Must-Read Series Part 1: A lecturer’s guide to writing a good dissertation – Understanding Plagiarism, Ghost-writing and Referencing.
观众云：what are you 弄啥类？
I will be giving you an inside look into the tips and tricks that can help you improve your dissertation. As a university lecturer, I understand the many difficulties international students face before they even put pen to paper. Terms like plagiarism, and referencing confuse even the most able students – but not anymore. In this edition of our Must-Read Series, I will demystify Plagiarism, Ghost-writing and Referencing.
We’ve all heard the phrase, but what does it really mean? Essentially, plagiarism refers to a student using statements made by others without referencing them. If you find yourself in the situation where you are trying to pretend that a piece of work is your own when it really is not, then that is considered plagiarism.
Why is it so serious?
Plagiarism is taken very seriously because it is simply a form of cheating. Now you may have heard stories about a ‘friend-of-a-friend’ escaping the watchful eye of their lecturers and universities, but consider this sheer luck and are likely to use Turnitin which detects any possible plagiarism from your submitted work. At worst, some may even consider removing a student from their programme of study or the university, if they repeatedly submit plagiarised work.
What should I remember?
The main thing to remember is to plan your time and reference appropriately. Unfortunately, plagiarism often occurs from students forgetting to use in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies (this will be covered in the last section). We lecturers do want you to showcase your wide reading and therefore want you to include referenced arguments made by experts. It would be easier if you could mark the references whilst you are writing the essay, and consolidate the bibliography after finish writing. Nowadays, many reference generating servises are available online, you may would like to have a try.
“抄袭”这词人人都听过，但究竟是个啥意思？其实，抄袭就是指明明引用了别人说过的话或是写过的句子，却不事先声明一下自己在引用，而是假装自己原创。就好比你写了句全世界人都知道的’To be or not to be, it is a problem.’ 在自己的文章里，但没有注明这是莎翁的句子，那就算作是抄袭啦！
Referencing (aka citing)
Importance of referencing. As mentioned previously, referencing, also known as citing, is a key area which often gets overlooked by many students, due to its low mark allocation. But remember, without referencing appropriately, you could be caught for plagiarism.
I would describe referencing as a method to highlight the information sources used in the body of any text. Referencing is used to acknowledge statements or quotes from an expert, and to allow the reader to trace the source. Please use published sources as references such as academic textbooks, journals (e.g. business journals), newspapers (broadsheet newspapers, not tabloid newspapers), and government sources (such as a range of news websites) rather than sources whereby it is often not possible to know the writer and therefore have no idea of the level of trustworthiness of the source (such as Wikipedia). If you would like to cite other’s dissertation, it is usually viable for those written by PHDs, as other dissertations are normally not published, and may result in suspicision of plagiarism.
What supervisors look for?
Dissertation supervisors and lecturers expect you and every other student to follow the rules set by a specific referencing system, i.e. Harvard-style or Chicago. Firstly you need to ensure you understand what these rules are for each type of source you use (e.g. online source, book, journal, newspaper, etc). Once you have the understanding you must adhere to those given rules. For example, if you put forth an argument from ‘expert A’, it is essential to include their name and date of source in brackets, within the text.
How to reference i.e. Harvard Template/Example
To fully understand the referencing method for commonly used materials, make sure to visit your university library.
I hope you are now armed with the knowledge to write a great dissertation!
Last but not least, I would like to emphasize again that integrity is always the most important thing that UK schools and teachers concerns. You may have noticed that there have been more examinations especially set for Chinese students these years. This is actually a method that schools use to assess the true ability of students again, reducing the chance of plagiarism and ghost-writing being neglected.
Welcome back students! As autumn is well under way, many of us have already scoured our wardrobes for coats and scarfs, and the kitchen for that warm cup of coco. But unfortunately October never disappoints in bringing along assignments, assignments and more assignments. To make sure you hit the new term running, I will be giving you an inside look into the tips and tricks that can help you improve your dissertation. As a university lecturer, I understand the many difficulties international students face when structuring and presenting their work. Let this be a thing of the past. In this edition of our Must-Read Series, I will break down the best way of producing an A-grade presented and composed piece of work.
欢迎回来！一转眼秋天就到；小热裤也都没法穿了；超市里热巧也开始越来越受欢迎了。当然还有: 作业，作业，作业！别担心，为了帮你顺利熬过这人生中最黑暗的时期， 今天要告诉大家写论文的各种小技巧，各种小秘籍。虽然我是老师，但还是会感同身受（委媛：毕竟也被虐过）；大部分留学生都会面临写论文的一系列问题。我要做的就是把你从这场噩梦中拯救出来了（当然不是叫你找代写啦）！在今天这篇文章里我要教大家四个重要的因素：CW，学术写作风格，标点和拼写以及论文表述。
(CW) Command Words
What are ‘command words’?
Ah, good ol’ command words. When I was a student, it took me a long time to understand what they are and why getting top marks depends on your understanding of them. The best definition of a command word is, the main verbs that appear in an assessment question. Command words indicate what approach should be applied to answering the question.
“Compare the differences between…” Compare: discuss two or more things in terms of their similarities and differences.
