Referencing

As I promised. On a Saturday afternoon, instead of taking my usual nap, here I am, to give you a bit of an insight on how to reference. And if that’s not devotion, I don’t know what is…

So here we go. First of all, I want to clarify that I’m using the Harvard Referencing System, so if you’re using any other, I do not know how useful my tips will be.

So here are a couple of important things, which you may know but always seem to forget about referencing:

  • The references in the referencing list should always be in alphabetical order, not in order of citation in text. I stress on this one, because I always forget it myself… so yeah. Learn your A B C, or take a phone, either way;
  • If you’re unsure of how to reference a certain source, it is better to use book guides to referencing as opposed to the Internet, mainly because when it comes to Academic papers the Internet is pretty unreliable, I mean we can all share our opinion and the way we do it, but it is not backed up by any academic sources, so yeah… That is the reason why here I’m not going to explain how to reference sources per se, but rather give you a couple of hints on how to make sure that you get it right format wise;
  • When you’re doing a huge research it is good to have a word/text/whatever software you are using to type for all your sources only. This way you will know that you have all the references in one place and the second good reason (at least it seems so to me) is that it won’t interfere with your word count. So the idea is as soon as you put the intext citations, you take the link/book/journal/whatever source and you record it in the separate word file. After you’re done with the paper you can easily sort them out alphabetically and copy paste in the end of it. (By the way this advice comes from my tutor, so I don’t really take credit for it. See? I refer you to him 😉 Sorta.);
  • Don’t spend ages on your research, sure it’s good to have reliable sources, but learn to filter them. I’ve mentioned that in the previous topic as well, but you have to understand how important filtering is. If you’re reading a book, go to the index, see what chapter(s) concern you. If you’re online you have it even better – ctrl+f > input key words and BAAM!! You’re done;
  • Whatever referencing system you’re using try to keep it consistent. Actually if you’re using it correctly it must be consistent anyway, that’s how these things are designed.
  • Some online platforms such as instagram, facebook, twitter, etc. are relatively new, however you can still reference them. Most updated referencing guidebooks do include them due to their popularity as seeing as famous people find social media easy enough to share information you can quote their facebook updates.

 

Advertisements

Research!

Alright, so. That’s probably the hardest part (for me) because…

Well, because I do it wrongly. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Look for books/websites/articles/journals/magazines/interviews/online lectures/whatever else concerning your AoI (Area of Interest);
  2. Skim and scan the information;
  3. Filter whatever’s concerning your specific topic;
  4. If you find something interesting on a website, but the website looks a bit fishy eg. there’s no author, date of publication, references to other work try to look for the information somewhere else, because if the source doesn’t seem reliable it probably isn’t;
  5. Always, always, always cross reference and double check the information you found anywhere, even if you know it’s a source which is competent, you should always try to look somewhere else where they can confirm the fact (if it is a fact you are looking for) or back up the opinion or whatever. So, yeah. Besides it gives you a longer bibliography, which is always a plus;
  6. You should probably do around 10 more things that I’m unaware of, but hey! I’m doing just so I can improve my writing therefore don’t rely only on my half-assed advises. 😛

And here’s what you should not do but I find myself doing all. the. f*cking. time:

  1. Read the whole book; Do not do that; most of the information in the book is obsolete to your AoI and will not help you for the essay; if you’re interested in it you can always go back later, when you have time;
  2. Go through the website map and read all the pages;
  3. Read 3 volumes of National Geographic just to find this one interview;
  4. Try to look for online lectures on youtube and end up watching inspirational ted talks (don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that they are a waste of time. You don’t need someone to tell you that you can do it, you need to go ahead and do it.)
  5. Drink while you read. Trust me, you don’t need that. Cuz drinking leads to dancing and drunk dancing leads to injuries and you don’t need that in the middle of your thesis! Even though if it’s a mild thing, then you probably, maybe want it a little because then it’s you and your lap top and you have all the time to write it.
  6. Apparently there are probably a lot of other things you should not do, like plagiarize, but that’s like self-explanatory and I believe I had my fair share of wine, so that’s all I’ve got for you for tonight.

And no, no pretty pictures tonight. Ok, maybe one.img_5281

3.5k words, say what…

Alright, so we were given this 3.5k word essay to write with no topic or anything, so basically we have to come up with an “area of interest” (whatever that may be…) and a question and then write an essay about it. 🙂

Soooo… to be honest even though people say that I’m good at writing, I don’t really know how I do it, but I’ll sort of lead you through how I do it. And I’m going to write after each day to sort of sum up what I have done for the day on the project, etc. so you get the idea about my own time management, and to be honest so that I get the idea as well, because let’s face it I’m a total loser when it comes to not procrastinating.

So um, plan plan plan would be my best advice. I even planned what I’m going to write here, because otherwise I would get carried away.

img_5350

See how hopeless I am?

Ok, obviously now you can see the main points, but let me expand a little bit, because .. I like talking. And you probably like reading if you’re on wordpress.

  • Know your brief!

img_5347

That might seem simple enough, BUT I can bet my right middle ring that not many people do read this stuff. The good thing about briefs is that they outline exactly what is asked of you and if the first sentence doesn’t explain it well enough, well trust me on the second it will be much clearer. Besides on most of the backs of the briefs there’s a criteria which is basically how people grade you. You can literally just flip the back, check all the points and if you have them you pass, if not – tough luck; work harder!

  • Brainstorm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That’s literally the easiest and most important stage of your whatever project. This is where all of your ideas come together and you can filter the ones you believe you’re most interested in. As you can see on the slideshow I used 3 different markers, because I wanted to separate them in “I’m so in for that”; “if I have to..” and “meh but ok”. That’s when you know what you feel passionate about and especially if you’re writing an argumentative essay it’s really hard to engage with the topic unless you have some personal opinion about it. So yeah, as easy and trivial as brainstorming might seem I think it’s the most crucial part of the whole process, because that’s when you decide on your idea and you explore what you want to write about (if the topic hasn’t been given already).

  • Form an essay question.

This could be tricky as most people haven’t been required to do that before, so they don’t really know how to… Personally I still struggle with that part, but from what I’ve learned so far: if you’ve been given essay topics before try to analyze the questions already given to you – understand their format and how they promote a debate or encourage exploration of a certain topic. The second best thing to do is to research on variety of essay questions both from the Internet and offline resources. There are many examples and one of my ultimate favorite websites for proofreading/etc. is this . To be honest I’ve never used their services, but when I was first doing an argumentative essay their blog posts really helped me out. And then try to figure out in what specific aspect of your area of interest you are interested. For example, I chose (jk, I still haven’t chosen anything, but suppose that I have) Art Nouveau, now there’s a wide variety of topics connected with it such as architecture, illustrations, posters and whatever else decorative you can find out there. And then it’s sort of up to you how to form a coherent question and how to answer it.

Keep in mind that these steps are the beginning of most projects and you can use them wherever. Say I want to play a video game. First I’ll choose my area of interest (MOBA, RPG, MMORPG, RTS, FPS, etc.), then I’m gonna brainstorm all the games of this genre which I have and after that ok, I’m not gonna form a question but I will form a game :))) Or a character or … you get the point. So, yeah… here’s how to start. Don’t be afraid of the blank page. If it helps even start with scribbles, it doesn’t have to be something coherent. Everything starts with an idea and then you slowly build on it, as long as you spend some time thinking about the subject and doing a thorough research (more on that later) I believe you’ll be fine.

So, um. I hope you found something useful in here and I’ll be back with piles of advises on how to do a full blast research. Even though, I still get carried away in it. 😛