Why double checking technology is the way forward

November 19th, 2007
By Jon H
Why double checking technology is the way forward

Some regular readers may have noticed that the R2G Sunday Review and the Monday Roundup have just appeared in your RSS feed – are you a bit confused? Was your reader not working properly? Did you have Internet connection?

Well, not one of the above reasons caused the issue, I the author, did. I went away for a few days and popped the posts up there on wordpress, using BlogJet. I failed to double check that the posts were published/due to publish and happily went on my way – a mistake I’ll never do again.

Not double checking that the posts are definitely due to be published was a truly amateur mistake and I accept that I should have double and triple checked the process between BlogJet (the writing software that I use to write my posts and upload to wordpress) and wordpress (the software loaded onto my server which publishes the posts and formats the information so it’s readable). I thought BlogJet would do one thing, but it didn’t and I failed to check everything was OK in the R2G wordpress control panel, duh!

I’m researching and writing this week’s posts as you are reading this, and I’ll make sure we don’t have any more hiccups in the future.


We can but learn from our mistakes!

R2G Monday Roundup – 12th November – 18th November

November 19th, 2007
By Jon H
R2G Monday Roundup – 12th November – 18th November

Once again I’ve been hot on the back of everyone’s tails trying to find some really good reads from the Internet. Looking to develop my web 2.0 strategies for this site, I’ve been looking through loads of articles and links.

Here’s to seven of the best…………

  1. 10 Chemical free strategies to trick yourself out of the blues
  2. The ririan project certainly impressed me with this blog post. Most of us about this time of the year do get a little ‘confused’ about the direction. This article really does help to identify what you can do if you are down and how to get on top again.

  3. Improving your writing with some editing tips
  4. Lifehack.org doesn’t fail to impress. I was going to publish a post about this during the week, but felt lifehack presented the information more clearly for you.

  5. Top 5 Pre-Departure Tips
  6. Study in the UK Blog brings us 5 tips to do before you depart for study in another country; this set of tips is part of a series that Stephen at the Study UK Blog will be producing over the coming weeks. A good, quick read.

  7. Universities Fear funding shortfall
  8. This article identifies that there are problems in funding within the Scottish Educational system. I was wondering the other day how the mortgage problems and Northern Rock having a few issues, whether students should be more aware of their finances!

  9. Will the real Bucks University please stand up?
  10. A post about competing universities in Buckinghamshire, where a Vice Chancellor is challenging the renaming of a college to become a university with a similar name to his. Quite amusing to see really, if you can’t ‘brand’ yourself as a university that has high calibre students and teaching would you need to fight your corner like this? I think not.

  11. Young Doctors in Debt
  12. If you’re looking at completing your final year then researching and thinking about your finances for when you graduate is a must. Hopefully this story will enlighten you to the outcomes that may occur.

  13. Mistakes in Study – Why ‘Best Intensions’ aren’t always enough
  14. Martin produces a quality post looking at good intensions and procrastination. Whilst at university I procrastinated a lot and have found some common ground with his writing – sometimes I used to misunderstand the important things (didn’t keep things in perspective) – I liked to party too much!

R2G Sunday Review – Academic Tips.org

November 18th, 2007
By Jon H
R2G Sunday Review – Academic Tips.org

This weeks R2G Sunday review is that of academictips.org, which is an American based site providing information and tips for students in Academia. Topics covered are note taking in lecturers, how to manage your time and improve your memory, to name just a few.

When you first come to the site, navigation seems pretty simple, as there’s a number of links to other pages that cover more specific topics. However, I don’t like the animation of the student and plant on the left as it seems too ‘false’. Also, I’m not sure if the site is sponsored by the Website host button at the bottom, or whether it’s an affiliate link to earn the site some money – a bit confusing for my intriguing mind to say the least.

I like the way the site has so many different areas of tips and advice from other students, such as:

As most of the content is added by users (presumably anyway) this brings a little difference to the drone of one writer or commenter. Different views and opinions are expressed through these different ‘voices’ and this allows you to pick up certain techniques from different students – we all think, act, research and learn in different ways, hence having multiple students post their tips is a good way to diversify learning tips and techniques. If the site had tips from professors/lecturers on the above subjects, then this would make the site more reliable and trustworthy – they do state that they accept and publish lecturer’s tips, but they don’t make it clear which ones are which and if they have any tips from experienced academics.

