Academic Orientation




Copyrighted © 2016 John Monyjok Maluth


Shakespir Edition


Discipleship Press

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Unit 1: Academic Research Basics

Unit 2: Study Techniques

Unit 3: Academic Writing Basics

Recommended Readings

Introduction to Academic Orientaion

The academic orientation course is a course that orients students in the academic environment. This academic study course consists of research methods, learning techniques and academic writing guidelines. Composing a full academic paper is very different from writing any informal paper.

In that respect, there are different academic writings and reporting formats also covered in this module.

At the end of this course, the students will be able to understand and practice the knowledge about academic research and academic writing, both theoretically and practically.

This academic study course is both technological and practical. It is technological because it requires technical work and it is practical because each student must put these principles and techniques into practice.



The term research can mean different things to different people. Grounded on this fact, research in this context means searching again and again. It is a repeated work even after ascertaining the potential causes of a trouble.

Thither are many types of research work with their diverse methods and techniques. In this track, we are concentrating on academic research based on humanities and social sciences – theology.

According to Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th Edition, research is a “systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. The word comes from an obsolete French “recerch (noun), recercher (verb), from Old French re- (expressing intensive force + cerchier ‘to search’.

Research Methods

In research, there are descriptive, historical, structure-factual, statistical and conceptual or analytical methods of inquiry.

In all research methods, one will have to utilize one or many of the data collection methods and techniques such as questionnaires, interviews, observations, case studies and experiments depending on what type of research one is conducting.

p<>{color:#000;}. Descriptive method

p<>{color:#000;}. Historical method

p<>{color:#000;}. Structure-factual method

p<>{color:#000;}. Statistical method

p<>{color:#000;}. Conceptual method

p<>{color:#000;}. Analytical method

Research Types

There are many types of research, such as natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Research Problem Statement

Research is a way of finding the possible cause of a problem and it proposes ways to resolve or solve the problem.

Thus, you must deliver a problem before you attempt to resolve it. Your problem in this sense is finding a subject that you can write about.

As the term indicates, ‘research’ is a repeated search for something not precisely a normal search which ends when one finds what was lost.

A research problem can be in a statement form or inquiry form. It entirely depends on the tutor who chooses a research question.

You may be required to write about the history of Christian Faith. You will be required to submit the research problem in your own style using your own language. Research problem will help you come up with your research design and format.

The research problem statement will also aid you in reading because it will assist you pick out the proper fabrics from many others. In this class, you will be required to scan scripts from the library after you have chosen your topic of inquiry. But, how do you read?

Reading has got many different techniques that you have to master. What do you do when you are asked to read a book of 350 pages big? You will require some reading techniques that will help you study the right material within that great book.

The research problem:

p<>{color:#000;}. Can be in a question or statement forms.

p<>{color:#000;}. Must be a complete and clear sentence.

Data Collection

After coming up with your research paper rubric, you will have to select the resources you require to complete your research study. You will have to employ some techniques in selecting your resources.

p<>{color:#000;}. Questionnaires

p<>{color:#000;}. Interviews

p<>{color:#000;}. Eperiments

p<>{color:#000;}. Case studies

Techniques such as the SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review) are important to be habituated.

One necessitates to apply the reading techniques in order to obtain the proper materials that support the points.

When you appraise your information, you need critical thinking, critical analysis of information, and critical reading. Critical reading and critical thinking are not the same things even though you may suffice them the same time.

In academic writing world, your arguments must be objective in the sense that they must be founded on common facts not on your own imaginations and assumptions.

Stages of Research Process

There are four main stages of research process known as, preparatory, operational, analytical and concluding.

In the beginning phase, you define your research problem statement. In the second level you begin outlining and then study the information before you finally edit and proofread your work.

Most authors suggest you share the final work with a trusted friends who will help you realize your own mistakes that you may not see by yourself before you submit your work for marking and grading.

p<>{color:#000;}. Preparatory Process

p<>{color:#000;}. Operational Process

p<>{color:#000;}. Analytical Process

p<>{color:#000;}. Concluding Process

Research Reporting

Research reports depends on the research type. In theology, there are humanity and social science research where one writes essay papers. You will not prepare any scientific experiments and write your findings when doing these types of research reporting.

This does not suggest that the humanities and social sciences like theology are simple compared to natural sciences.

Before writint the research report, one will have to collect the right information and that is why there is a need to search and search – research. Depending on the research type, one will be required to report the results in dissimilar patterns.

