Why should students have a gmail account?

November 6th, 2007
By Jon H
Why should students have a gmail account?
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What is a Gmail Account?

A Gmail account is an email account with google, that has tons of space and combats spam.

Why should students have a Gmail account?

  • You get tons of space – When you register for a Gmail account you get up to 4GB worth of space for all of your emails and attachments – that’s some huge storage space plus, google are constantly updating and expanding storage.
  • Send large files – Sending large files with Gmail is a dream, as you can attach your file, upload and send it – go and make a coffee – come back and you’re done. The email system won’t crash like outlook or windows mail will – this is particularly good if you’re working on group work and have to send a project to your group members.
  • Chat away – Gmail offers a chat facility to chat to other people on the web, a nifty program.
  • Find what you need – Remember you got that email from a while ago, well google’s mega search engine will trawl through your mail to find what you need, wanting only one keyword. I remember looking through my outlook inbox trying to find an email that I needed – this result was that I was disappointed and it took me ages.
  • Reduce the Spam – If you’re like me then you will certainly get annoyed with spam emails coming your way and landing in your inbox. Gmail has Google behind it and can instantly detect spam email being sent from a spammer. It will reject any spammy emails straight away and won’t even deliver it to your inbox. Worried about some of your ‘genuine’ emails not being delivered, then don’t be as google reviews the web every day, so they’re a little educated as to what is and isn’t spam.
  • Stars are important – You can use the star tag to note useful or important emails to help remind you later. It could be an important email from another student about a web resource such as the road2graduation blog, or it may be an email from an employer that wants some questions answered, but you need to formulate some responses and answer it later; whichever it is, starring an email allows you to note important communications.
  • Label it – Similar to tagging on social media websites, gmail allows you to label your emails. Sorting them into different categories can be a huge advantage to students, as you can separate different emails from friends, college students, and university, into separate ‘areas’ for you to view tomorrow or the next day.

Disadvantage

Similar to other software applications that you use on the web, such as face book and my space, Google will have access to all information about you, and your privacy may not be as private as you would’ve thought. However, I don’t think this is the bad thing about Gmail. So, what is? The advertisements when you log into your account. A lot of people argue with me about this and explain that the textlink advertising is placed in googlemail to make it free for users, still, advertising really annoys me unless I want to see it – guess that’s just me. If the small adverts keep Gmail free for all of us then I’ll just have to put up with it and get on quietly – ah, well.

Changes from last year

One major change from 2006 is that anyone can sign up for a Gmail (or googlemail) account and you don’t need to wait for an invite – that was silly I thought! Google is integrating more and more other services with Gmail and I expect more changes and better services in the future. Some colleges in the US are enabling their student’s college email to be setup on gmail and using the gmail software as a ‘template’ – pretty nifty if you ask me, and shows that the program is reliable. With all the other applications google has to offer, such as google scholar, translate and Google Talk, I expect google will be influencing more and more students to use their services interchangeably in the future.

Remember: When signing up for a Google mail account try not to make the name a strange or confusing one like – ghyu2234908@gmail.com, or studenttart@gmail.com (even though you might be ;-)) as it may deter prospective employers and people may forget your email address.

Links

Google University offers Gmail for College Students

Useful services offered by Google for College/University Students

Gmail driving Google Apps adoption at college

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R2G’s Monday Roundup 29th October – 4th November

November 5th, 2007
By Jon H
R2G’s Monday Roundup 29th October – 4th November
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This is the first of the Monday round-ups, which reviews the past seven days in the academic/educational word for undergraduates and postgraduates at college/university, as well as some older articles that I may have come across. My reading throughout this area is varied and so you will see a range of links to articles that were published last week. Here goes……

The week just gone has been quite a busy week on the blogosphere for many bloggers, that has been towards a lost of google page-rank changes, but, I’ve managed to trawl through some news and really good content to give you seven of the best.

  1. The Fitness Guru: Recharging During the Day, Avoiding the Beer Gut, and Self-Amputation
  2. Study Hacks has just introduced a new writer to their team, Adam Gilbert, who is going to be writing some fitness posts targeting students, healthy eating and fitness.

