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Webinar Transcripts

Life Cycle of a Paper

Presented December 3, 2019

View the recording

Last updated 1/5/2020



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

  • Recording
    • Will be available online within 24 hours.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Hello everyone, welcome to today’s webinar, titled “Life Cycle of a Paper”, I’m Michael Dusek and I’m a writing instructor in the Walden writing center, I’ll be working behind the scenes of today’s webinar. Before we begin and I hand the session over to today’s presenter Kacy. Let me go through a few housekeeping items. First, we are having a bit of an issue with our captionist this evening, they haven’t shown up, so I think we are having some technical difficulties there. For those of you who require captions, I will point you towards our webinar archive where you can find a previously recorded version of this webinar, that has captions. I apologize for any inconvenience there. I want to be honest about that, that our captionist hasn’t arrived tonight.

Also, we are recording this webinar, as I mentioned referring to a previous webinar, so you are welcome to access this at a later date via our webinar achieve. In fact, note that we record all of the webinars at the writing center so you are welcome to look through that archive for other recordings that might interest you as well.

Furthermore, we might mention a few webinars that would be a helpful follow up to this webinar during the session so, feel free to explore the webinar archive at your own leisure. Also, whether you are attending this webinar live or watching the recording. Note that you will be able to participate in any polls that we use, any files we share or any links that we provide. You can also access the PowerPoint slides that Kacy will be sharing which are located in the files pod at the bottom of the screen.

Lastly, we also welcome questions and comments throughout the session via the Q&A box. I will be watching, manning the Q&A box this evening. And I am happy to answer any questions that you may have throughout the session as Kacy is presenting.

You are welcome to send any technical issues that you have to me there also. Although note that there is a help option in the top right-hand corner of your screen. This is adobe technical support and that’s really the best option if your technical issues persist. But I do have some things that you can try if you are having some technical issues, before you go to that option.

Before you go to that option, okay. With that Claire I will hand over the presentation to tonight’s presenter, Kacy Walz.


Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Life Cycle of a Paper” and the speaker’s name and information: Kacy Walz Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Thanks, so much Michael. And then you all for joining us. This is actually one of my favorite webinars to present. Because I find it very inspiring to talk about these different steps are in the process of writing a paper and it gets me very motivated in my own writing. I hope that you all have a very similar experience.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Objectives

After this session, you will be able to:

  • Understand that writing is a process
  • Visualize the various parts of the writing process
  • Identify tips and strategies to use in each part of the writing process
  • Identify areas of the writing process you will work to develop or improve

Audio: So, after our session today, our learning objectives are that you’ll understand that writing is a process. That it’s not unfortunately, something that happens without any thought or happens without any effort. You’ll be able to visualize the various parts of the writing process, and I am going to go over a couple of different examples the different ways to do the writing process, or to enter the writing process. You’ll be able to identify tips and strategies that you can use in each parts of the writing process. And we hope that you will be able to identify an area or maybe a couple of areas of the writing process that you want to develop. Maybe part of the process that you don’t always or ever do, or something that you just want to improve on.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

What parts of the writing process do you find challenging?

For example, choosing a topic, creating an outline, revising, proofreading, etc. Feel free to write more than one!

Audio: So, before we get into our webinar, I’m curious, what part of the writing process do you find challenging. We have some examples there and do feel free to write more than one. I know for myself I find lots of elements of the writing process very challenging, so you would not be alone there. I’m going to give you guys a minute and a half and then we’ll move on.

[silence as participants respond]

So, in our opening note, we asked what your favorite part of the writing process was. And here, everybody provided some really great answers to that. I especially like my favorite part is being done. I also think that might be my favorite part of writing a paper as well. But by including those answers, and then answering these portions here, you are all establishing a really important aspect of writing. And that’s just knowing there are certain parts are going to build on each other and I think, also understanding the sections that are most challenging or maybe we like the least, is also so important and I am really glad that you all decided to join us on this webinar, and I hope we can give you some good ideas for making these a little bit less challenging or at least a little bit less scary. So thank you.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Circular and Recursive Writing Process

  • Prewriting
  • Drafting
  • Sharing & receiving feedback
  • Revising
  • Editing & proofing
  • Reflecting

Audio: So, the writing process, I’m always hesitant to give specific steps, because it, kind of corny as this can sound; it’s really a very personal process. But these are some general steps that we’ve come up for the writing process. There’s the prewriting stage where you are brainstorming, you’re doing all of the reading that you need to do, to have your sources. The information you are going to use and those citations, I saw a lot of people pointing out that citations were one of the most challenging parts and I can definitely understand that concern there. That’s part of the prewriting stage there. Planning and Outlining, and we are going to go over some different techniques that you can use for that.

And then you move onto the drafting stage, once you have a draft that’s when you can share your work and receive feedback. And then take that draft, revise.  We want to make sure there is a special, are not special, sorry. That there is a distinction being made between revising and editing, right? When you are revising, that is when you are really organizing your thoughts, you’re maybe moving paragraphs around. That is the really heavy lifting of the revision process, right? When you are editing and proofreading that is where those more minor citation rules might come into play, right? Or the different grammatical error’s punctuation errors. That is when he pretty much got your paper the way you want it to be, you’ve got it written out the way you want to submit it and you're just really polishing it.