“Please evaluate…” Evaluate: judge; criticise in terms of impact/significance, and investigate the implications.
“Assess the reasons why…” Assess: decide the value of; judge; measure the importance of something.
Are they really important?
In short, yes. Comprehending command words is a common issue for a range of students I work with. A misunderstanding of the command word will lead to you misunderstanding the question. If, for example, you are asked to ‘evaluate’ the use of a business model by a particular organisation, but you end up simply ‘describing’ it instead, there is a strong likelihood that the marker will consider your written response to be descriptive rather than evaluative; therefore not really providing an appropriate response to the actual task given. In the end marks will be taken off.
Okay, but what should I do?
Make a list of command words and find each definition. When you have time, I suggest you look online for basic assignment questions and practise writing short answers. Every little bit helps! Remember, understanding command words is a most significant step towards understanding what the assessment requires. In turn, you will be able to research and write your response effectively.
学术写作 Academic Writing
What is academic style writing?
My definition of academic writing is a clear and concise way of writing that expresses your ideas and understanding of a subject, often using more formal vocabulary, a defined structure, and clear evidence to support your arguments.
How do I adopt an academic style in my writing?
Be objective: Try to avoid using the first person. Any arguments you present should be presented in the third person or in a way which does not stress your personal opinion too strongly e.g.: ‘It could be said that…’ or ‘Some have argued that…’ etc, (unless specified by your institution that they want you to include personal opinions throughout). You may need to present your final opinion in the conclusion however. Remember to support your views with evidence from other sources.
Structure your writing: Essays usually include an introduction, paragraphs covering different aspects of the subject (these may be divided into section i.e.: methodology, results etc) and a solid conclusion at the end. Each paragraph must also use this formula: P.E.E, which means Point, Example, and Explain. If you follow this basic structure for all paragraphs, I am sure you will start to make your writing better!
结构：学术论文的构架通常可分开到三个部分：概论，主体和结论，而主体也可以分开成不同部分。无论多大多小，每个段落都应该用一种简单而有效的标准格式: P.E.E标准格式(Point观点，Example例子，Explain解释分析， 名字不好听，不过确实如此)。这就是写好论文的核心一步。
Appropriate Language: Use more formal language and avoid contractions, slang or informal expressions. Instead use linking words and connecting phrases, such as, additionally, in contrast, in order to, as a consequence, despite the fact that etc.
Remember to use your tenses appropriately. If you are talking about something which was said or done in the past, use the past tense. But if you are talking about something which is still true now or has an impact in the present, use the present tense e.g.: Smith stated that writing an essay requires certain skills (2010). Smith’s point illustrates that students need to work hard to achieve well (present).
还想得起中学老师们教你在什么情况下用过去时和现在时么？过去做的事儿 – 过去式；现在做着的事儿 – 现在时——用在论文里也不例外。例如: “The business introduced （过去式）
a new marketing campaign last year” 对比 “The business is currently creating （现在式）a new marketing campaign”. 不过如果你所说的事虽然发生在过去，可到目前为止一直没有变化，或者是对现在有影响，那也是要用现在时而不是过去时。
标点和拼写 Punctuation and Spelling
Why is punctuation and spelling important?
Poor grammar is something us lecturers cannot stand. When writing an essay, it is important to remember your basic English skills, for example using articles, basic sentence structure and basic punctuation. Getting the basic punctuation and grammar right will mean the reader becomes more involved in your actual arguments, rather than struggling to understand the meaning of what you have written. It can also gain you extra marks overall.
What can I do to improve in this area?
Try to follow the basic structure for paragraphs (P.E.E.), as outlined above. Also get someone else to check your work if possible and see if they can understand your meaning. Additionally, always spell check your work before submitting and factor in time to check your work before the final submission – checking should be part of the essay writing process!
Why good presentation can get you higher marks – what do markers looks for?
I have realised throughout my experience that many students look at the mark scheme for presentation and see it as insignificant, due to the overall marking of their assignment. Thinking like this will definitely hinder your chances of getting a 1st or 2:1. When marking dissertations, I believe a well-written academic piece owes itself to a good structure. Ensure you follow the guidelines from your institution and have clearly defined sections and paragraphs. Also ensure that paragraphs are not too long and that sentences are concise and meaningful. If your marker has to go back and read sentences and paragraphs again, they are likely to give you lower marks, so ensure you make your arguments clearly and also reference appropriately.
论文阐述要求 General Presentation Requirements for Dissertations
Below is a basic outline of a dissertation or essay structure (this can vary between institutions slightly):
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Literature Review
Chapter 3. Methodology
Chapter 4. Results and Analysis
Chapter 5. Discussion
Chapter 6. Conclusion
Bibliography & Appendices
It’s a good idea to write an overall plan outlining what you need to cover in each chapter.
Think of a dissertation like a series of linked essays; each chapter is self-contained and has its own purpose, but they all connect together to contribute to the argument of your dissertation. The chapters don’t have to all be the same length – some can be longer because they are more detailed (like the literature review) and others can be shorter because they are summarising and finalising information (like the conclusion).
I hope you are now armed with the knowledge to write a great dissertation! If you still have any questions, please contact me or the client care support team at CNA.