Academic journal article Journalism History

Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing, 4th Ed

Academic journal article Journalism History

Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing, 4th Ed

Article excerpt

Northey, Margot and Joan McKibbin. Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing, 4th ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2005.178 pp. $19.95.

Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin deliver in this book on their promise to help students avoid common mistakes and grasp basic research and writing principles. Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing is a well-organized, clearly written, and concise guide for students from a range of academic disciplines. Other volumes in the Making Sense series, including one on social sciences, are more narrowly focused.

Aimed primarily at undergraduates but appropriate for beginning graduate students as well, this volume provides general guidance on completing common research and writing assignments and confronting challenges such as working through writer's block, incorporating illustrations, preparing bibliographies, and giving oral presentations. Individual chapters are devoted to the details of producing essays, book reports, lab reports, and business reports. Additional chapters provide advice on writing examinations and preparing resumes.

The volume's focus on the fundamentals of research and writing, its step-by-step guidance on completing written projects, and its clear examples and explanations make it suitable for a variety of journalism and mass communication classes. Its lack of information about the use and documentation of primary sources, however, limits its usefulness to students in history classes. Its cursory discussion of the differences between primary and secondary sources, for example, is not enough to clear up frequently asked questions.

Northey, a former dean of Queen's University's School of Business, and McKibbin, a communications and computer applications instructor at St. Lawrence College, walk students through the planning, research, writing, editing, and formatting steps required of typical student assignments. They address common grammar and punctuation errors found in student papers, and these are backed up by clear examples. A particularly helpful chapter on the selection of strong and precise words, what the authors call "writing with style," tackles the tendency of students to use stilted language and complex sentence structures. It advises them on how to write concise, active sentences and includes a list of "fancy" words and "plain" alternatives. …

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