In anthropologists considered Indigenous media as ‘cultural action’

In completing a degree, essay writing is a key skill and are
used as a method of displaying your knowledge and understanding, as well as
improving your understanding of both a topic and the degree subject (Godwin
2014: 1-2). I have chosen to write about my response to the Contemporary Issues
module practice essay, for which I selected the question “In what ways have
anthropologists considered Indigenous media as ‘cultural action’ (Ginsburg
2016)”. In this report I set out to assess the problems that arose during the process
of planning and researching for the essay, along with problems surrounding the
essay writing process. I will highlight some valuable methods to rectifying
these problems such as organisational skills and self-reflection to find the
right environment for study, and examine how to implement them for later
essays.

An important aspect of essay planning is having an
organisational system for the relevant notes and reading, this is so it is easy
to refer back to sources during the essay writing process, as well as when
building your bibliography. While writing my essay I realised that I needed to
keep a filing system for the reading I had relating to Indigenous media. A way
to do this is to organise files on your computer into groups and “keep files
relating to a particular subject together so you can find them again at speed”
(Cottrell 2013: 104). Cottrell points out that filenames should be names that
help you to recall the contents (2013: 104), this advice helped me when I was
naming online reading files to my computer. Putting all this into practice,
Terence Turner’s 1992 journal article ‘Defiant Images: The Kayapo’s
Appropriation of Video’ was shortened to ‘TURNER 92 Kayapo and Video’ and put
into a file titled ‘Indigenous media’ (which was in a file titled ‘Contemporary
Issues’, which was in a file titled ‘Anthropology Year 0’). This organisation
of files made it easier for me to refer back to while writing my essay and will
help me in the future if I need to look back at indigenous media.

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Another issue during planning essays is determining what
needs to be read in order to write an effective essay. It is recommended to
“make a list of the set reading and other studies relevant to the essay topic”
to write a well-rounded answer (Chambers and Northedge 2008: 193-4). With my
practice essay question a reading source was given in the question, Ginsburg
2016, which was the first thing I read to understand what the question needed
in response. In reading the article cited, I was also given an idea of what I
needed to read, the introduction reads “I also address the political activism
that led to the creation of four national indigenous television stations in the
early 21st century: Aboriginal People’s Television Network in
Canada; National Indigenous Television in Australia; Maori TV in New Zealand;
and Taiwan Indigenous Television in Taiwan” (Ginsburg 2016). From this I knew
that needed to read further about four indigenous media sources stated.
Furthermore, another place to find the books and articles I needed to read to
complete my essay was the VLE, which has an organised, digitised reading list
for each week. Making a list of reading from the VLE is something I intend to
use for later essays, for a more organised reading and planning process.

It is important while writing essays to be in the right study
environment for you. This is because an environment not suited to your own
working style may hinder the essay writing process, leaving you unable to
finish the essay in time for the deadline or it may lead to an essay that is
not well-rounded. I found that while writing my practice essay it was difficult
to write effectively in certain environments. Cottrell suggests that a reason
for underachievement is due to studying in a condition that doesn’t match your
working style, and that the best way to study is to personalise it to suit you
and keep experimenting until you find a method of study that suits you (2013:
85-6). Typically, a library is a go-to place to research and write an essay,
however I found the campus library too surrounded and closed-in. Instead I felt
it best and easiest to withdraw the books I needed from the library and write
my essay in a well-lit and quiet room, either early in the morning or late in
the evening. A room that fits this description is my kitchen. In finding an
environment that suited my study style I felt more relaxed and focused while
writing my practice essay.

An element of planning and writing my practice essay that I
particularly struggled with was knowing my argument. Knowing what you are
arguing in an essay is fundamental to writing a clear response and achieving a
good mark. To resolve this, I found it helpful to refer back to the question to
understand the task, “you need to be clear what you’re responding to, and what
your reader (i.e. your tutor or marker) wants” (Cooper 2016: 3). In addition to
this, you must ask yourself ‘what it is really asking?’, ‘what it is inviting
you to do?’ (Cooper 2016: 9). Thus, when trying to determine what my argument
was, with this advice, I looked to the wording of the question, which informed
my response. In later essays I intend to analyse the question first and foremost
before commencing the full planning process.

A
vital part of any essay is the conclusion, which brings the whole essay
together. Something I struggled with when writing my practice essay was knowing
what to write in the conclusion. I referred to a study skill help book that
summarises that a conclusion should include a recap of the essay, a summary of
the main findings, it should clearly conclude the essay, state the implications
of the conclusion, and answer the question by linking it directly (Godwin 2014:
53). This helped to indicate what was missing from my conclusion and how to
improve it. Godwin further suggests to write a conclusion before writing the
introduction or main body as “it is much easier to argue your way through the
essay if you have a rough idea of where you are going” (2014: 55). In the
assessed final essays this is something I intend to implement so that the essay
writing process runs more smoothly.