Duplicate content

The site also reproduces content in the form of 7 tips to writing a superior research paper, but it isn’t clear whether this content has been taken directly from Petersons.com, or whether petersons have given permission, or written the article and submitted it to academictips.org. This could bring to mind other information that could be on the Internet that is contained on the academictips.org website, but without further research one wouldn’t know the answer for definite.


Navigating through the site is pretty easy and as previously mentioned the links on the home page, as well as the links in various sections, really do pinpoint articles, tips and resources. Much easier is the ‘top viewed tips’ on the homepage, which makes it really easy to navigate to the page or pages that you want in that particular category.


The site has some good content, although it could do with a little more – I’d never heard about the site until I clicked a link to it a couple of months ago and looking through the information I thought it was a decent resource.

Looking at the site’s backlinks in Google, a number of .edu links do directly link to the site, identifying that this site could be termed as a trustworthy resource. However, having some duplicate content issues I feel devalues the site in many ways.

Not wanting to ‘nit pick’ and knowing that the site owner wants to earn some revenue from the supply of free tips, it feels as if the Adsense ads become annoying after a while and frustrating. The only positive note on this is that the ads are at the top of the page and not contained in the content of the article/tips information, which I find even worse and contained in many other resource sites for students.

Academictips.org does provide many tips for students in academia. Some people may see a few of the tips as being a little below their mature reading age and consider them for younger readers, but, whatever stage you are at in your academic career most of these tips will be useful to you.  The site reminds me of other resources that I read and does provide me with a ‘kick up the behind’, or could build a foundation where I could go and research other sources to build upon this knowledge.

Overall a valuable resource, that you need to read and keep up-to-date with.

All about resources for your paper (Part 2 Dissertations/Theses)

November 15th, 2007
By Jon H
All about resources for your paper  (Part 2 Dissertations/Theses)

Yesterday I posted about sources and their relevance to essays and reports, similar to a 3,000 word essay you could write at college or university as a student. Today, in this post, I’m going to delve into the world of dissertations and theses – which I consider one in the same.

No matter where you are in the world, if you’re on an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course then you’re going to have to complete a substantial paper of between 10,000 and 15,000 words. If you are a lucky one then you might have managed to get out of this, but your degree will probably not come with ‘honors’ or ‘hons’ – having an ‘hons’ is looked on highly in the world of work as it shows you have determination and a sense of achievement.

How Many Sources?

This is kind of tricky, as you will (most probably) need to conduct some type of secondary research as well as some primary research (I’ll cover more on this in December), so the amount of sources for each individual to stick to will need to be adapted and modified.

Carrying on with my train of thought, 10 secondary sources to every 1,000 words is still a good figure to keep in your head – you may go under or over this (hopefully the latter), but you will want to concentrate on reading as many resources that you can. There may be a newspaper article that relates to your hypothesis or area of study that leads you to another resource, theory or author. Now the newspaper story probably won’t appear in your references section, as you haven’t included the resource in the paper, but the resource that it led you to, should definitely be included, as the author had a sound grasp of theory and the topic, as well as some helpful incite, didn’t he? Thus, you could be reviewing up to 20 different sources every few days and only find one that is of particular use – I know time consuming isn’t it!

Types of Sources

Similarly to yesterdays post there are many wide ranging secondary data sources that you can relate to, reference and rely on when writing your research paper. Additionally, you will want to quote from your primary research that you have conducted, or some other uncommon resources such as using a past paper (a dissertation for example) or some information/data from a past paper that you, yourself have written – read below on why you would do this.

Don’t stick it in there ‘because’

If you don’t think you’re going to get many sources in your references then don’t just plonk a resource because the title is good, if you are not going to use the resource, or relate to it in you research paper then there is little point in adding it at all. Similarly, not adding enough resources could cause your readers to question your understanding of the topic and your ability to recognise key authors and theorists in your field/subject.

What to do if you don’t have enough resources? Think outside the box and find some more!

Style of Sources

When you’re writing a dissertation or thesis in higher education, you will find that choosing sources to reference from is key in allowing your readers to consider your research techniques as reliable. Selecting previous studies and research papers are of the utmost importance, as these will generally be recent research that has identified trends and patterns – some of which may have helped you form your initial hypothesis. Not concentrating on research papers written by professors and lecturers in colleges and universities can also be a mistake – a professor profile like this one will help you identify what research is relevant to the field you are in (scroll to the bottom for working papers).

