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Webinar Transcripts

Writing at the Graduate Level

Presented September 26, 2018

View the recording

Last updated 10/24/2018


Visual:The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

The title slide says: Housekeeping

  • Recording
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    • Polls, files, and links are interactive. 
  • Q&A
    • Now:Use the Q&A box.
    • Later:Send to or visit our  Live Chat Hours.
  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Claire: All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome to tonight's webinar presentation. I'm Claire. And I’m going to be facilitating the webinar today. So, I'll go over a few housekeeping notes before I hand it over to our presenter Sarah. First, I want to let everyone know that we will be recording this session, so if you missed any part of it or have to leave at any point, don't worry, you'll still be able to access the presentation. It’ll be available on our webinar archive within 24 hours. 

Throughout the presentation, we'll have polls, files, and links that’ll be interactive. You can also download the slides to follow along from the Files Pod. It's on the bottom right next to Sarah's picture there, you can click on it and download those slides. Throughout the presentation, if you do have questions, please use the Q & A Box. Kacy will be in there to answer your questions. And I'll pop in as well if we get a lot of questions. So please ask us any questions you have during the presentation. If you have question that come up later or you're watching the recording, you can send your questions to Or visit us during our Live Chat hours. During the presentation, if you have any technical difficulties, you can let us know in the Q & A Box. I do have a few tips and tricks to assist you. But, also you can choose help in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and that's Adobe tech support. So, they can best help if you’re having serious issues. 


Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Writing at the Graduate Level” and the speakers name and information: Dr. Sarah Prince, Manager of Writing Across the Curriculum, Walde University Writing Center

Audio:Alright, with that, I will turn it over to our presenter, Sarah. 

Sarah: Hello, folks. Good evening or good afternoon, or maybe even good morning depending on where you're located. I saw a lot of you are actually right around the corner from me or at least in the same state. I'm calling in tonight from Peachtree City Georgia where it is currently thunder storming. So, I'm hopeful my connection will hold and we'll be able to carry on with our session tonight uninterrupted. 

I am manager of writing across the curriculum here at Walden. I've actually been with Walden for 8 years in October. So, this month marks my 8th year anniversary at Walden. And I'm looking forward to talking to you all about writing at the graduate level tonight. So, let's dig in. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Objectives

After this session, you will be able to:

•      Identify the differences between graduate and undergraduate writing

•      Identify the foundations of graduate writing: 

•      Argument and analysis

•      Paraphrasing

•      Scholarly Voice

•      APA style

•      Find resources and help to continue to develop your writing skills

Audio:So tonight, what we're going to be talking about specifically are identifying the differences between graduate and undergraduate writing. So, I noticed in that initial chat box, a lot of you had said that you spent some time away from formal academic education and now you're back into that arena and you want to make sure you’re writing at a graduate level. We're certainly going to talk about the components that make up writing at the graduate level and specifically those components or those foundational building blocks of graduate writing are argument and analysis, paraphrasing, scholarly voice, and APA style. So those are really the four cornerstones of graduate right writing. And then at the end of opportunities presentation, I'm going provide you with resources to hopefully help you to continue to develop your writing skills after we have our session together. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Graduate Writing

“Graduate level writing displays, above all, critical thinking skills. The writer demonstrates the ability to see various sides of an argument: he/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.”

Said another way: 

Another type of writing and thinking.

Audio:So, let's briefly talk about what I mean when I say graduate writing. And this is a definition I really like. I'm just going to read it out loud from the University of Mary Washington. 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 common places, 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. 

And I know that really seems like a mouthful. But said another way, it's really a specific way of thinking and of writing. And I think that thinking piece is key. Because a lot of times students will say, oh I don’t feel comfortable with writing, or I'm just not a good academic writer. And I think the big piece of that is the thinking and reading part. And we're going to talk a little bit about making sure that you're putting yourself in the best situation to read and think critically before you actually start that writing process. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: What’s the Difference?

•      Undergraduate

•      Summary

•      1 source

•      Understanding content

•      Course readings

•      Textbooks, websites, course handouts

•      Graduate

•      Analysis

•      2+ sources (synthesis)

•      Adding to content

•      Research

•      Studies, statistical data

Audio:So, moving from undergraduate to graduate level writing, there are some shifts that take place, right? A lot of times if we’re even going back to high school and looking at undergraduate writing, we might be engaged in more summary and even better understanding or explaining a single source. And generally, the goal of your undergraduate writing is to better understand content. So, you might do close reading of text. You might use textbooks, and websites, and, course handouts, again to better understand particular content. Now, when we move to graduate level writing, it's more about ultimately you contributing to the larger field of scholarship, right? So, there's going to be more engagement and analysis, right? You're going to be looking at multiple sources and you're going to be synthesizing those sources, right? You’re going to be adding to the content, right? Your unique scholarly voice is going to sit there among those other scholars and become part of the narrative, right? Become part of the cannon. You're also going to look at more research, more studies, and more statistical data. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What’s the Difference?


•      This week, you will examinethe characteristics of a successful distance learner.

•      Students will:

•      Explainthe effectiveness of instructional interactions in distance learning environments

•      Describethe metaphors for learning as these apply to distance learning environments

•      Identifythe attributes of successful distance learning


•      This week you will analyzeeducation policies. 

•      Objectives

•      Analyzeeducation policies

•      Analyzeinfluence of education policies on roles of educational psychologists

•      Analyzeways to improve education policy effectiveness

•      Developannotated bibliographies

•      Synthesizeeducational psychology research for literature reviews

Audio:So, let's look at some examples. So, this might be an undergraduate example you'll see from a course syllabus or a course guide. Right? This week you will examine the characteristics of a successful distance learner. So, students might be expected to, A, explain the effectiveness of instructional interactions in distance learning environments. Describe the metaphors for learning as these apply to distance learning environments. And C, identify the attributes of distance learning. So, you're doing a lot of explaining, a lot of describing, a lot of identifying, right? There's not a lot of that critical analysis and synthesis in that assignment.  

