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Writing Guide for Students in Graduate Programs at Ashland University Ashland University Graduate Writing Center 103 Gill Center Ashland University Main Campus Ashland, Ohio Webpage: E-mail: (Columbus students) (Any other location or class) Page 1 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 Description of Typical Writing Assignments The following list represents the types of writing assignments typically used for Ashland University graduate-level classes: Research papers Reflection or reaction papers and journals Critical reviews (of an author’s work) Essays (particularly on exams) Case studies Position papers Interviews Literature reviews Annotated bibliographies NOTE: Students should always check with their instructors for samples of the assigned papers for a specific course. A general note about documentation for all paper types: Unless otherwise specified by an instructor or a specific program, students are expected to follow the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA) for all assigned papers. Research Papers Students usually have the freedom to choose their own topics for research papers, within certain parameters that have been set by the instructor. Once a topic has been chosen, the student can start to ask intelligent questions that invite the drawing of conclusions about that topic. These questions will set the course for the paper: they will help the student determine the thesis statement, the type of research that is needed, and what the conclusions will be. A research paper is the result of a compilation of data. This data is obtained from a number of sources, including books, including textbooks; class notes; journal, magazine, or newspaper articles; critical commentaries; web sites; databases; government documents; newsletters; unpublished papers; and audio or video recordings. A student should check with the instructor if there is a question regarding the appropriateness of a source. A research paper should go beyond a basic survey of the topic to include the student’s reflection on the information presented in the paper, as well as some synthesis and integration. Writing a research paper requires critical analysis. More than simply a report, a research paper also presents an informed point of view. The sources should invite the student to draw his or her own conclusions about the information and apply those conclusions to the paper. A research paper should represent the student’s analysis and interpretation of the information and argue its meaning. Beyond reporting the facts of a topic, the student must spend adequate time in discussing the importance and relevance of those facts. Page 2 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 Reflection or Reaction Papers and Journals Reflection papers and journals are based on a reading or a classroom experience. The student must determine what that experience or reading means and how to apply these new ideas in the future. Although reflection papers and journals are usually based on the student’s subjective experience, the student should also be sure to read carefully and think analytically about that experience. These types of assignments may be either free form or structured, based on a set of questions posed by the instructor. A journal typically contains entries by date. Critical Reviews Critical review papers rely on the student’s ability to analyze one article, one chapter, one work of one author, or the body of work by one author. They involve more than just a summary of the information presented; papers of this type rely on an in-depth analysis of the material. The student must use critical thinking skills and sometimes his or her subjective opinion, giving a complete picture to the reader of the reviewed material. A review tells the reader what the work is about, whether the reviewer thinks it has value or merit, and why the reviewer has made a particular judgment about it. Essays An essay is typically reserved for exams and consists of a response to a question or scenario posed by the instructor. If the exam is taken in class, the essay will most likely be hand-written, in which case it is important for the student to write neatly. (This focus on neatness will have the dual benefit of making the paper easier for the instructor to read and encouraging a carefully crafted response from the student.) An essay is generally shorter than a paper; therefore it will not follow specific formatting guidelines. However, content becomes all the more critical in this case, and using analytical skills and synthesis in crafting a response becomes very important. Although time constraints will often not allow for a careful outline, the student may find it is helpful to think through the stages of a response before beginning to write. The introductory paragraph should include a brief “map” of the student’s intended thought development as well as a clear thesis statement. Citation of sources may also be required for take-home essays. The student should follow the instructor’s guidelines for the essay. Case Studies Using a story format, a case study presents a lifelike (sometimes even real life) situation with certain problems and, sometimes, resolutions. A case study analysis is a measure of a student’s ability to synthesize and apply the theories or principles learned in class (or from the textbook or outside reading) to the problems presented in the