And then another important steps that we are giving you, is to reflect on your writing. We are going to do a little bit of that I think that one can be easy to forget, or easy to feel is not important. I think that comment about the favorite part being done with your paper is really a good answer. Because that’s where that reflection comes in, that’s where you develop that writing voice and just keep building on those skills that you are always working on.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Circular and Recursive Writing Process

  • Prewriting
  • Drafting
  • Sharing & receiving feedback
  • Revising
  • Editing & proofing
  • Reflecting

Audio: We want to remind you all that the writing process is circular and recursive. What we mean by that is, that you might start one step of the writing process and then find that you want to move on to another step but then return to that first step, right? Here we have this nice little diagram where it makes it seem like this is a very organized, and very -- specific, or like distinct steps, right. But in reality, writing process tends to be a little bit messier than that.

You might do pre-writing and then get some feedback before you draft. You might want to draft before you receive feedback. Maybe you're even doing some revision of your prewriting. There is not a linear model to the writing process unfortunately. Sometimes I think that we think that there should be, or we feel like we are not good writers, or not being productive if we are not to following this linear model. But this is something hat I really think is important to keep in mind. Is that, the writing process is circular and recursive.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Process Case Study: An Assignment

              Sample prompt:

Choose a historical figure who lived by the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”  Write a 2-page essay convincing your reader of that person’s adherence to the golden rule.  Use examples and credit sources.

Audio: We are going to work with this sample prompt throughout the webinar. This is just kind of a simple topic that we chose because we felt it would be a good – I’m lost for another word to use as an example, it is a good example for talking through these different steps. Here is our sample prompt; choose a historical figure who lived by the golden rule; treat others as you would like to be treated. Write a two-page essay convincing your reader of that person's adherence to the golden rule. Use examples and credit sources.

Right away we know we are going to need to use citations to back up our points to. I think that’s definitely what’s really important. This is not just a general reflection on historical figure, right? We need to have some support.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Brainstorming through Freewriting

With the assignment now in mind, you could try freewriting.

  • Short 15-minute burst of writing anything that comes to mind on the assignment topic.
  • Don’t worry about structure, grammar, or spelling.
  • At the end, go over what you’ve written to see if you’ve narrowed your focus or have any usable information.
    • Did you discover who you think is an ethical historical figure?  This can now guide your research and reading from the library.

Audio: One great way to start is to brainstorm through free writing. Now that you have this topic, or this prompt you can do short 15-minute bursts of writing on anything that comes to mind when you hear that prompt or read that prompt. This I think is a really great technique if you feel like you have nowhere to go. The rule, the only rule for free writing is that you do not stop writing in the 15 minutes. I actually just use this process myself for a dissertation chapter I’m writing. And I think I wrote; I don't know what to write about seven times before I actually started getting into my free writing about my topic. Basically, it’s just a way to move forward, to not feel paralyzed by that blank page.

When you are free writing you should not be worried about structure, grammar, or spelling. Really, it’s just about getting those words on the page. I have friends who will do their free writing by hand and then just don't allow themselves to cross anything out. They are not self-editing and I think that can be a trap that writers often fall into, is that they want it to be perfect the moment that gets on the page, right? I know I do. By free writing on not allowing themselves to cross anything else, they're making sure all of their ideas are getting out, and it forces them not to pay attention to that structure, grammar, or spelling.

After that 15 minutes, or 10 minutes, or however long you decided to do the free writing exercise. Take a look at what you have written and see if there's anything usable in their if you are able to come up with any topics, for this example would help you in discussing an historical figure who you think is ethical, or who you believe follows or lived by the golden rule, right? Now, you can start researching and finding sources for that specific individual.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Freewriting

  • Question about assignment
  • Different possible topics
  • Honing in on specific topic

I can think of a few historical figures who might work for this: MLK Jr., Mother Theresa, Ghandi –but I guess I don’t know that much about Ghandi’s personal life. Although is this assignment really about personal lives, or is it more about people standing up for other people and against injustice? It seems like most of my ideas have to do with civil rights and freedom: people who stood up against authority to advocate for disadvantaged people. You know who might be fun to write about: Abraham Lincoln. Because he was both an authority figure and a game changer—he really inspired change while also being in charge. I feel like that’s unique among the other historical figures who come to mind…

  • Casual language
  • “Talk to yourself” about topic
  • Identify focus of paper

Audio: Here’s an example of what it might look like after you have done that free writing. I can think of a few historical figures who might work for this; MLK Junior, Mother Teresa, Gandhi -- but I guess I don't know that much about Gandhi's personal life. Although is this assignment really about personal lives, or is it up more about standing up for other people and against injustice? It seems like most of my ideas have to do a civil rights and freedom; people who have stood up against authority to advocate for disadvantaged people. You know who might have been fun to write about; Abraham Lincoln. Because he was both an authority figure in a game changer -- he really inspired change while also being in charge. I feel like that's unique among the other historical figures who come to mind. And so probably there would be a lot more written, but this is kind of where the most useful information, of this specific free writing exercise comes into play because all of a sudden we have a specific individual that this writer is interested in writing about, right? By throwing out a couple of different examples they were able to realize, you know, I am really interested in civil rights. I'm really interested in leadership, and people who had really significant impacts on civil rights. Here’s where when you're looking back at your free writing you can take some specific, helpful pieces.

In this example, the writer asked a question about the assignment, which I think that can be really helpful in prewriting. You want to make sure you are correctly answering the prompt, right? They have come up with several different possible people they can talk about. And then by talking about those random, or not random, or by talking about those other individuals they were able to realize who they specifically wanted to talk about. You’ll probably notice this is very casually written. We have… questions in general tend to be less formal. This person is kind of talking to themselves or writing to themselves as if they are having a conversation. The use of the word you, that’s more informal. You are really just trying to get any ideas that you might have about the topic onto the page and hopefully this will help you identify a focus. I’ll also say that I think free writing can be really helpful for getting out of a problem that you're having even if you are have your topic.

