The path into a GLAMR profession isn’t always straightforward and it can be daunting to return to study after a few years spent working in another industry, raising a family or experiencing all life has to offer. Here are a few simple tips around academic writing to prepare for next semester.
- Clarity over complexity: Always convey your ideas in a clear, concise way to your reader. It can be tempting in academia to write overly sophisticated sentences and get lost in theories. Ultimately, it won’t do you any favours if your writing irritates or confuses assessors. It’s your job to make their life as easy as possible by guiding your reader through your ideas and not making them work too hard to understand what you are talking about.
- Explain terms: Following on from the previous tip, it’s always best to avoid academic jargon wherever possible. If you do have to introduce a new term explain it. For example, don’t assume your reader knows what information literacy means, provide a definition. One of the conventions of academic writing is that it should be understandable to everyone not just experts in the field. This also goes for acronyms. Always write acronyms like ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) or IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) out in full the first time you list them.
- Read the rubric: The devil is always in the detail when it comes to assignments and assessors rely on rubrics to evaluate students’ work. Always adhere to any guidelines provided. The most exciting, original essay won’t do very well if you haven’t followed instructions. Remember that often you are being assessed on your ability to excel at a certain type of writing. A personal anecdote might be appropriate for a reflective journal but it has no place in a literature review of existing academic research.
- Plan and revise: Regardless of how confident you feel writing about a certain topic its always best to write out a quick plan for the assignment to ensure your writing flows logically. Even though you might feel like you are back in high school it will improve your writing dramatically. Always reread what you have written as well. What might have seemed like a perfectly crafted phrase when you wrote it can, on second inspection, turn out to be a nightmare sentence filled with grammatical or spelling mistakes. It’s always best to review an assignment a few hours or a day after you have finished writing so you can approach editing it with a level head.
- Have an opinion: Assessors like to know what interests you and why you are writing about a certain topic. While its crucial to adhere to the conventions of academic writing –see tip 3 – you should convey excitement and enthusiasm in your writing by choosing a topic that you will enjoy studying. It’s not always possible to choose what to write about but when you do have the opportunity make sure to take it. .