Primary Research

When you are looking at primary research for your research paper, then this data ad resource will generally be conducted by you – interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups – if you took the time to bring the participant(s) together with yourself and have got them to answer some questions (whether written or oral), or conduct a task and recorded the findings, then you have simply conducted primary research. This research is vital to your work and analysing it properly is important – even if you notice mistakes and huge gaps when you review the study, you can show that you have understood the process and the need for improvement. Identifying why and how you need these sources should always be apparent in your paper. They can be treated as credible sources, but their reliability maybe questionable – this you will have to discover for yourself. Generally, these sources appear in your appendices and you will relate to them as attachments/further reading.

Can I use myself as a resource?

Have you written a past paper that fits in well with what you are researching? Many a time I have quoted myself and other students who have written an essay or dissertation. It doesn’t matter if the paper has been published, you still need to reference the paper – generally the author, title, date and which course/university it was written at should be suffice. I did find though that it was sometimes strange referencing yourself in a paper, and even more peculiar citing words that you typed on the very computer only 6 months or a year previously – don’t forget to properly cite/reference this though, as plagiarism is a big deal! Know how not to get caught? Don’t do it!

Remember: The above amounts of sources, are sources that you include in your bibliography/reference list and that you cite or reference in your paper – you may review 100’s of resources, but don’t include them as they aren’t meaningful.

Further Resources

How to write a dissertation

Writing Theses and Dissertations

All about resources for your paper (Part 1 – Essays and Reports)

November 14th, 2007
By Jon H
All about resources for your paper (Part 1 – Essays and Reports)

Every time I received a paper, research question or conducting a group project I always wondered how many sources I should read, and how many I ‘needed’ to include in my paper, the references section and how many sources to actually quote from. Looking at this from a later point of view I wonder how and why I read so many resources and how I evaluated what would go into my reference list and why.

How many sources?

When talking about resources, we need to be careful about what we’re including and for what purpose. In this post I’ll be taking an essay as an example – it will need to be 3,000 words and is written for a UK university. I’ll also be covering reports and group work of a similar size, and commenting on whether you need to change the amount of sources you use. Tomorrow (in part 2) I’ll be looking at sources towards people writing dissertations and theses.

Types of sources

There are many different resources available in your college/university library – books, journals, magazines, trade journals/magazines, legal papers, maps, past papers, exam papers, newspapers – there are also many more sources to choose from on the Internet – company websites, e-books, ezines online, online journals, financial reports, news websites, blogs and many more.

Reliability of sources

Many academics consider resources found on the Internet to be unreliable and un-trustworthy, unless they are a .edu or .ac.uk website, a trusted newspaper that prints daily, or a journal/e-book which has been published in print. Why is this? So many people can start a website or online resource similar to this blog R2G – getting people to trust an online site and a writer’s opinions (in the eyes of academics) is very difficult indeed. I agree that a lot of resources online (mainly towards research figures and conclusions) are unreliable and un-trustworthy; however, I have my own opinions on other more ‘trusted’ sources and their reliability and relevance to what students actually write about.

Having reliable sources that you refer to will also build your credibility as people read your work – including your professors/lecturers of course.

Style of sources

Including both ‘reliable’ and ‘unreliable’ resources is a good way forward and one that I have taken many times. A ‘reliable’ source generally has good standing in the eyes of your readers and when combined with one from the Internet termed ‘unreliable’ it can be great for development for your paper. The first resource may create the grounding for your opinion/argument and the second so called ‘unreliable’ source may develop your thinking, knowledge and understanding of the subject at hand. Therefore, it is great to add this to your sources and opinions in your paper.

All resources have different styles and approaches to the question/area they are trying to answer, or are researching, and different writers will undoubtedly have different responses and views towards a particular theory or practice. Choosing both sources that compliment your writing style, opinion and thoughts on a particular subject, as well as having ones that you wouldn’t really choose to include or annoy you, are also great to include – they show that you have understood a topic.

Pain and simple a book is just not the same as a newspaper article, even though they may both cover the exact same story or opinion. Generally, using both types of resources will be good for your paper, as it shows to your readers that you have thought about the sources you need and what approach you are taking.

General figures

Not just talking about the collection of sources and types of resources to use, you will also need to understand how many resources/sources to search for and use. When writing an essay I would search for numerous sources on and surrounding the subject/area. As soon as I found a theory and a named author who explained the subject well I would count this as a valuable resource and one to include in my work. I love research and planning and believe this is the key to establishing a great essay answer, or report summary. Looking towards a 3,000 word essay I would research different avenues and areas from the above types of sources – trying to acquire as many different ones as possible and sometimes create information overload! This would result in having over 60 sources to relate to, and then have near to 30 sources in my bibliography at the end of my paper. Why 30? This is a good amount of sources to have and I would generally look to have 10 sources per 1,000 words – sometimes I would go over, but that didn’t matter, as long as it wasn’t too much – if the source needed to be included then it would. If I read over the book and it didn’t give me any opinion or ‘ta da!’ moment I’d move on.

