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Webinar Transcripts

Writing at the Graduate Level

Presented August 29, 2017

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Last updated 9/23/2017


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 slide says “Housekeeping” and the following:

  • Recording
    • Will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
    • Send to
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Claire: Alright. Hello, everyone, and welcome to tonight's presentation. I'm Claire and I'll be facilitating this webinar today, and I'm going to go over a few housekeeping items before I hand things over to our presenter tonight, Miranda. First, I wanted to go over that we will have a recording of this webinar. I've just started the recording, so the recording will be available online. You can go to our webinar recording archive to access that. And we have a lot of other webinars on there as well if you missed a webinar or signed up for a webinar that you'd like to tune into.

You can interact with us during this presentation. All the polls, files, and links are interactive throughout, so you can feel free to interact in those ways, and if you'd like to download the certificate or the slides, they're available in the files pod at the bottom right corner of the screen there. And you just click the item you want to upload that file.

Throughout the presentation, I'll be manning the chat box, so please send me any questions that you have. If you think of a question after the presentation or at any time, really, you can send it to and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Also, if you run into any technical issues or anything like that, there's a help box in the top right corner of the presentation. Because that's the official Adobe help box, so they'll be able to best help you with any technical issues that may come up throughout the presentation, although you're free to reach out to me in the Q and A box so I can see if I can give you a couple tips there as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Writing at the Graduate Level” and the speaker’s name and information: Miranda Mattingly, Ph.D., Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Alright. With that, I'm going to hand it over to our presenter this evening, Miranda.

Miranda: Thanks, Claire. Just to start, can you hear me okay?

Claire: Yep. You sound great.

Miranda: All right. Thanks. I want to make sure to do a bit of an audio check before we get started. So first, thank you so much, Claire, and hello, everyone. My name is Miranda Mattingly and I'm a writing instructor here at Walden University's Writing Center. I just want to give you a few details about myself before we get started. I have been working in teaching, writing, in some capacity for almost 9 years, not quite a decade, but we're getting close. And I really love talking about writing in all shapes and forms, so I'm really excited about getting this opportunity to talk to you about graduate level writing.


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.”

University of Mary Washington. (2011). What constitutes graduate level writing? Retrieved from

Said another way: Another type of writing and thinking.

Audio: So, let's dive right in. So, to start off, I wanted to read you a quit quote that I think kind of sums up some key points related to graduate level 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.”

Now, I wanted to read this comment to start us off because it highlights some key features related to graduate level writing, and the first thing I wanted to note was its emphasis on critical thinking. Now, when we talk about critical thinking, we're really talking about analysis and synthesis. And I wanted to highlight that straight off because it's going to be a topic that we touch on pretty quickly in this presentation.

Another thing that's really important about this quote is that it highlights the sense that graduate level writing addresses an argument from different sides. So, you're not just focusing on finding support, but you might also look at research that presents a counterargument. And the idea here that you are trying to engage with a scholarly conversation, which is a topic that you're going to hear us say a couple times in tonight's presentation.

Another interesting aspect of this quote is its emphasis on creating a clear argument, which is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in academic or graduate level writing, to pin down a clear argument. But we're going to hopefully give you some tips about how you might do that.

And then finally, graduate level writing, as it states in this quote, is really focused on having a purpose, which might sound new or different to you. But it's not just about writing for an assignment, it's trying to make sure that you're developing a project that has a purpose and we want to think about each assignment as your opportunity to practice that aspect of graduate level writing.

So, if I was to sum it up or put it in another way, it's about taking writing and thinking to a new level. It's another type of writing and thinking. In fact, when you put in the idea of purpose and objective engaged in critical thought and scholarly conversation, you can really see that we're not just talking about writing for communication.


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





  • Summary
  • 1 source
  • Understanding content
  • Course readings
  • Textbooks, websites, course handouts


  • Analysis
  • 2+ sources (synthesis)
  • Adding to content
  • Research
  • Studies, statistical data



Audio: So, to help build on this idea, I thought we could start off by talking about the differences between undergraduate and graduate level writing. When we talk about undergraduate level writing, there's often a strong emphasis on summary. In that case, it's really about comprehension. You may often in an undergraduate level paper only be working with a single source, like you were doing a book review or something. And when you do that material or you do that type of assignment, the focus is often on understanding the content. It's not really about responding in any type of way. It's focused really heavily on comprehension. Furthermore, when we're talking about undergraduate level writing, you'll find that when you are working with source material, it's often course readings that your instructor has provided to you. Like a textbook or course handouts, and the idea here is that you're being exposed to the general ideas of the field, the context or basic concepts that your instructor wants you to become familiarized with, but may not spend as much time developing an argument in response to those sources.

