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Writing essays, assignments and reports


A- Preparing for a research assignment



Here is an extract from a study skills leaflet given to students at a university, containing advice on how to tackle a research project. Note the collocations in bold.


- All students are expected to submit a 5,000- word report, detailing their research project and presenting their findings.


- Select a research topic in discussion with your tutor. You will need to formulate a working hypothesis1 when you begin your study. The purpose of your research is to see if your data supports the hypothesis2.


- If you are undertaking3 a study which involves informants or volunteers, read the advice on research ethics4 in the department handbook.


- A key section of your report will be a literature review. This is not simply a summary of your background reading, but an in-depth critique5 of the most important books and articles, where you can show your awareness of current research


- Make sure you provide6 a rationale for your study, and always back up your conclusions with evidence; never exaggerate any claims you make


- Wherever appropriate, you should lay out your results in the form of tables, charts and diagrams


B- Other collocations often used in essays, reports and assignments


The book offers a vigorous1 defence of free market economics and makes the case for privatisation of all state-owned industries. It confronts issues which are of current importance in developing countries.


McGraw puts the case for single-sex primary education but he fails to tackle all of the issues that opponents of this approach to early schooling have raised.


This essay cannot give an exhaustive2 account of climate change; it focuses only on the risk to sea levels. Recent research indicates that sea levels are rising very rapidly.


Physicists have recently begun to formulate new theories about the nature of the universe. The big question is how to test these theories.


Although Kristov’s book covers a lot of ground, it does not offer a full explanation of the events leading to the civil war. Indeed, the thrust3 of Kristov’s argument is that such an account cannot be written, since the people with first-hand4 knowledge of those events are no longer living.


This essay provides a critical analysis5 of international trade agreements.

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