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Reflective Writing: A Complete Guide

a guy is sitting on a couch and writing something in a notebook

If it is the first time that you’ve faced reflective writing, then it’s obvious why you came here for some advice. Reflective writing can be tricky and complicated, especially because not every student understands why they need to complete such a task and how to do it properly. So, let’s find out.

What Is It?

Reflective writing is a process of analyzing, evaluating, and reflecting on various experiences. It is commonly assigned in order to teach students how to get to the core of the problem or question, improve critical thinking, and analyze your assumptions, beliefs, and values. 

There are many forms that reflective writing can be performed in, particularly:

  • Blog
  • Journal
  • Diary (essay diary and learning diary)
  • Note
  • Review
  • Self-assessment

Each of these forms may become an assignment for a student. For example, many literature and writing programs involve writing a blog or review. It might be a warm-up exercise or a way to learn creative writing.

The main specific of the process of reflecting writing is its structure. When writing reflectively, it’s crucial to avoid falling into details of what happened and where and instead concentrate on your reflection and reaction. However, it’s also wrong to pour your thoughts out uncontrollably. You should show not only your writing skills but your ability to analyze and put the information together, summarizing your experience. So, a piece of reflective writing has a skeleton – the main line of the piece, which is supported with evidence and has some sort of direction that it is elaborated in.

So, how can you create a piece of reflective writing if assigned and avoid making common mistakes? Here are a few tips from us. 

Focus on the Key Elements

When working on a piece of reflective writing, it’s important to understand its key features. 

So, what are the main components of reflective writing? No matter what form you have chosen or were assigned, your work will consist of the following elements:

  1. The event, experience, or phenomenon that you’re reflecting on with the description of what has happened and how.
  2. The analysis of the event and your reflection – how it made you feel, what the reasons were behind your reaction, etc.
  3. The outcomes – what the lesson was and what you should do if this event occurs again.

So, you can see that the structure of the piece of reflective writing is pretty much similar to the structure of an ordinary essay with the introduction, main body, and conclusion. The same structure is kept when you are reflecting on your learning. If you need some advice on writing other types of essays, for example, an exemplification essay, read our other blog posts.

Start with an Outline

Before you start working on your piece, start with a quick outline. A good and thoughtful outline will save you time and will ease the process of elaborating your opinion through the piece. 

When you work on your outline, break the piece of paper into three parts that represent the components of your piece. Put the key points into these three sections while you are thinking of what you are going to write about. For example, what the event was, what you have learned, what went wrong/well, what the impact on you was, etc. Just a few words will be enough to guide you through your writing and help you not miss anything.

The Three Core Features

Pay attention to the key features of reflective writing:

  • It should provide a description (what, where, when)
  • It should provide your expression (I think, I feel, I believe)
  • It should provide analysis and explanation (why, how)

The three features above are extremely important for a piece of reflective writing. They are the core principles that you should follow, and each of them should be present in your work, providing your opinion and thoughts. These are also the principles that you use when writing a critical response essay.

Answer the Questions

Reflective writing has steps or stages that you should follow in the process. When writing a piece like that, it’s essential to cover the particular points and answer the questions that help build a reflective analysis. Here are some of the most common questions that you should answer in your piece:

Revisiting the event or experience:

  1. What was your experience?
  2. What was significant about it?
  3. What details can you give?
  4. What was your role?

Examining your reaction and attitude:

  1. What was your reaction?
  2. What were you thinking about?
  3. Why did you react the way you did?
  4. Did you notice anything significant, unusual, disturbing?

Expressing and suggesting:

  1. What lesson have you learned?
  2. What suggestions can you give?
  3. What changes do you expect?

If you are reflecting on your learning experience, you can also use the same structure and answer the same questions focusing on the perception of the course and its content. It’s a great way to get a better understanding of what you are learning and even clarify the connections between various pieces of knowledge.

Final Thoughts

Reflective writing can be hard in terms of expressing your thoughts and analyzing them from the perspective of a particular topic. However, once you get an understanding of what your task is, create a quick outline, and write down some key points, you will see that writing the rest of your work is not that hard. However, if you face troubles with this or any other type of assignment, you can always count on our team of experts who can help you structure and express your thoughts. Just let us know if you need our help!