For myself, when I was using this process, I was struggling to connect two different arguments I wanted to make and I felt like they really did connect but I just couldn’t figure out what it was that was making it so I should have the specific paragraph after this other paragraph, right? So, I did some free writing about both of those things and eventually I came to the connection that I was subconsciously making which is the reason why I thought they should be next to each other. I just wasn't able to put it into words. Free writing can be really helpful if you are looking for a topic, but it can also helpful for getting you unstuck from that writer's block, or that feeling like you don't know where to go next.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Prewriting through Reading Critically’’

  • Reading critically is reading and…
  • Judging a source’s scholarly value:
    • Asking questions
    • Assessing the source and information provided
  • Considering your own agenda:
    • Viewing with your own interests in mind
    • Considering your assignment

Audio: You can also do prewriting through critical reading. We actually have a new webinar up on critical reading that both Michael and I participated in. You can check that out if you have more questions about specifically how to critically read. What that would entail and basically what reading critically is, is reading for evaluative statement. You are judging the sources value. You're asking questions, you are not assuming that everything that the writer has said is perfectly factual. You are assessing the source itself and the information it’s provided. If it is using the most up to date, or the most accurate, or the. Our sources use sources, too. We want to make sure they are getting their information from reliable sources as well.

You also want to consider your own agenda. Hopefully you will have a general sense of your arguments, or your goal for your paper. When you are reading you can see how whatever it is that you are reading is relating to your interests or is part of that overall discussion. But you can also use this, if you haven't specifically set on a topic. You can do some critical reading to see what our other scholars talking about how do I feel about what they are talking about. And that can be a great way to come to a thesis or an argument as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

What note-taking strategies (if any) have you used? What has worked best for you?

Audio: Here's another opportunity to share. What kind of note taking strategies have you used on what has worked best for you? Also, maybe if you don't take notes while you are reading, what kind of strategies you might like to try if there are any? Yeah. I'm going to give you another couple of minutes and I will go and mute. You can fill those answers into that chat box.

[silence as participants respond]

It looks like you have some great strategies for note taking. I really appreciate the individual who said that they are looking for some tips about notetaking. I hope that is something you will be able to take away from this webinar. I also love that, by sharing your own techniques you really are helping your colleagues, and your classmates get ideas for how they can tackle this important step of the writing process as well.

It looks like a lot of you have similar notetaking styles to myself. I have to have a physical copy of something so I can write on it, so I can highlight it. Put Post-it notes on it. Anything that is going to help get my attention to something I find important as I’m reading will really help me come back to that information and think about, why did I think this was important? How do I think that this could fit in? I also want to point out that your notetaking strategies do not need to make sense to anybody but yourself. I will often write a couple of words in the margins of an article or a book that I am reading and I'm pretty sure if anybody else picked it up they would have no idea why I included a smiley face in one margin, or an exclamation point [indescribable] -- but, when I go back and I look at those, I understand why I have put those notations. That is the most important thing. Whatever works for you, that is the key. Thank you all so much for sharing. I think you also have hopefully helped your colleagues as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Note-Taking

  • Excerpt from a book with student notes

able means unapplied?” But then after a short intervening paragraph he wrote one of his most notable expressions of charity, of magnanimity, that adds something even to the Second Inaugural: “I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.” If we did a full treatment of Lincoln’s virtues, we would deal at length with his magnanimity, his not holding grudges, his not seeking revenge.

                             Alongside his personal ethic there was his social ethic. Lincoln’s great distinction as the leader of the nation in a giant war would be that even though he understood the struggle to have a moral shape, and even though he saw the stakes to be immense, and even though he pursued victory in that war with great resolution through many disappointments, he did so in a profound way that avoided turning the war into a moralistic melodrama. He spoke of evil—slavery as a vast moral evil—but did not locate the evil exclusively among those he opposed. Nor did he absolve his own side. Lincoln did not require moral simplicism in order to be resolute. He achieved moral force without self-righteousness and moral clarity the other side of complexity rather than on the side of it. Lincoln would often use explicit moral language, and he would do so in a carefully formulated and thoughtful way that avoided the perils of self-righteousness and moralizing oversimplification. He would be an unmoralistic moralist.

  • Slavery as evil.
  • Moral language. But what about actions? Did he show this morality in action too?
  • No malice, no revenge. Proves that he was concerned with other people.
  • Admitting own faults and not being self-righteous.

Audio: This is an example of what it might look like as you are taking notes. This blue, or maybe turquoise colored font is a source that this writer is wanting to use. Here you can have, or you have for example some notes that that might be written in the margins. As this person was reading they noted, here is a specific point where someone is marking slavery as evil. We have moral language, what about actions, did he show this morality and asking questions about the article, there is an example of that. No malice, proves he was with other people. Here we have a note of how this author might use this specific piece of information. This is proof that Lincoln was thinking about other people. It wasn’t a specific issue of personal revenge or feelings of malice. He was really concerned with other people and that going to help argue for that ethical stance. Right?  And then, admitting own faults are not being self-righteous. Here I can remember, this is an example that I can also use to further support the idea that he really was ethical and he was treating people the way that he would want to be treated himself. These are very clear notes. But like I said, they just need to make sense to you.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Prewriting: Planning and Outlining

  • Synthesize your reading
    • What do those notes say?
    • What can you determine from your notes?
    • Do some of the sources say similar things while others say different?
  • Thesis Statement
  • Form an argument
    • What is the argument you want to make based on your reading?
    • What are you contributing to the scholarly conversation?

