I have never considered academic writing as one of my strong points. Coming to university was a pretty daunting thought with all the assignments, essays, exams and all the extra bits that come with a nursing degree! I always get stressed when it comes to academic writing, because if you give me something practical I am able to memorise it and (in my opinion) become quite confident in showing other people.
Since starting my course, I have done two written essays, one maths exam and one written exam. I now have two 3,000 word essays to complete (ouch) before progressing to year two! Here I thought I would express some little hint and tips that I found useful when it comes to academic writing.
So my first assignment, as soon as we got given it I tried to start it pretty much straight away. This was because my organisational skills weren’t as great as they are now. I made sure I did plenty of research for the topic (mine was about assisted feeding!) and i made sure I wrote down every reference of interest so I could access it again later on. I recommend getting yourself a nice notebook to use as a research book. In this book I am able to hand write some of my starting sentences, bullet point things, highlight points that have been mentioned in lectures etc. Some people prefer to do their research on the computer, but I find for myself that I am able to retain the information better if I physically hand write it.
Another little tip, research what academic writing is! I went through a lot of previous assignment work writing in the same style that I speak, and I could never quite understand why my marks weren’t reflecting what I have written! I can sometimes find it difficult to write what’s in my mind down in academic work. To help width this, I write down what I want to say then tweak it so that it becomes more academic than my spoken language! I also recommend getting yourself an essay writing guide book. I’ve got two from amazing which didn’t cost me much. The ones I have are ‘Write Great Essays’ by Peter Levin and ‘Study Skills Writing for Nursing and Midwifery Students’ by Julio Gimenez. These two books have helped me wonders! I got them both second hand from Amazon and they are both in great condition.
To help me write my introduction, I try to incorporate the assignment title into it because that should be what you are planning on writing about! Since using this method in my introductions I have found them less daunting. I understand that it can be difficult to discuss what you are going to write about, before you have written it! The same goes for my conclusion. Do not add any new points of references in your conclusion as it becomes very difficult to bring your essay to an end!
My one main tip is PRINT OUT THE REFERENCING GUIDE! At DMU we use Harvard referencing. I printed off my guide at the beginning of the year and it is a life saver when it comes to writing assignments. The library also offers referencing sessions so that you can brush up on your skills. Find out if your university offer similar guidance and make the most of it!
Don’t stress too much, the more you read, the more you write, the more you prepare, the better you will become!