  3. College costs keep rising
  4. This article adds to the information floating around the Internet and the world of costs for students on the rise. Although it’s from the 22nd of October I considered this a good read as it sums up some costs of living. Hint: costs of living are much cheaper in the USA than in the UK, so probably take 75% of this as a sterling amount (£) to compare.

  5. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mythbusters
  6. Science student posts this great video of mythbusters ‘walking on water’. Strange, but very intriguing and flavour some!

  7. The Northerner from Guardian
  8. If you’re studying in a Northern university in the UK, or are originally from the North, then I would suggest subscribing to the Guardian Northerner review. It provides you with information and links to what is happening in the North of the UK.

  9. NUS: Save students from the burden of debt
  10. With students recognising that they must think about the debt they have whilst at university, the student union’s President, Gemma Tummelty, provides her own views on the matter – scroll down for some interesting reader comments.

  11. UK needs more graduates, not fewer
  12. Does the UK not have enough graduates? Or, are all of them choosing to live abroad (or even go back to their native land)? Is expanding the higher education ‘net’ going to help and does the UK actually need more graduates? This article approaches these questions.

  13. The Quickest route is usually the boldest
  14. Scott Young provides us with a post on whether taking the quickest route to your development and progression. Mentioning when he is public speaking and choosing topics that he often picks area’s that are out of his comfort zone to encourage him to learn more. The final part of “How to Recognize When Your (think he means you’re) Being a Wuss” is a great part of the post.

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.

How to get a first class degree – blog review

November 4th, 2007
By Jon H
How to get a first class degree – blog review
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Todays R2G’s Sunday review will focus on a student blog howtogetafirst.co.uk This blog is a UK based student blog that focuses its attention towards students and what processes you need to go through to achieving your goals at university. The blog’s goals are to inform students of how the author achieved in gaining a first class honours degree from a university in the UK. Passing on the information, Jez has learned whilst completing this degree, as well as the understanding of his degree. His about page reads the following:

I recently completed a BSc Honours degree, achieving a mark of 83% and winning a prize for one of the modules taken.

The reason I achieved such excellent results is not because I am not a gifted student, but because I applied a work ethic and methodology to the way I approached my degree.

I believe most students have the intellect to achieve a first class degree. The reason most do not is because they do not plan ahead, organise or motivate themselves properly.
There are no short cuts or magic tricks to be found in these pages.

What these pages do contain is easy to follow, practical advice in areas you may not have already considered.

What I hope to be able to show you are ways to:

  • Work Smarter
  • Work Faster
  • Work Harder!
  • I have advised other students on ways they could improve their marks, and all have found this advice beneficial, so decided to blog it!

    The blog covers a range of topics that will be of interest to students, including degree books, student employment, online degree advice and what to do before you start university. Offering informative posts on a wide range of aspects to help you gain a first class degree, or point you in the right direction; Jez writes his posts well and generally links in some extra resources that he’s used. There is also a links page that contains some valuable resources for students and offers some incite into the information contained in the blog.

    I particularly like a post on Get a First’s blog named Choosing a degree course that allows you to achieve a first class degree, which covers aspects that you need to consider in choosing what course you want to take, and linking into whether you enjoy the topic, and if you feel you will have the potential to learn more from the information that is provided/produced.

    The only negative thoughts I have towards the blog is that it isn’t updated regularly, but is a resource that isn’t ‘timebound’. However, subscribing to how to get a first’s RSS feed won’t reveal ongoing information and this for me is a little let down, as I’d like to read more from this author. I’m informed that information will be updated over the coming months, and this will positively affect the information contained on the blog-site.

    Overall: The blog has some very interesting content and is produced in a unique way/voice. All of the posts offer something of value to students no matter what course you are on. Taking a venture over to this blog should be something that is not overlooked.

    Some of the More Enjoyable Posts

    Avoiding freeloaders on your degree course

    Get into a flow if you want to be first class

    Studytime needed for a first class degree

    What is RSS, and how can I use it? Student Rss

    November 4th, 2007
    By Jon H
    What is RSS, and how can I use it? Student Rss
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    The image to the left is that of an RSS button, an image that you will find on most blogs, but, what is it and how does it work?