A Full Guide to Quantitative Research

a book and a notebook on the table

When talking about researching and data collection processes, it’s hard not to mention the two major categories of research – quantitative and qualitative. Some students might feel frustrated about these two types and not really understand what they are and how to use them in their papers. So, we have prepared a complete guide that will tell you everything that you should know to conduct in-depth research for your academic works.

Definition

Quantitative research is the process of gathering various numerical data in order to study some phenomenon or case. This raw data is later transformed into graphs and tables, proceeded, and analyzed. It commonly uses measurable data to test theories and assumptions, discover patterns, and formulate facts.

Quantitative research is commonly transformed into statistics that later can be combined with qualitative research results in order to develop ideas and hypotheses.

Methods

There are four types of quantitative research methods that are commonly used in various studies:

  • Experimental research
  • Correlational research
  • Causal-comparative research
  • Descriptive research

Our experts conduct each and every type of research that is needed. So, if you feel overwhelmed, you can always turn to our team for help. And now, let’s find out what are the specifics of methods that are used in quantitative research.

Experimental research

Experimental research is a quantitative method that aims to prove or disprove a hypothesis (in some cases, a number of hypotheses). It is one of the most common research methods in science (commonly natural sciences, such as biology or physics) and establishes the causes and effects of various phenomena. Every student faces experimental research in the lab during their science classes, so it’s easy to understand the specifics, such as the combination of practical and theoretical knowledge, the variety of possible outcomes, etc.

There are three types of experimental research design:

  • Pre-experimental research design – is a design where an experimental group (or a number of groups) is observed and studied without comparing it to a control group. It is named so due to its main purpose – to define if the further study should be done.
  • Quasi-experimental research design – is a design that implies selecting groups without any random assignment or pre-selection process.
  • True experimental research design – is a design where researchers have control over the variabilities and randomized assignment of control and test groups. This is the most accurate type of research design.

Correlational research

Correlational research is a method that aims to define correlation and relationships between two or more variables. For example, there might be a correlation between such things as carpets and allergies, where these variables are measured between -1 and +1. If the correlation coefficient is close to 1, it tells us that there is a positive correlation – carpets cause allergies. It’s not an absolute fact, and it doesn’t mean that every carpet owner will have an allergy. It just means that it is more likely with people who live with carpets in their homes to have allergies.

Causal-comparative research

Causal-comparative research aims to find correlations and causative relations; however, unlike correlational research, it studies dependent and independent variables. Mainly it studies how focus groups change under the influence of variables, or in other words, how an independent variable affects dependent variables.

Descriptive research

Descriptive research is a method that studies the objects or phenomena from a descriptive point of view. In other words, it aims to collect quantifiable data about the object of the study in order to later use it for statistics and further analysis. Descriptive research deals with independent variables – thus none of them can be manipulated.

The data obtained in the process of descriptive research can be used for cross-sectional studies, comparison, patterns discovery, etc. The most common descriptive research method is an observation that aims to collect numerical data based on the observations. For example, researchers can collect information about their focus group such as their height and weight, age, income, etc.

The other way to collect information for descriptive research is to use surveys and case studies, which are also highly effective.

Strengths

When deciding what data collection method or approach to choose, it’s important to consider the strength and limitations of each of the options. Here are the specifics of quantitative research that might be beneficial for your study.

High reliability

The main specific, which is also the main advantage, is that quantitative research results are objective and unbiased (if the research was done right) and logical and statistical, thus are highly reliable.

Speed

Quantitative research is also faster to conduct as there is no such information that needs to be interpreted or evaluated, so the results are faster and easier to analyze. For example, if the surveys are conducted, the respondents don’t need to explain their choice or fill out open-ended questions, so there will be no extra work besides calculating and putting the data together into tables or statistics.

Generalization

Quantitative research can interpret the results received from a target group (or the group of research) and apply them to a larger group, making generalized conclusions.

Limitations

There are also limitations to pay attention to, especially, if you are going to use quantitative research in the process of writing a research paper.

Context

When dealing with raw numbers (which is what quantitative research does), it’s hard to understand the context of the phenomenon which is studied. It limits the outcomes which might not properly represent the phenomenon but generalize it instead.

Resources

Researchers don’t always have access to the proper sources of data they need. The lack of resources might be the reason why results are biased and inaccurate.

Generally, quantitative research should be supported by qualitative research also as they create a wonderful combination that allows examining and studying complex objects while staying unbiased in the conclusions.