Now, in contrast, graduate level writing makes a big shift from summary to analysis. Now, that's not to say there's no summary in graduate level writing, but there's a stronger emphasis of developing more and more analysis. So, in this case, you might be working with two sources or more, and I know that for those of you who are in the doctoral programs, you're probably laughing at just the two sources because you may be working with something around 15 to 20 sources. But the idea here that you are going to be working with multiple sources. You're going to be analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and how they address the same problem. And your goal is to kind of synthesize the conversation around them by adding content to what they had to say. In this case, you're finding a little bit about their strengths and weaknesses, but also, you're placed in that conversation where you can enter in. And when you do that, part of that process is doing your own research. You may find that instead of working solely with source materials that your instructors provided, you start to shift more into doing -- working with evidence-based sources or statistical data.


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





  • This week, you will examine the characteristics of a successful distance learner.
  • Students will:
    • Explain the effectiveness of instructional interactions in distance learning environments
    • Describe the metaphors for learning as these apply to distance learning environments
    • Identify the attributes of successful distance learning


  • This week you will analyze education policies.
  • Objectives
    • Analyze education policies
    • Analyze influence of education policies on roles of educational psychologists
    • Analyze ways to improve education policy effectiveness
    • Develop annotated bibliographies
    • Synthesize educational psychology research for literature reviews



Audio: So those are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the differences between undergraduate and graduate level writing, but other things you might want to keep in mind are the ways that we describe these projects. In other words, the actions or the objectives that you are essentially trying to perform. So, you can see here we have a little bit of description of undergraduate objectives with that particular assignment. And you'll notice that each one of the examples on the left has a verb highlighted or bolded. You'll see that the objective for the undergraduate student is often to examine, explain, describe, or identify. The focus isn't too much on expanding on that or responding to these concepts. Instead, your goal is to explain an interaction that's relate today distance learning, describe those metaphors.

The difference here with graduate level writing is you can see that the verbs themselves, the actions, the purpose that you have as a graduate student really starts to shift with the graduate level project. Instead of just understanding the material, your goal is to analyze policies, analyze the influence of these policies as well as ways to improve on a policy based on its effectiveness. You might start to develop your own research through an annotated bibliography, and then your goal is to kind of synthesize and bring these sources together. And there's a big difference here in what you were doing at the graduate level as opposed to at the undergraduate level.


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


For the Final Project

  • Select a topic of interest to you related to educational psychology. (Choose own topic)
  • Research and critique 20–25 scholarly articles related to the selected topic.
  • Select 10–12 articles that are most relevant to your topic. (Do own research)
  • 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. (Analyze sources)
  • 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. (Synthesize sources)
  • Write 3–4 pages of annotated bibliography.

Audio: So, if we take this idea one step further, I wanted to give you an example of an assignment, a graduate level assignment. And it looks here that we have a mock-up of what essentially is the assignment for a final project. And what I wanted to do was touch on a key few points that are noted in this assignment. The first thing you'll notice is that at a graduate level, you are tasked to choose your own topic. In this case, you'll find that things are more self-directed rather than your professor setting the topic. And because of this, you'll have to do your own research often. So, you can see here that it says that you should select 10 to 12 articles, but it doesn't necessarily say what those articles are. Instead, you have to find those articles and deem which ones you think are appropriate for your project.

Next, once you found those articles, you'll have to analyze the sources themselves based on their credibility and the way that they approach a particular problem. You'll look at what these sources say, what their strengths are, what the weaknesses are, and identify some gap in their research. Once you've done so, you'll start to shift more in towards synthesizing the sources, which means that you have to put those sources in conversations with each other and highlight how they relate to your project that you are working on. So, you can see that there's quite a bit of difference here between undergraduate and graduate level writing.


Visual: Slide changes to the following:

Chat box:

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

[The webinar layout changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: So, in order to bring you into the conversation, I thought we could pause here before we get into specifics and check in and see what you think and what you anticipate to be the biggest challenges associated with graduate level writing. So, I'm going to pause here for a moment and I'm going to let you guys provide some responses.

[Pause as students type.]

Okay. Great. I'm seeing a lot of things come in now. It seems like critical thinking and analysis and synthesis are going to be a big topic, which is totally understandable. Fortunately, we're going to talk a little bit about that tonight. It seems like another one that people have been touching on is related to working with source material, whether it's finding it or incorporating it into the paper, knowing when to cite a source. We'll touch on that a little bit tonight. I can see that we also have an interest in grammar, but also things about avoiding bias and opinion. We're going to talk a lot about scholarly voice tonight, so that seems like another really important topic. Give you another moment.

[Pause as students type.]

Okay. I'm going to keep moving on. Thank you so much, you all. We're going to have some other opportunities to chime in. But I'm going to keep moving on.