And then in the graduate level, you're going to move past that initial sort of explanation and identification to really getting into analysis. So, this week, you will analyze education policies. Objectives might be to not only analyze those policies, but analyze the influence of education policies on roles of educational psychologists for instance. You might analyze ways to improve education. You might develop annotated bibliographies based on the research that you're doing, and then ultimately you might provide synthesis of everything that you've read, right? So, you might synthesize those educational, the educational psychology research you've read. And really, all I mean by synthesize that is you're going to be taking bits and pieces, pieces of evidence from various narratives and from various sources and putting those together to tell a story. Right? To tell a new story or to create a new narrative. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What’s the Difference?

•      Choose your own topic

•      Do your own research

•      Analyze your sources

•      Synthesize your sources


•      For the Final Project

•      Select a topic of interest to you related to educational psychology.

•      Research and critique 20–25 scholarly articles related to the selected topic.

•      Select 10–12 articles that are most relevant to your topic.

•      Create an annotated bibliography by annotating the 10–12 articles you selected.

•      Limit each annotation to one paragraph. Each annotation should include the purpose of the study and the findings of each article.

•      Write a 1-page introduction to introduce the topic and explain your interest in the topic.

•      Comprise a 7- to 10-page literature review. Synthesize arguments and ideas of the scholars who contributed to your topic.

•      Write 3–4 pages of annotated bibliography.

Audio:So, this might be a sample graduate assignment. So, you'll see for the final project, and this is something that you might see in your courses, okay? So, let's say in Week 11 or week 12, you see this final writing project. So, for the final project you're going to select a topic of interest to you related to educational psychology. You might research and critique 20-25 scholarly articles related to this selected topic and then you're going to select 10-12 articles that are the most relevant to your topic. 

So, you’re basically, you're looking at 20 to 25 and then narrow it 10 to 12 of the most appropriate articles or sources. And then you're going to create an annotated bibliography by annotating the 10-12 articles you selected. And it says to limit each annotation to one paragraph. 

And then it goes on to describe the annotations. Write a one-page introduction. And then ultimately, a 7 to 10-page literature review and finally you've got that 3 to 4 pages of annotated bibliography. So, you can see this is a pretty hefty assignment. Right?

And in this assignment, you're being asked to choose your own topic. So, there's more self-direction in graduate writing. You're being asked to do your own research. Right? You having to go out and find those 20-25 articles. Those don't live in the course for you. Not all the time. Especially as you move forward in your degree program. In addition to finding those initial articles, you're also being asked to narrow your focus, right? You've got to read critically determine which articles are the most valuable and which articles you might set aside. You're also being asked to analyze those sources, right? What can you pull out of value? How can you interpret this information to determine what's useful for your reader? And then finally, you're being asked to synthesize your sources so that comprise of 7- to 10-page lit review. That entire 7 to 10 pages is going to be you pulling those bits and pieces of evidence and creating a new narrative, creating synthesis of the sources you've read. 

So graduate writing you see sort of pulls on these foundational skills you might have gotten as an undergraduate, but requires you to know these things, like how to analyze your sources and synthesize those sources. So, these are really important building blocks to graduate writing to ensure that you are meeting the requirements of graduate level writing. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Chat Activity

What do you anticipate to be the biggest challenges in graduate-level writing?

Audio:So, I want to shift our attention to a chat, right? So, I know some of you are already in the mist of writing at the graduate level, some of you might be new to graduate writing, so for some of you are new, what do you anticipate to be the biggest challenges in graduate writing? And then for those of you who are already in the thick of things and already written a couple of assignments, what do you find as of now are the biggest challenges in graduate level writing? So, I'm going mute and give you couple of minutes to fill in your answers in that chat box. 

[silence as students type]

These are all really important answers, I keep thinking, oh I’ll read this one I’ll read this one to the group but they’re all so great. So, I see a lot of synthesizing. I know that makes a lot of folks nervous, right because you are having to pull bits and pieces of information to write a new narrative that can feel overwhelming. Certainly, other people are saying, scholarly writing in general especially those APA guidelines can be tricky. Analysis is another big one and we're going to talk about a lot of these. But remember if you don't get the information you need tonight, because we are just going to provide an introduction to each of these, we do have webinars on all of these topics. 

So, if you feel like after tonight you want a little more on analysis or a little more synthesis, be sure to check those out that are dedicated to the specific topics. But again, we’re going to talk about a lot of these, passive voice, scholarly writing, being able to identify a clear topic and making sure your idea has flow. Again, all of these important aspects of graduate level writing.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Transition into Graduate Level Writing

•      Argument and Analysis

•      Paraphrasing

•      Scholarly Voice 

•      APA Style

Audio:Okay, so, we are going to focus on again these four cornerstones of graduate level writing that I talked about at the beginning of our presentation this evening. The first is argument and analysis. The second is paraphrasing, making sure you can affectly paraphrase. The third is scholarly voice, so we throw that around a lot. What does it mean to have a scholarly voice? What does it mean to write using a scholarly voice? And then, finally, APA style. In our chat I saw at least one or two people talk about each of these elements, so I'm sure this will be helpful.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis

Audio:So, let's break it down. Let's first talk about argument and analysis. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis

•      Don’t just report what you learned—take part in the conversation! 

Audio:Now, a lot of times you hear people having arguments, right? In conversations and they might say, well, I think XYZ and the other person might say well I think you're wrong because X,Y and Z. Right? And there gets to be this passionate back and forth, Right? I'm right, No, you're wrong. Et cetera, et cetera. 

But in academic argument, we really don't mean that passionate back and forth. Instead, in academic environment your argument really comes from persuading your readers through evidence. So, it's not about passionate word choice or adjectives or melodramatic language. Instead, it's about persuading your readers through effective evidence that really convinces readers of your point. But you do have to have that argument. Right? You don't want to just report what you've learned. You don't want to just present evidence. You want to make sure that you're taking part in the conversation. But you're building evidence and interpreting that evidence in a way that convinces your readers that your particular argument is right. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis: Thesis Statement

•      Specific and arguable

•      Comes at the end of introduction

Not so great: This paper is about classroom management

Better:Classroom management is an important part of teaching.

