Norton UK Blog
How to Use the Internet to Write an Assignment
Back in the dark old days before the internet, students were forced to risk paper cuts and strained eyes in order to research an assignment using actual books.
Writing an assignment in these times of digital enlightenment can still be a nuisance for the devoted (and not-so-devoted) student but the internet has made the process much easier than it used to be.
Here are a few hints and tips to help you use the net to get that assignment done properly. (So no shameless plagiarism!)
Plan your essay before you start
The first step is to work out how you’re going to answer the question before you start trawling through the internet.
You’d be amazed by how many people don’t think about what the question is asking them. A 1000 word explanation of the fall of the Roman Empire might be impressive but not if the question is about World War II. But seriously, make sure to read the question a couple of times and plot out the basic points you’re going to make before you hit the net.
Narrow your search to save time
The internet is full of information but most of it has absolutely nothing to do with your essay.
It’s easy to start off with the best of intentions and then spend your entire evening combing through countless websites. Pretty soon, you’ll find that you’ve spent hours on research and haven’t a single word of the essay written.
Read a couple of summaries of the topic to give you an overall picture and then narrow your search options to research specific points that back up your argument. If you’re organised, plot out each section with one or two core points on paper and then flesh the skeleton out as you research.
Use online examples to get ideas
Sometimes you can understand a topic but you’re just not sure how to explain it to other people. If only there was a handy resource that has collected millions of easily-accessible examples. Welcome to the internet!
Reading other people’s examples can help you with things like formatting, sentence transitions, style or word usage.
People who are great assignment writers weren’t born with a laptop in their hand. They learned how to do it. One of the easiest ways of learning is to see how other people do it and adopt the things they do well into your own work.
You might discover a great way to express something or even find a useful trick that you can apply in your own assignment. Just as long as that useful trick doesn’t involve Ctrl+C! Plagiarism-checking software is far smarter than you might think and will sniff out any copying.
Avoid stealing someone else’s work
The internet has given students many fantastic tools but it has also introduced biblical levels of temptation into their lives. It takes serious willpower to come across an online sample of an assignment with the exact same title as yours and not be tempted to steal a chunk of it.
Aside from the moral dilemma of stealing someone else’s work, there is always a chance that you’ll get caught.
Your teacher or lecturer probably knows your style and capabilities so trying to dupe them with someone else’s assignment can easily create suspicion. Many schools use the aforementioned plagiarism-checking software too, so that’s going to end badly for dedicated fans of the copy and paste function.
Check your sources
Don’t always trust Wikipedia. While it’s correct most of the time, any member of the public can edit it—so bear that in mind if you’re planning on citing it as your star evidence.
An Irish student famously made up a fake quote by musician Maurice Jarre and added it to Jarre’s Wikipedia page on the day of his death. The hoax resulted in several major newspapers using the quote in their obituaries for the musician.
Approach everything you read on the internet with a sceptical mind. Try to read at least three good sources before you take a fact for granted. This will hopefully cover you for people making mistakes, people copying other people’s mistakes or people who make ‘facts’ up for fun.
While the internet is an excellent resource, it isn’t bulletproof!