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

Argument and Analysis è Paraphrasing è Scholarly Voice è APA Style

Audio: So, we have kind of touched on this idea of what graduate level writing is, and in order to break this down a little bit more, what I wanted to do was kind of outline our objective. You can see here we have some topics that we're going to touch on in terms of how to transition into graduate level writing. So, we're going to talk about argument and analysis, paraphrasing, scholarly voice, and APA style. We have some subtopics under each one of these categories, but our goal is to kind of touch on each one and talk about how it relates to graduate level writing itself.


Visual: Slide changes to the following:

Argument and Analysis

Audio: So, the first one we're going to start with is argument and analysis. A lot of you brought this up in the chat box, so I mean, it seems like a great place to start. It's also a really foundational feature of graduate level writing, so let's start there.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Argument and Analysis

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

[Slide includes a picture of two women, sitting at a table with a laptop, in conversation.]

Audio: So, as I mentioned previously, graduate level writing is about moving beyond comprehension. So, in this case, it's not simply about reporting on what the sources have said. It's about placing your sources and your ideas in conversation with outside information and with each other. So, we're really determining how they address a specific problem or topic, and when you progress far enough in your degree programs, which everybody is at different points, it's about finding a place where you can join and contribute to that conversation. So, we're going to talk a little bit about how we can start to make that transition and that process tonight.


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

  • 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: The first thing I want to talk about was the thesis, which I am sure that several of you are very familiar with. But there are some key points in tips to keep in mind. The first thing I wanted to highlight was it being specific and being arguable. Now, when it comes to being arguable, what I'm referring to there is you need to take a clear stance on a chosen topic or an issue in your thesis statement.

And you can see that we already have an example here of the beginning of a thesis statement that may not be as great. So, I'm going to show you this one, and then there's going to be a couple more to follow. So, this first one is “this paper is about classroom management.” You can see that the statement is quite broad. We're not quite sure what aspect of classroom management this author's going to take or what stance they're going to take.

Now, if you look at the next statement, it's definitely improvement in the sense that classroom management is an important part of teaching. This author clearly starting to take more of a stance. There could be some other aspect of teaching they want to focus on, but they've chosen classroom management. But what isn't as clear here is the how or the why classroom management is important.

When we look at our third example, “all teachers should develop the classroom management skills of authority, individualization, and time management, which are necessary to run effective classrooms.” Here you can see in this third example the author has taken a clear stance on the issue, they highlight specifically what aspects of the classroom management will be addressed in terms of authority, individualization, and time management, and they provide us even with a sense here at the end about why this is important. It's important because it's effective to run a classroom, right? So, we have all of these pieces put together, and slowly you see the progression through those three examples.

Now, the last thing I wanted to mention before we move on about the thesis statement is that the thesis statement does tend to appear at the end of the introduction. And that's because you want to make sure that you give your reader some sense of the purpose or objective of your paper. Otherwise what can happen is that your reader might spend their time, particularly on those first couple pages, trying to figure out what the paper is about or what your stance on the issue's going to be. However, if you give that thesis statement up front, they get to know what your focus and purpose is, and then they spend the time of the paper being condensed by your argument, which is why it tends to appear at the end of that introduction.


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: Now, once you have that thesis down, the next step that when we're building an argument or analysis that we want to talk about is evidence. Now, evidence can be used for several different reasons. It can be used to support your argument. However, when you're using evidence, you want to make sure that it's not just in one place, but it's consistently throughout the paper. And we're going to actually look at how you can incorporate it into each paragraph as an organizational model. So, keep that one in mind.

It's also used -- that is, evidence is used to demonstrate your credibility. You want to make sure that you're not making statements on opinion, but that they're based on facts and evidence. So that does mean that anytime you use evidence from an outside source, you do want to make sure that you include the proper citation, that's a really important thing to remember.

The next thing that you want to keep in mind is making sure that your evidence that you're using is using credible sources. So, in this case, we're referring the fact that you want to make sure that sources avoid bias. And they've gone through some type of editorial peer review process.

At the bottom of the screen, you can see that we actually have an example of a piece of evidence in terms of “according to Wilson, 68% of Dallas high school juniors reported chronic boredom in math classes.” I find this stat a little funny, but what's interesting about this stat is that it produces a piece of evidence for us, which is great, but we don't necessarily know what type of argument that it's trying to support.


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: So, we talk about evidence, the next thing you want to keep in mind is that evidence should be paired with some type of analysis. When we talk about adding analysis, what we're talking about is you need to make sure that you're providing your own interpretation or translation for the reader of what the original author's ideas are. You want to make sure that you translate it for your reader, but you also set it in context of your current project. So, in this case it's a little bit of interpreting the material for the reader, but also telling them why that piece of evidence is important or why it matters.

So, you can see in the example below that the piece of evidence is followed by a quick explanation as to how the evidence should be understood and why it's important. So, in this case you can see that our original piece of evidence has been followed by “suggesting a need to reconsider the math curriculum and invest in teachers' training in this district.” What I like about this is it connects that original evidence to the need for teacher training, and we start to get a sense of what the argument here that they were trying to establish.