Best:All teachers should develop the classroom management skills of authority, individualization, and time management, which are necessary to run effective classrooms.

Audio: Okay, so let's look at a particular argument of an entire paper. So, this argument that we would put forth of an entire paper is often called a thesis statement. Okay? And a thesis statement is basically where you're telling your readers what your argument is for a particular paper. But you're doing it more eloquently than saying the argument for my paper is X. Instead, you're crafting a statement to your readers that you explain your argument. And that argument needs to be good academically, it needs to be specific and it needs to be arguable. Now, generally your thesis statement is going to come at the end of your introduction. However, all drafts that you write at Walden really need a thesis statement. 

So, for instance, if you're writing a short discussion post, I would even say the first sentence of those short discussion posts should be your thesis statement. If you're writing a longer, let's say 3- to 5-page paper, you might have a paragraph introduction. The last sentence of that introduction should be your thesis statement. Let's say I'm writing a 10-15-page essay and I have 2-3 paragraphs of introduction, the last couple of sentences, right? Of those 2 to 3 paragraphs, those are going to be my thesis statement. The thesis statement generally comes at the last, or at the end of your introduction and introduces your readers to the specific and arguable argument or purpose of your draft. Okay? So, let's look at not so great thesis and think about how we can correct that thesis to make it stronger and more arguable. 

So here we have a not so great thesis.

So here we have a not so great thesis. This paper is about classroom management. Now, outside of saying no this paper is not about classroom management. There's no real argument a scholar can take up or a reader can take up that is in contrast to this. So, there's no opposing sides to this argument, right? We want to make sure that we create a thesis that's arguable. So, let's look at a better thesis statement. 

Classroom management is an important part of teaching. Now, this does get a little bit more arguable. Right? So instead, we could say, oh, no, classroom management is actually not an important part of teaching. But this thesis is still not great, because we're not very specific. Right? What do we mean by classroom management? My definition of classroom management might be completely different than your definition of classroom management. 

So, again, in addition to being arguable, we want to be specific as possible. So, here's an example of an even better thesis. So, all teachers should develop the classroom management skills of authority, individualization, and time management, which are necessary to run effective classrooms. So, what is this writer going to be arguing in her paper? She's going to be arguing that authority, individualization, and time management are actually the necessary management skills to run an effective classroom. 

Someone could certainly take up a counter-argument, right? They could say, well, actually I think that authority group work, and, you know, more recess time to wear the children out are actually effective classroom strategy management. So, you could foresee someone having a counter-argument or a different argument. We also get a sense of what the body paragraphs of this narrative is going to be about. She might have a paragraph specifically dedicate to do authority. A Paragraph specifically dedicated to the development of individualization in the classroom. And a paragraph specifically dedicated to time management. So, this thesis is specific, and it is arguable. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis: Evidence 

•      Supports your central argument throughout your paper

•      Demonstrates your credibility

•      Each sentence that uses information from a source must include a citation.

•      Use credible sources

According to Wilson (2011), 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in math class.

Audio: Another way to ensure that you are writing academically is to support that central argument, that thesis statement through clear evidence in your draft. Now, you need to have evidence that is supported by credible outside sources. Now you might be thinking, well, what is a credible outside source? Generally, what we say are credible sources are peer review journal articles, books, okay? And also, credible websites. So, a credible organizational website. For instance, if I'm in the field of public health, might be the Centers for Disease Control and prevention website. If I'm in education, it might be the NCTE website. Those are credible organizations that are known in the field. 

A lot of times online, we see these fly-by-night organizations that pop up if we do quick Google searches. Those are not necessarily credible outside sources. So, we want to be careful and make sure we use those credible sources, because those in addition to citing that evidence create our credibility as scholarly writers. So, again, in addition to using that credible evidence, you also want to make sure that you're correctly citing that credible evidence. What that does is, that gives you credibility in a larger field. And it is per APA guidelines, which we will talk about a little bit later that each sentence that uses that information or ideas from an outside source must include a citation. And remember, you're going to have a lot of sentences that are using information or ideas from an outside source. So, a lot of citations in a paper, especially in a graduate level paper, that's not a bad thing, okay? 

So, let's look at one example. According to Wilson, 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in math class. So, you'll see here I have a narrative citation. Wilson, 2011 and I have a specific piece of evidence. So, this is an example of a piece of evidence that you might include in graduate level writing. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis: Analysis

•      Your own interpretation of other authors’ ideas

•      Act as translator for the reader

•      Explain what information means or why it matters

According to Wilson (2011), 68% of Dallas 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.     

Audio:Now, what you want to be careful of is that you don't let evidence stand alone. Remember, we're moving past simply reporting about what we've read, and instead, we're analyzing, interpreting what we've read. So, this is really important, okay? We never want to let our evidence stand alone. For instance, if I said, childhood obesity in the state of Georgia is 17%. I don't know if this is true. I'm just making it up, for example, okay? And let's say I had a reader from New York State. And childhood obesity in New York State is much lower. So, she might think, wow, Georgia is doing pretty bad. 17% is really high. 

And then let's say I have another reader who sees that same passage and he is from the state of, I don't know, Louisiana. And let's say it's higher in Louisiana. And he says, wow, Georgia is doing pretty good. They’ve got a better child obesity rate than the state of Louisiana. So, without me interpreting that data or analyzing that data for my readers, they are allowing their own baggage, right? The lens through which they see the evidence to interpret that evidence. So, you never want to leave evidence by itself for readers to interpret. 