In that respect are different essay writings that we will discuss in this academic orientation course. Side by side, we will look at reading techniques that will also assist students with obtaining the information from the sources in a safer and gentler path.


[]Reading Techniques

There are many reasons for people to read books. One can read books for fun or for something more demanding. When reading for fun, this is called volunteer reading. But when reading for exam or research work, this is called compulsory reading.

As mentioned earlier, it become difficult or even impossible to locate the right information that is needed if one does not know about the reading techniques.

p<>{color:#000;}. Volunteer Reading

p<>{color:#000;}. Compulsory Reading

Some of the reading techniques that can be used depending on the reason why we are reading are: skimming, scanning, intensive and extensive reading. In all these types of reading, you will have to understand your purpose for reading.

You also need to reflect on what you are reading before you read. You would have to be an audience to your author by joining the author in the journey of reading.

You may have to try to predict what is coming next as you read the material. Concentration is very important in reading. It is also better to take notes or underline main points as you read (if the book is your own book).

Skimming – this kind of reading is different from scanning. It is to skim through the book trying to see what is in there without reading deeply. This type of reading helps you find out the main ideas in the book without going through each of those ideas in details.

Scanning – scanning is like skimming, but different because scanning has to do with looking for what you know or expect from a book. Scanning is looking for something you expect from a book. When you know the subject, you scan for related topics in books that seem to support your research hypotheses.

Intensive – this type of reading is deeper than scanning and skimming. It means you read the material and study it deeper. It needs concentration and focus. It may also involve taking notes from the source as you read. Some people call this intensive reading.

Extensive – The extensive reading is reading for pleasure or enjoyment. If you read nobles, then you know about reading for fun – extensive reading.

Volunteer Reading

As mentioned earlier, we read for different reasons. Most people love reading just for fun not for getting information from what they read. This is true when reading voluntarily.

Today, there are thousands of free books online that you can choose from and you can read them on your mobile devices or computers.

Most of these books are literature books and you can read most of these for fun. Fiction books are books about what people imagine. They are not based on facts or real world issues. These books are good to read for enjoyment because some of them can make you laugh out load. But this is very different from academic reading discussed below.

Mandatory Reading

Academic reading is not reading for fun or enjoyment even though you can surely enjoy what you are reading. There are many stumbling blocks in reading for academic purposes.

One of these stumbling blocks is having problems with words especially when you have few English vocabularies. English may not be your first language and this makes academic reading somehow difficult for you.

Reading for academic purposes can be improved over time, but only if you have a reason for it. In academic world, we read to be informed about the facts we are studying. Most academic books are written in nonfiction language because they are based on facts in the real world.

In academic world, we read for a reason. Academic reading is always compulsory not only because the teacher demands us to read, but because the subject itself demands us to know more before we report our research work for marking and grading.

When you read for academic reasons, you will have to apply one of many of reading techniques. When you are given a book to read, first, get prepared by looking at what may give you some information about your assignment questions.

First, look at the book title, table of contents, summary notes, subheadings, introduction, and conclusion in that book. This will help you determine whether you can find something to relate with your assignment question or not. You may not find your assignment question listed on a book cover or in the table of contents, but there may be a very good information that you need and that may be hidden somewhere in the same book!

Secondly, skim through the topics or sections of the books that seems to promise something about your assignment. This is helpful for you to get the general ideas in the book before you read each of these ideas or topics in details.

Thirdly, you will need to narrow down your searching by scanning for specific information within the topics you are skimming through before you go deeper. This is for you to look for the exact pieces of information. Look for the key active verbs in the topic relating to your assignment question.

Fourthly, you will now need to decode or find out what the author is trying to communicate. Remember, writing is one way of communication. As you read this, you are communicating with me. This is why you need some English courses prior to studying in a college or university like ECC. Decoding means interpreting what you are reading.

Finally, you will have to interpret the text using the common or universal understanding of the concepts presented in the book. This sounds complex, but it simply means understanding the topic as commonly known to many other people.

In this case, you will have little problems when writing your report. It is in this level that you can now decide to use the information to support your points or reject it. You will also have to have your reasons of using the source or rejecting it if necessary.


[]Academic Writing Design

After doing your search and researching, you can now think of putting your work in a written form. In this section, we will look at common academic writing types, writing process, types of essay and how to design your academic report.

