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Webinar Transcripts

Writing at the Graduate Level

Presented Thursday, April 7th, 2016

View the webinar recording

Last updated 5/2/2016


Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint slide “Housekeeping” in the large central panel. The slide shows a graphic with information that Beth discusses. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

Audio:  Beth: Hello, everyone. And welcome to the webinar today. I'm so glad that you could join us. My name is Beth Nastachowski. I'm the manager of multimedia writing instructor for the Writing Center and I'm gonna get us started here before I hand the presentation over to Julia. So a couple things for us today. The first thing to note is that I am recording this session, so welcome. And I'd like to note that we record all of our webinars and we post those in our webinar archive, posted by this evening, so if you have to leave for any reason or if you'd just like to come back and review the session today, you're more than welcome to do so. All of our other webinars are in that archive.

I also want to note that there are some ways you can interact with us today. We're also gonna have another quiz at the end so you can test what you're learning in Julia's presentation today. We're also are gonna have some chat pods that you'll be able to use throughout the session too and I encourage you to do that. Those are great ways to sort of engage with the content of the webinar. And then also note that we do have these slides that Julia will be using in the files pod and then there's also links throughout the session to resources we think might be useful for you. We encourage you to click those links if you think you might want to learn more about those topics. We also have a Q&A pod and you're welcome to submit any questions you have throughout the session to that pod. And we're gonna make sure to answer any questions that you might have.

If you leave the webinar and we don't get to a question, or if you think of a question later, please don't hesitate to email us at So I also encourage you to use the help button at the top right-hand corner of the screen. So with that, Julia, I will hand it over to you.


Visual: The PowerPoint slide changes to an introductory slide. Julia’s name and job title are listed below the presentation title.

Audio:  Julia: Perfect. Thank you, Beth. It's a quick check, can you hear me all right?

Audio:  Beth: I can, yep. Loud and clear.

Audio:  Julia: Okay, perfect. Thank you. Well, hello, everybody, and thank you so much for joining us for this webinar. Like Beth said my name is Julia Shiota and I am one of the writing instructors in the Writing Center. So if any of you have taken the time to do paper reviews or if you've ever listened to some of the webinars you might have seen my name pop up once a while. But I do a lot of paper reviews. So because of that, I'm super excited that I get to talk about this because I really enjoy graduate level writing. I just think it's very interesting. So maybe that's an unpopular opinion, but I do like it a lot so I'm excited to talk about it. And before we get started, I do want to encourage you all to take note of your answers from that quiz we had at the beginning, but really just keep them in mind to see throughout this webinar, you know, the things that maybe you can't quite get right or somethings you were confused about. And then we'll also be having a little kind of post-quiz to see so you can check to see, did you answer some of the questions you might have had, stuff like that. So just keep that in mind as we're going through.


Visual: The PowerPoint slide changes to #3 “Graduate Writing” with a long quote in a text box that Julia reads and discusses. The reference for the quote is located in a text box in the lower left corner.

Audio: And before we get started, really digging into the meat of graduate writing, what I want to do quickly is just read you this quote because I think this touches on a lot of the very important things about graduate writing that kind of get overlooked and I just think it does in a very concise and very neat way. So graduate level writing displays, above all, critical thinking skills. The writer demonstrates the ability to see various sides of an argument:  He or she questions Assumptions, avoids commonplaces, and develops a clear argument from the available literature on the subject. This type of writing always establishes a purpose while addressing a specific audience. Often, graduate level writing also provides suggestions for further research and development beyond the limits of the course assignment.

So a couple of key things here that I think might ring some bells for some of you. You probably hear teachers or even some of the instructors if you've done paper reviews talk about stuff like this. So you see in the first sentence, we talk about critical thinking and that ties into the idea of analysis and synthesis which we will talk about later in the webinar, and you also see in the second sentence a mention of being able to see various sides of an argument. So this isn't about opinions, right? This is about being able to see logically the different perspectives people have, the different pieces of evidence that might come up to help you support your argument or even pieces of evidence that might kind of fight against what you're saying that you will also have to keep in mind. Another thing is you see a clear argument comes from available literature on the subject. And you see the word clear argument. That's something that is really difficult to pin down and I'm sure many of you, and I myself have this problem too, have troubles coming up with clear arguments so we'll be talking about too.

And finally want to touch on the idea that there's always a purpose in what you're writing. I know a lot of times it feels like you're just writing a paper for the sake of finishing an assignment or for the sake of a grade, and although that's partially, I also do want to let you know that writing can be a little bit more enjoy abdominal and a little bit more interesting if you keep in mind that there is a purpose or try to find your you were when you're writing a paper. Even if it's a discussion post, this is just a chance to practice. Even if it's not something that will be published in the biggest journal in your field, it's still a chance for you to have the chance to practice, and that is a purpose in and of itself.


Visual: A text box appears over the bottom right of the quote with a short summary of the quote. Julia briefly discusses this summary.

Audio:  And a shorter way kind of touching on all the stuff I just spoke about is that graduate writing is just another level of writing and things, so it pushes you beyond the stuff that you've had to do in undergraduate level courses.


Visual: Slide #4 “What’s the difference?” and shows bulleted lists for comparing undergraduate and graduate writing. Julia discusses the differences.