Instead, you want to provide that interpretation of the author's ideas. You’re going to act as the translator for the reader. You're going to explain why that information is important, or what it means. That's really important, because that might shift based on the context of your paper. Remember we talked about that thesis statement. We're including evidence to support that thesis. So, our analysis is also going to loop back in to our thesis. Right? We're going to tie that piece of evidence to our thesis statement with the analysis we choose to use. 

So, here's an example of a piece of evidence with analysis. According to Wilson, 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in math class, suggesting a need to reconsider the math curriculum and invest in teacher training in the district. So, you see here that I am telling readers that I am highlighting the statistics. Why? Why is it important? Because actually this is an indicator of that math curriculum should be reconsidered. We want to reconfigure math curriculum so it's more engaging to students. So, again, I'm telling my readers what they should take from this evidence. I'm analyzing, I'm interpreting, I'm translating for my readers. 




Visual: Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis: MEAL Plan

M: Main idea

E: Evidence

A: Analysis

L: Lead-out or concluding sentence

Supervision is one practice in transactional leadership theory that aids with employee retention. Through supervision managers can reward employees for good work, which Duffy (2011) suggested “increases employee retention rates” (p. 48). Improved retention not only contributes to an efficient workplace, but it can promote workplace stability and is a useful strategy in any workplace.Because of its ability to improve both workplace stability and its affect on employee retention, any manager that ascribes to the transactional leadership theory should use supervision.

Audio:Now a good way to keep track of whether or not you're including effective evidence and analysis in your draft is to think about MEAL plan paragraphs when you're constructing those body paragraphs. So, we generally have introduction paragraphs or introductory sections and then we also have conclusions paragraphs or conclusion sections. But the meat of our paper, right? The bulk of our narrative is going to be these body of paragraphs, most of the time. And a good rule of thumb is to make sure that every body paragraph roughly follow the MEAL plan and MEAL plan simply means your first sentence or sentence near the top of your paragraph contains your main idea or your topic sentence, in the middle of your paragraph, you should have your evidence and your analysis, and then, finally, you should conclude your body paragraphs with a lead out or a concluding sentence. Before I go on to this example, I want to highlight the fact that you do not have to nor should you write paragraphs that go main idea, evidence, analysis, lead out. Main idea, evidence, analysis, lead out again and, again, and, again, on repeat. That can actually become distracting to your readers. You just want to generally use this as a loose guideline. 

So, make sure that each of your paragraphs have these elements. So, paragraph, your first body paragraph might have a main idea, evidence, evidence, analysis, lead out. And then your second body paragraph might have main idea, evidence, analysis, evidence, analysis, lead out. So, again, it's not four sentences every paragraph where we're following this to a T. Instead, it's just remembering that these general elements should appear in all of our body paragraph. 

Okay. So, let's look at an example now. So, our first main idea sentence is supervision is one practice in transactional leadership theory that aids with employer retention. So just like our thesis statement is what we're going to be talking about throughout our paper, right? Our topic sentence or main idea sentence is what we're just going to be arguing or focusing on in that one paragraph. So, a thesis statement is for your whole paper, and a topic sentence or a main idea sentence is for individual paragraphs. 

So, here, again supervision is one practice in transactional leadership theory that aids with employee retention. So, we're going to talk about supervision and how it aids with employee retention. Evidence is next. Through supervision, managers can reward employees for good work, which Duffy suggested "Increases employee retention rates." And then here's my analysis. Improved retention not only contributes to an efficient workplace, but it can promote workplace stability and is a useful strategy in any workplace. And ideally, you'll remember that this points back to my thesis statement, okay? 

And then finally, my lead out or my concluding sentence. Because of its ability to improve both workplace stability and its effect on employee retention, any manager that ascribes to the transactional leadership theory should use supervision. So, this is one example of a MEAL plan paragraph. And, again, a lot of times this is helpful to just hold on to. I know a lot of students like to have outlines before they start writing. Other students like to write and then maybe revise later. So, this is a good revision strategy if you're interested in that. You can sort of apply this model to every body of paragraph you've written and say does this paragraph have a main idea? Is there evidence here? Is there analysis here? Do I have a concluding sentence? So, you can ensure that each of your body paragraphs contain these elements. And if they don't, you can move things around, you can add things that are missing, you can take away extra ideas and relocate and reorganize based on this general structure. 


Visual:Slide changes to following: Argument and Analysis

Chat box:

Consider the sample paragraph. How does or does it not follow the MEAL plan?

Texas school administrators need to consider levels of student engagement when considering whether curriculum changes are needed. According to Wilson (2011), 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in their classes. This statistic indicates that low student engagement exists for Texas students. Additionally, Wyatt (2014) found that lack of curriculum updates can negatively affect student engagement. Thus, if school administrators find that student engagement is low, they may conclude that curriculum changes are needed. 

Audio: So, I'm going move us on to the chat box. Hopefully you've gotten a good sense of what the MEAL plan looks like. And, so, what I want us to do is focus on this sample paragraph. And while I'm reading it out loud, I want you to consider whether or not it follows the MEAL plan. So, in what ways is it a good example of the MEAL plan and in what ways, if any, does it fall short? So, Texas school administrators need to consider levels of student engagement when considering whether curriculum changes are needed. According to Wilson, 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in their classes. This statistic indicates that low student engagement exists for Texas students. Additionally, Wyatt found that lack of curriculum updates can negatively affect student engagement. Thus, if school administrators find that student engagement is low, they may conclude that curriculum changes are needed. So, I'm going to let you think about this for a minute and I'm going to go on pause. 

[silence as students type]

All right, good. I see some good answers and I want to just focus on one in particular. Yes, it generally follows the MEAL plan, right? You, as a reader can pinpoint each of these elements. You see I have two solid pieces of evidence. I analyzed that evidence. But someone said there were issues with over generalizing and I think that is spot on analysis. Especially where we have 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in their classes and piece of analysis there is this statistic indicates low engagement for Texas students. That is a huge overgeneralization that we've taken from 68% of Dallas high school of juniors. Right? So, we now expanded it to all students in our analysis and we’ve said, you know, all students in Texas, right? So, we've basically taken a city and turned it into a state and turned high school students into all students. 