Audio: I think I saw somebody's favorite part of the writing process was synthesizing which is awesome because that’s such an important part. I also really enjoy synthesizing. I think it’s also one of the most challenging parts of writing for me. These are key points to take into account as you are writing those papers.

When you're synthesizing your reading, you're taking a look at all of those notes and thinking what are they saying, what kind of information do I take away looking specifically at my Notes? Do any of the sources seem to contradict or argue with each other? Just because sources disagree doesn’t mean that you should not use both of them, right? You are looking at how these different sources work together in that larger conversation. And then you want to form an argument, this is another really important issue, because you really can't have a scholarly paper without an argument.

So, you want to think about what the argument is that you want to make based on what you read, and what are you contributing to the scholarly conversation? You don't want to just have a bunch of citations next to each other and expect your reader to come to the same conclusions that you have. You are putting this information together in order to make something new. You are adding your own thoughts and ideas to this larger conversation. It's also really important that when you have that argument that you are making it really clear. So that, again, your reader might look at the same kind of information that you're looking at for the same kind of citations and they might come up with a completely different argument. Maybe not one that opposes your own, but maybe they’ll find some other important element to talk about and would take the paper in a completely different direction. You want to make sure it is clear what your goal is for all that information you're providing.

This is also your thesis statement. Something else I want to note is that when you are writing your thesis statement you want it to be something that someone else would maybe want to argue with. I think that’s a confusing element. One way to look at it is you probably would not want to read a five-page paper about how water makes a towel wet, right? That's not going to be interesting. You’re not going to be looking for somebody to prove that or to give you evidence. You want your thesis statement to make some kind of argument that a reasonable person would at least want some support for or would want to know more about in order to accept that statement.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

What is the thesis statement?

A statement of the argument you will show, prove, and support for your reader in your paper:

Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the Golden Rule

throughout his life.

Audio: So, here's another chat. What specifically is a thesis statement? What is its purpose in the paper? I will go on mute for a minute or two so you can put those answers in chat box.

[silences as participants respond]

Awesome. You all seem to have a good sense of what he thesis statement in other words, and I think this is very similar to what you have been writing in. A thesis statement is a statement of the argument that you are going to show, prove and support for your reader in your paper. For example, this assignment we might have Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the Golden rule throughout his life. That is something that is specifically answering the prompt that we were given. It also has some argumentative

Value behind it. Maybe someone is going to want more information about what it is that makes this writer believe that Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the golden rule? One thing I also want to point out is in all of your examples and all of your own definitions of a thesis statement, you are clearly pointing out that thesis statements goal is to let your reader know what the papers going to be about, right? But, one thing I often see on paper reviews myself are statements on sentences that I feel like the writer is trying to use as a thesis statement. But what is actually doing is telling me, as a reader, what the paper is doing. So, this paper will, or, in this paper I identify a major social issue. I provide a possible response to the issue, and I provide resources that might help someone else come up with a response. Those are also really helpful sentences. They can be helpful for your reader, or yourself as you are outlining. But, all of you can hit the nail on the head by saying, the thesis statement is what the paper is about, not what the paper itself is doing. Awesome, thank you so much for participating in that.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Prewriting: Planning and Outlining

  • Thesis Statement
  • Argument
  • Outline

Let your thesis statement be a road map for the argument in your paper, guiding

your writing and organization.

Audio: Continuing on with the prewriting stage. Having your thesis statement is a really great help in terms of outlining your paper. You can let your thesis statement be a roadmap for the rest of your paper. You really want that thesis statement to guide your paper because each paragraph and each, you know, sub argument that you make should be supporting that thesis statement. We have this little visual here of the thesis statement, you know, feeding into the argument, feeding into the outline. Once you have that thesis statement that will really help you in terms of organizing the rest of your paper.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Prewriting: Planning and Outlining

  • Prewriting: Build off the argument to “map out” a paper
    • Provides a visual of all ideas in your paper
      • Helps move from the brainstorm to your draft
    • Outline:
    • Establishes order
      • Mind Map:
      • Connects ideas
    • Gives “bird’s eye view” of idea progression
      • Helps plan where ideas and sources will be placed

Audio: You can build off of the argument to map out a paper. We have a couple of different ideas for ways you might do this in your own writing. There are probably many, many others. One is a mind map. Which is where you are creating a visual representation of your different ideas so that you can see how these different thoughts might connect. Mind maps can be really helpful because -- there is no specific order that you intentionally putting a mind map in as you create it. It's a more, I can think of the words, maybe figurative in an idea of what the paper overall is going to look like. If you're not really sure how you want your ideas to be organized. A mind map could be great because it won’t have you fall into that trap of thinking my outline is in the specific order and that means I need to write my paper in this specific order.