    Today at R2G I’m going to go through a step-by-step process of what the funny orange button is, what feed readers are, what software you can use for storing, organising and reading a feed, and what I believe will happen in the future for RSS and college/university students. If you’re advanced and know what RSS is, then this post is still for you, as I do take a different stance on RSS and its positive aspects for the future.

    Definition

    Back a little while ago I began to spot the little orange button with two lines and a dot on web-sites that had interesting content. These web-sites actually turned out to be weblogs, or blogs as they’re more commonly known; this was a few years ago in 2002. I thought to myself ‘go on just click it, see what it does’ and went to a page where some more information was. This turned out to be an XML version of the information contained on the blog (basically a shortened ‘overview’ version).

    Not really understanding what this was, I went onto the wikpediaweb-site to see what a blog, RSS and a web-feed was. I found out that the blog sent the information to the RSS and that RSS is content that is updated continuously – can be a blog, news or podcast. So, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) will deliver information on news and blog posts to users who want it – there’s not more bookmarking blogs and searching them to see if there is anything new to read, you can simply log into your feedreader and it will update you with what is new on a blog.

    Using a feedreader rather than using the XML Bookmark in my browser meant that it would be easier for me to view new and interesting content and I wouldn’t have to search each day for it – oh and if you subscribe to a blog, RSS feeds aren’t like email, the information won’t dump in your spam box even though it isn’t spammy – this happened to me with my uni email, from a newsletter that I signed up to. I didn’t realise that the newsletter would be filtered off and never appear in my in-box, because it was considered ‘too spammy’, crazy, but true!

    The Past

    • You had to bookmark and search content on a blog/site
    • Tracking different blogs would become confusing if you’re reading blogs covering similar topics
    • You miss checking your bookmarks and read new stories late
    • You see the same information time and time again because you keep checking

    The Present

    • Your reader allows you to add blogs at the blog site, or searching for its name/keywords of the blog
    • You can section your blogs into categories, such as essay blogs, student finance blogs, and study tips blogs
    • Your reader updates each time new information is released

    But, how do you get it? Read on……

    Feed Readers

    Throughout the web there are many feed readers you can choose from – Google reader, Bloglines, Newsgator, My Yahoo, Rojo, Pluck, and many more. These are known as web-based feedreaders, which are becoming more common and most people have stopped using computer RSS software like RSSOwl. Getting a feed reader like Google reader or Bloglines is really simple and I’ve used both of them. Which would I choose? It would have to be Google reader, simply because I prefer the layout of this reader, how the reader displays new posts and that there is so much interactivity for users.

    I, like many, have only become recently used to using a feedreader, learning what it can do and how it works. I used to bookmark blogs, check the RSS bookmark daily and wonder if I’d seen the article headline before – I read on average 12 – 20 blogs a day so it was reasonably difficult. This was really frustrating, and using a feedreader allows me to view a number of ‘feeds’ all at once.

    Access Anywhere

    By having a web-based feedreader, such as Google reader or Bloglines as mentioned above, you will be able to view updates of blogs you read often, whilst on the move and travelling, as well as on your friends PC, or of that at your college/university. Similar to logging into online banking or a web-based email account, logging into your feedreader can be done anywhere and at anytime. A more positive aspect of this, is that you don’t need any software installed on a PC and any potential barriers are removed – provided you have access to the Internet you can read the latest news of course.

    How to subscribe to a Blog

    Subscribing to a blog is becoming easier and easier. By bloggers posting information and posts about how to use RSS and feedreaders (like this one), the Internet community is becoming more adept at understanding how to be kept informed and updated. You can subscribe to a blog in a few ways:

    1. On the site – by selecting the RSS feed button or similar
    2. In your browser
    3. Searching for the blog through your feed reader

    On site subscription

    FeedlogosIf you have read any type of blog, then you’ll have noticed many widgets popping up on your favourite ones. They come in all shapes and sizes and the different designs have sometimes amused me. The most popular readers and some common designs are just here on the right, but typing ‘feed reader’ into google will provide you with many more. Once you’ve clicked the appropriate button, you’ll be asked how you would like to subscribe.

    Browser Subscription

    Subscribing in your browser isn’t something that I would recommend for the long-term; however, if you haven’t used RSS before and want to learn a little more, then I suggest choosing and subscribing to a blog in your browser.