So, I do think that point is clear that, that analysis is a little weak at that point. And because that analysis is weak, we have this piece about chronic boredom. And then we have a piece about a lack of curriculum update can negatively affect student engagement. But those two pieces of evidence aren't tied together very well. Right? So, what is the connection between boredom in the classroom and lack of curriculum update that might negatively affect student engagement.  Is that boredom a result lack of curriculum updates, or maybe there has been curriculum updates. So, there's not quite enough information here. I do think that can be tightened. But I will say that the author is getting there. And you can see the MEAL plan format that there. 

All right. That's great analysis. Folks, nicely done. Okay. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Paraphrasing

Audio:So now that we've briefly talked about the MEAL plan, hopefully you feel comfortable about the general components of the MEAL plan. And, again, if you want to learn more about those, we have tons on the Writing Center website about the MEAL plans. So, I would encourage you to look up that information about paragraph organization specifically. We've got couple of more examples there too. And if you want to test your own knowledge, there's some knowledge checks there as well. 

So, let's talk now about paraphrasing. And any time I bring up paraphrasing whether it's at a residency or in a webinar or just in a discussion in one of my classes, students always say, you know, I think I'm an okay paraphraser? I don't know. And then I ask them their paraphrasing strategy. And they don't really have one. So, they’ll say, I don't know. I just kind of write it down. I look at the text and I write what I think down. So, what I'd like, if you take one thing away from this webinar. What I'd love for you to do regarding paraphrasing is to really think about your own paraphrasing strategies and make sure that you actually do have a strategy that's working for you. 

So specifically, when I say paraphrasing, I really just mean explaining ideas, information, or facts you read in a source using your own voice and that includes your own sentence structure, phrasing, and vocabulary. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Paraphrasing

  1. Ensure you understandthe idea, fact, statistic
  2. Go to a blankscreen/page
  3. Imagine you were explainingit to a colleague
  4. Reviseparaphrase and checkagainst original
  5. Citeand use!

Audio:So specifically, if I'm thinking about paraphrasing, the first thing I want to do is read until I understand what I'm trying to paraphrase. So, the idea the fact, or statistic or that original passage. Now, I know no one here at this session does this. But maybe some of your colleagues who are extremely busy, who have families and jobs and responsibilities outside of Walden might do a lot of their academic reading early, early in the morning or late, late at night or in between breaks at work. Or with maybe while the television’s on or while their children are running around in front of them, or between looking at their cell phone 10,000 times to make sure they haven’t got work emails or something going on that they’re missing in their life outside of Walden.  I know nobody in this room does that. 

But for those people who do, I think a lot of times it is difficult to be a critical reader if you've got all those distractions or even one or two of those distractions running around in the background when you're trying to focus on what you're reading. I always tell students academic writing is not beautiful prose. We're not reading William Faulkner or Tony Morrison. It tends to be pretty dry, and so you really do have to focus. There tends to be a lot of jargon. It tends to mean you have to read it couple of times to really understand it. 

So, I would challenge you to all try to do that, right? It's about working efficiently and smartly to clear out the clutter when you're actually trying to do this critical reading, because I think that's really important. So, you want to read to understand. And that means you've got to put your full attention toward that reading. So, after you feel like you've understood the passage, what I would say you need to do next is to go to a blank screen if that's how you want to do it. If you think better through typing, or write it on a sheet of paper if you're one of those people who needs to feel the pen in your hand when you're writing or when you’re drafting. 

And then imagine that you're explaining what you just read to a colleague. I would even encourage you to say what you read out loud. Because typically when we explain somethings verbally, we tend to simplify and we simplify because we want the person to understand it, right? We want the person we're explaining to understand what we've read. So, we simplify. And we use shorter sentences to ensure the meaning is clear to the people we're explaining it to. So, I would say you want to do that same thing. Okay? If you're able to explain it to a colleague, fantastic! Write it down, work on revising that against the original, making sure that you don't have any instances of similar wording, right? Or if you do that you're putting those any word-for-word information in quotation marks and cite it and you're ready to go. 

However, a lot of times I think what happens is we get to step 3, right? We imagine we're explaining it to a colleague and we're not able to really explain it. And typically, that's because we didn't understand what we're reading. So, that might mean we need to go back to step 1, read until we understand. And then go imagine we're explaining it to a colleague. Write it down. And what happens is when you explain it to a colleague verbally or even if you write it when you're not looking at the passage, you're already going to use your own wording and sentence structure. Imagine if we all witnessed the same event. Let's say everyone in this room, let’s say there's 107 people in this room right now. We all met up and went to Starbucks together. Okay? 

We all witnessed a crime at Starbucks. Before we're able to talk to each other about what we witnessed, let's say the police all asked us to write a narrative about the crime we witnessed. Would anyone's narrative be the same? No. Right? Because we're all bringing a unique voice, unique baggage to that situation. And that's what we're looking for when we say you need to write with your own phrasing and your own sentence structure. We're looking for that unique voice, the unique way that you would phrase something. 

Now, it still needs to be scholarly in tone, right? We can't have jargon, we can't have contractions, we can't have second person pronouns things like that. Those are easier to clean up. But all too often what I see people doing when they're paraphrasing is staring at the original and changing a few words around. Or using a thesaurus and plugging in some words or some synonyms here and there. That is not effective paraphrasing. Instead, you want to cover the passage. Write it out in your own words and sentence structure. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Paraphrasing

Chat box:

Compare the original quote with the sample paraphrase. What are the paraphrase’s strengths and weaknesses?

Audio: All right. So, let's move on to our third chat of the evening where we look at a paraphrase. So here I've got an original passage and then I've got a paraphrase that a student has created. And what I want you to think about is when comparing the original to the paraphrase, is this a strong paraphrase? So, what are the paraphrase's strengths, what are its weaknesses? And I'll give you a chance to do that now. 

