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November 13, 2012

Referencing Tips – by Ceren

Think of referencing like this. A reference is a sign, an acknowledgement of indebtedness. In the academic world it is considered good manners, a sort of scholarly politeness.

To reference is to say, ‘I acknowledge my debt to this writer (or writers) for helping me with my work.’ You do not write that, of course. That’s the message, though.

Providing a reference also allows your reader to go to the texts that you have referred to in writing your assignment. A bibliographic reference provides the details of the author(s), the title of the text and even when, where and by whom the text has been published.

Here are Top 10 essay referencing tips:

1. Familiarise yourself with the most popular referencing systems, notably Oxford (footnotes) and Harvard (parenthetical). Plenty of internet sources provide helpful assistance in gaining a thorough understanding of the notation of the major systems, and how and when to use them.

2. Determine whether you are expected to use a particular system. In higher education, most work will carry detailed specifications regarding format and referencing as well as content. In such cases be sure to adopt the required referencing system rather than simply making up your own mind.

3. Referencing is for more than just quotes. Direct quotation of another’s work requires a reference, but so too does paraphrasing of another’s ideas. A good rule of thumb is that whenever a part of your work is substantially dependent on other material for its content, reference must be made to that other work.

4. Be thorough. Referencing is essential for all higher level academic work because it allows an interested reader to trace the origin of ideas and relevant external material. Incomplete information is an obstacle to this kind of research, so a thorough and meticulous approach is absolutely essential.

5. Be consistent. Determine a system and stick to it to ensure full clarity. Inconsistent use of referencing is a distraction to the reader and indicates carelessness of thought, lack of attention, and disregard for scholarly conventions. A tidy page implies a tidy mind.

6. Beware multiple publication dates. Many books – especially the best ones – have enjoyed many reprints, so it is necessary to be sure that your references can be traced to the right pages in the right volumes. It is usually sufficient to cite the date of the publication you are using, but often it can be informative to give the original publication date also, particularly if considering the history of emerging ideas.

7. Is the text a translation? If so you should bear in mind the tip above, namely that the original language version was probably published at least a year earlier. Also avoid the trap of taking the translator as the name of a co-author, as this will rather diminish your scholarly credentials!

8. Authors and editors. Edited volumes make up a huge part of many areas of academic literature. Do not confuse author with editor, and always refer to the former rather than the latter.

9. Specificity. Different referencing systems and different usage of material will require various levels of specificity, i.e. author, year and page number, or just author and year. There can be an element of judgment here, but where possible follow the established rules of your adopted system.

10. The most useful tip of all: look at how published academics do it. Any decent journal article will have a long list of references likely to contain edited volumes, translated material, collaborations and reprints; simply copy the notation. Also look at the text itself to find a model for parenthetical referencing or footnotes.

If you want to use Reference Management Software, please check out this blog post by Salma Patel (PhD Researcher)


To learn more please check out this blog post and make comments or ask questions if you need any advice!

November 06, 2012

Avoiding Plagiarism Tips – by Ceren

Plagiarism is presenting the words or ideas of someone else as your own without proper acknowledgment of the source.

If you don't credit the author, you are committing a type of theft called plagiarism.

When you work on a research paper you will probably find supporting material for your paper from works by others. It's okay to use the ideas of other people, but you do need to correctly credit them.

When you quote people or even when you summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles, or Web pages, you must acknowledge the original author. It is plagiarism when you do any of the following:

1. Buy or use a term paper written by someone else

2. Cut and paste passages from the Web, a book, or an article and insert them into your paper without citing them. Warning! It is now easy to search and find passages that have been copied from the Web

3. Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them

4. Paraphrase that person's words without giving them credit

5 Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism:

  • First, use your own ideas. It should be your paper and your ideas that should be the focus

  • When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use

  • Use the ideas of others sparingly only to support or reinforce your own argument

  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words

  • A good strategy is to take e.g. 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. It will help you think through what you want to say and help prevent your being too dependent upon your sources


To learn more please check out this blog post and make comments or ask questions if you need any advice!

October 30, 2012

Speed Reading–Note Taking Strategies – by Ceren

If you are trying to increase your reading speed,it probably seems counterintuitive to include note-taking in the process.After all, if you are stopping to take notes or mark a spot in the text, you are also stopping the reading process, right? And the answer is “yes, you are” – but also “no, you are not.” It all depends on whether you define reading process as your moment-by-moment words per minute rate, or as the total time it takes you to get all of the information you need out of a particular text.

