When you do your work at university you will be expected to do it in a way that is honest and fair. Sometimes students may try to do the right thing, but not yet know how to. The terms ‘bad academic practice’ and ‘good academic practice’ are sometimes used to refer to the way work for assignments and exams are produced. This short guide will provide information and link to resources to help you do your work in a way that meets the highest standards.
Academic work involves learning particular ways to practice professionally and do research. As a student you will be expected to locate, access and read the right sources of information, evaluating and referring to relevant research evidence as it relates to your assignments, exams, and coursework. In short, as a student you are expected to be joining in the right academic conversations, both as a reader and as an active participant in terms of your own writing and other academic work. Engaging fully with academic research requires good time management, the capacity to find reliable information, and the ability to read critically.
Once you begin to read relevant research scholarship, you will be expected to engage with it critically – that is, not just accepting what you read at face value, but being able to compare different perspectives, to consider alternate viewpoints, to think about how your reading relates to your assignment or course, and to ask your own critical questions of what you are reading. Academic writing (essays, reports, dissertations, as well as oral presentations) involves responding to what you have read, and relating the things you have read to each other. In other words, you will be expected to learn ways to turn your reading into writing. Following on from your critical reading, you will find it useful to develop effective notemaking skills, noting key ideas and keeping track of patterns and connections between your readings. You will also be expected to learn to write critically – going beyond describing what you have read to critically analyse and evaluate it as well.
Not only will you need to read the right sources of information and communicate what you have been reading through your writing, you will also be expected to develop and communicate your own perspectives and viewpoints. This involves evaluating what you have read, showing how academic research is relevant to your assignment briefs or exam questions, discussing the significance of your findings to practice, and developing logical arguments that make sense of what you have learned. Crucial to developing your critical writing and the use of reasoning and evidence in your writing is being able to link your reading to your writing through clear referencing using the appropriate referencing system for your course.
The work you submit for assessment – assignments, exams, presentations – must be prepared to a high standard. Because it links what you have read in the work of others with your own ideas, clear and correct referencing is particularly important. For written coursework, the capacity to proof-read your work is very important too. This includes the use of appropriate terminology, an appropriate academic tone, correct grammar, correct spelling, and appropriate punctuation. Writing to this standard requires careful management of your time. For exams, your ability to plan your study and revise effectively, as well as to develop your capacity to respond to exam-style questions in long and short forms will be crucial. Clear referencing, effective proof-reading, and good time management are all skills you will be expected to develop to produce good academic work.