How to Study at University

Practical tips and general thoughts on how to study at a Western university


Writing Essays This is a very full, often detailed but also often chatty, introduction to writing academic essays. There is a lot here and it can be read step by step like a course or searched for the particular point you want to study. Written by Dr David Kennedy and supported by the Royal Literary Fund.

Common Error Detector This is a free site provided by the Centre for Independent Learning which is part of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This site has many useful pages so please take your time and have a look around. The Common Error Detector will help you find some – but not all – of the grammar, vocabulary and academic style mistakes you may have made in your writing. Just copy and paste your writing into the box provided, click submit, and the Error Detector will automatically check your text and advise you on how to fix it.

DOC Cop This free plagiarism detection site will help you find strings of words that you have copied – I hope accidentally – from web sites. Note that it does not cover books or journals that do not appear on the internet. The software will find parts of your essay that you have cited and referenced correctly (well done!), and common strings of words that could easily have been written by many people. It will also find parts of your essay that you have not paraphrased well enough. You have to decide how to deal with what the software finds. You can only test up to 550 words at a time but you can divide your essay into several parts to do this. You will need to register once and remember your ID number.

Internet Detective This is more a research site than a writing site. It helps you decide whether you can trust online sources and use them in your writing or other study (presentations etc.). It is very user friendly and is in a tutorial format. If you work through the tutorial, it could save you a lot of time and marks later.

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