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, so far, we've talked about evidence and analysis. But the next thing I want to talk about is a way to balance evidence and analysis at the paragraph level. And when you come to the Writing Center, we often recommend the MEAL plan, and the MEAL plan is just a real simple way to organize a paragraph, but it's also about how to use evidence and analysis together and a nice balance. So, you can see here that we have both an example of what the parts of the MEAL plan are, but it's also been applied to a paragraph. So, let's kind of work through some of these, I know that we've touched on a few. But you can see that the MEAL plan has four parts. It starts off with the main idea. Now, the main idea is essentially your topic sentence because it's a single sentence that introduces the paragraph's main idea. There's no citation, it's written from your perspective. And if we look at the example below, “supervision is one practice in transactional leadership theory that aids with employee retention.” It clearly states what this paragraph's focus is. We're talking about supervision as a practice related to transactional leadership theory.

The next part it includes in this paragraph is a piece of evidence that support and illustrate that main claim. So, they've introduced the piece of evidence from Duffy that includes both a direct quote from that source, but also the proper citation so we know that they're drawing on existing research.

Once you've included that piece of evidence, what I like is that it gives you a moment in this paragraph to check back in with that main idea and start placing your ideas in conversation with outside research or that scholarly conversation. So, you can see that transition starting to happen here. However, once you do introduce that piece of evidence, as we already mentioned, you want to make sure that it's followed by some analysis that interprets how the information should be here. Or should be understood. So, what I like about this example that is that it shows the balance. You'll notice that this paragraph isn't filled with all evidence, but instead we have main idea, a little bit of evidence, and now we're moving into analysis that interprets the quote for us.

And the last part of my MEAL plan, which can often be a tricky one, is the lead-out sentence. Now, the lead-out sentence is your opportunity to highlight what the final takeaways of this paragraph are by reminding the reader what's important. What I like about the lead-out sentence -- or this particular lead-out sentence is that it not only reflects on the paragraph as a whole, but it takes the evidence and all that's been presented and it relates it back to the main idea by calling attention to how supervision is an important practice. So, you can see that it kind of takes the paragraph and pulls it all together by reintroducing how that evidence, that analysis relates back to the idea that this is a practice that we're applying with relation to transactional leadership theory.

Now, before we move on, I do want to make one final note about the MEAL plan, and that's just to say that the MEAL plan is a suggested model that we like to recommend when organizing a paragraph. But that doesn't mean that every paragraph will be exactly four sentences. It's kind of neatly fitted here for our example, but more so it's a guide to help you understand how to organize a paragraph as well as what those key pieces are in terms of that main idea, argument with evidence but also analysis. So, do keep that in mind.


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

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.

[The webinar layout changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: So, in order to give us a little bit break, I thought we could take a pause here and apply some of these ideas. And what you can see here is that I provided you with an example of a paragraph. And if you'd do me a favor, if you'd read through, and then once you have a chance, I want you to tell me about how this paragraph does or does not follow the MEAL plan. I'll give you guys a moment and then I'll check back in.

[Pause as students type.]

Okay. Great. It looks like a lot of people are starting to chime in. And I'm seeing some themes here. So, one is, sounds like some people say that it is following the MEAL plan, but maybe not in the exact same order that we saw before. Like we have more than one piece of evidence. And as I said, you know, that can happen. The MEAL plan is a model, right?

Others have pointed, it seems like several people have suggested that it follows the MEAL plan, but it has some room to improve in terms of its analysis as well as its lead-out sentence. And I think that's probably quite true here. I like that this paragraph starts off with a topic sentence here that introduces its stance and main idea and gives us some evidence, but you might notice that that evidence is two sentences and takes up a lot of space. And we have about one sentence at the end that is -- could be the analysis, it could also be the lead-out. It's not necessarily as clear, and as a result, there's some room here for improvement.

So, I think that everybody is on track, you know, like it does do some positive things. It's not written solely from opinion or anything, but there's areas to improve. So, thanks so much, everybody. This is really great. I'm going to keep moving on.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Paraphrasing

Explaining ideas, information, or facts you read in a source using your own voice, including sentence structure, phrasing, and vocabulary.

[Slide includes a picture of someone sitting at a table with a laptop and also writing in a notebook.]

Audio: So, our next topic for tonight is related to paraphrase. Now, paraphrase is a foundational skill of graduate level writing. So, I'm really glad that we get the chance to talk about it tonight. However, it often can be a very confusing concept. So, to start, I wanted to start with a definition. Now, the definition reads “paraphrasing is explaining ideas, information, or facts you read in a source using your own words, including sentence structure, phrasing, and vocabulary.” So, when we talk about paraphrasing, we aren't just talking about changing a few words. We're talking about how to describe someone else's research and use it to support your own project without misrepresenting that information.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Paraphrasing

  1. Ensure you understand the idea, fact, statistic
  2. Go to a blank screen/page
  3. Imagine you were explaining it to a colleague
  4. Revise paraphrase and check against original
  5. Cite and use!

