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Information Literacy Tutorial: Tips for academic writing

A module-based information literacy tutorial that addresses each stage of the research process, including selecting a topic, identifying information needs, selecting sources, locating information, evaluating information, and citing sources.

Basic tips for improving your writing

Constructing sentences

Ask yourself:  “What is the thing I want to say?”, then try to express that as simply as possible.

Try saying it out loud first before writing it down.  Be prepared to change it later on if you think of a better way of putting it.

Keep it simple.  Express one point per sentence.  This helps you avoid getting into a tangle of bad grammar or logical thought.  Long sentences are difficult to read and understand.

Read and re-read each paragraph aloud to check that all your sentences are complete and sound right.  See if you can improve the writing by trying out different ways of constructing the sentences.  Ask a friend to read it and comment on what is confusing.  Then try to make it clearer.  Get rid of unnecessary words.

Keeping to the topic

Keep your essay plan in sight.  You should be checking that each one of your paragraphs is relevant to the essay topic, and builds towards your overall argument or position.

Each paragraph should have a topic sentence which indicates the main point of each paragraph.  Does each statement in that paragraph relate to the topic sentence?  Check that you’re not wandering off into something irrelevant.


Make sure the tone is not too informal:  e.g. write “there is” rather than “there’s” / “do not”, instead of “don’t”.

Try to state your own views in an impersonal way.  E.g.:  “It seems logical to assume that …..”  or “A more useful way of looking at the problem is ….”  rather than “I think”

Be careful of bias or prejudice in your thinking.  Your viewpoints must be honest but fair, backed up with evidence.

Guide your Reader

Signal words tell the reader where the argument is going.  Try inserting these words to help guide your reader.  (Table borrowed from “Essay Success”, Deakin University)

Addition in addition, again, also, and, besides, further, furthermore, moreover, too, similarly
Cause and effect accordingly, as a result, consequently, otherwise, therefore,
thus, as a result, so, hence, as a consequence
Comparison similarly, likewise, in the same manner, also, as well as
Concession otherwise, admittedly, however, nevertheless, of course, after all, nonetheless, indeed
Conclusion in conclusion, to sum up, finally, lastly, to conclude, accordingly, overall
Connections in time after a short time, afterwards, as long as, as soon as, at last, at length, at that time, at the same time, before, currently, earlier, of late, immediately, in the meantime, lately, later, meanwhile, presently, shortly, since, soon, temporarily, thereafter, until, when, while
Contrast in contrast, although, and yet, but, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, on the contrary, conversely, whereas, alternatively, in spite of
Emphasis undoubtedly, indeed, true, above all, most important, the main point here is
Examples for example, for instance, in other words, in illustration, in this case, in particular, specifically, an example of this
Qualification except for, admittedly, studies suggest that, perhaps, it would seem that, it tends to be the case that, may be, could be
Sequencing firstly, secondly, lastly, finally, then, too



   End of Module. Go to Module 7.  


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