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Researching and Referencing: Writing skills

This guide provides support to staff and students on research skills, referencing, study and writing skills and digital literacy

Writing Tasks

What are the steps in writing an essay?

Refer back to the Research Skills process to ensure that the information you have gathered meets the definition of your task.

  • Formulate your statement

 Organise the notes you have taken into

  • Main topics and sub topics
  • Record details of all sources consulted

Draft the Introduction

  •  A general introductory statement which lays the groundwork for the essay

The Body of the essay

  • Each paragraph is composed of key points expanded into topic sentences
  • The first paragraph begins with a topic sentence which introduces supporting ideas and evidence in the form of citations from your research material
  • The second sentence should discuss your support, give examples and analyse the significance of the examples
  • The last sentence should draw conclusions and point to the next paragraph
  • Each paragraph should work together to prove your main idea

The conclusion

  • The conclusion reflects on what has been stated and proved
  • Briefly re-state key points to remind the reader of how well you have made your case
  • Finish with a statement that leaves a strong impression and point to further thought

Present the information in the format required

  • Write the first draft
  • Edit and check
  • Re-write and edit
  • Check spelling and grammatical expression
  • Complete the bibliography in Harvard format

Assess your areas of strength and difficulty for future reference.


A report:

  • Is often a problem or case study that presents information, not an argument. It often provides recommended action to solve the problem or case study
  • Is to investigate, present and analyse information thoroughly and logically
  • Needs to consider the reader. If the problem or case study is posed by a client, then it needs to be directed or written for the client as the reader
  • Is always in sections and subsections with headings. The order is often shown by numbers and/or letters
  • Must be objective in style
  • A good report demonstrates good research skills and objective presentation and analysis of relevant information

For more on report writing, review the following sites;

What is a case study

A case study is a description of a real life problem or situation which requires analysis. You will need to describe and discuss the issues involved and provide recommendations based on your conclusions.

You can find out more about how to prepare and write your case studies using the links below.

What is reflective writing?

Watch this video to find out use reflective writing in your course.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is an investigation of sources such as books and articles that relate to a topic or question. The aim of a literature review is to establish what is known and what is not known (the gaps) within that topic.

How your literature review is structured and the approach you take will often be determined by the topic or discipline you are studying.

Here are a few resources that will help you get started:



Smarthinking is an addition to the wide variety of study support services that TAFE NSW already offer to help students with their learning needs, so you have the flexibility to choose the study support option that best suits you.

Suggested eBooks and Websites

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