[silence as students type] 37:06

Okay. So, I see a lot of great answers and I also see that you are continuing to be very astute. So, I'm going to talk a little bit about this. So, the original passage is "Students who have a tendency to apply source material without adapting a proper citation and abiding by APA format may be prosecuted for intentional imitation and may be required to modify their materials." So, the paraphrase here is students may be accused of plagiarism and have to rewrite their papers if they use outside sources and don’t follow APA rules for citations. So again, in my mind, this is a pretty successful paraphrase.

And again, we don’t have the context of why this paraphrase was written. What this particular writer is using this evidence for. But I will say that it pretty much reflects the main idea of the original. I think the only thing I might include based I guess on the context of the paper is the original highlight, the possibility of prosecution. That's not necessarily in the paraphrase, right? They just talk about rewriting the paper. They don't really talk about any other sort of more serious forms of punishment. So that might be something to include. But on the whole, I think this is a pretty good paragraph. It's written in the student's own voice. So, it doesn't really reflect the original sentence structure, which is nice to see. 

We don't see where they're just sort of doing patch work paraphrasing where they’re plugging in synonyms here and there. We see the student's own sort of phrasing and sentence structure. One person said they have a contraction. And that's absolutely true. And we have and don't follow. And generally, you want to avoid those contraction in APA style writing so you are going to write do not instead of don't. So that's a good and astute observation. Nicely done there.


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Questions?

Audio: Okay. Before we move forward, I just want to pause. We're about halfway through tonight's presentation. And I just wanted to get a sense, Claire, if there's any questions that I can answer for the group? 

Claire: Thanks so much, Sarah. I have one question I definitely want to ask. Which is, should a paraphrase should be in just one sentence like in that example? Or can it be from a bigger paragraph that's kind of shrunken down to a one sentence paraphrase? 

Sarah: Yeah, that's a great question. So typically, a paraphrase is of a smaller passage. But it certainly can be a paragraph, and generally a paragraph is about what you're going to paraphrase, right? A summary would be an explanation of an entire draft, right? Start to finish and summarizing the high points. Right? I of this of it like a book report. That's our summary. A paraphrase typically is of those smaller more concentrated passages. But it certainly could be a paragraph in length that you're shrinking down. And I like thinking about it as a shrinking down. Right? Because you're pulling out the barebones or the main idea of that paragraph and you're trying to put it in a simpler more direct format. So sure, you could have a paraphrase of a paragraph. It doesn't always have to be a sentence. In fact, you really want to avoid just paraphrasing single sentences. Instead, it's probably better generally paraphrases generally ideas across multiple sentences. Does that help to clarify? 

Claire: Thanks so much. Do we have time for another question? 

Sarah: Sure. Let's have one more. 

Claire: So, I often get questions and we had a question about sort of clarifying the difference between analysis and that source information to make sure that we're not plagiarizing but also that we're not, like, saying that source analyzed that information and put two and two together. 

Sarah: So distinguishing evidence from our own analysis. And a lot of times what happens is, and I think you saw in the example I showed in the slides, we have one sentence that contains source information, and then we also had analysis of that source information. So typically, what you can do if you're sort of nervous of distinguishing between the two. You have two options. One, you could break it up where your evidence lives in one sentence. And then your analysis lives in a sentence right after that. Or you might think about doing a citation in the middle of your sentence. So, a parenthetical citation directly after your evidence. So, you might have where Smith said X, Y, and Z comma. Or based on XYZ. And if that X, Y, and Z is from an outside source, you might have that citation there, comma. I suggest just work on making it clear whether that's a citation in the middle of a sentence, using a comma, and however, I suggest distinguishing it in that way. You could do that. There's multiple ways to distinguish it. But you do want to make sure it's rhetorically clear to your reader and if you're ever nervous about that, probably the easiest way to go about that is to just separate it out into two sentences. So, hopefully, that's clear. 

Claire: Thanks, so much Sarah. That's all we have for now. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Scholarly voice

Audio:Sarah: Okay thanks Claire. So, let's talk about scholarly voice. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Scholarly Voice

Goal: sound professional andinformed

•      Scholarly Voice

•      Formality

•      Neutrality

•      Clear, Direct Statements

Audio:And we like to through it around a lot in in academia, but what it means or how to enact a scholarly voice can be tricky. When we say scholarly voice, we're typically saying that it needs to be formal. You need to be neutral and objective. And that you need to make those clear direct statements. And, ultimately, that's going to make you sound professional and inform. That's what we're looking for, right? 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Point of View

Use the first person (I/me/my) as appropriate

This paper will discuss…In this paper, Iwill discuss…

The data will be collected.Iwill collect the data.

The scholar will argue… Iwill argue…

Avoid opinion statements like I think/I feel/I believe

 Not so great: I think childhood obesity is a major concern.

Better: Childhood obesity is a major concern.

Best: Childhood obesity is a major concern, as 17% of children in America are obese (CDC, 2012).

Audio: So, let's talk a little bit about how we can ensure that, that happens in our writing. So first, common myth that I would like to debunk is that you can't use the first person. The truth is that you can actually use first person pronouns in your writing, but you have to make sure that they are appropriately used. So instead of saying this paper we'll discuss. You could say, in this paper, I will discuss. Now, a paper is an inanimate object. Right? It’s not going to get up and start talking. And so that means that you've got actually what we call anthropomorphism in that case. Instead you are the one who’s using the paper to do the talking to do the discussing. So, in this case, it’s actually more clear to say, in this paper I will discuss. 

Now, the second example we have here, the data will be collected. A lot of you said that you wanted to know more about passive voice or you were worried that you were guilty of using passive voice in your writing. So, this is an instance of passive voice. And passive voice leaves your readers wondering who is going to do the action in this sentence? The data will be collected. Who is going to collect the data? That's not clear. A lot of times folks or students will try to use passive voice to avoid using I. So, in this case you want to go ahead and claim "I will collect the data." I'm going to be the one whose doing this work, so I will collect the data. Now, we have an active voice sentence and it's clear who the subject is doing the action is. 