So, this was our guide on quantitative research. We hope that you find it useful for your studies!

How to Polish Your Essay

the girl is writing

When your draft is complete, all you can think about is finishing your work as quickly as possible, right? But there is so much left to do! Well, with the help of our tips, you can polish and finalize your paper without spending too much time. How? Read this article!

1. Have a Little Break

When working on your assignment for a long time, it’s easy to become tired and heedless. It’s not surprising, as your brain is overloaded with all the wording, creativity, and analysis. It’s hard to switch to another task, so your brain needs some time to rest.

Even if you don’t have much time, a five-minute break will work. Watch a video, listen to music, have a snack, etc. Meanwhile, your brain will have a little time to relax too. After that, you will see that it’s easier to continue working on your essay. Check out what other tricks on how to become a more productive student we were writing about.

2. Check if Your Paper Meets the Requirements

This step is not only about checking the word count (although you should) but also other qualities of your essay. For example, check the assignment to find out if you did everything that was required. Did you answer the question posed? Did you explain, analyze, or compare what you were supposed to?

Then, check the word count and formatting guides (we also have a great article about differnet citation styles that you might find very helpful). These requirements are crucial to meet in order to get a high grade, as these are the first things that your professor or teacher will pay attention to. Not meeting them can badly affect your grade even if the content of your essay is pretty good.

3. Pay Attention to the Style and Content Quality

Even if you have reached the minimum word count (check the article on how to lengthen your essay if you haven’t), it doesn’t mean that the content of your essay is good enough. Read through your text and pay attention to the structure of your sentences and paragraphs. Edit sentences that seem unclear or have any style errors. For example, there are general rules applied to any academic work, such as:

  • Using the active voice instead of passive
  • Avoiding slang, contractions, and exaggerations
  • Avoiding repetition and complicated wording
  • Explaining terms used in your essay
  • Keeping the number of quotes used reasonable
  • Using transitions between paragraphs to avoid making sharp jumps
  • Avoiding facts and data that don’t have a reliable source.

Reread your text several times to make sure you have covered all the facts that you intended and created a logical flow that leads your reader through the topic. There should be no ‘sharp edges’ that one can usually see in the works that have a bad structure. In such a case, the author jumps from one fact or subtopic to another, sometimes coming back and repeating themselves. Make sure to elaborate your thoughts in an easy-to-understand manner and use transition sentences when moving from one paragraph to another.

Also:

  • Check if your essay has words like ‘bad,’ ‘good,’ etc. It’s better to replace them will less widespread and banal words. You can use online synonym tools like Thesaurus to pick the most suitable words for your piece.
  • Avoid using too complicated and fancy words as they usually don’t add any value to your essay and may make you look less creative and genuine.
  • Make sure you keep your work easy to read – say ‘no’ to complicated constructions and long sentences because they make it easier to miss a punctuation error and harder to follow your point.

If you see that the content and style look fine, you can take the next step.

4. Check the Grammar

Flawless grammar is essential in order to get a high grade. Even if you conduct in-depth research and put much time into the analysis, poor grammar can ruin all your effort.

First of all, you can use the grammar checker that is embedded in your word processor. Of course, it’s not totally reliable, as it may not recognize errors due to its inability to work with the context in which the words are used. It might also miss typos or commas.

The next level of check is to put your essay through a grammar checker like Grammarly. They are highly popular and develop each year to let you check the flow and clarity of your pieces as well as grammar and punctuation. It is more context-oriented, so it will let you know about the mistakes that your software has missed.

The last step would be to run your essay through the plagiarism-checking software. Even if you didn’t copy any part of your text from other sources, your piece might contain similar parts to already existing pieces. Of course, your professor or teacher will not always check your essay for plagiarism, but it’s always good to be confident about the quality of your work.

If you want your essay to be checked by the team of real professionals, just send us your request. We can do editing, proofreading, and plagiarism checking just as well as we write essays from scratch.

A Complete Guide on How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

a girl in a blue sweater is writing in a notebook

When you start a course, you are often asked to write a diagnostic essay or a diagnostic composition. This assignment implies writing a piece in response to a question or prompt. It represents your writing abilities and skills, which makes it easier for your instructor or teacher to define your strengths and weaknesses.

As a rule, professors and teachers don’t grade such assignments, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put your effort into writing it as well as you can. This is a chance for you to show your logic, imagination, creativity, and writing skills, so don’t miss it.