When we talk of design, I mean designing your essay in the academic way. Most academic essay writings consist of introduction, body and conclusion parts. Your introduction introduces what you are going to say, and your conclusion concludes what you have said so far. Writing good assignments is one and important part of academic writing.

With our world of technology, designing and formatting your research paper is easier than you think. We will use Microsoft Word Program for designing and formatting our work. You will also learn in practice about how to format your paper using your own handwriting.

Basically, you will need a cover page for your assignment, table of contents page and another page for bibliography. Bibliography or reference list is always at the far end of your assignment. It is the last paper you attach to your academic paper.

It tells your readers where you get the support for your work from. Your originality is the primary thing in academic writing, but, you must support your views and beliefs with the current literature, which is why you will have a list of sources you have consulted or used in your paper.

Apart from your cover page, table of contents page and the page for bibliography, you will need some few pages for the body of your assignment, thesis or dissertation papers. You will be told in class about how to design the cover page and table of contents.

The body of your assignment must consist of connected and related paragraphs. Check the samples of cover page, table of contents and bibliography pages below.

Academic Paper Design

Your assignment must include an introduction, body and a conclusion. Before these parts of your assignment, you need a cover page, table of contents and a bibliography page. The design of your assignment’s cover page will defer from school to another. The requirement is that you have to align the text to the center of the cover page.

p<>{color:#000;}. Title and cover page

p<>{color:#000;}. Table of contents

p<>{color:#000;}. Body

p<>{color:#000;}. Bibliography

Cover Page – this is a 1 page document. Your cover page can contain the name of your school as the first item entered. The school name can be followed by the faculty or department that you are studying in.

The assignment title and number can follow the department or faculty name, then your name comes in. under your name, you can enter the name of your teacher, tutor or professor and then the assignment due dates.

Table of Contents Page – this is a 1 page document. Here you can list your main points in the assignment including your introduction and conclusion. Make sure that your points appear in this page as they will appear in your assignment.

You will have to use the heading formatting to avoid page errors. Remember to use the automatic coloring when saving your final assignment if you typed your work using a computer.

Body Pages – here the page count depends on the nature of your assignment. You will discuss your points from the first to the last as your points appear in your table of contents page discussed above. Make sure your points appear in a logical order.

This is how people write books. Learning these steps and principles will help you pass well if you put them into practice as you write your academic papers. You have to start discussing your points from the introduction to the conclusion.

Bibliography Page – this is another 1 page document. But you may need to include all in a single document. To avoid any page numbering formatting errors, make sure you begin your page numbering from the introduction page to the conclusion page.

You have to write your cover page, table of contents page and the bibliography pages before the introduction page so that they are not numbered. You do not need to number your cover page or table of contents page.

But if your assignment must be printed before marking, then put the bibliography at the last page even though your page numbers will appear on it.

The cover and the table of contents pages will not be numbered. But how can you jump over these two pages in your document? It is very simple to jump over any pages at the beginning of your document without numbering them.

To jump some pages in your document without numbering them, click on the beginning of the first line in the page where you want to begin the page numbering. For example, if you want your page numbering to start on the introduction page, click on the “Page Layout Tab” and look for “Breaks” in the page setup tab group. Click on the ‘Breaks’ command button and then select the “Next Page” command under the Section Break group.

Now, click on the Insert Tab and then click on the page number command button. You will have to remove any page numbering you have inserted. After removing page numbers, click the format page numbers and select the start at, and then click on the OK button to save the changes.

Now, click on the Footer command in the Header & Footer tab group. Here, you will have to remove any footer in your document.

Then click on the edit footer command. Now, click on the link to previous command and close the Header & Footer.

Click on the Insert Tab again and then select Footer. Now choose from the available footer designs and then close the header and footer window again.

Now your page numbering begins from where you want up to the end of the document.

Different schools and universities use different designs for the cover page. Yet, most use this design in the picture above. You have to ask your school about the design of the cover design for your assignments.

If your school has a format to use, use that for your assignment designs so that you will not lose your marks.

You can lose points if you do not follow the design requirements of your school. The cover page must contain the following information:

Once again, your table of contents contains the main points in your assignment or book. Writing an assignment paper is like writing a book. This is why if you master academic writing, you are likely to be a good writer.

The body of your assignment begins with page 1 in your document. It must begin with the first item in the table of contents and in this example above, it begins with the introduction to your assignment.

You can title this page as table of contents, or just contents as I did in the example above. Align the title of your page to the center of the document and make it bold.