Audio: And since that concept can be hard to understand, sometimes the easiest way to talk about it is to talk about some tips. And that's what we have here. I wanted to provide you with some quick, easy to remember tips about how you can start to make that transition into paraphrasing. And the first one is that you want to make sure that you understand the idea or facts that you are trying to paraphrase. So, though you're going to put into your own words, you don't want to misrepresent the information. So, in these cases, I like to remind students that it's important that you start the sources you understand and you're comfortable with explaining. Because if you don’t understand it or it doesn't make sense to you, it's definitely not going to make sense that the reader once you put it into your own words. So, the first step is to making sure you understand and are comfortable with that idea, fact, or statistic.

The next thing you want to do is put that source to the side for just a moment, and pull out a blank paper, screen, page, or something. And take a few moments to write down how you might explain that same idea to a colleague. Once you do that, you can start to look back to that source and compare and contrast and start the revision process to make sure that you're making enough changes to the language, the words, the sentence structure, in order to make sure that it's not too close to that original and starting tosupport more of your ideas.

Once you have all of that information together and you're ready to go, the last step is to include a citation because that is the key feature that we don't want to forget about it, and once you've done so, you can use it, right?


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?

Original from Smith (2013)

“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 material.” 


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 (Smith, 2013).

[The webinar layout changes to open a chat box for students to type into in response to the chat question.]

Audio: So, in order to put all this into play, what I thought we could do is look at an example. Because this is a really great way to see how it is or isn't working. So, you can see here I provided you with a quick excerpt of an original source and a paraphrase. So, if you could do me a favor and read through both, and once you're ready, type in the box and tell me a little bit about what the strengths of this paraphrase are and what its weaknesses are. I'm going to go on mute, but I'm looking forward to what everybody has to say.

[Pause as students type.]

Okay. Great. Everybody is chiming in. You're all saying the things that I think as well, which is great, right. That… So, let me highlight a few things. I think that a lot of you are suggesting that there's thing that's it does well, which is that it's clear. It's not that difficult to understand. It's clearly changing the words and the order and the sentence structure, so there's a clear effort to put their ideas in their own words.

However, some of you have also suggested, and I think quite correctly here, is that it may be a little vague in one point, and that's related to those consequences between the original paraphrase which says APA format may be abiding -- may be prosecuted for intentional imitation, versus in the paraphrase, the author kind of changes this to may be accused of plagiarism, right? These are kind of different things, right? In terms of being accused of plagiarism versus being prosecuted for something, it's a difference of information that may need to be clarified in order to not misrepresent that original material.

So, these were all good points in term of it does certain things well, and other things it has some room to improve. And I like to look at this example because the key thing about paraphrase is that it takes time and it takes practice. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to not only practice on your own, but look at examples and kind of say what about this example works well, and what about this example doesn't work well? So that's one thing that I like about this example. And something that you might want to consider doing is you want to develop this skill more.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions?

Audio: Now, I think this is probably a good time to pause and check in with Claire. I know there's been some activity in the Q and A box. Are there any questions that you think we should address, Claire?

Claire: Sure. We have one that I think is really relevant right now. Is it best to place a citation at the end of a sentence versus at the beginning of the sentence? And this was a few slides ago, but the example had the citation at the beginning of the sentence because it was an in-text citation.

Miranda: Oh, so you're talking about the difference between an in-text citation and a parenthetical citation. Is that what you’re saying?

Claire: Yes, and is one better than the other? Is one more scholarly than the other?

Miranda: Right. Okay. What that is referencing to -- I'll quickly do this, although I'm going to point you to some APA sources at the end of this presentation, and those are where I would go to to kind of check this idea out more. But what we're essentially talking about is that with citations, there are two ways that you can include a citation, one is in the body of the sentence, which would be an in-text citation, which is why that citation appeared at the beginning of the sentence, versus a parenthetical citation is one where the author is not introduced into the logic of the sentence, but instead has been paraphrased, and as a result the author still wants to cite that source and they put that information at the end of the sentence in a parentheses. So, in that case, there's two different ways that you can cite something in the body of a paper. You can use both in order to kind of change up and make sure you're not repeating the way that you're doing citation, but I wouldn't say that one's better than the other. It's more about what fits the need of your idea at that moment or the source that you're using. I hope that answers the question. I know we're going to have some resources to talk more about it.

Claire: Thanks, Miranda. And I shared one of our resource pages in the Q and A box to everybody as well. And I think that's it for questions right now too.

