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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.

July 12, 2013

A3 – Academic Writing – Follow–up 2

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

A3 – Academic Writing – Follow-up 2

Workshop Tutor: Dr Laura Davies

Date: 6th July 2013

Since the workshop I have been very mindful of the audience who are marking my papers and assignments. With this in mind, I was sure to study materials written by my lecturers, seminar tutors and any external marker’s works. My examination technique has clearly improved since last year having gone from a mere pass to achieving an overall 2.1 degree classification. Previously, I would barely plan at all under examination conditions as I ignorantly felt that this would take up too much time. I felt much more comfortable with a structured approach to planning before writing which meant that one paragraph could flow into the next.

However, I still felt that my time allocation between questions was poorly set out which let me down overall. A part of this could be because I had a gap between my 2nd and final year alongside a lack of practice on examination technique and timed essay writing meant that I could not apply my knowledge and understanding of the course within the fixed timeframe. In future, I will tackle previous exam questions under timed conditions as oppose to just writing out answer notes so that I feel more prepared and comfortable when sitting the actual exam.

July 04, 2013

A3 – Academic Writing – Follow–up

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

A3 Academic Writing Follow up 1

Workshop Tutor: Dr Laura Davies

Date: May 10th 2013

On completing my Labour law assignment I managed to achieve a 2.1 with the same mark as previously at 65. However, due to a change in the finalist exam timetable making them earlier I had less time to concentrate on my assignment and had to move on to revision. The planning techniques from the workshop especially helped me apply a structured approach to writing so that I could finish my essay as early as possible. My essay had a much more focused introduction and conclusion by avoiding the ‘story-telling’ technique which begins with a ‘you’ll-have-to-read-on-to-find-out’ criminal thriller style of writing.

In taking a strong position and developing it from the outset, I felt much more engaged with the essay and it read more fluently. Analytical additions on quotations also forced me to strengthen my critical analysis skills while tackling the essay. However, while I was much more engaged during the opening and closing of my essay and it was well-structured, I think that some of the main body lacked the same flare and relevance. In part this has to do with my approach to drafting the main body which involves formulating random paragraphs within the essay and then reorganising them later. I am not sure if this is the best approach to drafting, but I do not want to forget a sentence or part of a paragraph once I think of it – perhaps I have much to learn about planning more effectively. This option will not be available to me during my exams, so I will have to work on my planning technique and essay structuring through practice papers in order to address any weaknesses.

March 31, 2013

WSPA Academic Writing – A3

Academic Writing - A3

Workshop Tutor: Dr Laura Davies

Workshop Date: 19th March 2013

With direct relevance to my current law course, this insightful workshop emphasised the importance of a structured approach toward writing even before the pen touches the paper. In particular, during the planning stage, one should not only be critical of the topic title given but also of the materials used for research. At every step one should bear in mind what the marker is looking for: This is an especially important perspective to have when editing one’s own work.

Three areas of my academic writing which can be improved and tested in my current assignments include:

1) For quotations and references I will add a further layer of critical analysis by taking replacing neutral terms such as ‘X stated/said’ with ‘X tentatively suggests, implies, responds to, asserts that etc.’

2) Having been criticised previously for a weak conclusion, I will take a much stronger position in my response to the essay question in my introduction which follows through into my conclusion. Employing quotations supporting my view in these sections where appropriate should reinforce this further.

3) Define open concepts in the assignment question in order to clarify my perspective to the marker as well as adding a better focus in my writing to the question at hand as oppose to spending a chunk of my precious word limit on challenging and over-analysing such concepts.

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