Audio:  So what's the difference here? You'll see that for undergraduates and I'm sure a lot of you have experienced this as well personally in your own educational experiences, for undergraduates, a lot of times the focus is on summary. There's usually one source and the point is to understand the content of what that author is saying. So a lot of times the focus is on course readings that are selected by the instructor, and are kind of set in a certain way so that way you can be introduced to the topics.

Lastly a lot of times it's mostly about textbooks and textbooks are a loft times more general and so the focus is not in creating new arguments or helping you become more analytical. A lot of times textbooks are just there to give you an idea of the field, give you an idea about context or what are the basics of your field? On the other hand graduate level work is gonna push you towards analysis. So you do not want to be summarizing the arguments in the papers you're reading. You don't want to just give kind of like a background or summary of what they're saying. You want to look at all of those studies and you really want to kind of question, you want to compare, you want to think a little bit more about what you're reading. And so because of that, because you're looking at things a little bit more closely and doing more comparative work as opposed to summary work, you're often gonna be looking at the least two or more sources.

A lot of you in doctoral programs in particular are probably looking at the number two and thinking, that's nothing, because a lot of you will have to work with way more than two sources. It's not just about reading something and making sure you get it. It's also about adding your own spin to the conversations, about joining it. And because of that, what you end up doing is you start doing your own research and a lot of that will be beyond the scope of what the instructor will show you. Maybe you'll use course readings to start and look at their references and kind of pick out places or references that you want to start looking. And because of that, you'll be looking at studies and statistical data as opposed to textbooks or handouts.


Visual: The next slide opens and has detailed examples of the differences in assignment prompts for undergraduate and graduate students. Julia discusses these differences in detail.

Audio:  And so that makes the assignments a little bit different, right? So, for example, for an undergraduate assignment, you'll hear words like examine, explain, describe, identify. So students will have to explain the effectiveness of something as opposed to analyzing it. They'll have to describe certain things as opposed to analyzing and maybe developing or synthesizing further ideas. So here we just have again kind of laid out the differences between the two and what that might look like in an assignment setting. Again, a lot of you probably have already experienced this.


Visual: The next slide opens and has a large text box with a prompt for a graduate course final project.  As Julia discusses each bullet point in the prompt, she adds green arrows to highlight the independent, individualized approach of graduate course assignments. The first arrow says “Choose own topic.” The next one says “Do own research.” The arrows continue in this manner as she discusses the prompt.

Audio:  And here is an example of a graduate project that you might see. So you take a quick look at it, talking about a final project, and there's a few key things to note. First of all, you see that you have to choose your own topic. So a lot of graduate work is self-directed. It's, you know, you're getting guidance from your instructors or from the course content, but a lot of times it's up to you to pick what you want to write about. And because of that, you have to do your own research. So you'll get a number maybe and they'll suggest as it has here, you know, select 10 to 12 articles. But then they don't say what those articles are. They just say find articles that are relevant to what you want to look at. And then you have to analyze those sources. You have to look very carefully at what these authors are saying and you have to put these different arguments in conversation with each other. In other words you have to synthesize. You're not just telling your readers what it is these people are saying. You're showing how they interact with each other.

For example, as one person is saying one thing and another author is saying completely different, are there methodologies the same? Did one person use a better methodology? And if so, what was it. You don't quite get into this at the undergraduate level yet.


Visual: The layout changes and a prompt for the chat box opens in the main pod of the screen. The Q&A and captioning pods move side-by-side to the top right and a chat pod opens below them. The files pod is unavailable.

Audio: And so quickly we're gonna take a little bit of breathe year, and I'd like to hear you guys and what you think. What do you anticipate to be the biggest challenges in graduate level writing? There's a lot of things that would be difficult. I know what I would say. But what would you guys say?

Time, yeah, that's an excellent answer. It's so true. I see APA. A lot of things related to research too and also being specific. I see people writing about topics. Writing about clarity. Synthesis. I'll just give people a couple more seconds here. So I think a lot of what I'm seeing is related to, again, pinning things down, doing that more specific focused work that you do that's not guiding by your instructor all the time anymore. A lot of this stuff, time management, understanding, as one person wrote, the horror of APA formatting, all that stuff is on you more so than it was in an undergraduate setting.

So it is a challenge to learn all this stuff, but a lot of the things that you find in writing are actually learned. They're practicable. So you can actually get better with all these things. No one is born being able to write in an academic APA style way from the beginning. It's something that we all have to learn, and even those of us in the Writing Center, we all had to learn this too. So all these are great answers. Thank you, everybody.


Visual: The layout reverts back to the previous setup with the large PowerPoint slide and the captioning, Q&A, and files pods stacked on the right. Slide #8 “Transitioning into Graduate Level Writing” is open. The graphic on the screen shows a series of blue circles in a horizontal line with each circle labeled with a different element of graduate level writing. An arrow connects all of the elements from left to right. Julia discusses these elements.

Audio:  So we ask ourselves, you know, seeing all those problems, all those difficulties that we all face with graduate writing, how do we transition from undergraduate to graduate writing? Because I'm sure many of you have experienced the frustration of being told, for example, maybe by an instructor, maybe by a peer, by someone who says, you know, well, this paper would be good if you would just add more analysis or if you would just paraphrase. But they don't give you anything beyond that.

