Preparing Your Report
You’ll receive many types of assignments through your undergraduate career. We here present three typical assigments with some tips and suggestions.
An annotation is a summary and / or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and / or evaluation of each of the sources.
The annotated bibliography is a tool for researchers to organize their sources and prepare to write a more extended discussion.
At the undergraduate level, the annotated bibliography is a common assignment to help students dive deeper into the literature of a particular subject.
The structure is simple: You will produce a bibliography following a standard format, similar to the reference list or list of works cited that we have already described. Accompanying each bibliographic entry are one to three discussion paragraphs.
Each discussion should include the following:
Summary. Summarize the content of each source to demonstrate that you have read and understood it.
Evaluation. Consider the source’s relevancy to your topic. Your annotated bibliography should have a topical focus, so explain how this source fits into that topic.
Criticism. Read the source critically and evaluate the soundness of its data or the reasonableness of its interpretation. How does it compare to other sources on the same subject?
Format your annotated bibliography according to any instructions from your professor, and ask for clarification if necessary. See also the guide to your citation style for further instructions; for example, the official guide to APA Style contains a section on annotated bibliographies (Figure 2).
Speeches & Presentations
Public speaking intimidates many, but it’s an important skill to practice.
Remember the following guidelines:
- Use notes discreetly. Notes printed under your slides and hidden from the audience, or even the traditional notecards, are better than a stack of paper. Make sure your notecards are numbered.
Do not read from your notes. Use your notes only to jog your memory. Keep eye contact with the audience.
- Do not read from your slides. Slides should contain charts, graphs, or memorable images and minimal text. Slides should supplement your presentation, not contain it.
Practice. Run through your presentation in front of the mirror or a group of friends. Make sure it fits the required time.
Go first. Volunteering to present first makes your presentation more memorable—and it gets it out of the way.
Speak confidently. Present with a clear voice. Maintain eye contact but minimize gestures or pacing.
Cite your sources. A list of references or works cited makes a good final slide or part of a handout. Include parenthetical citations in the text of slides.
Don’t use copyrighted images. Public-domain and Creative Commons images are widely available, but trademarked or copyrighted images require permission before use.
The undergraduate term paper is typically a small-scale literature review.
You will pick a topic related to the course, conduct self-directed research, and critically present what you’ve learned. At a minimum, your paper should have the following sections:
Title. Usually, your term paper will include a dedicated title page unless your professor or style guide indicates otherwise. Generally, include your name, the course number and name, your professor’s name, and the due date.
Introduction. This section usually has no heading. It introduces the topic and should contain your thesis statement.
Body. The body of your paper may be further subdivided depending on the paper’s complexity. Dedicate at least one paragraph to each point you make.
Conclusion. The conclusion should restate the thesis statement, summarize the supporting material, and make a definite point.
References. The final page or pages of the paper must be the list of references or works cited.
Keep in mind the following:
Format your paper. Typically, a term paper should be double-spaced and left-justified with indented paragraphs, one-inch margins, and a 12-point serif font such as Times New Roman. See your professor’s instructions or a style guide for more details.
Use headings. Dividing your paper into sections marked by headings will improve clarity. See your style guide to learn how to format headings.
Proofread. Typos, misspellings, and bad grammar obscure your point and reduce your grade. Read over your work carefully. Contact the Academic Success Center if you need extra help.
Use a grammar and spelling checker. Remember, however, that automatic checkers will miss many mistakes and highlight “false positives.” If you’re not well versed in the rules of grammar, uncritically accepting the suggestions of a grammar checker will do more harm than good.
Put lengthy quotations in block quotes. Quotation marks are for short quotations. A quote that extends to around four lines should be in a block quote. See a style guide for the formatting.
- Use running headers and page numbers. Every page should identify the page number and usually either your name or the title. See a style guide or your professor for exact rules.