    2

    When you visit a blog with an RSS feed that you can subscribe to, like road2graduation’s, then you will see the subscriber RSS button in your browser Rsssymbol. Once you click on the RSS button you will be taken to the blog’s RSS feed, where you can choose your feedreader, or subscribe by xml – which will add the particular blog to your list of bookmarks in your browser. Please note: I would only recommend this as a temporary measure, as reading blogs via an xml bookmark can become very time consuming.

     

    Using your Feed Reader

    A feedreader such as Google Reader will allow you to search for specific blogs, or use its search capabilities to view blogs with a certain term or keyword. The reader will then allow you to subscribe to the blog via RSS and will instantly update the information in your account/area. You can separate blogs into different categories, such as essay writing help, dissertation stuff, general, and presentations to name just a few. You can login (as I do) everyday, every few days, or even once a week to catch up on the information that has been posted.

     

    Whichever subscription method you choose to subscribe to a blog you will receive the same information. Sometimes bloggers actually promote subscription to RSS readers and offer special offers to their subscribers (R2G is hoping to do this in the middle of 2008).

    The Future

    In the future RSS will develop, maybe into something smarter maybe not, but with the world changing to a 24 hour global culture I’m sure we’re bound to see some improvement towards instant updates in the years to come. As a student, more technology is being introduced into your life everyday, and to enable other things to fit in, using a reader to update yourself of the latest news and information will give you more time for other more important tasks.

    I don’t think it will be long before lectures are broadcast on video and lecturers setup class forums on their topic, and maybe there are some already. This will lead to a pool of resources that will be to everyones benefit – learning from past information and possible mistakes.

    Not convinced about RSS? Use email subscription

    Rss-emailHas the explanation above confused you a little bit too much? You could choose a different way to subscribe that makes things less complicated and delivers the same information by a different and more common method – email. At R2G I understand that not everyone will want to subscribe to the feed via RSS and may be a little wary of the whole RSS ‘thing’. Simple. You can subscribe by email and have all the posts delivered to your inbox after they’re posted – this (I have found) is generally within 4–6 hours of the post being published, provided that the blog owner has set the distribution to this and not some other format, such as twice a week or every two days. You’ll always be asked to confirm your email subscription with R2G (combating spam) and you can un-subscribe at anytime, with all private and sensitive information being kept confidential.

    Further Information/Resources

    Still a little confused about RSS and Feed readers? Then take a look at the video below.

    Intrigue, Inspiration and Incite – R2G Sunday Review

    November 4th, 2007
    By Jon H
    Intrigue, Inspiration and Incite – R2G Sunday Review
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    For those of you that are waiting for the first R2G Sunday Review I’m afraid you will have to wait just a little bit longer.  I’ll be posting the first review later today, around 9pm UK time (4pm EST) and hope to aspire some newer readers to stick around for the ‘long haul’.

    Stay tuned and watch out for the post a little later on.

     

    Nick

    Linking to the Future – more focused student resources

    November 1st, 2007
    By Jon H
    Linking to the Future –  more focused student resources
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    You may have noticed from yesterday’s post that I placed a few ‘go and see this site’ links at the bottom of the article – under the heading of ‘Links’. I’m not going to be able to cover all the information in a blog post and as I generally roam the internet for more than a couple of hours a day (actually it’s probably around 6) I tend to find different articles and resources that link in with my posts. So, by searching for them through other blogs and others sites I can save you time and provide you with some quality content – happiness for both of us, huh?

    Howz this gonna work though?

    Having a few interesting links at the bottom of a post will hopefully mean you click through to the resource to expand your knowledge and understanding. I write in a different view or ‘sense’ to the next person and you may understand me or them better, but giving you the choice to read in more detail I think is the way forward. Similar to the Sunday Review (the first one being this Sunday – don’t forget!), all articles or sites recommended to be read will have been read, poised over and made the final ‘cut’ to be produced – by your truly (that’s me btw). I love to read, whether it’s about A University Dean getting suspended, or that the government should reduce tuition fees, I’m here to offer some advice and to point you in the right direction – after all you are on your own ‘road 2 graduation’.

    Don’t waste your time!

