ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK - FESS

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ACADEMICWRITINGHANDBOOKFOR LEARNERSIN THE FURTHEREDUCATION ANDTRAINING (FET)SECTOR1

Development of this resourceThrough regular contact with teaching personnel as well as from the experience of externalauthenticators, it became apparent that writing and referencing were challenging for many FurtherEducation and Training (FET) learners. A request was issued through the Education and TrainingBoards of Ireland (ETBI) Quality Assurance (QA) Forum for interested Education and TrainingBoards (ETBs) to nominate personnel who would work on such resources.The development of this handbook has been led by the Further Education Support Service (FESS).The working group included:Mary Sheehy - FESSChristine Wray - FESSFiona Fay - Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETBMáire Lynch - Limerick and Clare ETBJune Neylon - Cavan and Monaghan ETBTina O’Donnell - Donegal ETBCarol O’Donovan - Tipperary ETBCarol Quinlan - Cork ETBWith the support of Jenny Conroy, David Hughes, Siobhan Magner and Emma Nugent from ETBI.Graphic design work by Mitchell Kane - sm@mitchellkane.co.ukAll relevant FESS materials were made available to this process. The ETBs involved were generousin contributing relevant materials as well as making their staff available for this development work.This handbook was consulted on locally and ETBI provided support for the design of this resource.Published 2019.2ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

CONTENTSGlossary6Introduction9What is Academic Writing?10The Writing Process12Step 1: Let’s get started on the draft13-Planning for writing13-What have you been asked to do in your assessment?13-Who are you writing for?14-How do you get started?14-Brainstorming15-Mind Mapping16-Researching19-What kind of information is needed and where can it be found?19-How much information is needed?20-Types of research21-Primary research21-Qualitative research22-Quantitative research22-Considerations in planning primary research23-Secondary research25-How to evaluate information sources?27-Thinking critically about your research29Step 2: Now get writing the draft30-Introduction30-What is a sentence?30-Problems to watch out for32-What is a paragraph?34-Transition words and phrases37-Punctuation marks – what they mean and how to use them39-Paraphrasing and summarising42-Writing in the first, second and third person43-From sentence to paragraph to completed writing45-Using graphics in your written assessment work47-Labelling graphics48-Structuring your writing513ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

CONTENTS-Writing the introduction53-Writing the main body55-How to structure an argument57-Writing the conclusion60-Writing recommendations61-How to think critically when writing62-Referencing64Step 3: Reviewing the draft66-Why review your work?66-Feedback on written assessment work67Step 4: Editing and proofreading the draft68-What is editing?68-Why do we edit?68-What is proofreading?68-Errors to look out for when you are proofreadingStep 5: Presenting and submitting finished written assessment work7374-Presenting your finished written assessment work74-Submitting your finished written assessment work77Reference List78Bibliography82Appendices87-Appendix 1: Types of writing you may encounter in FET87-Appendix 2: Checklist for completing written assessment work9294Index4ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

LIST OF FIGURESFigure 1: Writing process adapted from Trinity College Dublin (n.d.)12Figure 2: Sample mind map17Figure 3: Sample mind map18Figure 4: Considerations in planning primary research23Figure 5: Sources of secondary research25Figure 6: CRAAP test (tool to evaluate information sources)28Figure 7: Example of the use of a graphic within a piece of written text49Figure 8: Example of the use of a graphic within a piece of written text50Figure 9: Bloom’s taxonomy62LIST OF TABLESTable 1: Key features of academic writing11Table 2: Steps to creating your mind map16Table 3: Examples of where you might find different types of information19Table 4: Structuring a paragraph35Table 5: List of transition words38Table 6: List of commonly used punctuation marks40Table 7: Examples of sentences written in the first, second and third person45Table 8: Useful steps for reviewing your written assessment work66Table 9: Some things to consider when editing and proofreading your written 69assessment workTable 10: Errors to look out for when proofreading73Table 11: Things to consider in relation to the presentation of written assessment work 745ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

GLOSSARYArticle – is a piece of writing that is includedCritique – a detailed analysis and assessmentwith other pieces of writing in a publicationof something, especially a literary,like a magazine, journal or newspaper.philosophical, or political theory.Assessment – the means by which it isData – can be information, facts and statisticspossible to judge what a learner knows,that are gathered for research purposes.understands and can do as a result ofengaging in a learning experience. Assessmentcan be for the purpose of identifying ways thatthe learner might be able to improve as wellas deciding if they should receive certificationExternal Authenticator – is a subjectmatter expert who provides independentauthoritative confirmation of fair andconsistent assessment of learners inaccordance with national standardsfor the knowledge, skills and competence thatthey have demonstrated.Figure – can be an illustration or diagram ofthe information found in a text.Assessor – The person who makesassessment decisions on your assessmentInformation – can be knowledge gainedwork.from research, investigation, study or othersources.Bibliography – the entire list of sources ofinformation and data that you used in theLiterature – can be written work such asdevelopment of your written assessment work.books and other writings on particular subjectsIt should include sources that youthat are published or leaflets or other printedread/engaged with, but did not cite in thematerials that contain information or advice.work.Mind Map – is a diagram that can be used toBrainstorm – a gathering of creative ideas,organise information in a visual way.thoughts, suggestions on a topic or theme thatNarrative – a report (written or spoken) thatare generally contributed by individuals in ais presented in a logical sequence thatgroup.supports a particular viewpoint or argument.Citation – is a reference to the source ofParaphrase – saying the same thing thatinformation used in a learner’sanother author or source says but usingresearch/written assessment work, fordifferent words.example, (FESS, 2018).Parameter – is a boundary or limit to theCite – to refer to a source of information.scope of a particular activity such as aresearch project.6ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

