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skills development

Writing is not a single skill--it requires a complex performance of many skills to succeed. For example, a good academic essay requires you to:

  • Organise your thoughts (outlines, mindmaps)
  • Use a library or website to search for resources
  • Choose the best texts to focus on
  • Understand where to find the most important information from that text 
  • Keep track of that information to use as evidence
  • Understand your own opinions and those of others in the field 
  • Convey your ideas in a logical order
  • Explain things in such a way that your reader is informed, but not bored
  • Format the text according to disciplinary conventions

Have a look at the factsheets in the "related resources" box on this page.


Image used: shutterstock_319861256. Image edited by Southampton University library.

Related resources:

Reading as a writer (PDF): Reading the text for the effectiveness of its writing can by very instructive. Try it!

Resource assessment table (PDF): Filling out these tables will allow you to judge your resources and begin organising your thoughts/evidence

Note making (PDF): This guide will help you make the most of your notes.

Annotated bibliography (PDF):This is possibly the most helpful strategy during the research phase. It helps you record your thoughts in an organised way.

Freewriting (PDF) This exercise works for some people to change chaotic, disorganised thoughts into new, clear ideas.

Outlining (PDF): Get organised!

Refining thesis statements (PDF): Refine, refine, refine. This is what guides your essay, make sure it is relevant and focused

Reverse outlining (PDF): This exercise allows you to assess and improve the organisation of your draft without starting over.

Introductions (PDF): Make these clear with an effective structure.

Paraphrasing (PDF): This is a crucial step to clear expression without plagiarising.

Proofreading (PDF): These tips will help you to finish strong. Please don't rush this part.



Writing Paraphrases – University of North Carolina. Students often struggle with this.

The Writing Process – Purdue Online Writing Lab. Various guides to help with the skills involved in writing an essay from start to finish

Academic Writing Resources – University of Coventry. Succinct guides about the writing process

Planning and Preparing to Write Assignments – University of Nottinghham. Covers various the various skills involved in writing an essay, and has a useful list of essay terms as well!

Writing Handouts - University of North Carolina. Covers lots of skills (with videos!). 

Log in to Skills4Study and download the following titles:

Critical Analytical Thinking--A checklist


Making Your Notes Useful and Memorable


Cover Sheet Template


Editing checklist


Checking Your Paragraphs

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