It’s that time of the academic year when all students seem to be fretting about ‘deadlines’. Different modules require coursework to be submitted either the week before we break up for the Christmas holidays, or the week we return. It’s a stressful time of year as although we’ve all had over a month (or the whole semester in some cases) to complete however many thousand words it is this time, we all seem to leave it until later.
I’m trying to time my library loans cleverly so that nobody requests the books before I leave for the Christmas break and I’ve also put requests in on a few books, hoping to get them for the last week of term and over the holiday. Despite the huge amount of e-books available online, millions of academic books haven’t been converted into digital format yet, so it’s still a matter of students reserving library books and rushing to read the short loan books, which are due back the following day.
The whole concept of academic coursework is still quite surreal to me, you get given a question asking you to discuss the theme of love in someone’s poetry: to discuss the theme, you have to read other academics’ books to get ideas (not necessarily the poem), but you can’t write these ideas in your essay, as that would be plagiarism, instead you have to paraphrase or edit the author’s words and reference it. To me, everytime I use a reference, it feels like I’m cheating and copying someone else’s work, but this is how to write coursework and as a secondary school teacher once told me,
It’s not about knowing the subject, it’s about playing the game and knowing how to win.
Despite this being my third year of writing references into my essays, it hasn’t got any easier. I now know the difference between Harvard referencing and using footnotes, but I would still have to google how to use each method if I was to do it by hand. Through the Her Campus bloggers network, I was introduced to RefME, a website and app that helps to create and store references and it’s saved me so much time when writing my essay.
If the book has a barcode, you scan the barcode with your phone and the app automatically registers the reference into whichever referencing style you are using. If (like the readings I’ve been using) don’t have a barcode or is an electronic journal, you can enter the names, dates, page numbers etc manually and the website still puts all the information together in the correct order and style. You can also save all the references by category, so I’ve made separate sections for each essay I have to write. It’s such a great app and website, I’m surprised at how easy the interface is to use and how long it’s taken for somebody to develop something like this. I will definitely be using it throughout the year for my other essays. To sign up, click here and then activate your account by following the instructions in your email, even if you use it for one essay, it will save you having to look up which part of the reference is in italics, as it does it all for you!
Actually, thinking about it… my other two academic coursework essays are both due in after Christmas. Wow. That’s a relief, as I struggle with coursework. My other three pieces of coursework following that are creative writing in Spanish, so no need for references there. I think coursework is stressful for all students but when it’s written up, formatted correctly and you use the machine to stamp the date on the hard copy, it’s such a relief. Luckily, I am better than Spongebob at writing essays.