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Essential Student Academic Writing Skills

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1 Essential Student Academic Writing Skills
Undergrad.Stage 1 BSc.Programmes 20th Oct. 2011, 3pm. BOO5 Dr. Felicity Johnson (in partnership with Dr. Barbara Coughlan - Coordinator Psychology & IP Skills Module) copyright FJ 2011

2 Why academic writing skills?
Today’s environment of rapidly-changing health care & information technology - nurses need information literacy skills to use & communicate information effectively. As a professional-crucial to write well Writing clearly & persuasively a valuable skill-can be developed - does not require unique talent/outstanding ability. - everyone has basic skills necessary to write well Writing skills = powerful tool in the academic world Academic literacy = knowing how to find, evaluate & process information. For a nursing student = being able to locate clinical texts, examine their relevancy & use this information appropriately in context of evidence-based practice (EBP) copyright FJ 2011

3 A pyramid of skills - academic writing
Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) copyright FJ 2011

4 The writing process Academic writing is formal & with rules to follow.
Who? Who for? What? What for? When? needs to be submitted? Why? For what reason? Where? Where submitted? 5 steps in writing process: Prewriting Drafting Revising Editing Presenting Academic writing is formal & with rules to follow. Writing a paper not only a matter of gathering & presenting Information – also an exercise in comprehension and critical analysis. copyright FJ 2011

5 3rd level writing Descriptive: Portrayal of main features.
Analytical:Stating a point, providing evidence, contrasting with other evidence, drawing logical conclusions. Anecdotal: Personal experience of self/others. Empirical/evidence-based: Scientifically verified & published. Not complex English & long words! Clear, simple writing best! Student’s ‘voice’ heard throughout. Not a narrative - an argument. Must be logical & clear. Formal, logical, cautious & unemotional language. No slang, jargon, personal anecdotes, exclamation marks & contractions (e.g. can not rather than can’t). copyright FJ 2011

6 3rd level writing Clear English, correct spelling, grammar & punctuation. Not colloquial (conversational): e.g. ‘When the obs were done, we did lots of walking with him & he was thrilled’. Language must be professional: e.g. ‘After performing routine observations for blood pressure and pulse, (to check the patient was not tachycardic/ hypotensive), we helped the patient to mobilise. He walked a significant distance and was pleased with his achievement’. Use literature to support ideas. Focus on few key issues - explored in-depth within word limit. Once literature presented, student puts in own interpretation. If omitting words from quotation, use three spaced dots... If pointing out error in quotation, follow error with (sic). Watch apostrophes!-e.g. the nurse’s role, nurses’ responsibilities Similar sounding but different meaning-e.g. discreet/discrete; there/ their. copyright FJ 2011

7 Critiquing/being critical
As an academic writer, you are expected to be critical of the sources/references that you use . This means questioning what you read & not necessarily agreeing with it, just because it has been published. Requires you to identify problems with a writer's arguments /methods or perhaps to refer to other people's criticisms. Constructive criticism suggests ways in which a piece of research/writing could be improved. Important to integrate relevant information within essay; you need to weave it into your answer and provide evidence to support your argument. copyright FJ 2011

8 ‘Rules’ of academic writing
Avoid 1st person (I, me, my & mine): 3rd person better (check with module leader) – this writer believes that… ‘this student’s experience has been’… the research suggests… ‘Times New Roman’ script Size 12 font. Double-spaced between lines One side of page only & number pages; wide margins top, bottom, right & left Word Count: all words from beginning of introduction to end of conclusion. Title Page, References List & Appendices not included in word count. Penalties for under/exceeding word limit. copyright FJ 2011

9 I have a spelling checker,
Use dictionary/thesaurus/computer ‘grammar & spell check’ (note: American spelling) Be cautious with your ‘spellchecker’! I have a spelling checker, it came with my PC, it plainly marks four my revue, mistakes I cannot sea, I've run this poem threw it, I'm sure your pleased to no, its letter perfect in it's weigh, my checker tolled me so! copyright FJ 2011

10 Assignment Submission
Assignments must be submitted by stated date, unless agreed otherwise with Module Co-ordinator. A late submission form must be completed by student. Sliding scale of penalties for late submission may be applied. If a student is ill, a medical certificate must be provided. Work submitted late without a negotiated reason may not receive a grade higher than D- & may not be processed for next Examination Board. Proof reading is essential before submitting your assignment. A fresh eye is good – friend/relative. Give yourself enough time - Start early! If you are aware of difficulties in academic writing because of dyslexia/other slight problem, please approach our student support services -on website copyright FJ 2011

