A coursework is any written project a student should complete over the course of a term – it can be an essay, a research paper or some other type of written assignment. The main purpose of this type of work is to evaluate and train the student’s ability to work and research independently. Therefore, even if a coursework is not very large, many students find this type of work distressing, not being used to defining the direction of their research on their own. However, not to worry – you will find all the instructions to guide you through this job in this manual.
As the goal of a coursework is to assess your independent research skills, usually you have to choose the topic of your assignment on your own – of course, within the scope of your current course. However, you still have to discuss and settle the topic and title with your tutor.
If you do not have a ready topic handy, brainstorming with mind mapping can help. You can either do it on paper or use one of many mind-mapping tools available online. Simply write down the general outline of your study field in the middle of a sheet of paper (e.g., ‘Abdominal Obesity’) and start drafting ideas that come to your mind all around it. It is important not to think whether these ideas are good or bad at this point – just churn out as many of them as possible. Try thinking about at least a couple dozen ideas – chances are, the best will come by the end of this exercise.
Most of the ideas you have created this way will be useless or irrelevant, but you will certainly find a few workable ones. Set them aside and try to decide which of them interest you the most or which you will be able to cover without too much effort. Perhaps you have already done research related to some of them, and can build on it. Narrow down the list of potential ideas to 2-3, depending on how much time you have.
Find as many sources of information related to each idea as possible and try to estimate how much data there is on each of them. Will it be enough for the research of your size? You can get lists of useful literature from your supervisor, in a library (do not just study the index, ask a librarian!) or in an online academic database/search engine. AGRIS and FSTA deal directly with this area of knowledge, plus you can find something useful on multidisciplinary resources like Google Scholar and EBSCO. Compile a list of keywords related to your ideas and run a few searches. After you gather some sources, look through them, pick the ones that are the most relevant for your research and look through their bibliography sections – there may be other helpful sources. If you can single out reliable authorities on the subject (people with many publications that are referred to by other specialists in the field), check out their other works.
It is likely that at this point you can single out a few topics that are underrepresented in the existing research. If they suit you, look into them and see if you can settle on one of them as a topic for your coursework.
The fact that you haven’t seen research on this subject does not mean there is none at all. Make a concerted effort to find any papers, publications, books, articles or any other works dedicated to the topic you have chosen or similar ones. If you cannot find anything identical to what you want to propose, feel free to discuss it with your supervisor – he/she will tell you what to do next and how to modify the topic to better suit the requirements of the assignment.
Finally, you should come up with a suitable title that clearly indicates what you write about and limits the area of research. For example:
Just like with any other research assignment, 60% of your time will be dedicated to research and work with information sources, 30% to writing, and 10% to revision. So do not underestimate the importance of this phase – if you do not get it right, it does not matter how perfect the rest of your paper is.
When writing an academic work about nutrition, how you write is just as important as the contents of your work. The structure of your paper may differ depending on the task – a coursework may have any form, from a slightly longer than normal essay to a full-fledged research paper. You will receive guidelines related to the structure from your supervisor, so read and follow them carefully. Whatever the structure is, there are a few principles you should follow:
Many students get so tired of and frustrated with their coursework assignments that they happily submit them immediately after finishing. It is a mistake – revision is just as important a phase as writing itself, and spending a couple hours polishing your paper can noticeably influence your grade. Here are some suggestions on how you can do it more effectively:
We hope that this guide answered any questions you might have had. Follow it, and your next coursework will not cause you any trouble!