So what we're gonna do is we're gonna break down each of these components and I'm gonna focus on specific ways that you can include analysis into your papers, do better paraphrasing, and we're gonna touch on the scholarly voice and finally APA style.


Visual: The slide changes to show only the circle “Argument and Analysis.” Julia discusses this in detail.

Audio:  So first we're gonna talk about the most important -- what I think -- maybe this is also an arguable statement but my thesis that analysis and your argument is the most important part of the paper and it is what is really the most interesting oftentimes I think.


Visual: Slide #10 “Argument and Analysis” opens. In the top left is a picture of two women sitting in front of an open laptop and it looks like they are having a discussion. The bottom right has a text box “Don’t just report what you learned – take part in the conversation!”

Audio:  With graduate level writing, you don't just report what you learned, right? You don't just summarize. You are actually taking part in a conversation. And that's what's really neat about graduate writing. You're at a level where you're allowed actually to speak about these topics. And many of you, I know for a lot of the students that I work with who are in nursing or in health administration, they have all had so much experience within this field. Maybe they haven't been able to write about it at this level yet, but they have so much past experience that finally now in their courses they're actually able to be part of this conversation and people are going to be listening to you because they expect the work to be there at the graduate level.


Visual: Slide #11 “Argument and Analysis: Thesis” opens. Below the slide title are two bullet points about thesis statements. At the bottom of the slide is a text box with three examples of thesis statements that Julia discusses in detail.

Audio:  So the first part of the argument is gonna be the thesis. And I'm sure this is something everyone is familiar with, but just to go over, because it's -- the thesis can be a little bit difficult to make as effective as possible. So the first thing you want to keep in mind is that you want to be specific. And you also want to be arguable.

And what that means is you make a statement that you can actually take a stance on. You'll often see people say that the thesis is kind of a brief statement that touches on the topic and also your stance on that topic. So I could write a thesis that is basically just an opinion. I could say, my dog Popcorn, is the best dog in this entire world. That's kind of specific I suppose, but it's not really arguable because it's an opinion. I think my dog is the best dog in the world but Beth probably would disagree. So what you want to do is you want to narrow down and be more specific.

So we have a couple of examples here. We have a not so great thesis, which is very general. This paper is about classroom management. And at first glance you might look at that and say that's not so bad. They're writing about classroom management, I can tell. But what about classroom management. This paper could be about how classroom management is not useful. It could be about classroom management strategies. It could be about a survey that was done for teachers about their classroom management skills. It could be about a lot of different things and this doesn't tell me much as a reader.

So then we have the next one which is a little bit better. Classroom management is an important part of the teaching. Again, that's better. It's more specific. But it's not terribly arguable. Besides saying maybe, like, yes, it's important, or no. That still doesn't give me any specifics, you know, what elements of classroom management is this person looking at? Are they looking at strategies? Are they looking at how teachers understand classroom management? Are they talking about it from the student perspective? There's still a lot of wiggle room that could leave space for your readers to misunderstand what the point of your paper is.

So then we come to the last one which is out of these three, the best. And this one reads, all teachers should develop the classroom management skills of authority, individualization, and at another time management, which are necessary to run effective classrooms. Here not only do we have the topic, classroom management, but we have specific elements of classroom management that this person wants to look at. Authority, individualization, time management. And then on top of that, we also have a statement that talks about why that's important. So it says, okay, you need to have all these things because it's necessary to run effective classrooms. Whenever possible, try to be specific and try to take a clear stance on your topic. And then as a quick reminder, because it's easy to forget this, the thesis should come at the end of your introduction.


Visual: Slide #12 “Argument and Analysis: Evidence” opens. Below the title are bullet points with information that Julia discusses. At the bottom is a text box with a one sentence example of evidence. Julia also discusses the evidence.

Audio:  So after the thesis, after you've made your argument, you've made a stance on whatever it is you want to do, you have to support it with evidence. And your evidence is gonna support that central argument throughout the paper. The thing about evidence is that it's easy to overuse evidence. So it is good to use evidence because obviously it demonstrates your credibility. It shows that you have read the sources. It shows that you have knowledge in the field. But also you could fall into the problem of not showing readers why it's important.

You do have to use credible sources. But you also have to add analysis. And what that's gonna do is show why that evidence is important. Because if you look back at this example on the previous slide, all we have is a statement that says, according to Wilson, 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic in math class. This is just a statement. As a reader, I don't quite know what I'm supposed to make of this except maybe thinking, ah, that's too bad that people are bored in math class. But there's no guiding context for me to know why this piece of evidence is even important.


Visual: Slide #13 “Argument and Analysis: Analysis” opens. Below the title are three bullet points that Julia discusses as she discusses the expanded example from the previous slide. The analysis section of the sentence is underlined.

Audio:  However, here, we have an example of an explanation for this information and why it's important. So now this person wrote, according to Wilson, 68% of all high school juniors reported chronic boredom in math class, suggesting a need to reconsider the math curriculum and invest in teacher training in this district. This piece of the sentence here translates that information to the reader and shows us why that fact was important.


