Writing a paper
Useful tips and links for writing a paper.
- Problem statement
- Choose subject headings
Sources of information:
Articles | Journals | Books / e-books | Public information | Web pages | Newspaper articles | Dictionaries and encyplopedias
- Source criticism
- Referring to sources and making reference lists
An outline is a structured list of the main points of your paper. It makes the composition clear and helps you to work systematically with the topic.
Get started (Search & Write)
2) Problem statement
All academic writing is based on a problem statement. A problem statement is a research question that should elucidate your paper. In the writing process you are most likely to discover new aspects. Therefor it is likely that the statement has to be adjusted along the way.
An example of a problem statement:
How to develop better learning techniques for use in an academic context?
3) Choose subject headings
- Choose/define the most important subject headings and keywords based on your problem statement.
- Find synonyms and related keywords with the help of dictionaries, encyclopedias, lecture notes and textbooks.
- The goal is to find as many relevant subject headings as possible.
Problem statement: How to develop better learning techniques for use in an academic context ?
Subject headings: Mnemonics, learning techniques, study techniques, mind map, learning etc.
- Find and combine keywords (Search & Write)
It is wise to keep a search log = form to document the systematic search:
Søkelogg (word) | Søkelogg (pdf) (both in Norwegian)
4) Sources of information
Where should you look? Which sources of information should you choose?
Articles in academic journals:
- You will find the most current research in journal articles
- May include both new and older information about your topic
- Focuses in detail on a particular topic or research question
- Have references to other relevant research
How to find articles:
Where can you find articles?
Use your subject headings / keywords and search in relevant databases.
Read articles / find journals:
You will find references to articles in article databases, in other words information about the articles and abstracts. In some databases you will find full text articles while in others you have to search Bibsys to see if HiOA has the journal (remember to search for the journal's name)
See also Journals A-Å for a list of available e-journals.
If your campus does not have the journal electronically or printed, the Learning Centre and Library can obtain the article for you: Bestill artikkelkopi (user guide in Norwegian).
Books and e-books
- Use books/e-books when you need comprehensive information about a topic, event or person.
- Books can provide a total overview of a topic, or you can find details about a subject (use the tables of contents and indexes).
- Check the bibliography (reference list) in the relevant books to get ideas for literature.
- Look at the subject headings / keywords that the books are registered with in book databases such as Bibsys (under "Subjects" in Bibsys) and note any new, relevant keywords for further searching.
Where can you find printed books?
Search in Bibsys:
You can also search in foreign library catalogues (web page in Norwegian).
E-books available for HiOA
HiOA have a large selection e-books available for HiOAs students and staff. E-books can be searched via Bibsys or via our user guide for e-books.
How do you want to read the e-book?
Public information is provided by the state or local authorities. Use public information to find information about the country's official policy, political decisions, statistics, laws, reports, etc.
Where do you find public information?
By the state:
- Information from the Government and Ministries
Documents from the Ministries
(propositions, reports etc.)
By local authority:
KF Infoserie (in Norwegian)
- User guide in Norwegian, new version (User guide in Norwegian, old version)
- Access only for campus Pilestredet
Kommunenøkkelen (in Norwegian)
- Overview of the Norwegian municipalities / counties and their websites.
- Access only for campus Pilestredet, contact Learning Centre P35 for password.
Norges kommunekalender (in Norwegian)
- Access only at campus Kjeller, contact the counter at the library campus Kjeller
Laws and regulations:
- Statistics Norway (SSB)
- Web-servers at statistical agencies (gathered by SSB)
- International statistics resources (gathered by SSB)
- OECD Economic Outlook
- UNdata (data gathered by United Nations)
Use the Internet to find relevant information from around the world, such as newspapers, public information or information about enterprises and organizations. Be critical - on the web you can find everything from research to inaccurate information.
The main advantage of using newspapers is that the events are often written while they take place. Another advantage is the geographical angle, you can find information on international, national or local events. Other useful information can be reviews for movies and books, editorials, commentaries and debates. But you can rarely use newspapers to find the thorough review of topics you need for your papers.
Where can you find newspaper articles?
The database/newspaper archive Atekst has good search functions and covers a wide range of Norwegian newspapers, some far back in time. The Learning Centre and Library subscribes to some paper versions of Norwegian newspapers that you can read on the premises. You can also find newspapers online and older newspapers in other libraries.
Dictionaries and encyclopedias
5) Source criticism
- To find relevant information you need to critically evaluate the value of the information.
- Four useful evaluation criteria: Credibility, objectivity, accuracy, adequacy.
- If you have few or too many sources, try expanding or narrowing down your subject headings.
- Evaluating information (VIKO)
- Evaluating sources (Search & Write)
- Critically Analyzing Information Sources (from Cornell University Library)
6) Referring to sources and making reference lists
To refer is to state where you have found your information, in other words which sources you have used. A reference contains of two components: in-text references and a reference list.
Why should you cite sources?
- Acknowledge the work of others
- Show that you have read literature on the subject
- Putting your work into a greater context
- Show that you have mastered the technique of referring to sources
By using sources correctly others can identify and retrieve the information you have used, identifying your paragraphs, thoughts and conlusions.
Taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own is plagiarism. Plagiarism will lead to failing the asignment and you may lose the right to take exams.
- How to name sources (VIKO)
- Reference list / literature list - Harvard-, APA- and Vancouver-style (VIKO)
- How to refer (Search & Write)
- Referencing and ethics (Search & Write)