Any tips for Masters level study?(19 Posts)
I am doing my first module at M level and wondered if anyone has any tips/advice they are willing to share? I'm doing a 5000 word essay so need to develop my criticality, synthesis, etc.
Things I wish someone had made clear to me this time last year:
Answer the question set, clearly and explicitly
Have an opinion (but back it up)
It will eat way more time than you think - plan from the outset not from when the first assignment is set
It will get easier as you get into it, don't fret if the first mark you get back isn't what you'd hoped for
Our profs like concrete evidence on any critically reflective writing and only 3/4 sentences between references (I did a 2500 word essay with 13 references... that was considered "wide reading" and anything less was commented more negatively on in the cohort) Basically, back up everything you say!
Well done for doing your Masters, really hope you enjoy it. These are my top tips -
Your topic will naturally be broken down into smaller subjects when you write - e.g. if you're discussing green grapes vs. red grapes, you will look at a.) What are grapes? b.) Why are they different colours? c.) Are green grapes or red grapes better for you? Research, research and research some more into these smaller subjects - dedicate a lot of time to finding articles with different opinions/ideas and compare them against one another; then you can draw a conclusion and form your own opinion from what you've read.
Try not to use direct quotes, it's generally frowned upon at this level - just write what you want to say and give a nod to the sources in brackets at the end / quote the author at the start as this show you have processed and understood the information and not just copied it out of a book / journal.
All tutors are different but generally they like a moderately long conclusion and not just a few sentences. When you write your conclusion go back to your original topic and summarise the key and salient points/discussions/questions you raised throughout the essay - this should finally join it all together for your big finale!
Good luck x
Set aside a set time to do your study, I did a part time one whilst working full-time so needed to carve out around 10 hours a week to keep up with it. I loved it and am doing further research in the field for fun now, but it took me a little while to realize how much time I was going to need to dedicate to it!
What subject are you doing,out of interest?agree with ppm about the quotes, I wasn't told this until about halfway through when one of my lecturers told us that the fewer the quotes the better.
At masters lever you want to be looking at asking your own questions and doing critical analysis (this is absolutely key).
Research your subject matter thoroughly. Although quotes should be minimal you should still make reference to the research but discuss and evaluate using your own words. I found that reading various journals and articles around and subject and using the studies and conclusions within then to discuss the subject matter helped me to work out the direction of my essays.
Good luck with it!
Work out your argument, argue it coherently and then show how it contributes to other research in your field?
The 'so what?' question is useful too.
Thank you all for replying!
LifeinJeneral it's initially a specialist critical care course (ITU nursing) which has two modules of 20 credits each, but I can go on to combine that with other credits and make a MSc in Nursing Practice.
This initial assignment involves demonstrating a holistic assessment of, and critically evaluating the care of, a specific critically ill patient and examining implications for future practice. So it's bringing theory together with practice, justifying care with an evidence base and maintaining the third person, while self-evaluating and reflecting....it's going to be tricky to structure.
I would add, get hold of the marking schedule for any assignments (if available - definitely will be for the dissertation if you do one) and work to that. It will give you a good idea of where the marks are given and how much time/many words are needed for each section. I have fallen into the trap of not dealing with a key part of the assignment before now. Best of luck!
Reflect on what you are writing about. Remember that the lecturers do not consider you have a view, therefore. You need to use other views and have contrasting views. For example Gold states that's jaffas are cakes (reference, date) whereas Keele (reference) and Jones (reference) concurs that they are pancakes as purported in the debate of xxxx, his is agreed with and supports the rational for no tax......or similar. Manages to get three references of different and yet supporting opinion and shows both reading, topic knowledge and understanding.
Oh, and it's good practice to use different references, so books, papers and also practical experience noted by others.
That's great advice, thank you. Would you be wary of peer reviewed but foreign journals? I'm wary in the sense that I'm not familiar with them and don't know how rigorous the standards for publication are, but then feel that perhaps I'm being unwittingly racist??
No, I would not be wary, it shows that your are indeed a wider reader and know that differences occur within the global market
Dissertation - make sure it is an area you are totally and utterly interested in. It will seem an last endless piece of work and research, if you're half hearted about it at the start ..it will be twice as hard
(Advice given toy MA cohort by the group just finishing theirs)
It was excellent advice, I became totally consumed by mine
But of course I do not seem to have 'mastered' typing to a phone
Following as I've just enrolled for my MA.
That’s a very different subject to anything I’ve studied so take this with a pinch of salt, and use what you find helpful.
Have a look at the marking rubric and make sure you get the ‘free marks’ ie there will normally be 20 or so put aside for format/clarity of expression and proper referencing. If the tutor wants it written in Comic Sans, 14 point, double spaced, do it even if you think it’s stupid. It sounds really basic but it’s amazing how many students miss out on the free marks.
Sign post – eg state what a paragraph is about and remind the tutor what you’ve already done: ‘having undertaken a holistic assessment of the care of patient x, this paper now considers…’ or something like that. You’ll know from your reading what the conventions are in your field. Introductions get written last once you know what you’ve done. Mine took a general format of: Broad statement about the subject. Introduction of controversies. This paper [general statement of tack the paper is taking] Firstly, it considers blah; next, it turns to blah, considering particularly blah. It integrates the insights from blah1 and blah2 and offers a critical analysis of blah. Finally it concludes with blah, proposing blah (normally ideas for future work). That kind of thing anyway, so they know from the start what you’re aiming at - make it easy for them to give you the marks!
Possibly dependent on subject: for us top marks were reserved for original thought and proposing new ideas. If there are limitations in existing methods, mention them – but I'm not sure about that: with patient care, possibly they don’t want students to start making up new and ignoring established procedures....
I reference heavily and would normally average at least one reference per hundred words, but you can stack them, and should, if there if a lot of evidence. “Numerous studies attest to the importance of y (eg: reference 1, year; reference 2, year; reference 3, year.)”
Critical evaluation can include things that go well as well as things that go badly.
Use the referencing software, endnote, or whatever you have. If you’re not familiar with it already, it really helps to get a handle on it early on and not wait until starting dissertation.
Give yourself enough time, but don’t give yourself too much, otherwise you can start second guessing yourself. I write about 800-900 words a day, but final draft standard and fully referenced. Other people write twice as fast but then do a second edit – different approaches work for different people.
You should receive lots of feedback on your first assignment. If you have an opportunity to discuss with your tutor make sure you do.
Hope it goes well.
I'd say do loads of reading before beginning to write an assignment. I started writing some assignments quickly because I've been worried about losing time, but then got stuck because I've realised I don't know enough about the topic!
When writing essays, a clear, concise intro explaining what you're going to write about, then the main body in structured paragraphs, making sure to clearly answer the question, then a conclusion telling the reader what you've written about. Agree with above, no quotes...
Lots of references. I usually tripled the amount they said was the minimum required number. It's a really easy way to gain marks, as is writing clearly and succinctly with no typos.
As others have mentioned, they want you to be critical and give your own point of view. Just make sure to back everything up.
Read the question and reread and really check you understand what they're asking. Write it on a post-it and stick it to your monitor so you can keep referring to it.
Good luck! I'm really enjoying mine, just about to start my final year (dissertation).
Thank you so much! That is all so very helpful.
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