Preparing for an Academic Assignment

The Catalyst, where the Ormskirk campus' library is located

Before University, you’ve probably never wrote an academic assignment. When I wrote essays in secondary school, I never had to reference the sources I used; but in University, you will need to so that you can prove you’re not using made-up facts or copying someone else’s work.

This blog will share my approach to academic writing, which should hopefully be useful when you start writing your assignments.

Referencing Systems

Different courses ask you to use different referencing systems; my course uses the Vancouver system. To help, Blackboard has a concise Vancouver referencing guide for all the different types of media we can reference. If you struggle to reference, there are teams, lecturers, and classes which can teach you referencing until you understand

 Websites can generate references based on the link or journal titles. However, they aren’t always reliable. Therefore, it’s encouraged to use these to get an idea of what a reference looks like, and build your confidence. 

But what will you need to reference? Anything from academic books, articles, to credible websites. The more recent the publication is, the better, especially for research. 

Finding Sources

Google Scholar is a great resource, but I find that the University’s online library is more useful. You can limit source by their type (journal, book, etc.) or publication year, and find key terms to quickly find appropriate resources. The online library allows access to resources you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access due to licensing/memberships to journals.

Most of the University’s sources have electronic copies available, so accessing them is instantaneous. However, some resources are not available online. Luckily, our Ormskirk campus’ library is open 24/7, and books can be checked out anytime. You can also reserve them online; even from another University Library (in Aintree or Manchester) to be delivered to another University library, which can be helpful if you study at home and live near those areas.

There are thousands of resources available at the University but if there’s a book that’d be very helpful but the University doesn’t have access to it, you can request that the University gets it in stock.

Closing Words

While referencing is difficult, the University supports us to develop the skills. In addition to this, we’re not limited to what we can cite. The University and internet includes so many resources to support our assignments.


Tackling Assignments

Hello everyone, since we are in the midst of the time of year when everything is due I thought what better way to take people’s minds off the subject then by talking about it some more… I study Film and TV production which deadline wise finishes pretty early with all my deadlines about to be wrapped up by tomorrow so here’s some things to keep in mind if your still going.

Learn from your mistakes: First year for most is kind of an introductory year in some ways, for most degrees, first year assignments don’t actually count towards your final third year grade although I know this can be different depending on what you study. Whether you enjoy this idea or not for me personally when it came to essay writing making more mistakes in first year meant that as I was working through essays this year, I knew certain things not to do.  I even compiled a word document with all the don’ts I had learned of essay writing, which I look at before starting a new essay because I keep forgetting, some examples include:

• Explain things in detail

•  Don’t go off on tangents

• Don’t ask questions, answer them

Pick something that isn’t too hard to research. Some assignments require finding external literature on your own chosen subject, while this can make it tempting to pick something niche that is interesting to you, it is also important that you pick a topic with readings already on it or you could find yourself spending a lot longer researching than if you picked something easier in my opinion.  Basically, just make life easy for yourself!

I find breaking up work into sections makes it easier to complete, so for example on one day doing work I would focus on deciding what I’m going to write about then plan it into sections with bullet points, another day gathering readings/ researching what I’m going to write and then subsequent days doing maybe a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the essay. I’m not a big fan of doing a whole essay in one day as my brain tends to turn to mush after a few hours looking at my screen.

Hope these help at least a little bit and if your here  reading this rather than doing an essay then hats off to you buddy.






Staying Motivated!

Hi everyone,

Now that it is not long until our easter break, assignment and exam season is looming upon us once again. For some of you, including me, you may have a number of essays all due within days of each other which can be quite overwhelming meaning that many of us enter panic mode and become quite stressed. This can often lead to feeling unmotivated as you feel like everything is piling up all at once, so here is some advice I hope is helpful for you!

1. Plan ahead

Planning your assignments in advance will help ease some stress as by doing this you will already know how to tackle your essays. You can do this through many ways such as, one to one meetings with your tutors so you can discuss the details of your assessments more extensively. You could also plan your essay so that you have something to guide you when it actually comes to writing your essay. Another useful tip is to make a note of when all your deadlines are, I did this by making a poster and sticking it up in my room to keep me reminded.

2. Talk to your tutors

If you feel overwhelmed by your assessments and it all starts to get a bit too much, it might be a good idea to arrange a meeting with your module leader or even your personal tutor. These meetings can be really helpful at easing your mind. Additionally, by discussing your essay with a tutor they can help you with any queries you may have as well as making sure you are on the right track!

3. Use the library

If like me you struggle to concentrate when your friends are surrounding you, going to the library can make a huge difference. At our library there are three floors which are a key to three modes of studying. The first floor is for group study, the second floor is for quiet study and the third floor is strictly for silent study. Also, you can book an individual study room in the library if you feel like you need it, they all have a computer and you won’t be disturbed this way.

4. Don’t doubt yourself

It is so easy to doubt yourself when there is a lot of pressure on you so always try to stay positive and do everything you can to help yourself out so that you can be as stress free as possible!

Top tips for studying

Whether you’re studying for exams or writing coursework right now, it’s likely that you’re going to be spending a lot of time working. This is true of university life, and unfortunately, you don’t have someone standing behind you encouraging you to do it all the time, like you do at school. This means that it is important to get into good study habits now, to prepare you for university. Here are my top tips…

  1. Find an environment away from where you eat and sleep. At the start of this year, I lived in a house where I ate, slept and studied all in the same room. It got incredibly monitonous staring at the same four walls, yet the library just wasn’t cutting it for me. I finally managed to work out a timetable with my friend so that I could work at hers, in her living room, away from where I spent the rest of my time.
  2. which brings me to my next point… Find a time to study that is suitable for you. I work best in the mornings, or after I’ve had a seminar, even though I don’t like getting up early. I find that I can’t work after a long day in uni. This means that I have to set an alarm in the morning so that I can make the most out of my day. Other people work best at night. Whatever works for you, make sure you allocate time to studying or writing assignments.
  3. Take appropriate breaks, whether that means you’re going to stop after you’ve read or written 100 words, or you’re going to take a 15 minute break every two hours. Knowing you have some downtime can really motivate you to work in that time you have allocated.
  4. Reward yourself appropriately. I have friends that award themselves a sweet each time they’ve written 50 words, whilst I have others that will allow themselves to order a takeaway once they’ve finished an assignment. I like giving myself a day off after I’ve written myself an assignment, which could include going out for lunch with friends, or curling up with a Disney movie and having a pyjama day.

Hopefully these four tips will help you become more productive, and help you begin to motivate yourself, ready for starting university.

Good luck!