Tips for psychology and social science students – OurWarwick

Tips for psychology and social science students

Throughout my three years studying at University, I have discovered many things that I wish I knew earlier.  Therefore, I have decided to share my key tips on referencing and emailing academics.  This will help to ensure that you get top marks for your references, with minimum effort. Additionally, it will make sure that you communicate with academics respectfully. 


The WORST part of an assignment is always the referencing. It is so tedious, having to prove that I am not just making things up. It is just so much effort, writing out the references, formatting and sorting them out. Fortunately, I have found two ways to make referencing easy!

How to order references alphabetically

To alphabetically order references, find the home tab.  Goto the paragraph subsection of the home tab as circled. 

Highlight all your references, click on the circled button and a box appears.  Following this, a drop-down box will appear.  Click whether you want the references ascending or descending. Typically, you want your references to be ascending. 

Then press OK and VOILA! The references should now be ordered alphabetically.

How to indent references 

For some referencing styles, you need to indent the references. It is a lot of effort to manually indent the references (especially if you have around 100). This time, we return to the layout tab. There should be a paragraph section.

Click the drop-down box at the edge of the section and a box should appear. For APA referencing, you will want to use “hanging” references.  

In the indentation section, select hanging and then press OK to apply.

Extra tip: How to keep hold of references 

You do not want to get to the end of your report and emails and then start to find your references. EndNote is a very useful tool for tracking references. You simply input relevant data fields and EndNote should create, store and manage the references for you.  Though IT Services, you can use EndNote online.


Sending emails to academics

When I started first year, I had absolutely no idea how to email and academic.  I used to start off my emails by saying:

“Hello” without addressing the person who was emailing. Some people I know started off emails saying “Hello Sir/ Miss” and I have known many people to be told of for doing this.  Academics work very long and hard to become a doctor or professor. Therefore, not referring to their titles can be quite impolite. 

 Addressing an academic

Foremost, if you are emailing an academic for the first time, you need to address them formally. Using their first name, when you have never emailed them before, is quite rude. Also, you never refer to an academic as “Mrs / Miss / Mr.” The general format is, “Dear Title Surname, for instance, Dear Dr. Smith.”

Sometimes it is quite difficult to determine titles; for instance, within doctors, there are Readers, Teaching Fellows, and research fellows. If you are unsure, Universities tend to have people searches, which should tell you an academics title. If in doubt, refer to what the people search says.

When an academic replies to your email, they will sign off in the way that you can address them in subsequent emails. Some academics are okay for you to subsequently refer to them from their first names after you have emailed them. If you have made a mistake, just apologize, and it should be fine.

Subject Heading

Moreover, if you are going to send an academic an email, never send an email without a clear subject line. Academics get many emails a day and a lot of spam.  Therefore, they need to easily identify a useful/important email without too much hassle. 




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