Study skills tips & tricks: writing

Close up of a hands on a keyboard.

And we’ve come to the final blogpost with academic study tips from Suzette. Writing may seem big and scary, but it doesn’t have to be! It is a skill to be a disciplined writer, but if you use the following strategy you’ll be sure to find a great essay at the end of it.

General writing tips

  • Write something every day
  • Begin each day with editing what you wrote the previous day
  • My personal technique: write ca. 500 words every day. Edit words, add 500 more, edit, etc…
  • If you have a big project: break it down into steps. How much is your max. word count? How many days do you have left? Calculate how many words you’ll have to write to reach the deadline. Always leave a few days for editing/overspill/free days if everything turns out well.

Writing an essay

  • Start with an outline: what do you want to say, and where?
  • Introductions always contain a hypothesis and a short outline of the essay
  • Start each paragraph with your argument. Then substantiate that argument with things you have found in literature. One argument per paragraph! This will make your essay much clearer and to the point.
  • Try to prevent ‘dangling’ paragraphs (paragraphs with no argument). Every paragraph needs to lead to your conclusion. If you have a paragraph without a clear argument, try asking yourself: what am I trying to say here?
  • End your essay with a conclusion. This does not need to be long: what do you conclude from the information you’ve gathered? How does this relate to your hypothesis? Do not be afraid to disprove your hypothesis—research is not for proving yourself right, but to test a hypothesis and concluding whether it’s right or wrong (or something in between).
  • Always reference your literature!!! If you don’t, you are committing plagiarism (even if it was unintentional/you forgot to reference/did not realise you had to). Be safe and always add a reference!

Software recommendations: Microsoft Word/Pages, Scrivener

See also:

Suzette van Haaren

Suzette van Haaren

Information & Library Assistant
Suzette van Haaren

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