Third, the scholar will argue. Now, another way students try to work around including themselves, right? Instead of saying I will argue. If you're the one doing the argument is that they will refer to themselves in the third person. So, they’ll say the scholar or the writer of this paper. You never want to refer to yourself in the third person. Per APA guidelines, per good scholarly writing guidelines, you always want to refer to yourself in the first person. So instead of the scholar will argue, we’re going to use, I will argue. So, what's not good with first person pronouns is when ah allow those opinion statements to creep in. Like I think, or I feel, or I believe. Okay? Again, you want to be persuasive in academic writing but not through your beliefs or feelings or you're passionate thoughts. Instead, you want to prove your argument based on clear evidence. So, you want to cite evidence instead of saying, well, I think this is true. Instead, you want to say, childhood obesity is a major concern. Not I think childhood obesity is a major concern. 

But most importantly, you need to have a citation to support what you're saying is rooted in fact and is in fact isn't just your personal opinion so, here's an example. Childhood obesity is a major concern as 17% of children in America are obese. So, you’ll see I’ve got the as my CDC citation here published in 2012. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Specificity

            Avoid generalizations

            Not so great: Children do not get enough exercise.

Better: Many children do not get enough exercise.

Best: According to the CDC (2012), in 2011, only 29% of high school students received the recommended amount of exercise, defined as at least one hour per day.

Audio:Also, we want to avoid generalization. I saw the words questions about what I meant when I said the word generalization earlier. So let's talk about what I mean when I say something is being over generalized. Something that's not so great. Children do not get enough exercise. I can just hear my grandmother saying this. You know, oh, those children these days, they don't get enough exercise, right? So, we don't want to be too general. Instead, we want to be specific. So better is many children do not get enough exercise. Right? We added a qualifier in here. Some children do, but many children don't. But still, we need that citation to prove what we’re saying is rooted in fact. 

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. You’ll see here that I have clear evidence and I'm citing that evidence to basically say this specific population of high school students don't get enough exercise. So, you'll see here that the more specific I can be, the better. And also, a lot of times, if I'm talking about a general population, I need to use a very clear specific and maybe even narrow my population to ensure that I am not generalizing. Right? You always want to avoid words like all or many or several or few. Because those are too general and they're not clear enough. Okay? You also want to avoid those blanket statements that you can't prove or disprove.  Like children don’t get enough exercise, that is a blanket statement. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: Consider your Audience

•      Who is your audience? 

•      Outside readers & scholars in your field. 

Audio:  Okay, again in, and we talked about this at the beginning of this session tonight. You need to know your audience as a graduate writer. So, in addition to ensuring that you're specific you also want to make sure you're talking to outside readers and scholars in your field. And you're thinking specifically about that audience, right, when you write. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: APA Style

Audio: So, we talked a little bit of those factors that make up scholarly voice and now I want to move on to this blue book that I know everyone puts under their pillow at night, the APA style manual. Okay? And I know this makes a lot of you feel like you want to pull your hair out. And I get it. Right? It's a big thick manual, and sometimes it's not the most intuitive. But we're going to talk a little bit about some of the elements of the APA style manual. And also know that we have so many resources on our website. And I'm going to talk through some of those resources that we have at the end of this presentation. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: APA Style

•      What is it? 

•      Style of citing sources and formatting writing 

•      APA Manual (6thed.)

•      Used by most social science fields, including most of Walden

Audio:So, what is it? APA style is really just, sort of a common language of the social sciences. It's a style of citing sources and formatting writing. Right now, we use the APA manual. We're in the 6th edition. And it really is used by most of the social science field. In every academic field typically has a style that they adhere to. So, for instance, if you’ve got a degree in humanities like I did, you probably used MLA style to write papers. If you got a degree in journalism, you might use Chicago style. But the social sciences style typically uses APA style and the natural sciences too for that matter. And that is why Walden has sort of adopted APA style. And it's a common language we use to make sure folks are doing incredible and rigorous research. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Style Resources

•      What does it look like?

•      Reference entries

•      Fitz, J. (2014). Demographics of online students. Journal of Online Studies, 7(2), 14-34. doi:xx02482918

•      Citations:

•      (Fitz, 2018) OR Fitz (2018)

Audio: So, what does it look like? Most of the time when we say APA style, we think specifically of reference entries and we think specifically of citations. So, reference entries, although I know can be a headache. Really, once you get the general notion of what these look like, they become easier. Hopefully over time, especially as you pursue your degree at Walden, these will become second nature to you. This is an example of a journal article reference with a DOI, digital object identifier. You’ll see that we’ve got the author, the year, the title of the article, the name of the general, the volume and issue number, the page range and the DOI. 

Now, all of your APA style references are going to have the author, the year, the title, and some sort of retrieval and publication information. So, if you can remember those four things, they are going to take slightly different formats based on the kind of source they are. But those are really the building blocks of your reference entries. And in a future slide I'm going to show you a quick link that I hope all of you will bookmark that will give you those common reference list entries. Nobody expects you to memorize every reference. We do expect you to have a quick guide. So, you can look these up and make sure that when you finally submit those papers, that you are using reference entries that meet APA expectations. 

Now, those references also need to match the citations in your draft. So, for instance, you might have a parenthetical citation. So, you'll see Fitz, 2018 in parenthesis, that is a parenthetical citation. Or you might have what we call a narrative citation where Fitz is a part of the narrative of your sentence so it sits outside the parenthesis of your citation. Either one of those style is just fine. You just want to make sure you use a citation for each and every sentence that uses the idea from outside source. 