What to Expect from a Diagnostic Essay?

A diagnostic essay isn’t much different from other types of essay assignments that you usually get. It has the same essay structure, which consists of the introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion part. It also should have a thesis statement and represent your opinion on the assigned or chosen topic.

Usually, when writing such an essay, you are limited in time (about one hour). So, you need to organize your time to be as productive as possible.

What Strategy to Choose when Writing a Diagnostic Essay?

Once your teacher or instructor assigns you with a topic of your essay, start thinking about your concept. Draft your thesis statement first and then build your outline based on the key points of your future essay. Also, make sure to manage your time and leave at least 5 minutes or so for editing and proofreading your essay in the end.

So, how can one write a diagnostic essay? Are there any rules that you need to stick to? Here, we have a complete guide that will help you to complete this assignment without struggling.

Step 1 – Choose the Topic

Some teachers prefer to let students choose the topic they want to write their essay on while others assign students with particular topics. They might ask you a question which you will have to reply to in the form of an essay.

For those who can choose the topic but don’t know which one to pick, we have prepared the list of diagnostic essay topics:

  1. The biggest challenges for modern students.
  2. Whose success story is an example for you?
  3. Is there a place for hunting in the modern world?
  4. Are there more issues with online studying than benefits?
  5. The problem of racial prejudice in student dorms.
  6. Will remote jobs prevail over in-office jobs in the future?

Step 2 – Create Your Thesis Statement

The majority of students face difficulties when it comes to creating a thesis statement for their essays. Though they need to create lots of statements for multiple essays which they write through the year, not many students can come up with a good idea for thesis statement right from the start.

However, in the case of a diagnostic essay, a thesis statement is a key point that should be written first as you won’t have too much time to think of it through your writing process as you will be very limited in time. So, make sure to create a thesis statement first; this way it will be easier for you to work on your essay.

If, for example, you have a topic that sounds like “Positive and negative influence of social media on socialization,” your thesis statement might be:

Though social media helps people communicate and connect in spite of long distances or cultural diversity, they become the main reason why social awkwardness is spreading among various social groups.

You might also create a rough draft of your thesis statement first if you are not sure about its final phrasing to come back to it after writing the body paragraphs.

Step 3 – Create an Outline

Someone would say that creating an outline when you have tight time limits is not obligatory, but it will actually help you organize and structure your thoughts. When you just start writing your essay, you might have a few worthy ideas on your mind that you might forget in the process. So, write any ideas or thoughts first, at least one per paragraph. Once you do that, you can start writing your essay.

Step 4 – Write an Introduction

Your introduction is what gives the first impression on your reader and affects the final opinion on it. The majority of essays that you create through your school years imply putting your thesis statement into the first paragraph so that to give an understanding of what your paper is about and what your opinion on the problem is. A diagnostic essay is not an exclusion.

Start your essay with a catchy sentence – a hook that attracts the attention of the reader and provides a reason to keep reading. For example, it might be a statistical fact or a quote that is relevant to the topic. Here are a few tips on how to start your essay with a hook sentence.

Step 5 – Write the Body Paragraphs

Commonly, short essays include three body paragraphs. They can include examples, facts, and quotes to support your opinion and claims as well as your thesis statement. The best way to write these paragraphs is to elaborate your opinion with the help of evidence from reliable sources, starting with the strongest argument first.

Start your paragraphs with topic sentences which provide a reader with an idea of what this paragraph is about. End your paragraphs with transition sentences as they smooth the jumps from one subject or idea to another.

Step 6 – Write the Conclusion Part

The conclusion is the part that summarizes all of your findings and restates your statement. It also gathers all of the facts and claims into one final thought that represents your opinion on the problematic or gives the final response to the question. You can paraphrase your thesis statement to include it in your conclusion part and also mention all the key findings of your essay. Don’t repeat your previous sentences – form them into one general summary of your text.

Step 7 – Proofread and Edit Your Essay

Once you have everything written, reread your essay, and make edits. It’s almost impossible to write an essay that won’t require any further editing, so make sure to manage your time and leave some time for this step.

Final Thoughts

A diagnostic paper is not as difficult as other types of essays, for example, an analytical essay, as it doesn’t require conducting any research. It will be beneficial to include some facts or data, but you are not obligated to. Moreover, you shouldn’t worry much as such essay won’t be graded. However, preparing for such an essay won’t hurt. You can even try pre-writing your essay in order to show the best results.