Visual: Slide #14 “Argument and Analysis: MEAL Plan” opens. The acronym for MEAL is explained in bullet points with each element in a different color. At the bottom of the slide is an example paragraph that follows the MEAL plan with each element in the color that corresponds to the bullet points at the top.

Audio:  And one way to think about balancing evidence and analysis is to think about how you're organizing your paragraphs. And this is something a lot of you probably have seen if you've come to the Writing Center at all. So we call this the M.E.A.L. plan and I am a big fan of the M.E.A.L. plan because I think it's easy to remember and because I think it gives you a really great base for organizing. So the three important parts that we've kind of touched on already was the main idea, evidence, and analysis, so I'll touch on those first.

Main idea, again, that's gonna be your topic sentence. So for this example right here, we have supervision is one practice in transactional leadership theory. Right there, right away I know what this paragraph is gonna be about. And so the main idea in this case, the topic sentence, sets up expectations for the reader. So they're gonna go in to the evidence portion understanding what the context is.

So you'll see on this next sentence, we have a piece of evidence or a couple pieces of evidence that this person used. And the most important thing is you'll notice that the sentence after it has analysis. This is where many students get tripped up. I see many, many papers where it's just a whole bunch of Es in one paragraph. Maybe there will be a main idea, but most of the time, it's just a whole paragraph made up of citations. And although that's good that this person has this desire to present evidence to the reader, it's just a collection of citations. With no context, with no argument. So it's essentially meaningless to me as a reader. So remember, if you do want to use evidence, you always have to provide context. You always have to tell me as the reader why this is important, essentially why the reader should care. Like we saw in that previous example, with the math boredom statistic, it's interesting and it's something that the reader will probably remember, but it doesn't have any real purpose. There's no meaning behind it if there is no analysis.

So here back to this example. We have them describing what all this information is. And then finally we have what we call the L, which is the lead-out or concluding sentence. And this is just a little cap at the end to help move the reader onto the next sentence. Or the next paragraph, excuse me. And this is important too, because it helps your bigger argument progress. I think that's something that a lot of students also struggle with is that you keep focusing in very small chunks of your paper, so you think paragraph by paragraph. But what the M.E.A.L. plan helps you do is to think specifically, you're looking at a very specific paragraph, but it also encourages you to look at a little bit of a bigger picture. So keep that in mind.

We have a ton of resources on the Writing Center website based on the M.E.A.L plan, so I really encourage you, if you haven't had this thrown at you all the time by the Writing Center, I really encourage you to look at it because I do genuinely believe it is helpful. I should actually add one more thing before I move on. I should also say that this is not necessarily say a direct example. What I mean by that is you don't only need one of each thing in a paragraph. Obviously you'll have one main idea. Obviously you will have one lead-out. But your evidence and analysis can be as much as you think you need in that paragraph. I like to clarify that because I don't think that's always clear. This is just an example to help you remember the different components that you need in a paragraph. It's not necessarily supposed to indicate that every single paragraph you will ever have will only be four sentences and you can only have one piece of evidence and one piece of analysis. You can have as many pieces of evidence and analysis in there as you think you need.


Visual: The layout changes to show a large chat pod in bottom right with the Q&A and captioning pods side-by-side above it. The files pod is unavailable. The slide in the main pod is titled “Argument and Analysis Example” with the prompt for the chat discussion. The slide also has an example paragraph for the participants to review.

Audio:  We have a sample paragraph here from what I just spoke about at length, maybe a little bit too much in depth which maybe shows how much I like the M.E.A.L plan. What do you guys think? Does this follow the M.E.A.L plan or not? You can go ahead and answer in the box? And I'll give people a minute because this is a little bit of a longer paragraph to look at. So I'm seeing a lot of yeses and nos, and interestingly, there's a bunch of people who are saying yes, sort of. I'll give people just a couple more seconds here, but I think we've got a lot of really great answers.

See a lot of people zeroing in on the lead-out, and also analysis. I would agree, too, that in this paragraph, it's not very clear if the lead-out is there. It seems that we end with analysis. However, I do think that they did a good job with having a main idea. So that first sentence gives me a sense of where we're gonna be going in this paragraph, right? And then right after that, we have a piece of evidence. It was that -- the beautiful chronic boredom math class statistic we've been seeing, and again, that piece of analysis that comes right after it. And then like I was saying in my previous slide, they offer another piece of evidence and another piece of analysis. So like I was saying, they didn't just stick to the one sentence per element. Yeah, this is great. Thank you, everybody. So we're gonna go back.


Visual: The slide stays open, but the chat pod closes and the captioning, Q&A, and files pods are stacked on the right.

Audio:  Julia: Here we go. So it does a little bit, right? Like everyone was kind—I think I saw very few people firmly on the side that it's really, really great. I did see a couple people and I can see why, because that last sentence is a little bit confusing, because I could see it working as a lead-out, and then, you know, they would go on in the next paragraph to talk about student engagement and then changing the curriculum. That would also work as a lead-out but it's not clear whether that's functioning as analysis or a lead-out. So I think I would also say yes, kind of, but also not as well as they could be. Which is a lot of times how writing is, isn't it?

It rarely—I don't often see papers that are very, very clearly ignoring organization. It's things like this, like tiny inconsistencies or very minor and subtle things that we could do to do make a paragraph more effective. So that's something to keep in mind too as you're proofreading your own work.


