Do you enjoy writing essays? Not everyone does. (Maybe you feel your strengths are more in playing the piccolo than perfecting paragraphs?) If producing 1.5k words gives you the shivers, then overdoing the caffeine won’t settle your nerves, but maybe some advice from those who have been there already, might help you feel calmer and more productive.
The Library portal pages include a section on Smart Study and Research Skills. It offers information about referencing, answers some FAQs, and tells you how to contact the Effective Learning Service (ELS).
If you’re wondering where to start – the Library can help you source useful resources and give help with referencing. And the Effective Learning Service can help with structuring and writing your assignment.
So, the Library and ELS complement each other. But whichever service you contact first, we’ll do our best to help you and will refer you to our counterparts if it seems they would be a better fit for your particular enquiry.
Tips From the Librarians
We have a few tips that might be useful:-
Look at the essay title carefully – what have you been asked to do? (For example, if you’re asked to write about two playwrights, don’t get carried away and write about more!) Does it ask you to compare and contrast? That’s a bit more than just describing, so work out what exactly can be compared and contrasted. Does it ask you how something influenced something else? What answers might you give? You get the drift.
If the essay question relates to a lecture you’ve been given, remind yourself what the key points were, and whether you had any recommended reading. If you can usefully cite something you have read, it shows you’ve been doing some effective studying. If you’ve found more useful literature, cite that too, and show you understand how it fits into the bigger picture.
Decide on some search terms that you can use in library Catalogue or Catalogue Plus searches. This is where we can really help, if you get stuck. We’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time perfecting our own search skills over the years! We’ve also got loads of experience of sourcing materials in the performing arts.
Don’t try to read whole books if only one or two sections are clearly relevant. And don’t feel obliged to read dozens of books for a comparatively short essay – you’ll just get bogged down. Is it relevant? Read and take notes. Is it probably irrelevant? Move on!
As for structuring an essay – here’s a piece of useful advice which seems almost flippantly simple, but is based on common sense. (Sadly, we can’t remember where we first heard it, so we can’t reference it correctly!):-
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them (the introduction and background);
- Tell them;
- Tell them what you’ve told them (summary and conclusions)
Effective Learning Service
The effective learning tutors can support you in various aspects of your work at RCS. This could include:
- Academic, practical and reflective writing
- Structuring your assignment
- Identifying and integrating sources into your work
- Choosing an appropriate writing style
- Improving your critical analysis
- Managing your time, and more…
You can contact them via the link on our portal page, if you would like to set up a one-to-one appointment (mainly via Teams, but face-to-face appointments are also possible).