Outlines are also really helpful; I noticed some people said that was our favorite part of the writing process because it will establish that order and it allows you as a reader to zoom out from the paper as a whole and get an idea of exactly how your argument is going to progress. This can also help plan where you are going to be using specific sources and specific citations. I often think that maybe the outline would come after the mind map. But, outlines can also be great tools if you're still figuring out how you want to organize your paper, because since you are zoomed out you can see the different paragraphs in a way that you can't in the full paper. We also have some resources on something called reverse outlining which could be another great tool. But, similarly allows you to take that step back and see how your paper could best be organized so that it is most effective and most clear for your reader.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Mind Map

Illustration of mind map From

Audio: This is an example of what a mind map might look like. So here we have our thesis statement at the top. Everything else is feeding into or flowing out of that thesis statement. For this writer, they’ve decided there are speeches and writings that help illustrate Lincoln's use of the golden rule, or practice of the golden rule. And then also, his actions. If you remember from that prewriting that was one of the questions that the writer asked, right? I'm sorry, from the notetaking, that was one of the questions that the writer was asking of the source. Was, he is saying all of these great things. But what specifically is he doing? Then we have some examples. So, there are two, sorry, with the speeches and writing, this writer is specifically interested in the Peoria speech and then wants to remind themselves to include quotations. This is a really great example when quotations could be really useful in APA. APA style generally, wants you to avoid using direct quotations in in favor of paraphrasing. For something like inspirational speech, it might be a good idea to include some direct quotations or get this writer wants to remind themselves to do that.

And then, these are two different themes of that speech. Similarly, we have the actions, emancipation proclamation leading to the 13th amendment, and then addressing counter arguments is also going to be very important. You want to have that argumentative thesis statement, but that means that you have to be prepared to support, or to defend your statement against potential naysayers. What I really like about this visual is that even though there is this progression from the thesis statement to these two different subtopics and then they branch out into further subtopics. You can kind of see how maybe as I get to my outline, or if I just move into writing I could look at this and say, okay I actually want to talk about the actions before I talk about speeches or writing. Or I want to look at the 13th amendment that I want to talk about the Emancipation Proclamation, or do I want to talk about the Emancipation Proclamation first, and then the 13th amendment. Because it is more of a visual version then a specific linear, or -- I again I'm losing words. It's less static I think than a traditional outline.

This little link will take you to a website if you are very computer savvy or you want to build your mind map like this. Of course, you can just write it out.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Basic Outline

1. Introduction to topic/Thesis

  1. Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the Golden Rule throughout his life.

2. Lincoln’s speeches showed his belief in treating others fairly.

  1. Speech at Peoria established his hatred of slavery and the idea of seeing people as equal
  2. Include quotes from speeches

3. Lincoln’s actions toward freeing the slaves also showed his devotion to the Golden Rule.

  1. Abolishment of slavery in the Confederate states with the Emancipation Proclamation
  2. Paved the way for complete abolishment
  3. Address counterargument about political gain here

4. Conclusion

Audio: Here is a more traditional outline. This is what I meant by being a little more structured and more static. So here, this writer has decided the first paragraph is always your introduction, right? And where you have your thesis. Then the second paragraph is talking about the speeches and how those speeches illustrated his belief in treating others fairly. The third is going to be about the actions that Lincoln took towards freeing the slaves. And then I will have my conclusion. Maybe taking that mind map into consideration, the writer has decided that this is the specific order that they want to go in and all of these little subpoints are things that the writer wants to remember to include in that paper.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Drafting: Writing the Rough Draft

Develop sections of your outline and your argument into paragraphs using the MEAL plan:

M                    =            Main Idea

E                     =            Evidence

A                     =            Analysis

L                      =            Lead-out (including synthesis)

Audio: We often use something called the “MEAL” plan when we are talking about paragraph organization. This can be really helpful in creating an outline, because you have all of these specific pieces that you can check off and say okay, I have my main idea, I have the evidence that I want to use. My own analysis is so key. You are letting your reader know why you are providing them with that information and then your lead out which it might include some synthesis. When you're crafting your outline, a really solid outline is going to have all of these elements. Of course, this can also be a tool to go back and look at your writing once you already have a draft and make sure that each paragraph contains all of these elements.

So, you want to develop the different sections. You can use the meal plan. Also remember the meal plan, aside from the main idea and delete out and might be organize a little bit differently. You might have evidence followed by analysis, followed by more evidence, followed by more analysis, right? It is a mnemonic device to help you remember the most important elements of each paragraph to make sure each paragraph contains all of them. And then draft an introduction which include your thesis and the right to conclusion, right?


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Drafting: Writing the Rough Draft

Main idea (topic sentence): (a) short transition from previous paragraph and (b) introduction of the main idea or topic of the paragraph.

Contains citation(s) Evidence: Paraphrase or direct quote from a source to support or develop main idea.

Analysis of evidence: How should the reader interpret this information? How does the evidence support my thesis statement?

Lead-out or conclusion: Wrap up ideas and conclude paragraph.

Audio: When it comes to writing the rough draft. You've done your mind map and your outline. You can take your outline and start actually drafting. This is where you will add those citations, right? Here we have the meal plan a broken out again. We have the main idea is a topic sentence. You want to make sure it's providing some kind of transition from the previous paragraph as well as an introduction to the main idea or topic of that paragraph. We want it to make sense to our reader why we have organized the paper that way. We didn't just cut a bunch of paragraphs and stick them together in any order.

Your evidence is where you have the citation, and this is that part to where now it's going to be a little bit more important to provide those specific details. You don't want to get to the end of a paper and realize now you have to go back and figure out exactly where you have all of your information. Make sure you're just including that as you’re drafting. Your analysis of the evidence, how do you want the reader to interpret this information. Particularly in your context, right? How does the evidence support your thesis statement? And then the lead out or the conclusion which wraps up the general ideas of the paragraph, and is maybe also helping to lead into that next paragraph, or it can be kind of tying these ideas together so it is obvious for your reader how all of the information you have provided in that paragraph connects to your thesis statement.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: The Rough Draft

Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the Golden Rule in his speeches as president. These quotes from one of his speeches demonstrate his belief in equality: “The proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own, lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me,” and “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master” (as cited in Johnson, 2007, p. 45). These speeches show that Lincoln believed that people should be treated the way he wanted to be treated: If he wanted to be free and not be a slave, then nobody else should have to be enslaved.