    No, I don’t mean click the close button on this post or in your reader! Why try searching around the Internet, or looking through amazon to look for a book that could help you with your dissertation? I’m here to offer advice and aid your direction in finding the answers you really need, and fast! If you don’t find the article you’re looking for, then send me a question or message and I’ll gladly point you in the right direction, or write a post to help you and many others.

    What happens on a Monday?

    Monday to many is a day when people go back to work, back to the ‘big city’ and back to lectures and classes. Monday, in academia, is a key day to get things done, you’ve refreshed at the weekend (hopefully if you weren’t working too hard) and are ready to get going and rocketing into the new week. Mondays at R2G are going to add a little difference to your life. Posting the top 7 news stories from the previous week that I believe are worth a read, will start on Monday the 5th (bonfire night, can’t wait!), reviewing the week that was and recapping interesting stories, or blog posts.

    Hmm, why not do this on a Friday? – having a Friday afternoon off has become a little bit of a norm around here for me, so I don’t want to miss any posts or stories that are published late on Friday. Plus, you’ll probably want to be out on the town partying with your friends, or (for me it was) slaving away at your job in a town centre bar watching everyone else get drunk!

    Fridays for me are a day of easiness and rest, so it’s Mondays that are news days.

    Where is R2G going?

    Being only ‘up and running’ for just over a month I’ve got great aspiration for the coming months and years for road2graduation.com. Introducing a couple of interesting posts throughout the week, such as Monday roundups and the R2G Sunday Review, I hope to increase your interactivity within this community. Getting video posts and podcasts off the ground will happen over the coming weeks and I believe I’ve scheduled the first podcast to be posted by the end of November.

    I’m compiling a few book reviews that cover books related to research, essays and dissertations that I have found of interest lately, and some of which I’ve used during my studies. I’ll start reviewing some popular books towards the start of December – I’ll be completing detailed reviews, so you should get to know some information before you go and actually buy the book.

    Not wanting to draw your attention too long, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the road2graduation’s feed and remind you that there’s much more to come.

    I can write my essay in a few hours can’t I?

    October 31st, 2007
    By Jon H
    I can write my essay in a few hours can’t I?
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    How long do you need to write an essay answer of 3,000 words? can you ramble it off in a couple of hours, or will it take you days on end to get it finished, proofread and printed so that you can hand it in?

    I used to wonder about this all the time when I was studying – how could I schedule in my lectures, reading, research and actually writing the essays that I needed to complete. Should I estimate a few hours or a few days to complete my essay, and would it be that simple?

    Did you do the research/planning?

    What? You didn’t? Why not? – Researching your topic or question is a must. By not researching what you are about to write about means you don’t have any ‘stored knowledge’ to build upon. You will simply be chasing around to find quotes and sources to reference to.

    Not planning your answer I consider to be worse than not researching, as even if you’ve done your research, but not completed a route to your answer, then how do you suppose you’re going to get there? Surprising, but you will need a detailed plan before you begin writing, and the more detailed/directional it is then the easier you will find writing your paper.

    How long does it take to actually write?

    This question really does depend on the individual, but you will need to think about:

    • Have you made a detailed and easy to follow plan?
    • Have you researched the topic/question properly?
    • Have you documented your sources/compiled a bibliography?
    • Are you wide awake?
    • Are there distractions, such as a TV, family, or building work close by?
    • Do you procrastinate?

    All of the above points will increase your ability to write the essay in a short space of time and increase the quality of work that you eventually present to your professor or lecturer. Not being awake when you’re righting your essay might seem a little like common sense, but by not being ‘focussed’ on what you are righting about can dramatically affect your understanding of your answer (in respect to structure and cohesion), and the readability of your paper for the marker.


    Having too many distractions around will only cause you to break away from your work and end up with your argument being broken and hap-hazard. Being a procrastinator (as I am) isn’t good for writing your essay, as you will put off writing it until the very end, and as this was the only option open to me in my undergrad, it didn’t help when I had only a few hours to write the document – the stress built up very quickly.

    If you don’t have great typing skills, then I suggest you give yourself a little more time than say 6 hours to write an essay – a one or two ‘touch typer’ will need more time than if you’re a speed typist pumping out thousands of words an hour! Total time it’ll take, that depends on you and your ability to focus on topic and become integrated in your essay – it used to take me around 12 hours to write a 3,000 word essay, and that was after I had completed all of the research, planning and view of how I was going to structure the paper.