How to Write Faster and More Effectively

write better faster
Learning how to write effectively typically means slowing down to take your time, do the research and choose your words carefully. Although writing clearly and effectively is the goal for any writer, learning how to write faster can also be valuable skill. Here we’ll take a look at 10 tips to help speed up your writing and make it more effective overall.

1. Write What You Know

The best way to be able to write more quickly is to write on a topic you are already familiar with. Although this isn’t always an option, seize the opportunity whenever it comes up. Even if your assignment is on something you know nothing about, conduct some initial research to see if you do have a connection to the subject somewhere. For example, if your assignment is writing about the origins of the civil rights movement, use your own experience with discrimination or the experiences of friends and family as a basis to draw parallels to the early days of the civil rights movement with current issues of today. An essay on the impact of team sports can easily be connected to the summer you spent playing ping-pong or your own elementary school T-Ball team.

2. Dictate When Possible

There are a number of software packages that allow users to dictate directly into a word processing program. These programs can take some time to master and they adapt to your pattern of speech as you use them, so don’t expect perfect results your first time out. Instead of cracking it open as you’re beginning your big essay project for the mid-term exams, use it for a few weeks on other projects or just for fun in order to find out how to make it work more effectively. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can use it to crank out essays, term papers and even your thesis in no time flat.

3. Don’t Worry About Mistakes on the Rough Draft

As you begin to write the rough draft, don’t worry about proper word choices, grammatical tense agreement or whether or not to use a semi-colon. Instead, simply get the thoughts, ideas and concepts on paper. Ignore that inner critic hissing on your shoulder and keep your hands moving. Try to keep up with the narrative you have in your mind. You can go back to clean things up and tweak verbiage later – getting the ideas you have onto paper will help your paper to develop more quickly.

4. Develop an Outline System That Works For You

Traditional outlines simply don’t work for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that outlines are worthless. Find a system that achieves the same goal but which fits your own writing or creative style. Writing a few sentences and using lists for each paragraph may be the best method for you, or simply jotting down ideas you can rearrange may be more your style. Find what works for you and use it.

5. Watch Your Adverbs

Using adverbs may bulk up your essay, but it also makes your paper less effective. A person isn’t very poor, they’re impoverished. Concentration camps weren’t very bad, they were horrific. The sun isn’t very hot, it’s scorching. Find better descriptions for common adverbs of degree in order to polish your writing.

6. Set a Timer

According to several studies, people work best with focused concentration for about 25 minutes at a time. Gab a kitchen timer, wind it to the 25 minute mark and GO. Write your heart out and don’t stop typing for the full 25 minutes. If you get stumped or hit a wall, move on to another section of the paper or write ‘What I really want to say is…’ and then finish that sentence. Even if you end up scraping half of what you’ve written, this type of focused creativity will not only get you farther into your essay, it can even result in some surprising gems of inspiration.

7. Focus on Writing Alone

When you write, do it alone. Don’t try writing while your friends are over, or while you’re watching a movie with someone. Make the time to sit alone and focus on your writing. Keeping clear of distractions will help you to focus more effectively and, in the end, getting it done will give you more free time.

8. Conduct Timed Research

Research can be the downfall of many students when it’s time to sit down and write. They may start with the best intentions but when conducting research online, it’s easy to click from one page to the next and suddenly find yourself playing a Super Mario emulator. Set a timer for your research, separate from writing time, and stick to it. If you find yourself still gravitating towards pages of distraction, set up a list of blocked websites through parental control software or time management tools such as LeechBlock or Cold Turkey.

9. Set Small Goals

Chopping your writing assignment up into smaller pieces can help boost productivity and speeds along the writing process. Dying for another cup of coffee? Finish this paragraph first. Want to get up and stretch your legs? Just pound out the rest of this outline so you know where to start when the break is over. Thinking of your assignment as a series of smaller milestones will help make it easier – and quicker – to finish.

10. Rewrite As You Edit

Combine your rewriting and editing step into one and clean up your spelling and grammar as you revise your writing. The best way to do this is to read your essay out loud, as if you were simply trying to educate or persuade a friend. Combining this final revision step can easily shave time off your total writing time and reading the essay out loud also ensures everything flows seamlessly.