Visual: The next slide “Paraphrasing” opens and has a picture of a person sitting in front of an open laptop and holding a pen over an open notebook to the side of the machine. The text accompanying the picture defines paraphrasing which Julia discusses.

Audio:  But in order to figure out how to juggle all these different elements, all of these different places where you could fall into problems with analysis and evidence, we got to talk about paraphrasing. And I know that paraphrasing is probably something that everyone has had to work on, but I have also found that it's difficult to explain clearly, or it was always difficult for me to get a firm answer from my instructors when I was in college as well about what paraphrasing is.

So here we have kind of like a definition but it also clarifies I think pretty well some of the things we're looking when we say paraphrase. Obviously explaining the ideas, information, or facts you read in a source using your own voice. That's probably something everyone has heard before. That's something people have probably told you in your class as well. The important thing that I always was never -- that's a lot of -- I was never told, could be more concise is that this includes the sentence structure, the phrasing, and then the vocabulary. I remember when I was younger, I would always fall into the problem of, well, I'll just switch out a couple words, and that's paraphrasing, right? Because I'm not taking their exact words. But that doesn't count as effective paraphrasing either.


Visual: Slide #17 “Paraphrasing” opens. It shows a numbered list with steps for paraphrasing that Julia discusses in detail.

Audio:  So for paraphrasing, in order to avoid all of these pitfalls that you could possibly fall into, number one, you got to make sure you understand what it is you're talking about. And like we talked about in our first little chat session, where people were discussing what possible issues or difficulties you think you would face, a lot of people said that time is a problem. This is a spot where time might trip you up because when you don't have a lot of time and when you're really trying to get a paper done, you might not always fully understand the facts, the statistic, or even some of the deeper ideas that you're looking at. Just because you don't have time to reread something three or four times to really grasp it.

However, I do encourage you to try whenever possible to really use sources that you understand. Just because that way you'll be able to paraphrase much easier and much more smoothly. Another thing that you can do after that, once you're sure you get what it is that this author is trying to say, I encourage you to go to a blank screen or a blank page in your notebook, depending on how you like to write. If you like writing things down like I do, open your notebook to a blank page.

Once you are on that blank page, imagine you are explaining it to a colleague, revise that paraphrase and then look back at that original and make sure that it's different enough and that you've avoided repeating their phrasing and their sentence structure. So that means -- when I say their phrasing and their sentence structure, I mean like I said before when you swap out certain words.

So again you can say something like, teachers need to have more time management skills because 75% of teachers don't have good management skills says this person. If I just took out a couple words in there and still kept the same basic structure, that wouldn't count as full paraphrasing. So you do have to revise a couple times to make sure that you're stay saying in your own words.

Once you feel you did a good job with paraphrasing, and it's different enough from the original, always remember to cite.


Visual: The layout changes so that the large chat pod is in the lower right corner with the Q&A and captioning pods above. The slide “Paraphrasing” has the chat prompt next to the title. Below them is a text box with a source quote and a text box with a sample paraphrase below that. Julia discusses the activity and the participant responses.

Audio:  And so here is another little activity we have, and I think this is actually pretty beneficial too. I do really like this activity. So here is the original taken from this source. And then we have an example paraphrase. So when you compare this original quote with the sample, what do you think are the strengths and weaknesses? Did they do a good job? Did they get the point across? Do you feel like they understand what it is that the source is saying? Go ahead and you can go ahead and type in what you guys think. And for those of you who do like it, what do you like about it? And those of you who think maybe it's not quite as good as it could be, what is missing for you?

I see a lot of people touching on the idea of being, it's very concise. Easy to understand. It's straight to the point. But then on the other hand, I am seeing some people say that it's a little bit vague and that it doesn't touch on the consequences of plagiarism that Smith, the original source, talks about. That's true. And the problem here would also be, we don't know the context of this paraphrase. The student or whoever is writing this paraphrased example, could be focusing on one element of plagiarism and not so much the consequences, and that makes a difference as well.

And I'm seeing a lot of people -- it seems that most people, each if you don't quite like it, a lot of people are saying that they understand the point of it and they can tell that this student or this writer understands the original source. It seems like it's just a matter of including more examples or being a little bit more direct with some of the consequences or some of the material that's missing from this paraphrase that's in the original.

Yeah, this is a great example. I do like looking at this one because I think it provides a good solid concrete way of looking at paraphrasing, because again, paraphrasing is something that's very easy to just say. Like your instructor or if you go to the Writing Center, one of the writing instructors could just say to you, oh, you need to paraphrase. But it is a little bit more difficult to just see where someone is doing a good paraphrase or what is bad about a paraphrase. So it's always good to look at examples because then you can practice. So thank you for your participation with that one, everybody. I'm seeing a lot of good things and a lot of people being specific. Thank you very much.


Visual: The layout goes back to the large slide with the captioning, Q&A, and files pods stacked to the right. The slide “Questions?” opens.

Audio:  And so here I'm gonna stop for some questions. Beth, do we have some questions people have? And I'll do my best to answer them.