The goal of speed reading is to absorb, process, and retain the essential contents of an article, book, magazine, or other written material. If you read something very quickly but do not remember what you read, and later have to go back and re-read the material to look up a fact or figure, then the total time you spend reading the text is doubled.

On the other hand, if you pause briefly to make notes, you will do two things: first, you will help your brain retain those specific items by incorporating another activity (writing) and thus activating more parts of the brain; and second, you will have a quick reference for later use, and so will not have to page through the material looking for one small phrase.

You can make notes in the margins of the text, highlight or underline key phrases, or jot down what you need on a separate piece of paper (highly recommended if you are reading a book from the library!).

Here are some useful tips on taking notes you might find helpful:

  • Mark key words to get a quick visual overview of the entire page or chapter for later reference.
  • Highlight phrases that encapsulate the main ideas in the text.
  • Make a note of quotes that might be useful when citing the text in a presentation, and keep a list of facts, figures, and statistics that you can use later.
  • Write down in your own words the main points of a section; rewording something adds impact and makes the information easier to remember. Be sure to include the reason why you found what you marked important.
  • At the end of each major section or chapter, make your own short summaries to lock the information in your understanding and memory.
  • If you transfer all the notes you made to another page or two, it is the perfect review material, and there is no need to keep the original text. This will help you keep clutter off your desk, and you can organize the notes in a file folder in your desk drawer or on your computer.


To learn more please check out this blog post and make comments or ask questions if you need any advice!

October 29, 2012

Time Management Strategies – by Ceren

Time-management is a vital skill, one that will be necessary in your chosen career as well as in university. People have different time clocks and what works for one student might not work for you. The following are some time-management strategies that you may want to incorporate into your time-management routine. Test them out to see what works and what does not work for you. It might be a good idea to start by monitoring and reflecting on how you currently use your time.

First, Some Basic Strategies

Prioritise! You probably have a lot of things to do, so assess how important and how urgent the tasks are; then make sure high priority tasks get done first and are not put off on a regular basis. Avoid time wasters!

Be specific! Make the task as specific as possible - we tend to follow through then, especially if we write it down. For example, instead of telling yourself “I will do some statistics this week,” try “I will do 3 descriptive statistics problems Tuesday at 7pm”

Small bite-size pieces! It is easy to feel overwhelmed, so try breaking tasks down into smaller sub-tasks. Once you have started it is easier to keep going.

Use all available time! This is an especially good strategy if you are pressed for time. You do not necessarily need a block of time in order to study. There are lots of study tasks that can be accomplished in short periods, such as reviewing main points of a reading or a lecture.

Structure the environment! Find a place, preferably one you can use regularly and with limited distractions. Make sure you have all the essentials so you have no excuses.

Establish a routine! We are creatures of habit. If you always study at a certain time or day then it will be easier to get into concentration mode. Also, it is better to study briefly and regularly

Use time management and scheduling tools

Scheduling Tools and Tips

Create a master schedule that indicates on a term or year basis when holidays, exams, reports, essays etc. are due. Post it in a prominent spot!

Create a weekly schedule.

At a regular time, e.g. Sunday evening, plan your week taking into account your master schedule and your study goals for that week

Mark out commitments such as classes, labs, work, sport, meals, etc.

Make a list of your study tasks- be specific and prioritise.

Schedule into available time slots these study tasks.

Consider the purpose of the study task - if it is working on an essay, more time will be needed therefore schedule a block of time. If the purpose is for review, say to scan a text then make use of the odd half hours available.

Schedule tasks that may require maximum concentration during your “peak” or periods of maximum alertness – this varies from person to person.

Allot times for relaxation, exercise, etc. and be sure to include a “Cease study” time that allows time to unwind before sleep (and it gives you something to look forward to!).

Monitor and Evaluate: review what has been accomplished at the end of a day and decide if the schedule needs to be changed the next day.

Some students work better off a detailed daily To Do List. Again, at a regular time (for example last thing at night or first thing in the morning) plan your day taking into account your master schedule and the study goals for the week.

When you have finished a study task, cross it off your timetable or list.

Avoid too much detail- a schedule has to remain flexible or it becomes a dinosaur! Everyone has different needs; perhaps start with just organising study tasks for certain classes or only list your priorities.

Schedule in rewards, for example your favourite TV programme after doing a task you were dreading.

time management diagram

To learn more please check out this blog post and make comments or ask questions if you need any advice!

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