11 Brevity is the soul of wit (and academic writing!)
Verbose In spite of the fact that... In the event that... With the possible exception of... Due to the fact that... For the purpose of... At the present moment... Are of the same opinion... Less frequently occurring... Concise Although If Except Because For Now Agree Rare copyright FJ 2011

12 The Literature Identify appropriate literature.: Demonstrates wide reading & variety of references to support points you are making. Every assignment must be supported by relevant literature (i.e.be evidence-based). Preferably within past decade (10 yrs.) unless a seminal work 100s of nursing journals available & on-line . CINAHL is the main ‘nursing’ database. Also Medline, OVID etc. Other sources of literature: Abstracts; books; case reports; theses. A peer-reviewed journal article=undergoes peer review/ referee process when experts examine it for quality. Peer reviewed = academic rigour. Examples of scholarly/peer reviewed journals: Journal of Advanced Nursing :Journal of Nursing Scholarship . Examples of non-peer reviewed sources: Nursing Times :Nursing Standard: World of Irish Nursing Many websites copyright FJ 2011

13 Harvard system of referencing only
In the text (essay itself): Name & date in the text (Jones, 2009) & then listed in the References List at the back of the assignment. Two writers – Holloway & Jones, (2005) believe that… Three or more writers - give the surname of the first author followed by et al. e.g. Campbell et al. (2001) stated that... The Leas Cross Report (DoHC,2009) found that the quality of patient care deteriorated as the level of staffing numbers fell. Moreover, this Report also found that serious disquiet had been expressed by various agencies in the preceding four years. copyright FJ 2011

14 Referencing Why do I need to use evidence/references?
Academic Reasons: To show wide variety & relevance of sources used & that you considered topic comprehensively. To support ideas and arguments.   To avoid plagiarising Practical Reasons: To help reader to trace sources you have used. To help you retrace sources you used in the past. The ways in which you use sources will help to support your essay statement, argument & flow of essay. copyright FJ 2011

15 Evidence/referencing
You need to use evidence whenever: - you refer to a theory; - you make a claim; - you mention a particular study or researcher; - you quote or paraphrase. Examples: Any time a theory is mentioned; ... several studies have suggested that the model of the staff relationship to the client is one of ‘befriending’ (Benner, 1984; Bone, 2002).   Anytime a claim is being made;  ... the erosion of interpersonal barriers entails a closer and more reciprocal relationship (Aldridge, 1994). Any time a study or researcher is mentioned; Benner (1984) suggests that Nurses should fully understand the emotional relationships they maintain with clients. copyright FJ 2011

16 The References List Only exception is ‘common knowledge’
if you mention it in the text – you must reference it! At the end/last page of your essay/assignment. References are in alphabetical order. Must include the books, journals, chapters and websites that you refer to in your writing. Only exception is ‘common knowledge’   Common knowledge is information that majority of people already know – e.g. the world is round. copyright FJ 2011

17 Quotations Froman, (2008) believes that nursing is a theory- driven, scientifically based profession (paraphrasing/your own words) Page number & double quotation marks when directly quoting -e.g. Wynd, (2003:251) stated that “today’s profession of nursing is evolving as a valuable public service” (verbatim/word-for-word). Quotations of 2/more lines must be indented & single-spaced: The more skilled the nurse becomes in perceiving and empathising with the lives of others, the more knowledge or understanding will be gained of alternative modes of perceived reality. (Carper, 1992: 219). Direct quotes should be used sparingly, as they involve little mental processing; e.g. According to Johnson, (1990) nursing is:an external regulatory force that acts to preserve the organisation and integration of the patient’s behaviour at the highest possible level...(Johnson 1990:29) Better approach (paraphrasing) involves more interpretation e.g. Johnson (1990) suggests that… copyright FJ 2011

18 Primary & Secondary Sources
Where possible, use original/primary sources – e.g. Benner (1984)... When this is not possible & you are using a secondary source, you should use the term ‘cited by’ in text, followed by reference e.g. Colaizzi, (1978), cited by Valle & King, (2002), believed that the phenomenological approach was particularly suited to nursing research because of its focus on the individual and his/her beliefs and perceptions. copyright FJ 2011