This sample bibliography page was designed using the APA referencing style (Abbreviation of Personal Allowance). Here, you begin with the author’s surname followed by comma. Then you insert the first letter of his/her first name followed by a period or full stop.

Now, you insert the date of publication of that book in brackets followed by a period or full stop. Now, insert the title of the book or article, then the full stop or period. Now you can insert the city or town of publication, followed by the publisher name.

The word, Biblio is a Greek word that means “Book” in English. Bibliography is the graph or list of books used in your work. When you write any academic paper, you must use some sources.

At the end of your work, you have to acknowledge those sources and this is what is called bibliography or list of books used.

Your bibliography can be called or titled as works cited depending on how you used your resources in the assignment.

It can also be titled as works consulted in case you never quote or cite any of these sources. For sure, there are many styles to utilize.

Things like text alignment, line spacing, font sizes and font faces are very important as well. In Emmanuel Christian College, you will be asked to use certain font face and size and also 1.5 or 2.0 line spacing depending on the type of your paper.

Academic Writing Process

As mentioned earlier, we write for different reasons. We will discuss about academic writing types below. Here, we will look at pre-writing, drafting, revising and editing process. We first collect information from relevant sources before we begin to write our academic papers.

p<>{color:#000;}. Prewriting

p<>{color:#000;}. Drafting

p<>{color:#000;}. Revising

p<>{color:#000;}. Editing

p<>{color:#000;}. Proofreading

Pre-writing process – this is the preparation process before you begin to think about writing your paper. You first read the questions and try to understand them well before you read about the questions from the sources given.

One mistake most of us make in writing is thinking we have already understood what the teacher means when we read the questions presented to us.

Please read or ask your teacher if you are not sure of the requirements of the questions before you begin your research journey. This will help you understand the questions well.

After understanding the questions, read the resources provided if there are some. Re-read the sources and then develop your own thesis from there.

A thesis is an argument or discourse based on the facts about the topic you are studying. Now, after you have an argument or thesis, you can begin to draft your essay.

Drafting process – after finding the information you need, you can now begin drafting your assignment. Drafting is real writing, but it is called draft because the work is not yet finalized. You will need to read and make drafts of your work more than once if you really want to write a good academic paper.

Drafting process is your second process in writing your academic paper. Here you can draft your essay or assignment title, introduction, body and the conclusion. Remember that these drafts may change greatly in the future as you continue to do more research on the topic.

Revising process – this is your third step in the academic writing process. After drafting, you need to revise your work before editing it. Here you revise your title, body and conclusion.

You will need to focus on the development and the cohesion of your paper. The style of writing is also important. Remember, academic writing is not like writing an email message to a friend; it is a formal writing not informal writing.

Editing process – the editing process is one of the most important steps in academic writing. This is when you begin to edit and proofread your work. Many writers suggest that you have to share your work with your best friend. Here you focus on the spelling and grammar,

Types of Academic Writing

There are three major types of academic writing with their varieties. There are essay, report and dissertation writings. These types of writing may share many things in common, but they also differ a lot from each other.

There are also many types of essay writings such as, judgment, exploratory, literature review and reflective essay. You can go deeper in each of these types of essay writing by reading the recommended readings in this guide or by searching the wealth of information on the internet.

p<>{color:#000;}. Essay writing

p<>{color:#000;}. Report Writing

p<>{color:#000;}. Term Paper

p<>{color:#000;}. Thesis Paper

p<>{color:#000;}. Dissertation Paper

Most report writings do not require you to design your paper with introduction, body and conclusion, but few reports do. When you write an essay or dissertation papers, you must write good introductions, logical bodies and good conclusions before you will be qualified for your research work.

That means both essay and dissertation writings are demanding for introductions, bodies and conclusions that report writings do not.

There are also two main forms of presenting your work. These forms are mandatory and voluntary writings. As the names suggest, mandatory writing is for research work where you must write and submit your papers for marking. On the other hand, voluntary writing is for fun and book writings.

Papers like seminar papers, monographs, articles and books are written in voluntary writing form because there is no demand on writing them. You only volunteered to write, therefore they are not compulsory.

On the other hand, term papers, research proposals, theses and dissertations are mandatory papers. Your assignment papers are also mandatory and that is why you have to write them in the acceptable format.

In academic writing, we also have descriptive, expository, narrative, argumentative, and normative types of writings. These can be part of one of all the three main types of academic writing discussed above.

