic research essays. Meanwhile, a thorough academic work is back up with proper referencing and citing of relevant literatures used. Back at home where I studied; plagiarism was not a big issue as it is here. Though we write Bibliography but the method we were taught, was totally different from the one here. Therefore to change the style which I was accustomed to was a bit difficult for me. I am use to direct quote of words without quote marks, taking and copying notes verbatim from texts, and other materials not necessarily citing the source. Cutting (copying) and pasting materials from websites on the internet was a quick way of solving assignment to me. But when I learnt about plagiarism and the importance of given credit to authors I stopped it. In order for me to avoid this I adopt a habit of making careful note of the source on a piece of paper that I will use to summarize and copy it out. This initially I viewed as time consuming and unimportant. It took time for me to know that once I start writing from research materials I need to write the details of the book, before writing anything. The need to read seven to eight scholarly books, crediting sources of information was not easy for me. At times I forget from which of the book I copied some ideas or information from. Despite the fact that the books were there in the library but going through it was not easy at the beginning, especially when it comes to relating the views of the authors together before arriving at a conclusive end to justify my argument.
Furthermore I discovered that writing to express ideas can only be achieved if one has the right skills at one disposal. The art of locating relevant research material, checking out information on Internet, extracting what is relevant to research purpose, ability to play with words or language, construction of each sentence, paragraph and spacing are skills that am not detailed in. Though I am use to obvious errors of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Along the line I discovered that the effectiveness of my essay writing depends on how I organise and structure it. My introduction should be catchy, beautifully framed, analysing the purpose of the essay but providing necessary background information regarding the topic.
Meanwhile I discovered that one need to be in right frame of mind when writing an essay. Often I am disturbed when I do not have enough material to write my essays. Especially when the deadline to submit the assignment is close and I have not even done anything. I loose focus; start writing a lot of irrelevance to meet the word count.
In the course of writing and interpreting the essay questions, I come across some critical terms like analyse, critique, describe, discuss, and explore e.t.c all with different meaning. I use to write down all the information on the topic without clear understanding of the critical terms. By so doing I misinterpret a lot of my essay questions. This forced me to write all the critical terms down, check the dictionary for the meanings, and their usage. I also saw the need to acquire a good command of some terminology relevant to my discipline as this will improve my vocabulary and enhance my skill as a writer. Initially I found it difficult to follow lectures in class; I put it down to boring lectures and therefore the lecturers fault. However towards the end of the term, I looked at my write up; I discovered that I had improved a lot, I concluded that it was really never his fault but my lack of understanding.
Strategies I intend to adopt for future essay
Introduction: My Introduction should announce the theme or give initial outline of the problem and strategy I adopt to tackle the essay title.
Style of writing: So far I aim toward clarity of passage. Each paragraph will be well structured, meaningful with sentences connected together. Check all my spellings, because bad spelling makes one appear to be uneducated. The checking facility on computer makes this easier for me. Also, the use of punctuations marks, I need to pay more attention to it.
Acknowledging Sources: Every information or materials accessed either from books, articles and internet I intend to acknowledge accordingly, unacknowledged use of another person work is plagiarism, this I intend to avoid.
Good frame of mind: During the course of writing essay, I discovered that one need to be in good frame of mind. Nothing must occupied one's mind in the process of writing. When the mind is not settled there is tendency to make mistakes, write errors that are unwarranted. The mind must be settled before one start writing.
Conclusion: No new ideas must be introduce into the conclusion. A good conclusion should reflect only the summary content of the essay. It should be brief with no new or additional points.
Editing and proof reading: learning how to edit may seem tedious initially but given adequate time for reviewing always increase one mark. Every hard work are spoilt by improper reviewing and editing
Presentation of assignments: the way ideas were expressed in the course of writing essay is very important. Starting from the beginning of the essay layout, to introduction of the essay, analysing of referenced materials, to the flow and consistency of the argument together must be cohesive. Another point is to write simply. Avoid words not sure of its meaning. Get straight to the point of the question and explain it in my own words. Making sure I give enough evidence of reading, around the subject by quoting relevant information and mentioning author's name.
I believe research and study skills is a good course, the course have enhance my writing skills as a student and a scholar.