Audio: This is what a rough draft might look like.  [Reading] Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the Golden Rule in his speeches as president. These quotes from one of his speeches demonstrate his belief in equality: “The proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own, lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me,” and “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master” These speeches show that Lincoln believed that people should be treated the way he wanted to be treated: If he wanted to be free and not be a slave, then nobody else should have to be enslaved.

We have our opening sentence, right? Our main idea is that the speeches are evidence of Abraham Lincoln's adherence to the golden rule. We have our evidence itself that is coming through those specific quotations. The analysis is where the writer is telling the reader that this is how they want them to interpret those quotations. They are showing that Lincoln believed that people should be treated the way he wanted to be treated. We also have the lead out basically ending with nobody should be enslaved. We have all of the elements. You can go back and tick all of those boxes on our meal plan.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Poll

When I write a paper, I typically…

(choose all that apply)

Audio: Now we have an option for a poll. When I write a paper, I typically -- and you can choose more than one of these responses. I will give you about a minute and a half to click on those boxes. And then I will broadcast the result so you can all see each other's answers.

[silence as participants respond]

Now you should be able to see how your answers aligned with your colleagues who are in this webinar, as well. It looks like people, at least some people are doing all of these. Some people do not revise, just submit the first draft as it is to instructor. Some proofread and revise the paper. But,3 only using their own feedback. Rely on past feedback from my instructor to help me revise. Submit my paper to the writing center for feedback to help me revise. And then share my paper with a classmate, friend or family member to help me revise. It looks like at least a few people do all of these. We really want to encourage you to at least do some kind of sharing of your writing. We will get into exactly why.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sharing Your Work

  • Grow as a writer by sharing your work with others.
    • Form a peer writing group
    • Partner with a classmate
    • Make a paper review appointment
    • Ask a coworker, friend, or family member

Audio: Thank you for participating in our poll. Sharing your work is really, really important for any writer. It really helps you develop your own scholarly voice. I think you can also help with some of the anxiety that I think can come out of writing. The idea that we want it to be perfect. We want it to sound perfect and not share it with anyone until it is perfect. But, by sharing work and also providing feedback for someone else's I think it can help that there really is that writing process. It doesn't just, a perfect paper doesn't just drop from the air, right? Here are some examples of things you can do to share your writing. You can form a writing group. Maybe looking for other writers in your area. I have recently joined a writing group through If you're familiar with that website. You can join or form a writing group in that sense. You can maybe partner with a classmate, or a couple of classmates. I know there are several Facebook pages for Walden students where they can connect.                                     

If you are talking a lot on a discussion board, or you are enjoying someone else's discussion post you can reach out to them through blackboard or e-mail to see if they would want to share papers. It is really, really helpful to have somebody else who has that same kind of background knowledge as you, has maybe done the same readings and has themselves attempted to respond to that prompt give you feedback, because they have all of that background information. You don't need to worry about explaining that to them, on the other hand, having that outside reader, a coworker, a friend or maybe that outside peer writing group can also be really helpful because it can be very easy as a writer to be trapped in your own head and realize, I have all of these thoughts, or I have all of these ideas. I have done all of this reading. But your reader might not have done all of the reading you have done. They probably won't be as much of an expert on the topic as you are. It can be really helpful to have those outside eyes look over to make sure that everything that you are writing is clear. That your argument is making sense and it makes sense how you are connecting all of your pieces.

And then of course, you can make a paper review appointment with a writing instructor. And then someone like Michael, or myself, will take a look at that paper and we can provide some general feedback. We can be those outside eyes that can let you know, here is where maybe I’m getting a little bit confused or where I'm not sure you're getting this information. All of these different strategies that you can use have really big benefits in different ways. I think the most important element here is that we do hope you will share your writing with someone else. I definitely know that that can be super scary, or maybe it feels like it is too much extra work. But it will really help you grow as a writer and commenting on someone else's paper is also a great way to help you grow. It might cause you to think about something differently. I know when I'm reviewing papers, myself, I often get really inspired by the students that have submitted their papers and it makes me want to go to work on my own writing. I'm so impressed by their ideas on what they are sharing. We really encourage you to share your work.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sharing Your Work

Audio: So, this is just another plug for making a writing center paper review appointment. We can provide feedback on any stage you are in, in the writing center and that includes if you've got an outline. We do need you to have something. We unfortunately cannot help you with the research part. Basically, any other stage of writing we can give feedback on. You can submit discussion posts and course papers. You can get feedback on any draft, first, second, final.

You can even submit papers that have already received grades on. We can give comments that you can use in the future writing projects, or may if you just have some confusion, we definitely won't comment on grades or anything like that. But we can help address concerns that faculty members have provided our feedback they have provided. Even if you already turned in that paper, we can still take a look at it and hopefully be helpful.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revising: Writing the Final Draft

Revising using others’ feedback:

Try not to get overwhelmed. Make a revision plan.

  • Start with the big stuff: Did the reviewer mention gaps in your ideas, confusing organization, or a missing introduction/conclusion?
  • Next, look at the sentence-level comments: Grammar, transitions, and APA.