    Can you write an essay in a few hours, no, but if you’re looking at a few hours as being 6–8 hours then I would say yes it is feasible, and you can produce a good essay answer, just don’t forget to proofread it.

    Remember: Whether you have the ability to write your essay question in a few short hours, or whether you choose to spend an hour a day for a week, make sure you complete your research before you start to write.

    Other Resources

    Procrastination – Want to learn more about what it is and how to banish it from your life? click here

    Stuck and need more answers on the structure of essays? – the How to write an essay article produced by Birmingham University is certainly an interesting read.

    University Dean suspended for Plagiarism

    October 30th, 2007
    By Jon H
    University Dean suspended for Plagiarism
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    Today I was taking a look through the education section of the Guardian site – education.guardian.co.uk. The site is UK-based and predominantly for UK students, but does cover an array of information for students throughout the world.
    It seems, recently, that I’ve been reading more and more on plagiarism in the academic arena than ever before. Maybe this is due to students (and academics) becoming lazy and just copying the work of others, or not properly citing their sources from where they gained the information/knowledge.

    An article produced today at education guardian referred to a dean at Durham university (UK) being suspended because it was found that he had plagiarised some of his work in 1988 (a little while ago I know). There are also ‘concerns’ that his doctoral thesis could come under question – you can read the full article here.

    There are also many more articles relating to plagiarism in the last year or so, some being:

    Academics guilty of plagiarism

    Cheaters trying to get into University

    Students cheating in ethics exam

    1 in 3 students cheats – (that’s 30%!)

    The above indicates that plagiarism (cheating) is high in the academic community, and with many students being monitored by Turnitin software, who is monitoring the monitors? and, how it has taken 19 years for the above dean’s (supposed) plagiarism to come to light?

    Maybe these are questions for another day…

    R2G’s Sunday Review – A new look at the Student/Academic Community

    October 28th, 2007
    By Jon H
    R2G’s Sunday Review – A new look at the Student/Academic Community
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    Well, in keeping with so many blogs in the blogosphere, I’ve decided to start a weekly review of a site in the student community. This will work on the following basis:

    • The site will be a web-based site; it can be a ‘typical’ website, or a blog that focuses its content towards the academic community, whether for new students, experienced ones, or students who are recent graduates.
    • The site will be selected at random by myself – any site that has been requested by the site owner will also appear in the R2G review section.
    • This will occur on a weekly basis, always on a Sunday – as this is generally a quiet day for many – so maximum reading.
    • The post will be longer than many others and will contain pictures/links.

    Why the decision to do a weekly review?

    I decided a little while ago when I started the R2G (Road 2 Graduation) blog that I wanted to simplify, adapt and present the best information possible to students in academia (read one of the first posts on the blog, the road 2 graduation blog to find out more). Enabling the Sunday review will look at other sites and blogs, in a range of subjects – from finance, study tips, progression after graduation, careers and jobs etc. The reviews will look at the site as a whole and review how it helps/aids students as well as reviewing the general usability of the site from my point of view.

    Conducting the review will, I hope, provide students who read this blog with an incite into the resources available to them on the Internet.

    If any readers have found an interesting site then please contact me with your name, the site’s URL (unique resource location – or website address) and why I should consider it for the Sunday review. I do believe this addition will catch on and hope to be reviewing many sites in the future to come.

    9 Steps to Success – I’ve got an Essay Question/Project, what do I do?

    9 Steps to Success – I’ve got an Essay Question/Project, what do I do?
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    Following on from a post the other day about writing your essay at 5am in morning and the thought of writing your essay in one go, I want to flip the coin and post what you could do as soon as you receive an essay question or project.

    Slap, Bang and a wallop!

    So, you’ve just completed a 2 hour lecture on consumer behaviour in international markets, you understood the lecture and followed everything. The lecture was interesting and informative, but you received a 4 page ‘booklet’ advising you of an essay submission, due within 6 weeks. So, what do you do with the booklet?