Miranda: Excellent. All right. Thank you so much, Claire, and thank you, everybody, for chiming in. Keep those coming. I know Claire is eager to help.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Scholarly Voice

[Slide includes an image of a word cloud, including the words scholarly, writing, phrases, formal, tone, and more.]

Audio: So, the next thing I wanted to talk about tonight was scholarly voice. It's a key part of academic or graduate level writing, but it can be confusing as to what we're referring to.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Scholarly Voice

Goal: sound professional and informed

Scholarly Voice:

  • Formality
  • Neutrality
  • Clear, Direct Statements

Audio: So, when we're talking about scholarly voice, we're referring to the tone and language we use. And our goal here is to make sure that the tone and the language we use sound professional and informed. And you can see that we have three different boxes here that all kind of point to scholarly voice, and they're all different aspects of how you can create scholarly voice. The first thing you want to keep in mind is formality. Formality can mean a couple of different things. It can refer to remaining professional in how you express ideas or respond to other scholars' studies. So, not becoming overly critical, but remaining formal in your analysis and objective in your analysis. It might also refer to a difference in let's say scholarly writing versus an e-mail communication. In an e-mail, you might abbreviate things, you might use contractions, but in scholarly writing, you're not going to do those things. You're going to maintain that full sentence structure, full sentences, full words, phrases and whatnot. So, there's a formality to it that you want to keep in mind.

Another thing you want to keep in mind in order to maintain and cultivate a scholarly voice is neutrality. And what that means is you need to make sure that you remain objective in how you present ideas. So, you want to focus on ideas that can be backed up by fact rather thanking based on opinion and opinion alone. So, this is a little bit of using evidence and citations and some other factors that we're going to talk here in a little bit.

The last thing that we want to talk about is clear, direct statements. Now, clarity is a big part of scholarly voice. Oftentimes people believe that scholarly voice is about using lots of complex words or phrases that load down a paper with discipline-specific terminology or jargon. And while some people believe this wordiness creates the sense that you sound smarter, for a reader, it can often be confusing and it can be difficult for them to understand what you're saying if too much of that scholarly jargon is incorporated into your paper. So, it's important to remember to use clear, direct statements.


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, I will discuss…
  • The data will be collected. I will collect the data.
  • The scholar will argue… I will 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: And we're going to see an example here in terms of how you can do that by using point of view. Now, when we talk about point of view, you may be interested to know that there are situations where the use of the first person, and when we say the first person, we mean those pronouns like I, me, my project, are actually appropriate. Now, it is in specific situations, but I'm going to give you a couple examples. You'll see here that there are three. "This paper will discuss" shifts to "in this paper I" -- that's that first person, I will discuss. The data will be collected becomes I will collect the data. And the third one is the scholar will argue becomes I will argue. Now, I listed these example here because in each one of these examples, the reasoning for the changes is often relate today clarity. It is unclear who is completing the action in some of these sentences. For example, if you're working with a lot of source material, we may not know if this paper in the first example refers to your paper or someone else’s paper. Similarly, if you say something like the third example, the scholar will argue, it may not be clear to the reader what scholar you're referring to, if you're referring to yourself or you're referring to others. So, in this case, the first person is a great way to clarify who's completing the action in the sentence, who's doing the discussing, who's doing the collecting, who’s doing the arguing. It's about distinguishing your ideas from other's ideas and distinguishing your voice in that larger scholarly conversation.

Now, when we talk about using the first-person point of view, it's important to keep in mind that they should not be used to make opinion statements. You want to avoid phrases like I feel, I think, I believe because they're rooted more in opinion rather than evidence. So, as you can see in these examples below, I'm going to give you all three up front, there's a big shift here in how the first person is not being used. So, in that first one we see, "I think childhood obesity is a major concern." You get "I think" right away, which sounds like you're talking from your perspective and your perspective alone. Now, in the second example, it's getting better. It's an improvement. Child obesity is a major concern. That opinion statement has been taken out, so it feels like it's more of a statement of fact. However, it's not as clear here as to whether this information is backed up by supporting evidence. So, in the last one, you can see that there's that additional information. "Childhood obesity is a major concern, as 17% of children in America are obese," and included the citation. So, in this case, we can see that the citation supports that idea and demonstrates that it's based on fact-based evidence.


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: So, if we kind of keep moving forward, another way to talk about scholarly voice is to talk about generalizations. This is another really common thing that can happen when you're making that transition from undergraduate to graduate level writing. And the idea here is that you don't want to make statements that are too broad and could create confusion. For example, in this first sentence, “children do not get enough exercise,” the statement may be true for some children, but it may not be for others. So, if we look at the next example, it gets better. “Many children do not get enough exercise.” You can see here that the author tries to clarify that it only applies to some children, but we're not sure enough about some of the other information. For example, it, doesn't let us know what type of children it's referring to, like children maybe in a specific age range from 7 to 10 years old or maybe older. It doesn't identify how many students we're talking about or what counts as exercise.