Audio: Getting into the revising and writing the final draft. It can be very easy to be overwhelmed by feedback. I think maybe that is a reason that some people do not want to seek it out. Try not to get overwhelmed. One way to avoid that is to have a revision plan in place. First off you want to start with the big stuff. Maybe that seems obvious. It can be very simple, or attempting to go in and say, I misspelled this word, I just need to change the spelling here, or I need to add a comma. You want to start with the big stuff because you don't know if that comma or misspelled word is going to end up in your final draft. Look some of those things like the apps in ideas, organization, if you're missing portions of your paper, those are where you really want to start.

And then look at the sentence level comments. That is where you get into the grammar, APA, those more nitpicky elements. I really think if you try to do all of these files on the same                                        go around, that is when it gets overwhelming. You're trying to do too much. Breaking it down into these two steps can really help with that.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revising: Writing the Final Draft   

  • Revising on your own: Don’t be afraid to make changes.
  • Determine overall readability: Does it make sense? Does it address the assignment?
  • Check organization of paragraphs: Do they follow the MEAL plan?
  • Read aloud for flow: Is there a logical thread from sentence to sentence?  Is there repetition of wording or sentence structure?
  • Edit and proofread

Audio: Of course, several of you said you review your paper on your own, and that is another great technique. When you are revising on your own, our advice is to not be afraid to make changes. This is the saying that you need to kill your darlings. We can fall in love with how we have written something, and we think it's perfect and we don't want to change it. You want to determine the overall readability. Does it make sense? Does it address the assignment? Have I gone off on a tangent? Have I moved away from the original prompt? Look at the organization of the paragraphs. Do they follow their meal plan? Do they have those important elements? Read aloud for flow. This is a piece of advice that I give constantly, because it is so easy to correct things in your head to not notice things if you are reading through quickly on a screen, or a printout. But when you read something out loud it really forces you to slow down and look at every word choice. It can help you realize; I have used this word seven times in this paragraph already. Maybe I should try to find in word or figure out if there's a way to say this so that I can be more concrete, sorry, more concise in my writing, right?

And then again, editing and proofreading that is the final step. That is the polishing step.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Editing and Proofreading

Proofreading Checklist

Before submitting your paper to your instructor, go through these final checks:

  • Read the paper aloud and mark any areas that sound choppy or disjointed. Smooth out those sentences by changing structure or phrasing.
  • Run Grammalry, making any necessary grammar or punctuation adjustments.
  • Scan the document for possible misspellings. Determine whether the word is correctly spelled by looking at Spell Check’s suggestions or
  • Check formatting:

Title page

Running head in upper left, all caps

Page number in upper right

Double-spaced text

  • Match the sources in the reference list to those in the text (and vice versa).
  • Submit and breathe a sigh of relief!

Download the proofreading bookmark or create your own!

Audio: We have a proofreading checklist. You can download or bookmark the proofreading checklist that we have created. Of course, you can make your own. These are our suggestions and that you go through. Again, reading the paper out loud, running your draft through Grammarly. Remembering that Grammarly it is just a program, right? Stay in the document for possible misspellings. Checking the formatting is later on in the list, because again that is more of that polishing piece. Making sure that your reference list information matches up with the citations within your source.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Revising the Final Draft

The Golden Rule is an ethical guideline to treat others fairly and equally (“Golden Rule,” 2011). In history, there are many people who embodied this principle; however, President Abraham Lincoln lived by the Golden Rule most notably. In this paper, I will describe the beliefs and actions that contributed to Lincoln’s ethical stance.

              Lincoln was an effective wordsmith who used speeches and writings to deliver his belief in equality. In one such speech, Lincoln (1894) said, “The propositions that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me” (p. 195). In this way, Lincoln spoke of the freedom of all people. He went on to write, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master” (Lincoln, as cited in Rockler, 2007, para. 9). Therefore, Lincoln believed that people should treat others as they would like to be treated. Because he would not want to be a slave, he would not want to own slaves.

              Lincoln’s ethics were not confided to words; he also put these beliefs into action. When Lincoln was president, he ended slavery in the Confederate states with the Emancipation Proclamation and initiated the Thirteenth Amendment (Guelzo, 2004). Some researchers have claimed that Lincoln freed the slaves only for political gain and not personal ethics (Hofstadter, 1948); however, much more evidence points to an alignment of beliefs and actions…

Audio: And then, a sigh of relief at the end. Here is how the final draft might look. I won’t read through all of this, but if you do look you can kind of see how this draft has dramatically, not dramatically, but has definitely changed from that first version that I read aloud earlier and how this is an much more polished piece. Hopefully this writer read their work out loud so they can hear if there is overly competitive sentence structures or anything like that.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Reflecting on Your Writing

Think beyond the one paper in front of you:  What did you do effectively?  What would you like to improve? 

  • Managing time wisely
  • Researching and reading sources critically
  • Organizing information, creating outlines
  • Sharing your work with others
  • Revising, editing, and proofreading

Establish goals for your writing in your courses and program

Audio: The final step is reflecting on your writing. Again, I mentioned this earlier, this actually is a really important step in the writing process. Thinking about the paper you just submitted. You might ask yourself what did you do effectively and what would you like to improve.  You don’t necessarily need to write out or type out the answers to these questions. Although it would not hurt to do so. Just thinking about these things can really help you develop your style of writing. It can help you develop your writing process in general. I can help you establish goals for your writing, throughout your courses, and in your program.

Some things to think about as you are revising, how you managed your time? The research portion, how did that go? How did the reading, and were able to effectively take notes and really read those sources critically? What about your organization of information or creating outlines? Are there different methods you want to try next time? If you did share your work with others, I think reflecting on that the world didn’t end, that it hopefully was very helpful and worth that extra time and extra step. And then thinking about your revising, editing and proofreading. One thing I’ve had to reflect on my own is making sure I have provided myself with enough time for that. If I think about one deadline, I need a week, but then it turns out I am very rushed at the end for my revising and editing. Maybe I need to give myself 1.5 weeks in next time.

