Wednesday, October 20, 2010

to quote wikipedia or not to quote, that is the question - referencing

Luxor -2008
Using wikipedia - to quote or not to quote that is the question

I've received this query:
Am i allowed to quote wikipedia or should I find their sources?

I hear a lot of arguments about using Wikipedia.
Some academics say it is fine to use it, others will not tolerate it.

The real issue a little different:

Basically: you can quote anyone and anything there is no limit to this.
The key in academic writing is to clearly state who you are quoting and where and what.
i.e. full references.

But the question is really: is Wikipedia  an adequate authority ?
For general background and introduction to a topic it is excellent.
I personally like it and use it a lot

The core question is really:  What is the best source to support my argument ?

if you are going to argue seriously for an idea you need to go to serious authorities.
ie.: you can't base your serious PHD research about micro-controllers or diabetes on THE AGE newspaper, MX magazine or wikipedia.
In others words you can't say: "its true because it's in "THE AGE" or Women's weekly, or Wikipedia, you need to go the the appropriate authority and source.

If you are looking for an introduction to a topic Wikipedia is great.
When I had to quickly get up to speed on chip design, leakage currents, etc... Wikipedia was excellent in giving a good introduction.
If I'm going to do breakthrough research I can't base my arguments on Wikipedia, I would use the original sources.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

most effective study skills

interesting list of things to do to study most effectively

some of these I have done automatically and intuitevely others I have learnt from this post....

Sunday, July 25, 2010

making the best of it

Making the best of things that might seem like a pain
Have you been asked to present your work for the University Open Day ? 
 Is your reaction: 

Open day... groan.............
to make the most of Open Day for YOURSELF:
  1. - come to open day and exhibit your project, jazz it up.
  2. - take photos of yourself surrounded by eager young innocent Engineering students of the future...
  3. - keep proof your having participated.
add photos of yourself and proof from 2. 3. above to your CV and show to future employers at interviews.
Goes down REALLY WELL !!!
Optional extra: follow the advice on:
and add your Open Day material to the site.
NB: instead of Open Day you can substitute any number of similar events.... be creative...

Monday, July 19, 2010

improving your English HOW TO

how do I improve my English ?
Simple: Do two things: 

First:   Take your writing or your speaking: 
identify the ONE key error that you make most of the time. 

Then fix that. Concentrate on it until you have mastered it. Just that ONE thing. 

It may be something simple like: 
  • confusing "is" with "was" 
  • confusing "a" with "the"
  • putting "the" in front of people's names e.g. "The Peter"
  • mixing up plural and singlar e.g.   "He took two apple.... "
  • whatever it is that is YOUR MOST common error.
The most common mistake is the pink half of the pie chart. If you fix that your HALF of all your mistakes are gone.

Second:   Read.

When I say read I don't mean read something so you get better at writing, don't read in the way you do training at a Gym or take medicine. Read what you ENJOY in English.
Read romance, fiction, thriller, detective novels .... it does not matter what you read, but only ONE thing matters: you ENJOY it, really truly enjoy the book.

That is all you need to do. Enjoyment is the best way to learn, anything.

Remember it does NOT matter what you read, (in English) as long as you LIKE it.
Enjoy it.

Question: My problem is I am only interested about the story. I never notice the phrase use, vocab and grammar bla bla bla.

I like reading but I don't know how reading can make better writing?

Answer: It does. It is not obvious HOW that happens. You don't have to take conscious note of the grammar, it just seeps into you, you get it through exposure and repetition... the same reason businesses spend millions, billions of dollars on advertising: it works, not consciously but it works somehow.

So: Reading makes you better at writing.
Not fast, and not in an obvious way.
But you will find that all good writers are great readers.

I used to correct my students English, they would sometimes look at it but usually just say "oh nice, thanks" and file it away.

So from my students I leart to something different:
- I highlight the word, or space between words where the correction is required. but I don't correct it.
I ask the student to correct it herself.