Now, if we look at the third example, a lot of these questions get answered for us. “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 get that specificity in terms of how long exercise should be as well as what type of students it applies to and how many students it applies to. So, this is all good information to keep in mind.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Consider Your Audience

Who is your audience?

Outside readers & scholars in your field.

Audio: One last thing that I want to touch on in terms of scholarly voice is the idea of who your audience in and keeping that audience in mind. Now, when you're writing a scholarly paper, you can kind of assume two things: That there will probably be some people in your audience who are scholars in the field, like your professors. And your professor may be -- well, will be familiar with the terminology and research in your field. However, your audience will also include outside readers. And as a result of that, using too much technical information could be overwhelming, and you want to make sure that when you are bringing in technical terms into your paper, you're always providing ample explanation of how that information or how that term should be understood and applied to your project in order to accommodate your audience. So that's an important thing to keep in mind.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Style

[Slide includes a picture of the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition.]

Audio: Now, for time purposes I'm going to keep going cause we're reaching our last topic tonight, which is APA style. Now, you'll quickly find that we are not going to be able to talk about all the things related to APA style, but we want to touch on some highlights here tonight.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Style

What is it?

  • Style of citing sources and formatting writing
  • APA Manual (6th ed.)
  • Used by most social science fields, including most of Walden

Audio: Now, when we talk about APA style, the important things to remember are a few things. In a big picture, APA style is related to two different things. It relates to how you cite source, but it's also a way to format your paper as a whole. Now, you will find that the reasoning behind this is because you want to make sure that both your citations and the general format of your paper is consistent with how others are also presenting information throughout their field. The social sciences is a field that is well adapted to APA format and is used consistently, and you want to make sure that if you were ever to publish information in this field that it's consistent with how they also present information so that you're engaging in that larger scholarly conversation.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Style

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, 2014) OR Fitz (2014)

Audio: Now, before we go, I wanted to also make sure that we give you a couple of quick examples of APA style. And this is really what does it look like, and we're talking here about citations and reference entries. Because when it comes to the citing part, there's two parts. There's reference entries which appear at the end of your project, in a reference list. It includes all the information about the source so that your reader can go and find that source if they wanted to. And it can include the author's information, the publication year, the title, the page range, the retrieval information. That's what's going to appear in your reference entry at the end of your project on the reference list.

However, your paper will also include citation, and those are what appear in the body of the paper itself. They're abbreviated, as you can see, it's just the author's last name and publication year. An idea here is that a citation shouldn't disrupt the flow of your sentence, but instead they give that reader just enough information if they wanted to look at the source and pull that information, they can go down to your reference list and find it on their own and read more about that topic. Those are just two quick examples of what APA style looks like.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Style Resources

APA Style introduction page

Walden Templates (#1 course paper)

Common Reference List Examples

APA Citations & Style webinars

APA modules

Audio: Now, since we don't have enough time to talk about APA style in great breadth tonight, what we do have is a bunch of resources for you, and when I say a bunch of, I mean a bunch. We have a wealth of them. And these here are just a few of those source. What we have are a couple of resources and do keep in mind that you will be able to download the slides from this presentation and each one of these links are clickable. So, when you have a chance, my recommendation is just to dig in here. I'll highlight a few things. If you are just starting with APA style, this is your first course, your first term, first semester back from being out of school for a while, you might start with APA style. It's an introduction, it's an overview page.

If you're looking for a template to work with, so this is a paper that's already been formatted in APA style. For comparison, you might go to our templates. Our common reference list examples is just common examples that appear on the reference lists, so like a journal article, a web page, a blog post, something like that, you can see examples. We also have several webinars on APA style, so just like tonight but the whole focus would be on APA. In fact, next week, next Tuesday we have a webinar on how and when to include citations. So that would be one to keep in mind. But they're also recorded. This link will give you a bank of our past webinars. And then finally we have our modules, which is really your opportunity to do a little bit of a review on your own and you can pick a topic that fits what you specifically you want to review. So those are just a few to keep in mind.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Recap

  • Use scholarly arguments to join the conversation.
  • Keep your tone formal and neutral and your sentences simple.
  • Paraphrase mindfully and carefully.
  • Use APA style.

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

Audio: Now, since we're reaching the top of the hour, I wanted to give you some final takeaways and a bit of a recap about what we've talked about tonight. So, the first thing is you want to make sure that you're using scholarly arguments to join the conversation. It's been our running theme tonight. And we're talking here about incorporating analysis and evidence in order to engage with that conversation.

