The skills you need to improve your assignments
To improve your assignments, it’s important to work on your academic skills.
Academic skills are skills that you will develop over the course of your studies and they’ll allow you to achieve the requirements of your assessments. You’ll produce high-quality assignments and avoid plagiarism and collusion if you build strong academic skills.
Here are some strategies you can use to improve them.
Get off to the right start
- Always ask your unit chair, lecturer or tutor if you have any questions or doubts about an assessment (earlier is always better). Make sure you follow the instructions provided for a particular assessment. You can also read our guides to writing reports, essays and presentations, which explain the differences between each form.
- Different units and different schools will use different referencing styles. Remember to check which style is required for your particular unit and stick to it.
- Never copy and paste text from sources. Instead, develop good critical thinking, reading and note taking strategies to summarise, paraphrase and keep track of your sources.
- When reading or taking notes, write down the full details of the source in a dedicated document. You’ll need the authors name, the book or article title, page numbers, publisher location and year and any other important pieces of information. This takes time, but will save time down the track.
Drafting, editing and proofreading
- It’s impossible to write a quality assignment in one go. Experienced writers know that good writing doesn’t just happen – it is crafted over time. You need to research, plan and draft. Take a look at the Academic Skills guide to drafting your assignment for a handy flowchart on the different stages of drafting.
- Edit your own assignments. It is acceptable to get someone to read over your work, but they shouldn’t do any significant editing or re-writing for you. It’s best if they simply mark errors in a red pen but not correct them. Unless it is an approved group assignment, make sure that the work that you submit has been written by you alone – if someone else re-writes any part of your work, you could face an allegation of collusion.
- Referencing is the act of attributing and providing extra information about the sources you have used in your writing. It acknowledges the source, and enables the reader to locate the source. There are many different referencing styles: the most commonly used at Deakin are AGLC, APA, Chicago, Harvard, IEE, Numbered Citation, Oxford and Vancouver. We have guides to all of them.
- The most important thing to remember about referencing is: if you don’t acknowledge sources correctly, whether accidentally or on purpose, plagiarism might occur. This means it’s essential to spend time getting your referencing right. The Deakin guide to referencing has advice on how to summarise, paraphrase and quote.
- Turnitin is a software program that detects similarities in wording between assignments and the program’s database of published academic material. Visit this page to learn how to use Turnitin and you can practice submitting to Turnitin in UniStart under the Digital Tools module.
- Turnitin can help you to identify where you may not have referenced quotes, paraphrases or summaries of sources appropriately. It can alert you to where plagiarism may have accidently occurred. But, be aware that Turnitin does not actually detect plagiarism. You will need to actively check your assignments after they’ve been submitted to Turnitin.
For more help with developing your academic skills, bookmark the following pages.
And for assistance with writing, editing or referencing, get in touch with the Study Support team. Study Support is comprised of a team of Language and Learning Advisers, Writing Mentors and Maths Mentors, who are available on campus and online. If you need help with writing or starting/completing an assignment, book a session now or just drop into the office. You can also browse their other resources in the ‘Studying’ tab of DeakinSync.