story. The data used to complete this exercise will depend on how well the student learned the theories or principles. This writing may be free form or based on a set of questions posed by the instructor. The instructor may also ask that the paper follow a specific method of analysis. Interviews An interview is a question-and-answer dialogue within a particular subject area between an interviewer and someone who is considered an expert or at least knowledgeable about the topic at hand. It usually progresses with the interviewer asking a set of predetermined questions (often Page 3 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 suggested beforehand by the instructor) and then recording the answers of the interviewee with as much information as desired. Probing questions often help clarify or redirect an interview and can lead to valuable information. Using care in presenting the interviewee’s answers in a contextual and unbiased way is important. It is also helpful to quote the interviewee exactly on any issues that may be considered surprising, contradictory, or contentious. For greatest accuracy, an audio recording of the conversation may be necessary. (If an interview is to be recorded, the interviewer must obtain the interviewee’s permission beforehand.) An interview does not always have to be presented word for word, but it should follow the general progression of the dialogue and honestly present the opinions of the interviewee. Interviewers should also be prepared to analyze the discussion and offer their opinions regarding the information received. It is best to get the interviewee’s permission before the final presentation of the interview, especially if the interview will be submitted for publication. Literature Reviews The purpose of a literature review is to examine and summarize published sources in one particular subject area (perhaps restricted to a specified time period). Depending on the circumstances, the summary of the literature may include an analysis to provide connections with the focus of a project. The summary may also inform the reader of the source’s history of interpretation, offer new insights, contextualize the source, or evaluate its relevance. Annotated Bibliographies An annotated bibliography is a list of scholarly textual resources relevant to a particular subject area which provides a two or three sentence descriptive or evaluative summary of each source. A descriptive summary informs the reader of the main argument and main point(s) used to support it, while an evaluative summary analyzes the strength of the main argument and supporting points to estimate the source’s perceived value to the given subject. An assignment of this type will usually spell out the number and types of textual sources to be included. Evaluating and Citing Sources Evaluating Online Sources In the present era, more information is available than ever before. Unfortunately, that information is not all high-quality, accurate, or reliable. The Internet, especially, has provided a place for individuals with dubious credentials, inadequate education, or biased experience to become informally published, making their views available literally across the world. Consequently, it is more important than ever for students doing research to properly evaluate the available resources. Among the most important considerations for evaluating online sources, especially Web sites, are the following: Electronic address: The most important element of the address is the domain name, which usually gives the name of the sponsoring organization and an abbreviation for the type of organization involved. Keep in mind that edu, gov, mil, and org designate educational, government, military, and non-profit organizations, respectively; com domain abbreviations indicate commercial enterprises. Although a site should not be judged by Page 4 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 its designation alone, the domain abbreviation can alert a researcher to seek further information about the quality of the site. Sites with edu abbreviations usually contain scholarly information, org sites focus on the public interest, and com sites are linked to profit-related groups. Any of these sites can be biased or unbiased, reliable or unreliable, depending on their individual purpose. Author or sponsor: If the site does not provide an author or responsible group (look, for example, for an “About This Site” link), it should not be considered reliable. If an individual author or sponsoring group is given, further research in a biographical dictionary or a thorough keyword search should reveal more information concerning the validity of the sponsoring source, its purpose, and its primary activities. Authors or groups with obvious bias or with weak or unavailable credentials should be discarded as sources. If the author or sponsoring organization seems to have little relation to the subject of the site (for example, a world-famous French chef writing about political unrest pressures caused by the current regime in Russia), think twice about using the source to support your topic. Purpose: A commercial site will obviously have a much different purpose from a non- profit site, although both sites may withhold or distort information to support their own purposes. A scholarly site will generally (although not always) provide strong supporting evidence and a balanced point of view. Context: If you already know something