How do I develop postgraduate level writing skills?

At postgraduate level you will be expected to demonstrate more advanced research and critical thinking skills in your writing.

Evidence

  • You need to be proactive and self-directed in your approach to finding relevant sources and literature on your topic. 
  • You will be expected to identify and engage with a wide variety of scholarship and read extensively around your topic area. 
  • You must provide a detailed and persuasive rationale for the information you have collected. You must also acknowledge any limitations in your methodology or overall project. 

Complexity

  • PG level offers you further opportunity to specialise by gaining in-depth expertise on a specific topic. 
  • You must demonstrate a good understanding of complex concepts, models and theories relevant to your research area. 
  • Whilst you will be discussing and formulating complex ideas, you must do this using clear, straightforward language. 

Criticality

  • You will need to demonstrate high-level critical thinking skills by analysing and evaluating the sources you use, including any data that you have collected. 
  • In order to be persuasive, all your claims must be based on evidence. Ensure that no claims are made that appear to be opinion or aren’t supported by evidence.
  • You must demonstrate sound logic and reasoning when reaching conclusions. 

Project management

  • If you are conducting an extensive piece of research with many different elements, you will need a research plan.  
  • A research plan can help you set realistic objectives and spread these out over an extended period. This can help you stay on track. You may want to use a simple calendar to do this. Alternatively, using a flexible planning tool such as a Gantt chart can help you continually assess your progress at a glance. 
  • Remember that your plan may need to change if tasks are completed more quickly or slowly than anticipated. Often, in research, some tasks, such as data collection, don’t go to plan due to unforeseen difficulties. In addition, some tasks may be dependent on the availability of apparatus or other people’s time, which may be out of your control. A project plan can help you account for such issues and adapt accordingly.  

Further information 

For more resources to help with developing your academic skills, please visit the Skills for Learning website

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