1) Writing Exercise

The writing assessment for your Introduction to Geography seminars this year will include the following two writing exercises:

  1. A 250 word Press Release.

  2. Academic Referenced Essay (50 word abstract and 1000 word research essay.)

 Writing exercise questions will be given to you during  Seminar 1(Week 2)  and you will be expected to hand in the exercise during Seminar 5 (Week 6).

2) Press Release Writing Guidelines.

The following guidelines will delineate the necessary elements of an effective press release.

BASIC ELEMENTS:There are seven basic elements that every press release
should have in terms of content and how it appears:.

I) 'FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.'

These words should appear in the upper left-hand margin, just under the organisational letterhead. Every letter should be capitalized.

II) Contact Information.

A line or two should be skipped after  the release statement and then should be listed the name, title, telephone and fax numbers of   the organisations spokesperson (the person with the most information). It is important to give  home phone (mobile) numbers since reporters often work on deadlines and may not be available until after hours.

III) Headline.

Skip two lines after your contact information and use a boldface type. The headline should convey in 3-5 words the content of the press release. It should be an eye catcher and convey the import of the release immediately.

IV) Dateline.

The dateline contains the name of the city from which the press release is issued and the time and the date. E.G.

Dublin: 16:30. 15 November 2002.

V) Lead Paragraph.

The first paragraph needs to grasp the reader’s attention and should contain the relevant information of the press release’s message. It should include the five W’s and H of the story within the message:

  • Who? What ?When? Where? Why? And How?

The language should be punchy and colourful, a good rule of thumb is to envision the lead paragraph in the press release as it would appear in the lead paragraph of a news story.

 VI) Text.

The main body of the press release is where the message of the release should fully develop. Quotes, facts and statistics should be included here. A common practice with ‘hack’ journalists is   allowing the press release  to ‘write’ their news pieces for them. A good press release writer should keep this in mind, as imitation is the best form of flattery. When writing your piece, envision it as a short news piece worthy of publication.

VII) Recap.

A short recap of the press release should be include at the bottom of the page along with any follow up materials, dates, etc.

Possible Press Release Topics

To come up with press release topic, you may brainstorm within your group. The following are suggestions for press release topic.

  • Volcano Eruptions.
  • Oil Spills.
  • Famine in Africa.
  • Aids/HIV Epidemics.
  • Environmental Issues.
  • G8 Summit Protests.

3) Academic Referenced Essay Guidelines. (50 word abstract and 1000 word research essay.)

The next segment of the writing exrcise is to write a 1000 word essay with at least 5 sources referenced according to the Harvard Style (handouts will be provided), along with a 50 word abstract for your essay.

I) Abstract Writing Guidelines. 

The following guidelines delineate what an abstract is, what purposes it serves and how to write one.

A) What is an abstract?

An abstract is a condensed version of a longer piece of writing that highlights the major points covered, concisely describes the content and scope of the writing, and reviews the writing's contents in abbreviated form.

What types of abstracts are typically used?

Two types of abstracts are typically used (Kilborn 2002):

  1. Descriptive Abstracts.

  2. Informative Abstracts.

Why are abstracts so important?

The practice of using key words in an abstract is vital because of today's electronic information retrieval systems. Titles and abstracts are filed electronically, and key words are put in electronic storage. When people search for information, they enter key words related to the subject, and the computer prints out the titles of articles, papers, and reports containing those key words. Thus, an abstract must contain key words about what is essential in an article, paper, or report so that someone else can retrieve information from it. (Kilborn, 2002)

B) Abstract Structure (Punch, 2002).

1)        In a really good abstract, the first sentence will capture the essence of the article, conveying a clear sense of its broad content/argument/central theme as appropriate.

2)        The rest of the abstract follows logically from this point, two or three sentences developing the first - adding detail, findings related perspectives, etc.

3)        It concludes by trying to capture something of the writer's central argument or most important finding.

C ) Qualities of a good abstract.

  • An effective abstract has the following qualities (Kilborn 2002):
  • Uses one or more well developed paragraphs: these are unified, coherent, concise, and able to stand alone.
  • Uses an introduction/body/conclusion structure which presents the article, paper, or report's purpose, results, conclusions, and recommendations in that order.
  • Follows strictly the chronology of the article, paper, or report.
  • Provides logical connections (or transitions) between the information included.
  • Adds no new information, but simply summarizes the report.
  • Is understandable to a wide audience.
  • Oftentimes uses passive voice to downplay the author and emphasize the information.
    Your tutor will discuss this point of grammar with you.

II) Referenced Essay Guidelines.

A) Sources of Information.
      There are a number of useful sources of information from which your students may draw information to write their essays.

  • Books.
  • Journals & Periodicals.
  • Conference reports.
  • On-line Searches and Electronic Databases.
  • Government, EU publications and official statistics.
  • Newspapers.

B) Titling the Essay.
     
Identify your essays by typing its title on the first page, along with your name, submission date, student ID and tutor’s name.

C) Structure of the Essay.

I: The Introduction.

  • The introduction should be between a paragraph and a half, to a page in length. When choosing their writing style, the students should be reminded to keep in mind that, “a basic structural design underlies every kind of writing. The writer in part will follow this design, in part deviate from it according to [their] skill…needs, and the unexpected events that accompany the act of composition” (Strunk and White, 1979:15).  
  • For some students, writing the introduction and conclusion might be, the final step in actually writing the essay. After writing the bulk of the essay, the pupil may choose to review their writing and pull out the themes they covered and then write the introduction and conclusion according to the reviewed structure. It is important to remind the student to define which approach suits them the best individually before beginning their essays. As Strunk and White (1979:15) note, “The first principle of composition, therefore, is to foresee or determine the shape of what is to come and pursue that shape.”

II : The Body of the Essay.

  • Before you  write the body of the essay you should construct a brief outline, illustrating and mapping the themes you wish to explore in the essay.  
  • Once you have outlined the theme of your essays,   use the outline to explore the arguments and points you want to make within each theme.
  •  Remember to connect  individual themes as outlined (along with your   concurrent arguments and points) with a tie-in sentence, linking   your  themes together.
  • Depending on the way you have chosen to write your essay and having completed the body of your essay, you are now ready to write the conclusion and/or the introduction.

III: The Conclusion . 

Before writing the conclusion look for the following:

  • Continuity. Is there a continuous progression of information? Are you telling a story and/or making  you arguments clear and concrete? Are your themes linked with tie in sentences?
  • Check your quotations and/or paraphrases. Make sure that you have   referenced them properly and that they are synthesized well into your essay.

D) Referencing.

Referencing is critical to the success of your paper and a major aspect of the assessment
will be based upon how well you reference your sources
. Your tutor will discuss this with you
in depth. The bibliography of your paper should be placed on a separate page. Please   reference your essays
according to the Harvard Style (see included handout for various referencing types.)  Reference at least 5
 various sources (e.g. Books, periodicals, online sources, etc.)

E) Plagiarism.

Plagiarism is defined as taking and using another’s thoughts, ideas,   writings and words and presenting them
as your own. Plagiarism effectively means reading something in a book, journal, newspaper, web page and using
it in your essay without appropriately referencing it. In situations where you agree with an argument in someone
else’s text and would like to use certain material from this text it is imperative that you reference the source.
Remember it is crucially important  to reference any quotes,  paraphrases or visual representations not of your
own construction. Failure on your part to reference such material will be defined as plagiarism.  
(Williams, 2002)

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