negative about a site, it should be suspect; if you follow some of its links and find information that seems questionable or otherwise troubling, the site should not be considered reliable. Presentation: The appearance of an online site can reveal much about its reliability. Easily understandable and error-free text, as well as attractive and uncluttered design are among the indicators of a reliable site. Content: If the information given at the site seems to be strongly biased in a certain direction, it may or may not be a suitable source; any information from a biased site, however authoritative, should be verified from at least two other sources, and conflicting views also should be consulted to weigh the validity of the points from all points of view. Information supported by clearly identified sources is superior to information based purely on an author’s own knowledge or beliefs. Citing Sources Students are often confused about whether to give credit in their writing for outside inspiration or influence. Although some gray areas certainly exist regarding when to cite sources, many guidelines are available to provide writers with an adequate understanding of proper documentation. General Guidelines and Exceptions for the Citation of Sources As a general rule, a student writer should cite anything or anyone who has provided inspiration or knowledge during the process of researching for and/or writing a paper. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to determine what is a truly unique idea, generated from one’s own thoughts, and what has been borrowed from another source. If a student has any doubt about the originality of Page 5 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 an idea, the safest choice always is to acknowledge the appropriate source. One possible exception to this rule is that no citation is needed for information that is generally accepted as common knowledge. For instance, the fact that Beijing is the capital of China is general knowledge and does not require citation; likewise, a mere reference to a publication by name, with no information quoted, paraphrased, or summarized, does not require citation. Knowledge Already Held by the Student In some situations, a student’s own knowledge extends beyond general knowledge, or a source indicates that the student’s preconceived ideas are shared by another. If a student’s knowledge on a subject extends beyond general knowledge, his or her writing will be better supported and more believable if other sources are cited, even though documentation may not be required. If another source agrees with what a student already knows or believes, the student must give due credit for that source’s contribution. However, the student may comment that certain aspects of the information that are in line with his or her own thoughts. The best advice for any writer is, “When in doubt, cite” Direct Quotations One condition for citation is indisputable: Direct quotations must always be cited. A direct quotation is the exact repetition of another’s words, whether in part or whole, even to the extent of one single, unique word. All direct quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks and cited at the end of the quotation. Paraphrasing As an alternative to direct quotation, many writers choose to paraphrase by putting an author’s thoughts into their own words. Great care must be taken when paraphrasing, in order to guard against coming too close to the original writer’s wording and/or structure. To be a true paraphrase, the new material must be adequately unique so as to be unmistakably considered the reader’s own words. The following are some tips for paraphrasing without plagiarizing: Read the original text once quickly, writing down the key points as you note them. Read the material again, paying closer attention to the author’s points and making sure that you understand what is being said. Correct any points that you noted incorrectly at first. Reread the material as many times as necessary until you feel that you completely understand what is being said. Restate the main ideas of the work, in your own words, to a friend. Only mention the most important points from the original and be sure to use your own sentence structure and words. Be very careful not to misrepresent or distort the author’s point of view or support of points. Ask the friend to repeat your summary back to you; ensure that the points your friend understood from your restatement accurately represent the author’s ideas but do not repeat any words unique to that original author. If you do find certain thoughts that can Page 6 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 not be put into your own words without losing their meaning or impact, enclose those words in quotation marks. Directly quote as few words as possible. In all cases, cite your sources when you paraphrase, because the material being used still represents another’s thoughts; the original thinker is entitled to credit for “lending” you those thoughts. Examples of Paraphrasing Original text: Story is so omnipresent that we tend to undervalue how much our own lives consist of ever- changing stories. Story informs us, entertains us, and lulls us; it also describes us and— whether we recognize it or not—it shapes us. Bad paraphrase: Story is very present in our lives, but we often underestimate how many events in our own lives are made up of stories that change constantly. Story gives