Visual:Slide changes to the following: APA Style Resources

Audio:So as promised here are a list of really, really, useful APA style resources. So, you'll see we have an introductory page, chock-full of APA style rules. We have templates. So, for those of you who are writing course papers, these templates are fantastic, right? The margins are set for you. The headings are set for you. All you have to do is download the course paper template. Save it to your computer and you can type directly into the template so, that will save you a lot of time and frustration if you're new to APA. We have a common reference list example page. This is perhaps my favorite page on the Walden website. I have it bookmarked. I suggest you have it bookmarked because it's fantastic, especially if you want to do reference checking. I love to do reference checking when I know I need to be productive. But my brain can't handle the critical heavy lifting of writing or reading. Checking reference can be tedious, but it not a whole a lot of brain power. So, think about that. Save the common reference list examples page. 

We also have APA citation style webinars. So, if you've enjoyed the webinar tonight, you can listen to the recordings of those webinars or if you're able to catch those live, fantastic. Finally, if you want an interactive piece, we have our APA module which allows you to test your knowledge make sure you're understanding that APA information as you go through the module. Again, on this slide, those are all active links. If you want to download the slides, those are in the Files Pod. So that would be a great tip if you want to feel more comfortable with APA. Or you just want a quick resource down the road. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Recap

•      Use scholarly arguments to join the conversation.

•      Keep your tone formaland neutraland your sentences simple.

•      Paraphrasemindfully and carefully.

•      Use APAstyle.

Learning the requirements of graduate-level writing is a process!

Audio: So quick recap of what we’ve talked about tonight. I know it feel like a whirlwind. We’ve talked specifically about using scholarly argument to join the conversation which is really a cornerstone of graduate writing instead of observing the conversation in your academic field, graduate level writing is going to allow you to become part of that conversation. 

We talked specifically about keeping your tone formal, objective and neutral. And also making sure your sentences are direct, clear, and use those MEAL plan paragraphs, right? We also talked about paraphrasing making sure you have a clear strategy in mind or you're mindful of your paraphrasing strategy and that you're careful to ensure that you're including those citations appropriately. And then, finally, we talked about the use of APA style. So, I think we got a lot done in an hour, right? And, hopefully, you feel like you got some foundational components of the graduate level writing. And I hope that you're going away from this feeling that graduate level writing is really a process, right? And it's an iterative process. Nobody, including myself or Claire and Kacy who are also on the line get it right the first time. We all engaged in this active revising and constantly evolving as writers. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later•  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Check out the recorded webinars “Building and Organizing Academic Arguments”and “Life Cycle of a Paper”

Audio:So I think we have about 5 more minutes for questions. Claire, do you have any questions for us so we can wrap-up? 

Claire: Yeah, I have couple. First, I got several questions about paraphrasing and the difficulty of paraphrasing statistical information. Because it's so exact from the source. Do you have any suggestions for that?      

Sarah: I do. And I completely understand that is difficult. What I will say if you're pulling numbers, so, for instance, if it says 48.6% of I don't know, high school students failed the APA exam or something. You do not have to think of a way to paraphrase 48.6%. Nor does that 48.6 have to be indirect quotation. So statistical number themselves, you don't have to put it quotes. What you need to make sure that you do for that particular paraphrase, you want to supply the page number. So, a lot of times, if you're including an idea that happens throughout the text, you might paraphrase and not include the page number. But if you're paraphrasing a statistic or a piece of statistical information that appears on a particular page and article, I would absolutely include that page number. Also, sometimes statistics are, you know, if there's phrasing or there's a clear indicator of what that statistic represents, it okay to directly quote statistics. So, if you feel like it's just too difficult that, might be a place where direct quotation is okay. Or is appropriate. But again, if you're just worried about the numbers themselves, you don't have to think of a different way to say 48 in your own words and you don't also have to put that number 48 in direct quotation mark. Instead, you just want to include that page number when paraphrasing. So, hopefully, that clarifies that. 

Claire: It does, thanks, Sarah. It's not exactly a student question. But I'm wondering if you can talk for a minute about our paper reviews since students are transitioning or in the middle of their graduate coursework and those can be helpful. 

Sarah: Yeah. I think that's great. So that would be a great ending note for tonight. Especially if you are just transitioning and you're just starting your graduate career. The Walden writing center does offer paper reviews. You can take advantage of those paper reviews up until you have an approved prospectus or an approved proposal document. So, until you start working on that proposals, you can make paper review appointments. And what that paper review is going to look the style, structure, formatting, APA and good stuff. Only thing they're not going to focus is content. Because that's your job. But they're going to look if you argue your point well, if you have a solid thesis statement and successful MEAL plan paragraphs. And again, these are free to you as a Walden student. 

So, I would encourage you to make a paper review appointment. A lot of times students say, oh, I'm a little nervous. I'm not a great writer. I don't really want to get more negative feedback. But the truth is, they're really valuable. And whereas, your instructors don't have a lot of time to focus on those writing elements, because they're more concerned with content. Our writing instructors do really focus on those writing elements. So, I would encourage you and maybe Claire or Kacy can post a link in the Q&A box to our paper review service, if that’s something that you're interested. Try it out. It is free to you. It's all asynchronous so you would just submit a paper, and within 48 hours, you would get that paper returned to you with our comments in it. So, Claire, I'm going to leave it to you to close us out. But anything you want to add about paper reviews? 

Claire: Thanks so much, Sarah. I know we're at time here. But we are going to keep recording just for a minute. Kacy and I both review papers. So, we would love to see your work in the "MyPASS schedule" so we can work with you directly on whatever goals you might have. I know I saw a lot of goals and difficulties in the beginning of the presentation, and we help with all of those. So, if you haven't tried the paper review service before, I highly recommend it. If we didn't get a chance to answer your question, or watching this presentation as a recording, go ahead and ask us via writingsupport@waldenu.eduor you can visit our Live Chat hours. We also have couple of recommended webinars in addition to this one today. Which are building and organization argument and Lifecycle of a Paper plus I think Sarah mentioned a bunch and there were several linked throughout the presentation. So, if the webinar format works well for you, we highly recommend those. As a reminder, this webinar will be posted in our recording archive within the next day. So, thank you so much for coming, everyone. And have a wonderful rest of your day or evening.