If I was looking towards a report I would have a smaller number of resources, having more factual and informative sources – rather than opinionated ones for essays.

Wondering about resources for your dissertation or thesis? This will be available in tomorrow’s post on R2G.

Further Resources

Guide to writing a Basic Essay

R2G’s Monday Roundup 5th November – 11th November

November 12th, 2007
By Jon H
R2G’s Monday Roundup 5th November – 11th November

It seems when I started the Monday roundup (only last week) that I thought it wouldn’t be that hard to find content, it isn’t it’s hard to choose which articles/stories should be included into seven of the best. I’ve tracked a few good posts down and know they’re all worth a good read.

Here goes……..

7 of the Best

  1. Study Hacks – The Art of Stealth Studying: How To Earn a 4.0 With Only 1.0 Hours of Work
  2. In this post, Cal shows us how many students study only one hour, but gain 4 hours worth of studying. Impressive stuff, and I really like the part about taking 10 minute detours to think about study and go over past lectures. I used to do this in a way, when walking to the library (which was about 10 minutes walk across campus) thinking about the lecture that I’d just attended – great advice.

  3. Life hack – 10 Reasons you aren’t achieving Success
  4. A really great post from lifehack.org on the areas you need to look at when you’re measuring your success. Not planning and not realising when you are veering off your goals is identified. This is a read for many and all so true.

  5. What brand is your mattress?
  6. Truly funny post about the impact of brands, branding and buyer perception. If you’re interested in marketing, branding and promotion, then you’ll want to check out this post

  7. 8 Steps to a Six Figure Career
  8. If you’re in your final year of College/University and wondering how your career will progress then this post is highly thought out and very important to read. A graduate of more than a couple of years – brip blap summarises how they have progressed through their corporate career – a great read to give you some inspiration.

  9. University rankings don’t measure up
  10. At last, someone is posting abut how strange and unreliable the ranking system is for Universities and that potential students should be wary of how they measure Colleges and Universities against one another.

  11. £1,000 gap between men and women’s pay after graduation
  12. Something that is clear in all stages of your life, the battle between the sexes! Although I don’t really agree with the outcomes of the research – as there are so many variables contained and the analysis is unreliable – the article is an interesting read and does identify some things to consider when you leave higher education, like spates of unemployment for various reasons.

  13. Galileo was right: universities do revolve around their stars
  14. Interesting to see that as we progress through the world of branding and self-promotion that universities are sucomming to the pressure of bringing in the best researchers to attract students to their campus.

That’s it for the week that was on the student/academic blogosphere. If you have any links that you would like me to look at, then please add a comment below.

Students and Remembrance Sunday

November 11th, 2007
By Jon H
Students and Remembrance Sunday

As I’m a little bit of a traditionalist, and have a lot of respect for people in the forces I have decided not to post an R2G Sunday review today. Understandably some of you may be a little disappointed, but I thought it only right to take a day for all of us to remember people that have lost their lives in a war or conflict.

Whether these people fought in the first or second world wars, or the service men and women killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month a two minute silence is observed every year to mark the end of the first world war, and to remember all of those who have fallen.

If these people had not put their lives on the line, then most of us would not be in the position we are now – a short poem of remembrance.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Field is a poem written by a Canadian Surgeon – John McCrae in 1915

For me, today is a day to remember the Accrington Pals, a Battalion in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, were 720 soldiers went into battle and 584 were killed injured or missing. Accrington is my home town and the Accrington Pals are well known in the history of the British Army as being one of very few towns to be able to raise a battalion and the whole battalion being nearly wiped out in a matter of minutes.

Other Resources

The Accrington Pals

The Aftermath – The Accrington Pals

In Flanders Field Museum

R2G and advertising

November 8th, 2007
By Jon H
R2G and advertising

I was talking to a few friends of mine who are big on the social networking thing, but not that interested in creating a website and blog. We were discussing advertising on websites and veared over to its use on blogs. Obviously R2G came up along the course of the discussion and there were mixed opinions. I like the adverts at the moment, 4 relevant button links on the right hand side bar, a google advert lower down and another skyscraper (Spanish link) in the right hand bar.

