Did you know that none of the prints of each of your fingers are identical? And there are over seven billion people on the face of the earth currently. Which means that there are over seventy billion fingerprints in the world today! This distinctiveness with which God made each of us is enough reason to convince you to learn to always be authentic and distinctive in everything you do. When writing an academic piece, you are required to present objective information from relevant sources. Your work, therefore, must be well-researched and point the reader towards finding information that is consistent with your theme (or thesis or title- choose one), or that has answers to questions in their minds. The problem with a lot of students is that they do not have the appropriate research skills to present quality information while at the same time being original. Most students suppose that a fine way to do their work is to type their entire topic into the search box of Google or Ask… and then… copy it… and then paste it. Now, if they think they have not yet satisfied the number pages required they go on to more sources and apply the same method. But that’s wrong! Here are few tips to help you to present quality assignments without being told by your lecturer that you ‘lifted’ it from the Internet.
1. Understand the topic thoroughly The first thing to do when writing is to identify your subject matter. Purpose is what determines one’s level of success. Thus, without a definite theme in mind about which you are writing, it would be difficult to produce work which is relevant to your topic. So understand the topic by assessing it completely. An easy way to do that is to highlight the key terms in the topic and define them. Remember this: every field of study has a peculiar register. The register is the language of the field. If you’re doing a write-up on engineering, your diction would be words from the field of engineering. You therefore need to turn the topic around in your mind, find the meanings of the key words and then proceed to the next step.
2. Map out an outline Now, you know what you want to write about. The next thing is to create in your mind what you would like your work to look like. For instance, if you’re given a topic such as ‘Examine the four principal functions of management,’ such a topic would require a simple layout like this:
Introduction- what management is, the functions of management
Paragraph 1- Planning- what it is, types, examples
Paragraph 2- Organizing- what it is, more details
Paragraph 3- Controlling- what it is, more details
Paragraph 4- Directing- what it is, more details
Conclusion- Your opinion about the functions of management
Write your outline in your jotter or a place where you can easily retrieve it so that you can refer to it as you work. One of the reasons this is important is that it helps you to track your progress in the work you’re doing.
3. Locate relevant sources for your work After creating your outline, proceed to look for information for your work. Let’s still maintain the topic we used: Examine the principal functions of management. Definitely, such a topic would lead you straight to the business section of the library. I know, many students don’t like to use the library (it seems so outmoded and all) but you will find a lot of great stuff at the library. So, when you proceed to the business section, you can then look out for any book on management. You see, this is the trick: the key words you highlighted are the keys (pardon the pun) to find the information you need. (See How to find information from a textbook) You may find very quality information in one particular book and think that it says everything about the subject…but don’t limit your scope- broaden it. Explore further, but the caution there is that the source should be relevant- it must have a bearing with the theme you’re writing on. If you decide to go online, that’s where you have to be very careful. Learn to assess the information by taking into account the author of the article on the website as well as the circumstances leading to its posting- was it a news item or a product review? (See Using the Internet for your Research) I’ll share the next part with you in my next post!