19 Referencing in text Nurse education in Ireland has undergone great change in a Relatively short period of time. It moved from a three-year hospital-based apprenticeship model of training in 1995, to a three year hospital based Diploma in 1998 and subsequently, to a four year full time university degree in 2002 (Cleary-Holdforth 2007). The Irish Nursing Board (An Bord Altranais), requires nurse education programmes to yield graduates who “demonstrate the development of skills of analysis, critical thinking, problem solving and reflective practice”(An Bord Altranais p. 9). copyright FJ 2011

20 literature & referencing
Provide referenced examples from the literature first before making your own comments/reflections. e.g.– poor: ‘Communication in nursing is the most important thing of all. When this student approaches the patients on the ward, she makes sure that she establishes eye contact first and holds their hand to show that she cares about them. Non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication’. Better: Many authors such as Kemp & Smith (2004), agree that communication is the most important therapeutic skill in nursing. Moreover, Brown (2005) emphasizes that nurses must appreciate that non-verbal Communication is an essential pre-requisite to establishing a trusting nurse-patient relationship before verbal communication commences. In this student’s own experience on her recent clinical placement, she found that patients responded positively to her if she established eye contact first and also reached out to touch their arm or hold their hand’. copyright FJ 2011

21 Referencing a journal article in References List
Alphabetical order – by author’s surname: Author(s) surname, followed by initials. Year of publication, in brackets. Title of the article. Title of the journal, in capitals and in italics. Volume & edition series number. Number of the first and last pages of the article. Ensign J. (2006) Perspectives and experiences of homeless young people. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 54,(6), Ryan D. & Maguire J. (2006) Aggression and violence – a problem in Irish Accident and Emergency Departments? Journal of Nursing Management, 14,(2), Thompson C., Spilsbury K., Dowding D., Pattenden J. & Brownlow R. (2008) Do heart failure specialist nurses think differently when faced with ‘hard’ or ‘easy’ decisions?: a judgement analysis. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17,2174–2184 copyright FJ 2011

22 Referencing a book in the References List
Author(s)’ surname, followed by initials. Year of publication in brackets. Full title of the book, capitalised, in italics. Edition of work, if more than one edition. Town/city of publication. Name of publisher. Burns, T. and Sinfield, S. (2008) Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University. London: Sage. copyright FJ 2011

23 ‘Literary theft’ & totally unacceptable; the use of
Plagiarism ‘Literary theft’ & totally unacceptable; the use of ideas, quotations, pieces of text, pictures, tables, graphs/other work without referring to original writer. Contravenes UCD’s examination regulations & regarded as very serious offence, with severe consequences Copyright… Academic Integrity & intellectual property - respect for intellectual community in which you are participating as a student & the standards governing it; means that you are accountable for the honesty of the work that you submit Whether intentional or not, failing to give credit referencing) for words, ideas or concepts that you get from any source is plagiarism. copyright FJ 2011

24 Plagiarism As a student, it is your responsibility to know &
understand UCD’s policies on academic fraud. Every piece of course work submitted requires a signed form to confirm that the work is your own. Course work goes through a plagiarism detection software programme –SafeAssign The rules apply whether the offence is intentional/not. Plagiarism comes in many forms: Using an author’s words/ideas without proper reference Failing to put quotation marks around words taken from a source. Falsifying/inventing information or data ‘Cutting and pasting’ from the internet. copyright FJ 2011

25 Use quotation marks ”….”, surname, date & page numbers on exact words.
To avoid plagiarism… Cite your sources in text & in References List. Use quotation marks ”….”, surname, date & page numbers on exact words. Use citations for ALL information in your work. Do not turn in another’s work as your own or copy from another person’s work.

26 Assignment/essay-what is expected of me?
Answer the question Show understanding Develop the argument Provide relevant information (evidence) & cite/reference them correctly. Show structure & organisation Evaluate and give own views Show wide reading Correct spelling & grammar in approved presentation style (©Write Now CETL 2011) copyright FJ 2011

27 Mind mapping When discussing a concept, e.g. ‘globalisation’ - the
five fingered approach: What is globalisation? Where did it originate? When was the word first coined? Why was the word coined? Who coined the first word? copyright FJ 2011