us information, makes us laugh, and helps us relax; it reveals our character traits and forms our personalities. Better paraphrase: Although we are surrounded by stories, we often fail to recognize their significant effect on our lives. Cautions Against Unintentional Plagiarism Most students would not intentionally plagiarize by taking credit for work that is not their own. However, it is all too easy and too common for students to dismiss or overlook proper referencing when writing. When researching, it is important to keep good and accurate notes to make citation easier. If the final draft of a paper is so full of quotations, paraphrases, and/or summaries that it appears to be largely the product of others’ ideas, it may be wise to consider revising major portions by digesting, thinking about, and rewriting the material under consideration. Helpful information about plagiarism can also be found on the Web: Helpful APA Links: See also Ashland University’s Academic Integrity Policy in The Graduate School Catalog Page 7 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 APA Style Tips This is a brief summary of a few significant issues covered in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA manual). These guidelines do not replace those in the APA manual but are offered to help students begin to understand and produce written material in proper academic form. NOTE: The preferences of individual instructors always supersede these guidelines; students should carefully note exceptions presented in sample papers and other instructions distributed for specific classes. 1. Paper: APA manuscripts must be typed or printed on 8½ by 11 inch heavy (20-pound) white bond paper. 2. Typeface: Times New Roman or Courier are the preferred fonts. Flamboyant type, such as Broadway or Forte, should never be used. A serif typeface (that is, a type such as this Times New Roman, with an extra flourish on ends of the strokes of the letters) is preferred for text because it is easier to read, but a sans serif type (a type with no extra strokes, such as this Calibri) is often appropriate for figures. 3. Font size: APA style favors 12-point type. Although 10-point type is allowed by the APA format, most professors prefer the larger sized font. 4. Line spacing: The entire paper should be double-spaced, including the list of references, unless the instructor gives different instructions. 5. Margins: Margins should be one inch on all sides. However, the left margin should be 1.5 inches for a thesis that will be bound. 6. Justifying/Aligning text: All text pages should be left-justified. Do not use full (or right) justification anywhere in the paper, including for block quotations. 7. Paragraph indentation: The first line of a paragraph should be indented 0 .5 inches (5 spaces) from the left. 8. Major parts of an APA paper: Most APA papers will have the following: title page, abstract, body of paper, and reference list. However, the professor may choose to omit any of these parts or may add to the requirements. The student should then follow those directions. 9. Titles of major parts of an APA paper: The following titles apply to the appropriate major parts of an APA paper. The format for these titles is title case, no bold, no underline, and no italics. In general, there should be double spacing before and after major part titles. Triple spacing may be appropriate (to improve appearance) after chapter titles (if used) or before major subheadings. Titles of major parts should appear in the following order: Abstract References Illustrations Appendix Page 8 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 10. Dash: When a dash is used to indicate a pause or relationship between two words or phrases, two hyphens should be typed together with no space on either side. (Often the word-processing program will transform these two hyphens into a long dash after the next word is typed.) For example: Consulting a dictionary—although few seasoned writers do so—can strengthen word choice and help build vocabulary. 11. Inclusive language: All papers must be written with inclusive language. Noninclusive language is language that demeans or stereotypes certain groups of people merely because of their membership in a particular group, including race, ethnicity, religion, age, or gender. 12. Proofreading: All papers must be carefully proofread before they are turned in. Proofreading is the final step in preparing a paper for submission and involves carefully reading the paper word by word to identify and correct spelling mistakes not caught by the spell checker, typographical errors such as missing words or transposed letters, missing words or complete lines lost during cutting and pasting, capitalization and punctuation errors, and all other minor mechanical problems that can result in distraction for a reader. The student is always responsible for proofreading the document. The following tricks can make proofreading as efficient as possible: Reading a printed copy of the paper (most people read more accurately from a printed copy than from a computer screen) Reading the paper out loud slowly or having a friend read it out loud word for word as it is written Reading the paper line by line by moving a ruler under each line as it is read Reading “against copy,” as a professional proofreader reads, by comparing the new version one sentence at a time with the edited version from which it was copied Reading with no attention to content—for example, by reading backward, sentence by sentence, from last page to first 13. Format and placement of page numbers: No hyphens, parentheses, or other symbols should be used with page numbers. All pages (including the title page) should have Arabic numerals placed by using the header function of the word-processing program. The shortened title of the paper (two or three words) and page number should be right- justified (that is, set so that the line begins from the right side of the page), and the page number should follow the title by about one-half inch (five spaces). 