Periodical – a journal, magazine orSecondary reference – sometimes you willnewspaper published at regular intervals.find a source mentioned in another text, aPlain English approach – is a way ofcommunicating with your audience or readerso that they understand what you are sayingthe first time they read or hear it.Reader – is the person who will be readingsecondary reference is when you quote orparaphrase from that without going to theoriginal text.Source – the place from where theinformation originates.and assessing your written assessment work.Summarise – including the main points fromThese could include the tutor/teacher/trainer,a source in a brief statement.external authenticator, appeals examiner andother key personnel involved in the qualityassured assessment process.Reference – mentioning or alluding tosomething such as the source of a piece ofinformation.Syntax – refers to how words and phrasesare arranged in order to create well-formedsentences.Table – is the word used to describe how aset of facts or figures can be systematicallydisplayed in columns and rows.Reference List – a list of all the sources thatyou have referred to within the main body ofyour written assessment work and theseText – refers to the content of a book or otherwritten, printed or electronically availablework.should be compiled in alphabetical order at theback of your written assessment work.Verb – is a word that is used to describe anaction, an occurrence, or a state of being.Research – an organised and systematicinvestigation into a topic and the study ofVerbs are the action words in a sentence thatdescribe what the subject is doing.information, materials and sources in order toknow the facts and draw conclusions.Written assessment work – Writtenassessment work includes assignments,Scholarly literature – is writing completedby researchers who are experts in their fieldsof study.projects, essays, collection of work,presentations, etc. that a learner is submittingfor assessment purposes.7ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

APPROACHING THEPLANNING, WRITING,REVIEWING, PROOFINGAND EDITING OFWRITTEN ASSESSMENTWORK CAN BE ACHALLENGE FORLEARNERS8ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

INTRODUCTIONIn order to meet the requirements of your course, it is likely that you will have to producesome written work to meet the assessment requirements of your programme. In thiscontext, writing that is completed for assessment and certification purposes is regardedas ‘academic writing’.The purpose of a piece of academic writing is to communicate the information that youhave researched, processed, discussed and analysed, in a way that the reader canunderstand and also in a way that meets the purpose for which the writing is beingcompleted. When writing to meet the requirements for assessment, the writing must bepresented so that it is clear, concise, objective, understandable and informative to thereader. You should also acknowledge where you got the information and research that youused in your academic writing. Academic writing isn’t always easy to do, and more oftenthan not, requires direction, practice and feedback.The purpose of this handbook, therefore, is to provide some guidance on writing forlearners who are engaged in programmes of learning equivalent to levels 5 and 6 on theNational Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). However, it is important to note that thisresource may also be a useful tool to other learners at other learning levels and may alsosupport teaching staff in structuring or approaching the teaching of writing skills.By developing and improving writing skills, learners can develop good academic practicesfor drafting and writing assessment work. Well-written assessment work will consequentlyimprove overall grades attained. Developing good academic writing practices will help youon your current programme of study, progression to further studies and any futureengagement with lifelong learning.9ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

WHAT IS ACADEMIC WRITING?There are different types of writing that you will encounter or have to complete as part of yourjourney on your further education and training course. Further information on types of writing isavailable in Appendix 1 - Types of writing you may encounter in FET.Academic writing is one way of writing and can be defined in many ways. One definition statesthat academic writing is writing that is “clear, concise, focussed, structured and backed up byevidence. Its purpose is to aid the reader’s understanding” (University of Leeds, 2019).Academic writing is a formal style of writing and is generally written in a more objective way,focussing on facts and not unduly influenced by personal opinions. It is used to meet theassessment requirements for a qualification; the publication requirements for academic literaturesuch as books and journals; and documents prepared for conference presentations.Academic writing is structured and logical and therefore brings the reader from one key point tothe next. It is important for you when you are writing to convey the information clearly andconcisely, as, in terms of writing success, quantity does not always indicate quality. Your writingshould also be supported by evidence/research which demonstrates understanding of underlyingtheories, processes and practices. Sources of the ideas/thoughts/information must always bereferenced. When incorporating facts and other information, these should not just be copied andpasted, but instead should be used as the basis for a discussion or forming an argument. Ingeneral, a plain English approach to writing academically is acceptable but jargon, slang words orphrases should be avoided. Where there is a word count guide or restriction, this is to encouragethe writer to express all of their insights and convey all of the relevant information and analysisin a clear and concise manner.10ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