Audio:  Beth:  Yes, we've had a lot of great questions so far, so thank you to everyone for submitting those. You know, one question we had a little bit earlier on specifically when you were looking at the thesis statement, Julia, was a student had asked, how do we get to that best thesis example? Because you had shown an example that wasn't so great, an example that was okay, and a really great example of a thesis statement. What sort of process do you suggest for students to get to that best or really great example in their writing? Does that question make sense?

Audio:  Julia: Yes, it does. That is a great question. I also mirror Beth in saying thank you, everybody, for asking the questions. That was fantastic.

So for the process of writing a thesis, I think that the little trio, which is -- I was gonna try to go back, I think it might be a little bit too far back. But I think that that example of not so great, better, and best the way you should think about writing the thesis. The problem with that first one was it was too broad. However, you can flip that around and say, okay, this is gonna be my general topic. The only way you can get more specific with your thesis is if you start a little bit bigger so can sit down and say, okay, well, I want to write my paper on classroom management. That’s your first step. You know what your topic is.

And then for the next one, you try to narrow that down a little bit more and you think to yourself, okay, well, what about classroom management do I want to talk about? Classroom management strategies? And now you're even more specific, right?

And then for that final one, what you're gonna do is look at something even more specific, which classroom management strategies do you want to look for, and why do you think those specific strategies are important? It's always important to remember with writing, that it's what we call an iterative process, which means it's kind of like a cycle. It's always repeating itself. So most people don't just sit down and kind of write out this very beautiful, perfect, specific thesis. I'm sure someone out there who's a genius can do that, but most of the time, that's not how it happens.

We're having a conversation recently and my colleague Rowland who's actually answering questions brought up a very good point which is that anything that you read ever, in books for example, has always had an editor. So it's always had someone looking over it. It's always been processed a lot to make it as good as it is. So anything you think is super good has been looked at multiple times.

So that's how I always encourage students, give yourself time, again, I know that's a difficult thing to do especially with everyone's schedules and everyone's responsibilities, but try to give yourself as much time as you can so that way you can process those ideas and delve into this paper. And don’t get discouraged when you don't get it perfect the first time. That's why it's a three-step answer.

Does that answer the question, Beth? And feel free also to add in more with your knowledge, Beth.

Audio:  Beth: No, I think that's fantastic, Julia. What you're saying is revision is the key here.

Audio:  Julia: That's a better way of saying it, yes.

Audio:  Beth: Nope, it was just sort of a summary of what you've already explained so well. All right. I think at this point, Julia, do you want another question, or would you rather for time's sake move on?

Audio:  Julia: I think we can do one more question, and I will just not be so talkative.

Audio:  Beth: All right. So this question was about, when is it appropriate to introduce research that contrasts your supporting argument? So sort of contradictory or evidence that's not supporting your thesis.

Audio:  Julia: So I always encourage students to introduce that, depending on the topic, when you think it would be appropriate. For example, we're gonna go back to that classroom management. So with classroom management, you might say, okay, I think authority is very important. But then there will be many scholars who might say a certain type of authority is not good. If you have a paragraph on authority, you could write, Nastachowski believes that this type of authority is the best for the classroom, and then explain it a little bit further. And then if me, Shiota, says no, you could introduce that using comparative language, so you would say, by contrast, this person says that isn't the case. As the writer, you have the right to say, I don't agree or this -- this study doesn't quite align with what I'm looking at, and this is the reason why. Analysis is oftentimes lumped in with critique, so if you do literature reviews, you will have a whole paragraph where you're allowed to point out problems you see in different studies and in different approaches.

So if you find something that is going against what it is you say, you can call that out and it's actually more beneficial to say, these people say that that's not true, or these people don't agree with me, but this is still why I think my idea is valid. So you can bring that in almost anywhere in the paper depending on the topic. And I know that was kind of a wishy washy answer. But if you're doing a literature review, there's a very specific spot where that is gonna go, but in a bigger paper, that might appear in various places depending on the flow of your argument. And now, Beth, you might want to step in if you have something to add.

Audio:  Beth: Nope, I have nothing to add. That sounds great. Thank you so much, Julia.

Audio:  Julia: You're welcome, and thank you again, everyone, for all those questions. It was fantastic. And I'm sure my colleagues are doing a fabulous job of answering them.


Visual: The next slide “Scholarly Voice” opens. The title repeats near the bottom, and a word cloud is in a box above that. The words included all describe scholarly voice.

Audio:  So the next thing we're gonna touch on is something that I think like paraphrasing a lot of people get thrown at them and that's the scholarly voice.


Visual: Slide #21 “Scholarly Voice” opens. Julia discusses the goal listed on the slide. Below the title and goal is a graphic showing the elements of scholarly voice. A red square labeled “Formality,” a green square labeled “Neutrality,” and a purple square labeled “Clear, Direct Statements” all point to a blue circle in the lower center labeled “Scholarly Voice.” Julia discusses these elements.

Audio:  So the scholarly voice is a very important part of APA writing in particular. And with also I guess academic writing in general. So the goal of the scholarly voice is to sound professional and informed and part of that is gonna be formality. You're not gonna use the same type of colloquial language as you do maybe when you're even writing something slightly less formal. So for example, when you're writing a blog post, you're not gonna write the same way in a blog post as you do a course paper. You're not gonna write the same way you might in an email in a course paper. Those other types of writing aren't incorrect. They're just different from what we expect in APA writing.