14. Block quotations: Quotations of forty (40) or more words should be placed in a block. The block should be indented one-half inch (0.5”) from the left margin of the page and double-spaced. The right side of the block should not be indented. No extra space should be added before or after the quotation. Page 9 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 15. Punctuation with incorporated quotations: The correct placement of the final punctuation for a sentence containing quoted material is after the citation, as shown below. Most linguists function on the belief that “the ability to read is usually construed . . . to involve something more than the ability to parrot . . . and is more than phonetics and memory” (Rabinowitz, 1987, p. 15). Thus, reading is more than a sum of the parts. However, for block quotations, the final punctuation should go before the citation: Many studies show that most linguists function on the basis of Rabinowitz’s theory: Xxxxx xxxx xx xxx xxxxx xx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxx xxx xx xxxxx xxx xx. Regardless, the ability to read is usually construed . . . to involve something more than the ability to parrot . . . and is more than phonetics and memory. (Rabinowitz, 1987, p. 15) 16. Headings: Headings in an APA paper function as an outline for the reader; they clarify content by revealing to a reader the relative importance of different sections in the work. Topics of equal importance thus have the same level of heading throughout a paper. A section in a paper with only one subsection should not have a subheading; use subheadings only for more than two subsections within a larger section. Levels of heading: The APA style provides for up to five levels of headings, although most student papers will use no more than two or three levels. The introduction to a paper does not require a heading. Headings should not be numbered or lettered. No extra space should be added before or after headings, BUT the headings themselves (even if more than one line) should be double-spaced. For fewer than five levels of headings, students may select the format that best suits their needs; however the headings should be more prominent at higher levels, with decreasing prominence as the level decreases. Most importantly, the heading format should be maintained consistently throughout the paper. For more than five levels of heading, students should consult the APA Manual. Page 10 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 17. Spacing following punctuation: Because word processor programs automatically set the correct spacing in a document, the student should type only one space after commas, colons, semicolons and terminal sentence punctuation (periods, question marks, and exclamation points). Additional rules for spacing following punctuation can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA Manual). 18. Capitalization: DO capitalize the first word of a complete sentence: My house is on Elm Street. the first words after a colon that begins a complete sentence: We must write a paper for Friday: Our MBA professor assigned it. all words of four letters or more in a title mentioned within a paper: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association ONLY the first word, the first word after a colon or dash, and all proper nouns for a title in the reference list of a paper: Publication manual of the American psychological association names of university departments ONLY if they refer to a specific department within a specific university: Ashland University Department of Sociology (but NOT the sociology department) words that refer to a specific geographic region: We live in the Midwest. complete names of academic courses ONLY if they refer to a specific course: Introduction to Child Psychology, Biology 101 DO NOT capitalize the first words after a colon that DOES NOT begin a complete sentence: We must write a paper for Friday: twelve pages double spaced. names of university departments that DO NOT refer to a specific department within a specific university: the sociology department) school subjects without a number: my child psychology course, biology last year seasons of the year: spring, winter words like north and south when they are used to indicate direction only: turn south at Main Street names of laws, theories, or models: the empirical law of effect, the theory of gravity, the associative learning model nouns that denote common parts of books or tables followed by numerals or letters: chapter 2, page iii, column 5 regions of a state, country, or city: We live in midwestern Ohio. the name of a career: my brother is an engineer 19. Italics: Use italic type for titles of works  books, including encyclopedias: The Color Purple, Encarta  magazines and journals: Newsweek, Scientific American,  newspapers, including “the” only if it is part of