Whilst I think the latter should be removed and a horizontal banner (148×60) should be replaced after each post I still think it needs improvement. Others thought you should just cram your blog full of google adword ads, as these are easy to implement and can earn you money straight away. Others suggested that in-post links can get you up and running and people will rollover and click on them more than they would a google ad. For me in-post text links are annoying and using loads of banners from google adwords is a little too excessive.

I’ll be using different designs and colours over the next couple of weeks, and if anything becomes a little too annoying then please let me know.

Finally, if anyone has an opinion about the adverts on R2G, please leave them in the comments below – if you didn’t really notice any, then that would be good to know too.

Students with no money? Earning whilst at College/University

November 8th, 2007
By Jon H
Students with no money? Earning whilst at College/University

During your studies you’re not earning a full time wage and you’re probably going to be a student with no money, so finances will be getting a little sore. Having your student loan will help, and your overdraft (whether it’s 500 or 2,500) probably is being used at the moment to pay for groceries, alcohol and ‘much needed extras’. With the need to buy the latest phone or ipod (or even the Ipod released tomorrow in the UK), and the need to eat, buy textbooks and pay for where you’re staying, you will soon be running short of money.

If you’re not in the red, and become bored easily (you have some spare time on your hands), getting a job on or close to campus can always increase your social circles.

Why get a job?

Having a job and earning money whilst at uni is a must for some people. Everyone will be in a different situation, single parent family, only child, rich mum and dad etc. Some students may not want to work, some might not have time, whilst others may need to work to pay their rent or go out on a Wednesday night with the ‘guys’ (why are Wednesdays so popular anyhow?).

What could I do though?

Work in a hotel or for a catering company
Getting a job in a restaurant/hotel or with a catering agency can be quite easy, as you generally don’t need any experience and you can start straight away. Working in a bar or restaurant can be quite challenging as you’re always on your feet and it’s hard work round Christmas time. The pay isn’t great, but if you get a job at a good restaurant or bar, then the tips could be worthwhile. I worked in a bar when I first went to uni and I was walking away with at least £50 worth of tips a night, it is achievable and it obviously helps when you’re a student.

Retail in detail
Working in a shop, such as Next or Burtons is of course an option for you. Personally I’ve never done this as people come and go very quickly – they look, try on and purchase within 10–15 minutes. For me, I always enjoyed knowing what drink a certain person had been drinking all night and preempt their order. For some though working in a shop environment is for them, and there are busy and quiet times as much as any other job. If there is anyone that is working, or has worked in a shop, then please leave a comment below – I’d be interested in your experiences.

A job on campus
Getting a job on campus can be great. It could be on a bar, in a shop, as part of the students’ union, as a part-time lecturer (if you’re a post-grad), or even on tech support in a library – there are many more I’m sure. The bonus of working on campus? You can literally ‘fall out of bed’ and there you are, not catching the bus, getting the car started or waiting for a lift – quick, easy and convenient. Most will pay the minimum wage though, so if you’re thinking that working for your uni, or a contractor that works for your uni, then you’d be mistaken.

Seasonal Work

As Christmas is soon approaching (there’s only 46 days until the big one), many employers will be on the lookout for people to work over the Christmas period – this period will probably begin (for many industries) in the next few weeks, so going out and seeing what’s about is a task you need to do in the next few days and over the weekend. To cope with the serge in demand of extra shoppers/diners/drunken louts, businesses will take extra people on (especially students, yay!) for a number of weeks to combat this rise in business.

Do something different

Have you ever thought that some of the jobs are mundane and boring? If you’re an adventurer and like doing different things in life then I’d suggest joining your local UOTC (University Officer Training Corps), it’s part of the TA and yes you do need to get up early and do a bit of PT (physical training), but it’s well worth while. Plus, firing ‘guns’ on a range, going to other countries (like Canada and France) and getting paid for it is an opportunity that I would advise anyone to do. Everything is paid for and they even come to pick you up at the University for training evenings and ‘play away’ weekends. There is some physical stuff, but I managed and so can many others, plus there’s cheap beer and generally lots to do – good social networking.

Another way to make money could to become an entrepreneur. Whilst studying at college/university many people want to make something more of their lives and some become successful in this field – head over to young entrepreneurs of 2004 to read about some interesting stories on college entrepreneurs with some great ideas. Did I want to be an entrepreneur? Yes, but I’m still trying to get there, I haven’t managed to concentrate fully on the whole aspect of self-employment – but I digress.

Where to Look?

