July 14, 2013

A3 – Academic Writing – Final

Follow-up to A3 – Academic Writing – Follow–up 2 from Sean's blog

A3 – Academic Writing – Final

Workshop Tutor: Dr Laura Davies

Date: 14th July 2013

For me the key change and ongoing challenge remains at being able to produce a structured plan. In referring to the checklist provided by the workshop and following the methodology provided, I feel that I am a much more confident writer. The terms in bold are of particular importance in the way I plan and execute my assignments now. Prior to the workshop I would have produced a plan, but only because I had been told that this was a good thing to do. The results were very sketchy and lacked the substance needed to provide me with a time saving framework to produce an organised and well articulated piece of writing.

My new approach to planning alongside my awareness of the audience I am writing for has translated into a style which is much more engaging; fluent; structured; purposeful and relevant as well as providing a higher level of critical analysis and comparative understanding. My essays no longer follow the crime novel outline that leaves the reader guessing until the end but provides an outline of the position I will take on the subject and the issues that are in question. This direction from the outset keeps me interested in the assignment, never mind the marker.

Despite the vast improvements I have made, academic writing definitely remains a work in progress. I still need a lot of practice on maintaining the focus of my assignments during paragraphs halfway through my essay. Not only this but I am a relatively slow reader which makes the research stage particularly time consuming so I am using Spreeder in order to address this problem. Finally, I cannot remember if it was mentioned during the workshop but I think that EndNote should be plugged into the starter packs for every course involving writing. Unfortunately, I have only discovered this software after finishing my degree at Warwick but it will hopefully be an invaluable tool when I begin my Masters in Law and Business by providing a translation tool for referencing to provide citations as well as automatically forming your bibliography alongside it. This saves many boring hours of referencing which is much welcomed.

While the workshop will directly impact on my future Masters assignments, it has a much more general impact beyond academics which I will carry through to my upcoming applications for training contracts and paralegal work as well as for my eventual legal career.

When writing, always keep in mind Plan and Purpose.

- 3 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hi Sean,

    Thank you for this final post. Your reflections here are useful because they are honest about your strengths and weaknesses and also attempt to identify the issues specifically rather than vaguely. This, in itself, should stand you in good stead as you move forward. I’m pleased that you’ve found Endnote and are working with the Spreeder resources – there is bound to be a good deal of reading and referencing on your Masters course.

    Improving one’s writing is a lifelong activity – so don’t worry that you still feel you have a way to go. There is no such thing as the perfect assignment, but by remaining engaged you’re also helping yourself to maintain flexibility and thus to be able to adapt your writing to new situations – such as the shift from Undergrad to Masters and then to the world of legal work. In order to keep yourself interested and to ensure you don’t get bored, it might be an idea to periodically try out some different formats for your plans – e.g you could try the MindManager software (or equivalent) or using different layouts.

    You’ve now completed the requirements for this workshop for the WSPA. Well done.

    All best

    21 Jul 2013, 16:29

  2. Sean McShane

    Hi Laura,

    Thank you for the lovely comments and I am even more grateful for the software plug. If there are any more popular techniques or applications to aid writing and research skills or a website that references them feel free to to mail over a list or hyperlink. It would be greatly appreciated since I have found that investing a little time now saves a lot of time in the long run (I am currently looking for some good software to help me expand my vocabulary, but the free ones I have found require the user to type in the words they wish to be tested on. This being the case, I find it much quicker to go through sections of the dictionary and write it out by hand).

    Thank you for all of your help and advice,

    Kind regards,

    Sean McShane

    22 Jul 2013, 10:49

  3. Hi Sean,

    I’m having a think about useful vocabulary sites. Nothing immediately springs to mind. But I’ll let you know.


    04 Aug 2013, 17:55

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