Kind of connecting to that managing time. And also thinking about revising editing and proofreading stage went.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What It Looks Like: Reflecting on Your Writing

  • Use sticky-notes
  • Keep a journal
  • Make a calendar

Audio: Of course, there are different ways if you could decide to write out your reflections. Sticky notes, you might keep an actual journal, a calendar where there are some very quick notes. Even those very quick notes are going to help you if you can keep track. I also think it can be interesting to see how your reflections might change from the beginning of your program, or the beginning of your course to the end.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Process Begins Again

  • It’s circular!
  • It’s recursive!
  • It’s not linear!
  • Prewriting
  • Drafting
  • Sharing & receiving feedback
  • Revising
  • Editing & proofing
  • Reflecting

Audio: Just a reminder the writing process is circular, it is recursive, it is not linear. It’s definitely not linear, I think trying to make it linear is what causes some anxiety.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

What parts of the writing process would you like to develop or improve?

For example, maybe you want to work on brainstorming, outlining, revising, etc.

Audio: Quickly, and we can maybe go into some questions as you are all typing in your responses to this chat. What part of the writing process would you like to develop or improve? Michael, while people are typing in that chat box, where there are a couple of questions we could go over? 

Michael: Yeah. First of all, we have captions, thank you for the captions for pushing through getting that going. That is awesome. Thank you. Beyond that. I was having an exchange with a student about the idea of research. This webinar has really covered the writing process. From beginning to end the lifecycle of a paper.  You want to talk a little bit about how research plays into that process? And may be, you know, how that can be thought of in the context of the lifecycle of a paper? 

Kacy: Definitely. Remembering that the writing process is not linear, right? So, it’s not like, I'm going to do all my research and then I'm going to start writing my paper. I think research really fits into your writing process in different ways, depending on where you are in your writing process. Who you are as a writer? But it can be used in the beginning, if you are looking ideas. Maybe you have a general topic in mind, but you are not clear about what the specific argument you want to make is. Doing that research and looking at what other people are saying can help you develop those ideas. It can help you further strengthen a point, if you already have your specific argument. I will often do some reading if I feel stuck. Right now, I am writing a dissertation at the moment and it is very easy to get stuck. But just reading what other people are saying can help me think about, oh, that is an idea I want to bring up. Or, that is a source I would like to cite. It really fits in and a lot of different areas in the writing process. I do think that you should not be afraid to do more research as you are writing or as you are in the process of drafting.  Also, don't fall into the research trap which I definitely have done in the past myself. All of a sudden you are researching, and researching, and researching, and you are not writing anymore. I hope that answers your question. Do you have anything to add to that, as well?

Michael: Yeah. I think you covered it pretty well. I mean, obviously there is a certain amount of research that goes into forming argument, right? That you do before writing. As you go on in your paper as you refine, and develop a depth in your argument, may find some are nuances in the argument you are trying to make. Often times you will return to research as you mentioned. But there is a limit, right? You do not want to be bogged down with too much research that might be getting off topic. That is what I said to the student, too. I thought this was a really interesting notion. You know, writing and researching are not these two separate these are two things that run parallel. You will be writing and researching at the same time. Other than that, I think we are good to move on, Kacy Thanks. 

Kacy: Awesome. I would also say, for sure, you want to make sure you are not just researching to support your argument. I think that can be a trap that scholars can fall into.  They have their argument in mind so they are only going to look at the sources that are specifically addressing that or are agreeing with them, or make their point sound really smart. Because I think, and we did not really have enough time to go through detailed reviews of the different draft examples here. But, as you are researching and you are writing, you might find that your thesis statement changes a little bit. Or you focus might change a little bit. I would say along without being afraid to change as you are revising our own work do not be afraid to change a little bit as you are researching if you find that would be necessary. As Michael pointed out, do not fall into the research trap.

It seems like people have a good sense of things that they want to work on. I can say with a large amount of confidence that we have resources for all of these different pieces that you are looking for help on. Definitely brainstorming and proofreading. We have resources for that. Lot’s of APA resources. We have resources for analysis, synthesis, and for, you know, all of these different processes. We hope we can be helpful there. All right, back over to you Michael to close out.


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

Learn More:

See our Scholarly Writing webinars

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Make a Paper Review Appointment!

Assist students in becoming better academic writers by providing online, asynchronous feedback by appointment.

Audio: Michael: Thanks again, Kacy, for this awesome webinar. She mentioned, you know, we have a number of resources that are available to you. The best place to start would be looking at the writing Center homepage and starting to familiarize yourself with some of the resources that are available. There is a number of tabs and links that would take you to pages that cover a myriad of writing elements of writing concerns. That would be a good place to start.

Also, as you can see on the slide, you can take a look at our scholarly writing webinars. This might be a helpful follow-up to our webinar. Or you can watch a video, what is academic writing? As kind of this larger contextualized piece about what are some of the goals of academic writing? What are some conventions of the genre? This is information that will be covered in the video.

Also, we mentioned, throughout the presentation here. We do offer paper review services. By all means, make an appointment with us and we will give you some individualized feedback on your writing that you can take and use. Again, it is specifically tailored to some of the improvements or opportunities and revision that a writing instructor like Kacy or myself see with a draft of yours. With that. I will say thank you. I will wish you all a happy day. Have a good day. We are going to close the webinar. Okay. Bye.