P – Preparation, presentation, purpose
Prepare yourself: time, place and space. Prepare by having the guidelines/instructions at hand. Know the word length, presentation requirements and the deadline for the work. If there are specific criteria, be aware of these. Read and re-read the purpose of the assignment. Plan your paragraphs. Remember to leave time for proofreading your work.
L – Learning outcomes, level, literature search
Any academic piece of writing usually has to demonstrate achievement of specific learning outcomes. Check that you know what these are. You will also need to understand the elements required to write at a certain level. There may be criteria for this. A good literature search will help with your planning (another blog sometime soon!).
A – Analyse
Analyse the essay title or question carefully. What is it you are being asked to do? (the process or instruction). Is it: to discuss, critically analyse, evaluate or reflect, for example?
What is the main subject or content area to be discussed? What is the scope or limit of the topic? Are there any other significant words or key aspects that you need to be aware of?
N – Notes
Make clear notes on your reading and keep a detailed record of your references. This will help you a great deal when writing up. Will a list, spider chart, flow chart or mind-map help you to plan? Think about using Who? What? Why? How? When and Where? In your planning.
N – Note-taking, number of words
Annotate hard copies of a text or highlight on the computer. Write keywords in the margins to note important terms. Check the amount of words for each section to ensure that you stay focussed.
I – Instruction
Check again what you are being asked to write about.
N – Necessary pauses
Take time out to write and reflect. Becker (2015) has some excellent advice in Chapter 16.
G – Genre, gather material, grammar
Is the work a report, an essay or a reflective account or a mixture of these? Check that you know the difference and what is required for each. Use different databases and sources to gather material for your work. A good academic writing style is important. Know how to check for grammar and spelling errors.
Sources of reference:
Becker, L. (2015). Writing Successful Reports and Dissertations. London: Sage.
Godwin, J. (2003). Planning your essay. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ridley, D. (2008). The Literature Review: A Step-by-step Guide for Students. Los Angeles: Sage.