Before sitting down to write this paper you must read the relevant chapter in Ellis et al. (2011). I would strongly advise that you also read the suggested reading for the topic that you choose (listed in module handbook). For those motivated to receive high grades, also conduct your own literature search in order to supplement the provided sources and to demonstrate independent thinking. Remember, it is important to only use high quality academic sources or articles written by reputable journalists.
Advice for Reading Academic Texts
Reading academic articles is not easy, especially if you are new to the subject. The key to making your load lighter is to read with purpose, identify the contribution that each article makes and critically engaging with it to build your understanding of your subject. Below are some tips that will hopefully make your task easier.
Read with a Purpose
You should read an article because it will extend your understanding of the subject in a particular way. The articles abstract will usually give you a good indication of how the article will contribute to your understanding. Identifying the particular reason for reading early is important.
An article may contribute to your understanding of theory, method or claimed truths. In many cases, only one of these factors will be the one that lead the lecturer to suggest the article. The rest may be of little consequence to you (but important to someone reading for a different purpose). The module outline, your existing understanding of marketing, other recommended readings, the title and abstract should help you identify the purpose.
Once you have identified the purpose of reading the article, you should feel empowered to read the article with that purpose in mind and to stop reading when you are prompted to rethink your ideas. You do not necessarily need to read all the article in depth. Instead, skim read to identify the parts that help with your purpose and your understanding of the context and then concentrate on the sections that add the most value to your understanding of the subject. Moreover, you should use your understanding of purpose, to select which articles you will read and in what order.
Critical reading requires engagement with the subject matter to understand it in the context of our existing knowledge. Does it support our existing way of thinking about the subject? Does it provide a useful example? Does it cause us to think differently about our subject? Does it require reconciliation with contradictory material? In this regard, critical reading should enable you to question received truths and begin to address the relationship between power and knowledge.
An essential part of critical reading is to try and build a model or broad understanding of the subject area. This will allow you to ‘slot in’ new understanding more easily and means that you don’t have to remember the details of each article, only the incremental contribution that they make to your overall understanding.
Reading for Comprehension
Much of what we have said already is contained within a well known technique for actively engaging with and extracting meaning from content – SQ3R. It is good for revision as well as reading something for the first time. ‘SQ3R’ stands for the five steps involved.
SKIM through the text quickly to get an overall impression.
QUESTION. If you are reading it for a particular purpose (for example, to answer an assignment), ask yourself how it helps. Also ask questions of the text: Who? What? Where? When? How?
READ. Read the text in a focused, and fairly speedy way.
REMEMBER. Test your memory – but don’t worry if you can’t remember much.
5 REVIEW. Read the text in more detail, taking notes. Use your own words.
Structuring Your Essay
After reading, you should plan a structure for the paper. For a 2000 word essay I would suggest the following structure:
3 to 4 Main Points
Also look at the language used in the journal article in the different sections. If you look closely you will see that there is a distinct use of terminology for an introduction, main body, and conclusion.
Introduction – 250 words
In the introduction you need to grab the readers attention and also tell the reader what you hope to achieve in the essay. This can be achieved in a number of ways; clearly state your objectives for the paper, discuss why the topic is important, or discuss the problem that you are going to address. Why is your chosen topic important for marketing students to understand? What warrants you writing an essay about this topic?
Use phrases like –
I aim to make an argument for…
In this essay I will address…
In this paper I will explore…
You need to think about which of your main points needs to be discussed first. Think about the chronology of what you are discussing. Would it make sense to discuss the historical development first? You also need to think about the way that the paper reads. You should structure your main points in a way that makes it as easy as possible for the reader to follow your argument.
Use quotations sparingly, and make sure to reference them properly. Remember if you paraphrase you need to reference also.
I would suggest no more than two quotations in any main point.
Introduce your quotation – According to Brown (2003, p.14)
Brown (2003, p.14) states
After you use a quotation you need to reflect on what this quotation means. Show us that you understand what it means and why it is important. Have a clear ending for each main point. Main points should be kept separate using paragraphs.
Main Point A – 500
Main Point B -500
Main Point C -500
Conclusion – 250/500
In the conclusion you need to tell us about what you achieved during the essay. Did you meet the objectives that you set out in the introduction? The conclusion is also an opportunity to reflect upon what you thought about the scholar. Do you agree or disagree with their work? It is essential to use the conclusion to reflect upon what you have learned during the course of this essay. What do you know now that you didn’t know before?
Use phrases like
During the course of this essay I…
In concluding this essay I feel that…
On a personal level I developed…