28 copyright FJ 2011

29 Words used in assignments
Outline = brief description. Usually there are follow up parts to this question. Identify = Establish clearly nature of; list, with examples. Explain = Make plain, interpret, account for, give reasons for. Discuss = examine by argument; give reasons for & against. Analyse = distinguish/examine closely the elements of this issue. Criticise = give judgement about merit of theories/opinions & back up judgement by discussion of evidence/reasoning involved. Critically evaluate = thoughtful, thorough,balanced appraisal, assessing both strengths & limitations. Assess = estimate value & importance of issue. Define = set down precise meaning of this issue. Examine = unravel events that led to a particular set of circumstances or validity of the reasoning that underlies a particular point of view. Stress relative importance of different arguments & relevance to issue. Distinguish = need to show you understand differences between two concepts. Similarities & differences need to be discussed. copyright FJ 2011

30 Suggested approach copyright FJ 2011

31 Must have a title page & be stapled.
Assignments An Assignment Form must be completed & signed (from School Office, 1st Floor). Students must keep a copy of all their work. Must have a title page & be stapled. Top right corner: Student’ name, Course title. Top left corner: Name of Module Leader Centre: Title of assignment, date due, date submitted. Bottom left-hand corner: Word limit for assignment, Actual word count copyright FJ 2011

32 Assignment Title: BSc. Stage I (General) Date for submission:
Module Leader: Ms. F. Johnson Student: Molly Lynch Module: Nursing Student no BSc. Stage I (General) Assignment Title: Date for submission: Date submitted: Word limit: 1,000 Actual word count: 1,004 copyright FJ 2011

33 Essay Divide task into sub-tasks- e.g. library search.
Identify exactly what its about-check with module coordinator if in doubt. Divide task into sub-tasks- e.g. library search. Brainstorm ideas & make initial plan for essay. Search for & select appropriate information; read & make notes. Write first draft, include introduction, middle & conclusion. Sentences short, one idea per sentence: One main theme per paragraph. Section headings/subheadings are a good idea. Read & reread essay; alter parts you are not happy with; check spelling & grammar; check References List. Have Referencing Guidelines on hand for reference Write final version, proof read. Submit on time. copyright FJ 2011

34 Structure of an essay Introduction Main text/body. Conclusion
References Bibliography (optional) - list of books,journals & websites read as background information, not actually mentioned in text. Appendix/Appendices (optional) Title page Introduction Main body Conclusion References Bibliography Appendix copyright FJ 2011

35 Good introduction Introduction immediately gives reader impression of academic ability. A good introduction will do 3 things: Introduce topic of essay; Present thesis/essay statement; Provide signposts for reader. So, an introduction should give a brief overview of topic& say what your argument is and how you are going to argue it. Your aim is stated in first sentence & clearly identify what you are trying to achieve in your essay: e.g.’ …the overall aim of this essay is to discuss the implications of using Orem’s Model (Orem 1993) to deliver nursing care to a patient who was admitted following a stroke. Then need to clearly state how you intend to achieve this aim: e.g. ’This will be achieved by using Orem’s Model as a framework to identify the biopsychosocial needs of an eighty year old patient recovering from a left- sided hemiplegia’. You then identify the key issues that you intend to address within your essay: e.g. ’The key issues that will be explored are… copyright FJ 2011

36 Good main body Present your argument, references etc. Identify the key issues that you will be discussing in essay. Provide definitions for key terms that you introduce, (e.g. the nursing process, accountability etc.) Focus immediately on exact requirements of essay. No waffle! Divide into paragraphs, looking at specific aspects of problem (issue). Reader should be able to understand relevance of each paragraph & how they relate to each other. - Avoid paragraphs that are too short/long – min. of 4 sentences per paragraph. Key knowledge, understanding & insight that are essential in ensuring safe & best practice. Nursing assignments focused on these key issues because ultimately, patients’ lives may be at risk if you lack this fundamental knowledge. copyright FJ 2011

37 Main body-content Must follow assessment guidelines - certain key characteristics, e.g. if the essay requires you to write on professional, legal & ethical issues and you choose only to concentrate on professional & ethical, then you miss key content and & waste marks. An essential requirement is to apply theory to practice = application/integration. - Need to demonstrate that not only do you understand the theory, but you also understand the implications/difficulties of implementing this in practice (e.g. knowing about the dangers of smoking is different to actually empowering a patient to give up smoking for the good of his/her health). copyright FJ 2011