It is important to remember that goodquality academic writing should:nbe understandable to everyone who is likely to read itnclearly communicate relevant informationnminimise the use of jargon or buzz-wordsnbe concisely written and keep to the key point(s)nbe focused on providing information and presentingfactsnanalyse the findings of the researchninclude objective reflectionnpresent different points of view, some for and someagainst the argumentnmake sure that each point of view should be supportedby researchnavoid broad, sweeping or generalised statementsnacknowledge sourcesTable 1: Key features of academic writing11ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

THE WRITING PROCESSThere are many different approaches to academic writing and it is important that you find onethat works for you. Regardless of the approach you use, it should include key stages or steps thatinclude planning, drafting, revising and proofreading. The important thing to remember is thatgood academic writing is a process that involves a number of steps and when you get used toapproaching your written work in this way, it should make the task of writing a little easier.Here is an example of a writing process that you can use (Figure 1). This is the process that isused throughout this handbook.Step 1Getting started on the draftStep 2Writing the draftStep 3Reviewing the draftStep 4Editing and proofreading the draftStep 5Presenting and submitting finishedwritten assessment workFigure 1: Writing process adapted from Trinity College Dublin (n.d.)12ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

STEPLET'S GET STARTEDON THE DRAFT1Planning for writingUsually learners leave the class or lesson with a relatively clear idea of what is expected of themin their written assessment work. Even with this clarity, learners may still find it hard to get startedand may find themselves sitting with a pen and blank page, which can be daunting. This is oftenthe hardest stage as you try to gather your ideas and organise your thoughts. You may find thefollowing useful in planning and preparing for your written assessment work.What have you been asked to do in your assessment?It is important that you carefully read the assessment brief that you have been given. This shouldtell you:nwhat you have to donhow you should do itnwhat you have to producenhow it will be markednwhen you have to submitIt is important to study the verbs used in the assessment instructions that you are given, as theverbs help determine the depth of understanding of the topic required. For example, there is asignificant difference between being asked to list the three key factors relating to a topic andbeing asked to evaluate the three key factors relating to a topic. The depth of knowledge you arerequired to have increases as you engage in programmes that are higher up on the levels on theNational Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).13ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

STEPLET'S GET STARTEDON THE DRAFT1Who are you writing for?It is most likely that you will be submitting your written assessment work to the person teachingthe programme who is likely to be the person assessing your work and deciding what mark andgrade will be awarded. However, when writing it is important to realise that others will also bereading your written assessment work. Remember, the purpose of your written assessment workis to show comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and that you canapply that knowledge and understanding in various contexts. Apart from the assessor, others whomay also read or examine your work may include:nstaff within the organisation who may examine the work as part of the provider’s assessmentprocessnthe external authenticator may read your work as part of the moderation processnother personnel and an appeals external authenticator will be reading your written assessmentwork, in the event of the appealHow do you get started?Once you are clear on what you have to do, here are some techniques that you might find usefulin getting started with preparing and planning the content for your writing. These includebrainstorming and mind-mapping.TIP:14If you are not sure about any aspect of what is required in the assessment brief,make sure that you ask the teaching staff for clarification.ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

BrainstormingBrainstorming is a method of generating ideas. When you have your topic, begin by thinking of allthe relevant ideas and themes associated with it and create a mind map (see page 17 & 18) whichmay help you organise the ideas. Brainstorming will give you an idea of how large the subject matteris and will give you a starting point to organise your ideas into some order.There are four guidelines that should be applied when generating ideas:1. generate as many ideas as you can2. avoid criticising any of the ideas put forth, particularly if brainstorming as part of a group3. attempt to combine or improve upon previously generated ideas4. encourage the generation of wild or novel ideas (think outside the box)(Adapted from Osborn, 1957)Brainstorming can be just as good when you do it by yourself as when you do itTIP:in a group.15ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

STEPLET'S GET STARTEDON THE DRAFT1Mind MappingThe mind map is a visual tool to help you see your ideas and the relationship(s) between them. Itis a dynamic tool and may change as your ideas develop. Remind yourself that you have to coverthe entire topic and try not to get side-tracked on one individual point. While it is useful to be ascreative as possible, it is recommended that you follow a number of steps when creating yourmind map.1place the topic at the centre of the page2work outwards to map all your ideas around the topic like branches on a tree3each branch represents a key point and can then be further developed by branching out inthe same way4use different coloured pens as well as images to connect related ideas or concepts5organise key points (branches) in a logical sequence to ensure coherence and cohesivenesswhen writing up the piece6the key points are used as the focus for the research7keep referring back to the topic or question at the centre of the mind map - this is the coreof your assessmentTable 2: Steps to creating your mind map(Adapted from Buzan and Buzan, 2000)16ACADEMIC WRITING HANDBOOK FOR LEARNERS IN THE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (FET) SECTOR

Mind mapping can be done using paper or technology. There are many appsTIP:available that may

Academic writing is a formal style of writing and is generally written in a more objective way, focussing on facts and not unduly influenced by personal opinions. It is used to meet the assessment requirements for a qualification; the publ ication requirements for academic literature such as books and journals; and documents prepared for conference presentations. Academic writing is structured .

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