And another thing we expect is neutrality. And this is gonna be where you need to stay objective. A lot of times you'll see your writing instructors, again, if you do use us, then you'll see us all the time talk about staying objective, so that's removing bias. That's removing statements that are clearly opinion-based only that can't be backed up with fact, things like that.

And then finally another thing you'll probably hear a lot of instructors say it's clear and direct statement based. A lot of times, especially with APA, a lot of people I think have the assumption that scholarly voice is about sounding smart or the more words you use, the more jargon from your field that you use, the more scholarly you sound. That's actually the opposite as I've found many of my best instructors, the most knowledgeable scholars that I've met are able to explain these very complex ideas in very clear direct statements.

So keep these three in mind as the -- I guess the key things that you want to think of when you're starting to consider the scholarly voice and including that in your papers.


Visual: The slide “Formality: Point of View” opens and has two text boxes with examples. Julia discusses the first text box on when and how to use first person appropriately. The second text box says to avoid opinion statements with three examples that Julia discusses.  

Audio:  So one thing you want to keep in mind point of view. And this is something that is a little bit different with Walden than maybe past institutions you've been at. So you are allowed to use the first person at Walden, but in very specific situations. And that's gonna be mostly for clarity's sake. So for example, we have this paper will discuss as opposed to in this paper, I will discuss. The reason why we let you use "I" there is, this first sentence, this paper, falls into anthropomorphism which is where you give inanimate objects personalities or things a person could do. A paper can't sit there and tell you what it things about things. Obviously through usage everyone knows that the paper is not speaking, but just to be specific, it's easier to say, I will discuss in this paper.

The second example we have, the data will be collected, the problem with this one is that this falls into the passive voice. There is no clear subject. And also the verb is coming after the object here. So collected, the verb, is coming after data. So the way to fix that and to make the sentence more direct is to just say, I will collect the data. Since you're the one who's collecting the data anyway.

And the last one I see quite a bit, which is, the scholar will argue, or you might say the author or the researcher, when you're talking about yourself. The problem with this is that oftentimes you're writing about a bunch of different scholars, and if you have a paper where you're jumping between many different scholars' points of view, it's not gonna be clear who you're talking about here. So it's just easier to say "I." I will argue. And you do have to keep in mind too that some instructors, course instructors have certain requirements for use of "I." Walden like I said as a university allows you to use "I," but it's always good to double-check with your instructor to see what they would like. However, across the board, you're not allowed to use "I" when you want to say an opinion. So things like I feel, I think, I believe.

So here we have an example. I think childhood obesity is a major concern. Not so great. The best way to put that would be childhood obesity is a major concern as 17% of children in America are obese. There you have a much more neutral, a much more formal, and a much more science based approach rather than just your opinion.


Visual: Slide #23 “Specificity” opens and says to avoid generalizations. Julia discusses the three examples in the text box.

Audio:  And another thing you want to keep in mind with the scholarly voice is specificity. We're going again, writing is an iterative process, so you're seeing us go right back to specificity. So you want to avoid generalizations. Just like you want to avoid opinion statements which don't have a place in APA writing. Children do not get enough exercise. Well, that's clearly not true because some children are very active and are part of, you know, ten different sports and do all this stuff. Some children swim all the time. Some children do so many different things. So that is a generalization that is obviously not true because you can't say children in general do not get enough exercise because some do.

A better way would be many children do not get enough exercise. That's better, but what does many mean here? How many are we talking about? And are we talking about specific types of children? Are we talking about a specific age group of children? Because children, you know, technically could be anyone who is between the ages of just being born to 18. And that's a huge age range. So the best one would be to write, according to the CDC, in 2011, only 29% of high school students received the recommended amount of exercise. Defined as at least one hour per day. Here we not only have some stats to back up what you are saying, but you are also specifically focusing on a certain age group so we're not just talking about children. We're talking about high school students. And we're not just speaking vaguely not enough exercise. We're giving a specific amount. Which is here defined as at least one hour per day.


Visual: The next slide “Consider Your Audience” opens. The slide asks “Who is your audience?” and answers “Outside readers and scholars in your field.” Julia discusses audience is detail.

Audio:  So we're kind of moving a little bit quicker now because I want to make sure we finish everything in time. So the next thing you want to keep in mind too when you're thinking about the scholarly voice and talking to your audience is who your audience is. Most of the time, base line recommendation is to just think of your audience as outside readers and scholars in your field. So that means that, you know, you can use certainly terms and assume that your readers know what it is that you're talking about.

However, you do want to think, too, about which terms are maybe too specialized that you would want to define. Maybe -- maybe it's a balance between defining certain terms, explaining ideas a little bit more than you would if you were talking to maybe your professor who clearly knows a lot about your field. But generally you want to think that it's outside readers and scholars in your field. So they're an educated audience, but you still might have to explain your ideas, explain and define the different terms you're using.


Visual: The slide “APA Style” opens. It shows a picture of the APA Style Manual (6th ed.).

Audio:  And then the last thing is everybody's favorite style, which is APA, as I saw someone in one of the chats say, the horror that is APA. I understand it is difficult to juggle everything.