38 Good conclusion No bombshells/unexpected material! Conclusions are important as they are the last impression you leave your reader with. A good conclusion will recall the thesis statement & issues mentioned in introduction; draw together the main points of the essay; make any final comments. A summary of your main results & what you believe are the most important points. Explain the significance of your conclusions & provide suggestions for future research. Leave the reader with a sense that the purpose as set out in the introduction, has been achieved. e.g. ‘In conclusion, this essay examined the needs of a patient with congestive cardiac failure and discussed the Activities of Daily Living Model. The patient had many needs and the model identified and addressed these needs. This essay highlighted the importance of using an appropriate nursing model to ensure that the holistic needs of patients are addressed, resulting in optimum nursing care and a good experience for both the patient and the nurse. copyright FJ 2011

39 Assessment Criteria Analysis: Engagement with question. Focus on relevant points. Identification of strengths & weaknesses, different viewpoints & research findings. Threads drawn together in conclusion. Content: Enough facts to support analysis. Use of relevant material. Awareness of different schools-of-thought. Use of relevant & up-to-date literature. Avoidance of broad, sweeping statements. Structure. Introduction which shows why topic is important & the key points to be discussed. Sections introduced. Logical sequencing of points. Relevant links made between points. Use of signposts. Drawing threads together in conclusion. Referencing: Use of suitable evidence to substantiate ideas & cited clearly. Clear indication of sources. Comprehensive reference list. Literary Style: Objective & accurate writing style. Written in own words (except when directly quoting). Grammatical sentences, consistency of tenses, correct spelling, punctuation, use of paragraphs etc. Avoidance of clichés, abbreviations, slang & jargon. copyright FJ 2011

40 Grade Stage 1 and Stage 2 Knowledge Understanding & Application Stage 3 and Stage 4 Analysis Synthesis & Evaluation A+ A A- 76.67 – 100 73.33 – 76.66 70.00 – 73.32 Excellent A comprehensive, highly-structured, focused and concise response to the assessment task. A deep & systematic engagement with assessment task, with a consistently impressive demonstration of a comprehensive mastery of subject matter. B+ B B- 66.67 – 69.99 63.33 – 66.66 60.00 – 63.32 Very Good A thorough and well-organised response to assessment task. A substantial engagement with assessment task. C+ C C- 56.67 – 59.99 53.33 – 56.66 50.00 – 53.32 Good An adequate and competent response to the assessment task. An intellectually competent & factually-sound answer. D+ D 46.67 – 49.99 43.33 – 46.66 Satisfactory An acceptable response to the assessment task. Acceptable level of intellectual engagement with assessment task D- 40.00 – 43.32 Acceptable The minimum acceptable standard of response to the assessment task. Minimum acceptable level of intellectual engagement with assessment task. E+ E E- 36.67 – 39.99 33.33 – 36.66 30.00 – 33.32 Marginal A response to the assessment task which fails to meet the minimum acceptable standards. A factually sound answer with a partially successful attempt. F+ F F- 26.67 – 29.99 23.33 – 26.66 20.00 – 23.32 Unacceptable A response to the assessment task that is unacceptable. An unacceptable level of intellectual engagement with assessment task. G+ G G- 16.67 – 19.99 13.33 – 16.66 00.02 – 13.32 Wholly unacceptable No intellectual engagement with assessment task. NG 00.00 – 00.01 No Grade No work submitted by student, or student absent from assessment/work submitted did not merit a grade. copyright FJ 2011

41 If you run into trouble… helping hand Your Module Coordinator
Time management... If you run into trouble… helping hand Your Module Coordinator Your Personal Tutor Finally...don’t leave it to last minute – technology will often leave you down! copyright FJ 2011

42 References List An Bord Altranais (2005) Requirements and Standards for Nurse Registration Education Programmes, 3rd edn, Dublin: An Bord Altranais. Campbell, T., Draper, S., Reid J. & Robinson L. (2001) The management of constipation in people with advanced cancer. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 79, (3), Benner, P. (1984). From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. California: Addison-Wesley. Cleary-Holdforth, J. (2007) Student non-attendance in higher education A phenomenon of student apathy or poor pedagogy?. LEVEL 3 - A DIT Online Publication holdforth/cleary_holdforth.pdf, 5 Department of Health and Children (DoHC) (2009) The Commission of Investigation (Leas Cross Nursing Home) Final Report. Dublin: Government Publications. Holloway S. & Jones V. (2005) The importance of skin care and assessment. British Journal of Nursing, 14, (22), National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) (2006) About Clinical Guidelines. Available at: 18th Nov. 2009). Valle, R. and King, M.(eds). (2002) Existential Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press World Health Organization (WHO) (2008) The World Health Report 2008-Primary Health Care (now more than ever). Geneva: WHO Publications. copyright FJ 2011


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