You want a job (or need one) and are ready, geared up and ready to sky rocket, but where do you look? Sourcing information should be a strong characteristic you have by now, even if you’ve only just started your course. A few areas that you could review for job openings can be:

caterer.com/totaljobs.com – for catering jobs, hotels, restaurants, contract caterers, fast foods restaurants – plus they’ve got some interesting resources too

Campus notice boards – a great way to notice if there are any jobs ideally suited to the scope of students, these tend to be near a careers advice office, or could be on the campus intranet

Google – with google’s local search and great indexing system you may be able to find a job

Local newspapers – all local papers generally have a job section in, sometimes something really good pops up, it’s worth taking a look.

Thanks, but I don’t need a job

You don’t huh? Well, think of that when you go to an interview with a potential employer and they ask what experience you have in the world of work. None? Then I don’t think you’ll get very far, as employers like to see that you have some experience in the ‘world of work’ and that you know what working for money actually entails. Being managed and managing your time, commitments and job will show to an employer that you’re responsible and have the ability to develop with them.

Remember: Companies will be taking on seasonal staff over the next week or so, so it is probably best to start looking around now. Dependant on what type of work you’re interested in will relate to how many jobs are on offer and the rate of pay that you’ll get. Here in the UK, you will get the national minimum wage (which has just gone up), but whether you will get anymore than that will depend on the job, employer and industry you’re working in.

When do you write your best stuff?

November 7th, 2007
By Jon H
When do you write your best stuff?

Knowing when you can write your best work is crucial. Whether it’s when you first get up, after lunch, after you’ve had a workout, or in the small hours of the morning; it will affect how you write, the ideas you get and what goes down on paper. For me, in the middle of the night is better, writing good content and concentrating on what I’m actually writing. I used to do this because I would become distracted by many things during the day, by more other interesting things to do, like going to the pub, watching a football match or playing pool with friends – I don’t think the question (or title) should be when you write your best stuff, as this will be different for many different people. Some people are early birds, whilst others (including me) are night owls, and have different times of the day when they can best perform. For today, I believe that whenever you are writing, you require a solid grounding to excel, hence the 5 tips below.

5 tips for writing your best stuff

  1. Loose the Stress
  2. Being stressed will cause you to loose focus on what you are writing, making you think about what you are stressed about and not on the project/paper you need to be working on. Whether this is relationship trouble, financial worries, or (could it ever be) course work or lecture issues, it is best to talk to someone and not keep everything bottled up. You need a clear mind when you begin writing a paper, whether it will count towards your final grade or not, you need to clear settle yourself. Going to the gym for a workout works for some people, and they’ll release enzymes in their body, causing them to relax and allow them to focus on the topic at hand.

  3. Know what you want to say
  4. At R2G I do focus a lot towards having a plan before you start something, whether it is written down in detail, in a form of clouds, or clearly pictured in your mind, you will need know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Stumbling into writing a paper, and not having a plan won’t help at all, even if you already have all the research material and a strong cup of coffee, as you’ll loose focus too quickly and probably vear off to a disjointed view of the topic/question.

  5. Get away from everything
  6. Go to your quiet place, switch off the stereo, TV, mobile/cell, and ignore your friends and family. To fully concentrate and write productively you will need to eliminate all distractions. Receiving a text message from a friend may distract you and cause you to go ‘for one’ down the road to the pub, but having this distraction will only cause you stress and panic later on when you’re falling over and still haven’t written your paper – I know I’ve tried doing it! So, for the time being, turn off Skype, IM, and your phone to concentrate on the important stuff.

  7. Focus your mind
  8. Having clear thoughts when writing can allow your mind to not only focus on what you’re writing, but also allow it to wander into other more interesting aspects. Meditating, having a workout, going for a walk, or having a glass of red (that would be my choice) before/whilst you’re writing your paper can help you concentrate more on what you are actually doing, rather than drawing you away from your work. Trying different techniques can be an advantage as some can have positive affects on your written content.

  9. Make sure you have a pen and a keyboard
  10. Having either of the above is quite handy, as trying to formulate your writing without one of them could be tricky (yes, I know you could use a pencil, but then that wouldn’t fit!). You could try and remember your thoughts, but if you’re like me then you’ll probably not remember much!

    If you decide to type your answer up straight away, then a suggest having a pen and paper to hand, why? You can jot down ideas and thoughts, and draw diagrams a lot easier on paper than you can with a computer screen and keyboard – it’ll save you time and you will be able to closely focus your answer.

    Remember: You don’t have to adopt all of these tips, but you should try to adopt as many as you can. Disregarding all of the above could bring a little bit of negativity to your work and your voice as an author, so watch out.