    Read, read and read it again

    Hmm, thought I was going to advise you head straight to the library and read about the topic again, and again, and again? Nope, first you need to understand what is required of you. You will generally be given, along with everyone else in your class, one or more of the following:

    • An essay question – asking a question or quoting a certain theory, and wanting you to explore it
    • A choice of questions – where you can pick and choose which question or statement to answer/discuss
    • A topic – requiring you to choose your own question and answer it

    So, upon the above information you will want to analyse what to do in order to have your essay researched, written, edited and bound for submission. Next are 9 steps that helped me in the process of gathering my sources and thoughts, and actually start writing my answer (bit of a hint – the info below needs to be done as soon after receiving the information as possible):

    Step 1 – Read what you need to do

    You already mentioned this above, are you going bonkers? Erm… hope not, but you need to read the information given to you several times, and you need to understand what is expected of you. Do you want to plough right through and write all of your paper in a week, only to find out that you wasted your time, because you didn’t do what was asked? I doubt it, as I’m sure you want to do some partying in the week.

    Step 2 – Plan, scribble and draw (in a quiet place)

    “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” – can’t for the life of me remember who originally said this (apologies), but I learnt about it in one of my Corporate Strategy undergrad classes, and I haven’t forgotten it since. If you don’t plan what you’re going to do – the research, the direction and what eventual conclusion you may reach, then you may get a little lost along the way to completing your paper. Scribble ideas as soon as they come into your head, you may forget them in a couple of moments. Draw a diagram of how you will link your ideas together, and throw all your ideas down on an A4 sheet of paper.

    Step 3 – Get a pad

    Get a writing pad, I used to (and still do) use the Pukka pads you can buy at a local retailer to jot notes on, write down thoughts and plan an idea such as the one above. I also used to write all the sources I used in a paper, or jotted ‘ones to review later in the back section of the pad; keeping one pad for each topic/course to avoid confusion If I only had one pad and everything was written down, it could become very confusing.

    Step 4 – Hit the library

    Your brain will already be engaged and on topic from the lecture you just attended. Completing step 2 above will have enlightened a few ‘trains of thought’ that you may want to investigate and become more informed about. But, what do I mean by ‘hit the library’? There are a few a, b and c’s to conduct:

    A – Research the catalog – Reviewing the library catalogue will mean that you’re analysing what sources (mainly books) that you could potentially extract information from.

    B – Scan the Net – View some trusted sites for information (like newspapers and news sites) for any up-to date news on the topic or question. Even if you’re studying multi-cell organisms you may find a news article that you can use – it’s worth a look.

    C – Check out the journals – Whether you’re reviewing paper-based ones within the library, or online at a site such as business source premier, or Emerald, you will be able to research a keyword to find articles for your essay/project.

    Step 5 – Write all of your sources down

    Even if you don’t use them, but you think you may refer to the article/page later on, then note down the source (including author, title and date), so that you can go back to the source at a later stage.

    Hint: Write down a short sentence next to the source explaining why you’ve written it down, as you don’t want to come back to it two weeks later only to forget why you wrote it down in the first place, which wouldn’t be good (I’ve done this a few times!)

    Step 6 – Plan, Plan and Plan some more

    No matter how you plan your answer to your essay question it is always best to recap continuously. Why? You may ask. If you don’t put down on paper (or on a screen) the direction you are going in, or a list of what you need to include, how will you know when you’ve got there? Because you’ve reached the word-count? I think not. Planning your answer will take only 30minutes – a post will cover this at a later stage.

    Step 7 – Read/Scan all of your sources

    Gather all of your sources and a highlighter (whether on paper, or on your computer screen), scan through the documents and highlight important points/quotations. Write down next to certain sentences or paragraphs if you need another source to support the authors ‘train of thought’. Any important points, or quotes, then it’s probably best to write them down on a pad.

    Step 8 – Rest

    Take a breather, for a day or so and catch up on your post lecture reading, or other essays that need some research or work on them. This time is to give your brain time to think and expand on your thinking of how to answer the question.

    Step 9 – Start to write

    Pick up your pen and begin to write (or type away in my case!), just get your thoughts and ideas down on the paper (or screen) – you can clear up the ‘mess’ when you proofread your paper.

    There are many more steps on researching and writing your essay or report, but this is a quick step process to help you along the way.