the actual name: The New York Times, the Ashland Times Gazette Page 11 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009  pamphlets: 101 Ways to Make Money Writing. Epson Stylus CX6400 Quick Reference Guide  long poems: The Waste Land, Paradise Lost  plays: Hamlet, Andre’s Mother, Rent  films and DVDs: Casablanca, Beauty and the Beast  television programs: 60 Minutes, Roseanne  radio programs: All Things Considered  musical compositions and CDs: South Pacific, Handel’s Messiah, Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits  choreographic works: Swan Lake  works of visual art: Michelangelo’s David  comic strips: Calvin and Hobbes  electronic databases: InfoTrac, EBSCOhost, ProQuest  Web sites: Google, Dogpile  electronic games: Riven, Zuma foreign words used in an English sentence, unless they have become standard in English:  A tourist in France must do everything comme il faut.  Her modus operandi was to shame her opponent into defeat. words mentioned as words, letters mentioned as letters, and numbers mentioned as numbers:  The verbs understand and know have different meanings.  I have trouble pronouncing the Y in that word.  Look for the house with a big 5 on the front door. 20. Quotation marks: around direct quotations: “I hate that movie,” she declared. NOT around indirect quotations: She told me that she hates that movie. around titles of short works:  newspaper and magazine articles: Nicholas D. Kristof’s article, “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream”  poems: Marge Piercy’s “To Be of Use”  short stories: James Joyce’s “Araby”  songs: Springsteen’s “Glory Days”  episodes of television and radio programs: National Public Radio’s, “The Gift of Kindness”  chapters or subdivisions of books: chapter 3, “Describing,” in Models for Clear Writing. to set off words as words (an option for italics): The verbs “understand” and “know” have different meanings. 21. Apostrophes: DO use apostrophes to indicate possession, even after most words ending in “s”: Janet’s scarf, James’s book, BUT Jesus’ parables to show joint possession: Alice and George’s new car Page 12 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 to indicate omitted letters in contractions and numbers:  It’s difficult to find a job this year.  I wouldn’t go if I were you.  We graduated in ’90. to form the plural of lower-case letters: 2 b’s, 3 a’s to form the plural of words mentioned as words when they are enclosed in quotation marks: too many “maybe’s”; too few “always’s” to avoid confusion in other situations: too few always’s DO NOT use apostrophes with nouns that are plural but not possessive:  The Jones family lives here.  The Joneses live here.  The Jones family’s house is green  BUT The Jones’s house is green. to indicate possession with its, whose, his, hers, ours, yours, and theirs:  The cat caught its tail in the door (NOT it’s tail)  That book was written by an author whose knowledge is extensive. (NOT who’s knowledge) to form the plural of numbers, most letters, abbreviations, and words mentioned as words:  the importance of 7s  the 1920s  two Ks  four IOUs  too many maybes Page 13 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009 Graduate Writing Center: Instructions and Policies for Consultations 103 Gill Center, Ashland University Main Campus Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with you on your assignment. A consultation can take place either face-to-face or by e-mail. Please choose the method that is easier for you and that fits your schedule and work style. Instructions for Consultations: 1. As soon as you have a course syllabus, note the due dates for your papers. 2. E-mail the Graduate Writing Center (GWC) as soon as possible (at least two business days before the due date) to schedule an initial consultation. 3. For face-to face or e-mail consultations, provide a typed, double-spaced, spell-checked and proofread draft of your paper, a list of your major concerns, and a copy of the assignment guidelines, including any sample papers provided by the instructor. 4. For face-to-face consultations, if you have questions about APA format and the presentation of your sources, please bring your references or copies of them to your appointment. 5. Do read your returned paper all the way through before beginning to revise—there may be general comments at the end. Policies for Consultations: We want to help you become a better thinker and writer. Toward that end, the following policies apply: We will help you focus on and understand matters of importance: APA guidelines adherence to the assignment organization and structure statement and development of position flow, readability, and style We will help you find and understand patterns of grammatical and mechanical errors by reading and commenting on a section of your paper. We will assist you in learning how to correct these errors. We will not write or correct your paper for you Please note: If there are so many mechanical errors that we cannot effectively work with the paper, then we reserve the right to decline your paper until these writing skills and errors are otherwise addressed. We also reserve the right to decline any paper about which we are first contacted less than two business days before your requested return date. Send your papers or questions to (students taking classes in Columbus) (students taking classes in Ashland or any other location) Page 14 A. U. Graduate Writing Center Rev. 8/7/2009