6. How to process materials?
Who are your readers?
Why is writing considered to be difficult?
Writing as a creative process
How to be a better writer?
Project report: how do you report your findings?
 

Who are your readers?

When you are writing a report (or anything in fact) you should also start by thinking for whom you are writing for. There is always an audience for your text and its needs affect the way you should write. Are you writing to people who already know about the topic or are you writing to novices? What do you want to express to the readers? Your text is going to be much better if you every once in while stop to think does this satisfy the needs of my readers!

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Why is writing considered to be difficult?

Writing is always also thinking and expressing yourself. And thinking is difficult! Even experienced writers consider writing to be hard work when they are actually trying to produce something new.

There are two ways a writer approaches his/her task: knowledge telling and knowledge transforming. Knowledge telling is like printing existing knowledge. Knowledge transforming is about structuring, developing and producing also your own ideas and new knowledge.

Knowledge tellers do not set up questions and problems for themselves. They do not plan their task. They take a topic given and try to find out relevant facts about the topic. The text they write is a collection of data copied from different sources. The writer lists everything he can find out about the topic given. So the text is related to the topic but different paragraphs are not connected. "The story does not flow."

Knowledge transformers do not try to minimise the effort of writing. Instead they set up goals for themselves; they solve problems and write about the problem solving process. The task is planned ahead. The text is written in several cycles - process writing. The writer thinks of the readers and tries to adjust the content and style to the readers needs. The text proceeds logically and conclusions are well argumented.

Example
 

What do you find hardest in writing? In your opinion, how could the task of writing be made easier?
We found writing about a topic which we knew absolutely nothing about at the beginning the hardest part. It would have been easier to write about a subject that we knew at least slightly from beforehand. But we can consider an advantage the fact that we have gotten to know the topic of nuclear power quite thoroughly. I cannot comment on making the writing easier except that references are hard to give in a paper like this and if it had been voluntary, the work would have been somewhat easier.

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Writing as a creative process

Creative processes have certain phases. Knowing them might help you cope with the difficulties of writing!

Preparation Activating memory. Thinking about the problem, setting questions and problems to solve and finding materials about it.
Problem solving attempts First attempts to try to solve the problem do not necessarily succeed: the writer gets angry, frustrated, might even quit.
Maturing Going through different alternative strategies and thinking about the problem every now and then. Making drafts, developing ideas, sharing them with others and getting feedback.
Insight Getting more insight and understanding about the problem as a whole. Sometimes difficulties might be solved suddenly - almost like a flash.
Finalising Finalising the outcome of problem solving: logical order of presentation, grammatical correctness etc.Publishing and evaluating the product.
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How to be a better writer?

If you want to learn to know what your strengths and weaknesses are you can fill in this self-evaluation test. You answer some multiple-choice questions and get back an analysis of your characteristics as a writer. The analysis also suggests how you can develop your skills! And how you can improve your information skills.

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Project report: how do you report your findings?

Reporting of results of one's study project might be very difficult task for the first time. Writing a good project report is not, however, primarily a matter of creativity or competence. There are certain guidelines that may help practically anyone to produce a good report if appropriately supported.

While reporting results it might be very helpful to rely on the enclosed general structure of project report. This structure helps to organise results of research process in a meaningful way as well as creates a basis for effectively communicating the results to the your readers.
This framework of writing a project report is designed to help your to construct a successful report of your study project. It may help you to organise your project reports in many different subject domains.

What are the parts in a project report:

INTRODUCTION/GENERAL
In the beginning of your report you have to introduce the topic your have been studying to your reader. You must take into consideration that the reader might not be familiar with your topic or might not know why it is important to you. Therefore your first task is the tell what you have been studying and why are you so interested in it What am I studying?

What is purpose of my study?

INTRODUCTION/PROBLEM
In the introduction of you report you should tell to your reader what is the problem you have been studying. Try to explain what was the problem or question you wondered.

What is the problem I am trying to solve?

Why is the problem so important?

INTRODUCTION/MY OWN THINKING
It might be useful to tell what you already know about the problem when you started your project (e.g., "I knew that dolphins are not fishes, but I wanted to know more about how come they can stay under water for so long time")

What do I already know about the problem?

What was I expecting to find about the problem?

What do I wonder?

RESULTS NEW LEARNING
Tell to you reader what did you find out by using your own words. What did I find out?

What do information sources say about the problem?

DESCRIPTION OF RESULTS
Use both text and graphics (pictures) to illustrate results of you investigation.

DEEPENING SEARCH
How did you manage to solve your problems? Did you succeed to deeper into the topic finding several information sources? What kinds of new problems or questions emerged?

Do new information sources answer to these new problems?

DISCUSSION
In discussion your task is to explain to your reader what did you learn to know or understand because of your project.

What do I understand now that I did not understand in the beginning?

What things are still difficult to understand?

What questions I was unable to find answers to? What remains unanswered?

REFERENCES
Tell to your reader about information sources used in your report.

Example
 

What did you learn in the course of your work?
We learned a lot about nuclear power and what to do when one hears a nuclear warning and nuclear alert. We got to know the grounds for both opposing and favoring nuclear power and to form some kind of personal idea of our own views.

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