There are still other types of writing such as random private, organized private, interactive, concrete collaboration, profiled collaboration, and high level professional profiling. These types of writing are for private works or works that can be published.

p<>{color:#000;}. Descriptive

p<>{color:#000;}. Expository

p<>{color:#000;}. Narrative

p<>{color:#000;}. Argumentative

p<>{color:#000;}. Normative

The Paradoxes of Academic Writing

There are many paradoxes in academic writing such as start versus finishing, originality versus convention, logic versus emotional, easy versus difficult and finally, public and private paradoxes of academic writing.

Some people may start their writing projects very well, but something will happen which will make them stop before they finish their writings. While you must use the available sources of information, you must have your original data or points that you will only need to support.

The logical thinking is different from emotional behavior which cannot allow thinking critically. Writing may be difficult, but if you only have a reason for it, you will make it.

p<>{color:#000;}. Start versus finishing

p<>{color:#000;}. Originality versus convention

p<>{color:#000;}. Logical versus emotional

p<>{color:#000;}. Easy versus difficult

p<>{color:#000;}. Public and private

Academic Writing Techniques

When writing academic papers, there are few things that you need to know personally. Have you ever heard anything about plagiarism?

Plagiarism is an academic offense and a serious academic crime that many students commit. In fact, this course was developed to help you know what this serious offense is before you find yourself in trouble.

Plagiarism is copying or using someone’s work without acknowledging that person. It does not only apply to academic issues alone but to media such as MP3 songs that are copyrighted by their owners.

Using such sources in your academic papers without acknowledging them is telling us that you own them. In this section, we will learn what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Direct Quotations

We quote resources directly when we want to retain the meaning and authenticity of the original source of information. We may also do this to lend support to evaluation or analysis.

For whatever reasons, it will be very good for you if you use the quotation marks (“”, ‘’) when quoting something exactly whether it is a written or spoken source.

This will help you reference your resources to avoid plagiarism in your work. There are many academic rules about using the information you gathered in your assignment. In-text citation is one way you can integrate your information into your work using quotation marks and then cite if possible.

A text bigger than four lines cannot be quoted! You can indent the text on both left and right margins and give it a different font size to distinguish it from the rest of your work.

Quotation = “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life”.

This is an example of a direct quote from the Bible. For me to acknowledge the source of this information to avoid plagiarism, I have to cite after quoting.

Citation = (John 3:16). This is to say that the information quoted above was from John chapters 3 verses sixteen and to do this, I have to put the reference into open and close brackets as shown above. The in-text citation is much different from this.

The in-text citation tells the reader about the author, the date of publication of that work being used, and the pages being quoted. For example, John said, “I really wondered if the civil war in South Sudan will really end before the end of 2015 as expected” (John 2014:23).

Here, the information is quoted using double quotation marks (“”), and then the citation was made in the open and close brackets () to tell the readers that the information being used was from John and this was published in 2014, and the exact part of that work was found on page 23.

The year 2014 in this example above may be the date of publication if this was a book or an article.


Offline Sources

Barr Sally, Alfred J., Brusaw T, and Oliu E. Water. 2004. [_ Writing From A to Z. The Easy-to- use Reference Handbook 5 th_] Edition: McGraw Hill: New York.

Lynch Mary and Smith M. Hadley. 2001. Reading and Writing in Academic Community. Prentice Hall: New Jersey.

Murray and Sarah Moore. 2010. The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach. Open University Press: Great Britain.

Peter C.B. 2010. A Guide to Academic Writing. Zapf Chancery: Eldoret, Kenya.

Seyler U. Dorothy. 2006. Read, Reason, Write. McGraw Hill: New Yok.

Shields Munling. 2010. Essay Writing: A Student’s Guide. SAGE: Los Angeles.

Online Sources

Study Guides Onlinehttp://library.bcu.ac.uk/learner/Guide%20Index.htm

Reading Techniques: Five Step Approachhttp://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ger341/reading2.htm

Reading Techniques – http://www.brainboxx.co.uk/A3_ASPECTS/pages/reading.htm

Research Methods – http://www2.webster.edu/~woolflm/statmethods.html

Types of Research – http://libguides.usc.edu/content.php?pid=83009&sid=818072

Writing a Research Proposal – http://libguides.usc.edu/content.php?pid=83009&sid=2319840

Academic Orientation

  • ISBN: 9781311725240
  • Author: Discipleship Press
  • Published: 2016-01-29 18:40:08
  • Words: 5007
Academic Orientation Academic Orientation