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University Section


1. Overview

2. Analyse Question

3. Research

4. Essay Structure

5. Tone

6. Paragraphs

7. Argument

8. Introduction & Conclusion

9. Final Draft

10. References



Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Study Tools: Dictionaries, encyclopaedias and more >

3. Research


Generate Ideas; Research them.

Guidance on how to make best use of your time in the library.



I know the task, but I don't know what I can write about!

This is a common reaction. As you look for ideas for your essay, the best starting point is often by thinking about what you already know. If you feel your knowledge of the question topic is weak, you could try looking in an encyclopaedia first to give you an overview of the topic area, before you go on to read more specialist literature.


Get everything out of your brain and onto paper! Go>


Useful questions from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) to help you generate ideas. Go>

Planning and Preparing

Advice from Surrey University about generating ideas for your essay and producing a draft essay plan. Go>


This free online encyclopaedia is a useful starting point if you need an overview of your topic area. Go>




Finding Sources


Conducting an effective search using a library catalogue or an Internet search engine is a skill that time to develop. Consider techniques such as using synonyms, and choosing broader or narrower terms ('apple' is a narrower term than 'fruit'). Ask your librarian for more advice.

Using Research and Evidence

Advice from the Online Writing Lab (OWL). Go>

Evaluating sources's Virtual Library

A huge list of useful online resources. Go>

Google Scholar

Google's own search facility for academic literature. Go>

About Google Scholar

How Google Scholar works with libraries

Google Book Search

Some books can be previewed online. Go>

Online Library Catalogues

An A-Z of all UK universities with online catalogues that can be searched. Go>



Reading Effectively


An introduction to the SQ3R technique. Go>


S - Survey

Q - Question

R1 - Read

R2 & R3 - Recall and Review

Taking notes from reading

Cutting it down to size

How to Read

About 'purposeful' and 'interactive' reading. Go>

Skimming for General Meaning

How to quickly pick out the main points in a text. The advice is illustrated well with examples. Go>


Advice about how to make clear and concise notes from your reading, plus excellent examples. Go>

Example 1 - Oils

Example 2 - Grammar

Example 3 - Tea

Example 4 - High-speed language learning

Example 5 - Co-education schools

Example 6 - Vegetarianism

Introduction to note-taking




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