You also want to make sure that when you're presenting that evidence and analysis, you maintain a formal tone that is neutral but also uses sentences that are simple to present information clearly and not misrepresent information. That dovetails nicely into our third point, which is just keeping in mind paraphrasing mindfully and carefully to not misrepresent your source material. But you're also, on this last point, using APA citations and style to make sure that you're citing any information that you use correctly.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions:

Now: Let us know!   


Continue the conversation on Twitter with #wcwebinars

Learn more about synthesis and thesis statements:

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

Audio: So, these are just a few takeaways, but my final comment tonight is just to keep in mind that this whole process is just that, it is a process. No one learned these skills in a day. It takes time, practice, patience. However, the good thing is to not forget you are not alone. We are here to help at the Writing Center and we have lots of excellent resources to help you out along the way. So please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Do keep in mind you can always reach out to us at Thank you so much. This has been wonderful. I'm going to turn it over to Claire for any final announcements.

Claire: Thanks so much, Miranda. I think that you have answered everybody's questions that were coming into the chat box, although if anyone has anything pressing, we do have a couple minutes now if you want to submit really quickly. I was wondering, Miranda, if you could talk more for a minute about our writing center appointments, our paper reviews and kind of what students -- how students could use those as they're transitioning into this new phase of their writing

Miranda: Absolutely. So, we actually offer paper review appointments, so those of you who are still in course work or if you're further along and you're on your preproposal, your premise, or your prospectus documents, we actually do paper reviews of these projects. And all you have to do is sign up for an appointment through our myPASS system, and what will happen is that you will upload your paper and one of our writing instructors, it could be me, it could be Claire, we love to talk about writing, but we have a whole list of other instructors who will review your paper. It will be asynchronous, so you would upload your paper, we would download it, we would provide some feedback in the paper and then we would send it back to you. So, if you are working on a project, whether you are brainstorming -- I've looked at like papers that are two paragraphs cause they were just starting, or if you're in the final revision stage, it does not matter. We are here to help. And all you have to do is sign up for a paper review appointment and we'd be happy to take a look. Any other final thoughts or questions that came in? I know you're manning that box, Claire.

Claire: Yeah. I just got a follow-up question about are those paper reviews, are they just portions of the paper, or could they be the whole paper?

Miranda: Good question. Right. You can submit, it can be either/or is kind of an answer here. If you only have a couple of sections of a paper and that's all you want reviewed, that would be fine. You can submit a whole paper. There is a bit of a time limit for us. We spend about 30 minutes on a review, so if you submit a paper that's 25 pages, it's highly unlikely in 30 minutes that we would be able to get through that whole paper. However, what I will say is that at the Writing Center, we focus on writing patterns, so we try to look for something that reoccurs throughout the paper so that we may not get through the entire paper in our review, but you can use our feedback to apply throughout the paper. And once you've made your revisions, you can always set up another appointment and we could take a look at either the later pages of your paper or your revisions.

Claire: All right. That's such important information, I think. A lot of my students, you can make up to two appointments a week, so a lot of my students that I work with regularly will come in and bring in and I'll end up reviewing the first part of something and they'll revise the whole paper based on those comments, but will focus on the second half of the paper to see how those revisions went in our appointment later that week or at the beginning of the next week. So that's something you can try as well.

Miranda: Absolutely. It is a great opportunity to since you can make two appointments a week, you know, getting a couple revisions in and then checking in how you're doing, but also focus on those new materials as well

Claire: Right. I just got a question about if they can e-mail in their paper to the writing support e-mail? No, we can't accept papers in to the writing support e-mail directly, so you'll need to sign up in our myPASS system. I shared a link in there in the Q and A box that takes you to the page where you can register for that system. It's pretty quick. You just enter your e-mail and a little bit of information about your degree program. And then you'll have an account and you can go ahead and reserve an appointment. I'm hearing people say they can't hear me.

Miranda: Okay. I'll repeat what Claire said. Just in case you can't hear her, what she said is that she shared a link in the box so you can check out how to sign up for an appointment. And it's really simple. It's essentially just signing up with an e-mail and once you have set up your account, you'll get a confirmation and then you will be able to make your own appointment.

Claire: That's right. Do you have any final thoughts or words of encouragement for our students who are transitioning in this area of their writing?

Miranda: I would just say stay positive and proactive about it. It is a process. I once upon a time did go through it as well and it can be challenging, but one thing I'll say is that when it comes to writing, the progress you make often isn't one big step, it's the small steps that you take each day. And it may not show in the beginning, but over time, these skills accumulate, and it takes practice, but it will progress and we are here to help whenever you have questions.

Claire: Definitely. All right. So as Miranda said, if you have any questions, you can write into us at We have Twitter conversations, we have live chat. We have a lot of ways to get in contact with us. If you would like more practice and presentations like this, you can go to our webinar archive and review this presentation or other presentations there on a variety of writing topics. Thanks so much for coming in tonight and good luck with your academic writing.