Visual: Slide #26 “APA Style” opens. A text box on the left says “What is it?” and on the right are three bullet points about APA Style that Julia discusses.

Audio:  So APA style, everyone probably knows this already, it's a style of citing sources and formatting writing and this is used in the social sciences. It's just a way to make everything standardized so that scholars all over the world understand how to read through a paper. They understand where all the information is. They know that if I look at this citation, if I hop down into the references, I can find that source. It's just another way of communicating, which is different from how we communicate in everyday life. But it still does have a function as annoying as it can be sometimes.


Visual: Slide #27 “APA Style” opens and has a text box on the left “What does it look like?” On the left are two bullet points. One has an example of a reference entry and the other has an example of a citation.

Audio:  So really briefly, what does it look like? We have an example of what your reference entries look like, which I'm sure most of you are familiar with. And then we also have a little example of the citations, which I'm also sure most of you have seen.


Visual: Slide #28 “APA Style Resources” with bullet points for links to the Writing Center resources on APA Style.

Audio:  But because APA is so frustrating a lot of times, especially when you're not used to it, we wanted to add in a couple of links here, and remember that the PowerPoint is downloadable, so if you download this PowerPoint and then open it up on your computer, all of these links are gonna be clickable. So you just click on it and it'll take you right there. So we have all these resources for you, and if you look on our website we have a lot of specific examples too. So if you're stuck on something, a certain type of resource and you don't know what to do with it, most likely, if it's something required from one of your courses here at Walden, we have an example of how to reference and how to cite it. So keep that in mind too.

We also have a ton of APA webinars. And those, if you have found that the webinar kind of setup works for you and you enjoy listening to other people's voices, not just mine, other people's voices, some people who have better voices than me, then I suggest looking at those, because we have some that go into very, very minute detail about the different elements of APA style and citations and I find those helpful as well for me. Because I'm not an APA expert all the time.


Visual: Slide #29 “Recap” opens with four bullet points that review how to write at the graduate level. Julia discusses each point.

Audio:  So to recap, I want you to use scholarly arguments to join the conversation. That I'm glad is the first bullet point because that's the biggest thing to keep in mind that I think that if you look at yourself and your writing as part of a conversation and not just a paper that you will, you know, print out and then throw into the void, that will help you with the writing process.

But because you're part of a scholarly conversation, you have to keep your tone formal and neutral and keep your sentences simple, and by that we just mean keep it direct, keep it concise and don't fall into the temptation to use a lot of words and a lot of difficult words to sound smarter. Everyone falls into that because some really difficult technical words are fun to just throw around. Because you do feel smart. But keep that out of your APA papers.

Also, paraphrase mindfully and carefully. So really give yourself time to get practice with paraphrasing as you're writing your papers and make sure to go back and compare it to the original source to be sure that you're putting it enough into your own words that you won't fall into unintentional plagiarism or anything like that.

And finally use APA style as much as you don't like it maybe, you got to use it, unfortunately. So learning all of these requirements for graduate level writing is a process. Like I said, writing is iterative. So you will oftentimes go back in a cycle. You'll think you have something, and then you'll have to go back and keep looking at it and keep improving. But because it is a cycle, that doesn't mean you're not going anywhere. A lot of times, I think students get discouraged because they think “I’m not making any progress. I'm still talking about the same stuff.” That's not true. It takes a couple tries to get something right but that doesn't mean that you're not making progress.


Visual: The layout changes again. The large pod has the exit quiz. Below the quiz is the files pod. Stacked to the right are the captioning, Q&A, and PowerPoint pods. The PowerPoint slide now shows ways to contact the Writing Center

Audio: All right, so finally we're gonna have the questions up, and then if you also have any further questions, if there are things that I didn't touch on or if I said something and it wasn't clear to you and you'd like more information, please let us know either now or email us the We always have people looking at that and so we'll have someone answering your questions really, really quickly. And then for now we're gonna look at the post-quiz, and you guys can take a shot at that. See if you learned some stuff, and thanks again for stopping in today and I'll hand it back over to you, Beth.

Audio:  Beth: Thanks, so much, Julia, I think we're gonna keep this quiz open and take a few minutes to encourage everyone to respond and test what you learned here. And in maybe just another minute or two, we will wrap up the webinar. So we're gonna go ahead and stay quiet for a minute here while everyone takes the quiz, and then we will wrap up.

Audio: Beth: If you got that question wrong, that's because we added the wrong answer into the question. So I apologize. The correct answer for that question is to explain the original idea for using your own voice. So I apologize to everyone if you got that question wrong and were wondering what the heck was going on. It should be that the appropriate way to paraphrase, so you are effectively paraphrasing if you explain the original idea using your own voice. I apologize for that error. I apologize, everyone. Thanks for your patience as we try out this new quizzing feature.

It looks like we're at the top of the hour, so I'm gonna go ahead and close the quiz here pretty soon, and thank everyone for coming, and Julia, thank you for the wonderful presentation. It looks like we're saying a lot of thank yous in the Q&A box as well. I'm gonna close out the quiz here in another couple of seconds. So if you want to get one last answer in, please do so. And we hope to see at another webinar coming up the rest of the month. So thanks so much, everyone, and we hope that you have a wonderful rest of your day.