Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Writing for research - tips and techniques

On the day that Cadbury is taken over by Kraft, I have given up eating chocolate, and may have replaced it with something even more addictive - WRITING!

Am I breaking any rules today by writing what I have just learnt about - which is writing for research - on my blog?

I feel as though I have eaten twenty Cadbury's selection boxes and have a bizarre buzz, a headache and feel sick at the same time.

Like a yummy selection box, there are so many ideas to choose from, the difficulty is selecting what words what will satisfy and how many words are just enough.

Having just taken part in a very useful discussion at Warwick University with 20 IFL research fellows, I now summarise my learning. These are tips that I will apply as I write up my action research about Blended Learning.

As George Orwell said, " Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures or sensations"

The other night my desk lamp would not switch on, so I changed the bulb but it didn't do the trick. I couldn't find a screwdriver to open the plug and change the fuse, so I broke it open with a knife. I feel that this is my approach to writing! I don't know the problem and I don't have the right tools or know how to use them - and so I stay in the semi-dark! Some wise words that illuminate my thinking are below:

Some rules about writing from George Orwell (written in 1946) are:
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print
  2. Never use a long word where a short word will do
  3. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent

Other valuable tips that I will apply, from Frank Coffield are:

"You give away your values with your adjectives and adverbs"

"Answer the following questions,

What has surprised me?

How do I feel about that and what does that do?

What is the black swan in this situation?"

A final thought about what is bad writing "The staleness of the imagery, the lack of precision"

1 comment: