In academic writing, there are specific requirements for form and content, language, do my paper and style. On these pages, you get general advice on writing assignments for lower and higher degrees. We give you an introduction to how larger tasks can be structured and advice on argumentation and discussion. You get tips on how to get started with the writing and input to the writing process right up to the finished product.
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Remember that different subjects make different demands. The advice you get here is general, and must always be checked against the special requirements in the subject.
To write good, academic texts, you must both practice and try your hand at it. See Professor Lars Nyre at the Department of Information and Media Studies at UiB talk about an assignment he wrote, which was not as well-received as he had hoped:
Get started writing
Working with a larger text means being in a creative process. Such processes have different phases where flow and the joy of writing alternate with slower parts and pure writing work. Doubt and uncertainty often reflect that the task has not yet found its form. At the same time, it is easy to get inspired, and the most unexpected things can become important to you. Enjoy it - and know that it will go a little up and down in a creative process!
Perhaps you will also experience a restlessness - a discomfort that is difficult to put into words - at the text itself. This may be a sign that you need to rethink and perhaps restructure the task. As soon as you tackle the problem, you will find that it loosens up, and the ideas begin to fall into place. The structure "sits" when it is no longer possible to move around the various parts.
When can I start writing?
Inexperienced writers like to think that they can not start writing until they have acquired complete clarity and overview. They may have a notion that good texts arise by placing perfect sentences one after the other. Such an approach means that it takes far too long to get started. In reality, most people have to rewrite their text - up to several times. To write well is often to rewrite.
As a student, you are often driven by a "why question". This is also the starting point for many researchers. The researcher doubts a theory or observes something that cannot be explained without further ado. She explores phenomena, talks to others in the environment, writes down her ideas, envisions possibilities, and makes notes and thought texts. Do as the researcher: Use the feeling of curiosity and insecurity creatively. As you get clearer thoughts about the task, the uncertainty decreases.
Think and write
It is more important to get started with writing than to have full control of the product. There are various writing techniques you can use to develop your first ideas on a topic. Try, for example, brainstorming, mind maps, thinking tests, and quick writing as described below. When you start writing, you will probably find that the project becomes much clearer to you.
Feel free to start writing about what you think is fun. Feel free to write just a little at a time. If you take breaks BEFORE you have written yourself empty, it is easier to pick up the thread again. Feel free to present your text to others, for example in writing groups, and ask for feedback even if you are not completely satisfied yet. Good writers spend time revising and often have to restructure their texts several times.
There are (at least) two strategies for producing text:
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Text before structure
- Write down everything you know and wonder about the subject
- Read through what you have written, and arrange the text in paragraphs using keywords / headings
- Based on this, you structure the text
Structure before text
- Here you outline before you start writing
- Then you fill in the text in the outline, point by point
- The outline is adjusted along the way
The writing process can take various forms. It is important to find out how you work best. Do you usually go and "incubate" for a long time, and then produce a more or less finished text? Or do you need to write to get started, even if you do not know where it leads, and then spend the time structuring, rewriting, and expanding your draft? Feel free to try different methods, and you will be confident in your way of working!
Below are some different techniques that can be used to approach a problem and outline the task.
Brainstorming is a good tool to get an overview of what you know about a topic and what you need to find out more about. It can also be used to delimit a topic and make a draft available. Write down all the associations you have to the topic without censoring yourself. During the brainstorming, there will be keywords and sentences that you can work on further.
- write words and sentences
- draw figures
- write down interesting book titles, reports, and different types of data
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Ideas can come up at any time - always have pen and paper available!
Brainstorming is a private text, which should give the desire to write.
If you need a pen and paper, write a paper for me you may have a mobile phone on hand. Write the idea you received as a text message or note, or read it on the voice recording.
- Write your main idea in the middle of the sheet
- Draw lines or branches from the main idea and write keywords on each line
- Add smaller lines and branches with details
- Write down the ideas as they come to you - be spontaneous!
- Look for connections and connections that can be marked on the map
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