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Webinar Transcripts:
Introduce, Conclude, & Write the Abstract of Your Study

Transcripts for the Writing Center's webinars.

Introduce, Conclude, & Write the Abstract of Your Study

Presented September 13, 2016
View the webinar recording
Last updated 4/3/2017


Visual: The webinar opens with a main pod for the PowerPoint slides and captioning, Q&A, and files pods stacked on the right side of the screen. The PowerPoint slide is titled “Housekeeping” and details how to use the webinar features that Beth discusses.

Audio: Beth: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was wonderful to talk with you all in the lobby there. And I see we have many people coming from many different programs, with different focuses. So that's great to see.

My name is Beth Nastachowski, I'm the manager of multimedia writing instruction for the Writing Center. And I'm just going to get us started by going over a couple of quick housekeeping notes before I hand it over to our presenter today, Carey, and then she'll introduce herself and the presentation and we'll be off at that point.

So, a couple of quick housekeeping notes. I promise, this will be painless and fairly quick here. The first is to note that I am recording this session, so if you have to leave for any reason or if you'd like to come back and review the webinar or, really, any of the webinars that we do at the Writing Center, you're more than welcome to do so. We will be posting the webinar recording by tomorrow afternoon, so that's when you can expect to see that up in our webinar archive.

Also note that there's lots of ways for you to interact with us today. So some of you were taking that poll in the lobby and using the chat to talk with one another Carey has another poll and a couple other chats that she'll be using throughout the presentation. So, we encourage you to interact with her and your fellow classmates and other Walden students by using those and interacting.

There's also the files pod, which is at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and that's where you can find a couple of different handouts, as well as the slides that Carey is going to be using. And you can just download those by clicking any of the files that are listed, and then clicking download files. Also note that there are links throughout the slides that Carey has. And those links that are in blue are interactive, so you can click those and they'll open up on your screen so you can save them or take a look at them after the webinar as well.

Then the other way that you can interact is the Q & A box, and that's on the right side of the screen. And myself and my colleague, Dr. Basil Considine, will be monitoring that and we'll be happy to answer any questions or comments you have throughout the session. So please submit those in the Q & A box. And I know Carey will be stopping to address some questions aloud as well. So please feel free to submit those, and then some that would be useful for everyone to talk about, she'll have some time to do that as well.

If, however, you have any questions after the webinar, maybe we don't get to the question at the end, sometimes it can be, you know, pretty busy in the Q & A box and we do have to end the webinar at the top of the hour, so if we don't get to a question or if you think of a question afterwards that you didn't have a chance to ask, please feel free to e-mail us,, the editing team will be happy to assist you in answering any questions that you have.

The final note, if you have any technical issues, let me know in the Q & A box. I'll try to help as much as I can, but there's also the help button at the top right-hand corner of the screen for any significant technical issues. All right. And with that, I will hand it over to you, Carey.


Visual: The title slide for the presentation opens. It shows Carey’s name and job title. Carey introduces herself and the webinar.

Audio: Carey: Thanks, Beth. I'm Carey Little Brown, and I'm one of the dissertation editors in the Walden Writing Center. And what the dissertation editors do, or one of our primary jobs, is the form and style review, which happens near the end of the review and approval process for all doctoral studies and dissertations, any doctoral capstone.

Today I'm going to be talking about three aspects of a study that sometimes I think tend to get less focus when people are preparing and can, in the worst case, I think be an afterthought. And that's the introduction, the conclusion, and the abstract of a study.

And I just one caveat I wanted to make before going into our content today is that I did see that we have a wide representation of different programs in the audience today. And I will be talking about these components of the doctoral capstone in general, with the exception of the abstract, I won't be talking about the specific rubric requirements for different programs.

But I believe that there are some important messages and, you know, things to think about in writing that are common across all of these, and that's what we'll be focusing on. So thank you for coming today.


Visual: Slide #4 “Learning Outcomes: After this webinar, you will be able to …” opens. Four textboxes list the learning outcomes that Carey reads and discusses.

Audio: So, these are the objectives of the session today, what we're going to be talking about. We're going to first talk about some resources that you may be able to use in preparing your introduction and conclusion, as well as some common misconceptions about these components of the manuscript. And then we'll talk about the introduction in some depth, how to organize it, and so forth. We're going talk about how to develop a strong conclusion for your work. And then, finally, we're going to talk about the key components of the abstract and some ways in which you can prepare an effective abstract that has all of the elements that are going to be looked for when that goes for its final review.


Visual: Slide #5 “Doctoral Capstone Resources website” opens. The title of this slide is hyperlinked and the slide lists two key reasons to use this website. The main body of the slide has a screenshot of the homepage. Carey discusses the resources available there.

Audio: So, first of all, just an overview of some resources for you. Fairly recently the doctoral capstone resources website was introduced on the Walden website, and it looks like it's recently gone through a format redesign, which is why I've shown a screen shot, which is admittedly a bit hard to see here. But I like this site a lot because it brings together all of the capstone resources and support services that Walden has available, and there really are quite a lot, it can be difficult to keep track of otherwise in one place. So this has not only Writing Center resources but also Academic Skills Center, Office of Research and Doctoral Services, Library, and so forth. It's a great place to go to find all of the rubrics and documents and, you know, guidance and tutorials and so on relevant to your program and project in one place. So, there's a link here on these slides if you download them. And I'd encourage you to visit that site if you're not already using it. Okay.


Visual: The next slide “General tips and common misconceptions” opens. Two tips are shown which Carey reads and discusses.

Audio: So, first, before we go into these elements of the text in depth, I wanted to give some general tips and talk about some common misconceptions that we come across when students are working on these parts of a document.

First of all, a couple of tips. The first is to think of the introduction and the conclusion as, you know, as book ends for the work. And they should sort of mirror each other in some sense. I think that's why the book end metaphor kind of works. The central purpose of the conclusion is to show how you actually achieved what you said you were going to do in the introduction. And, so, they should really be not repeating one another, but certainly compatible and, you know, cohering into a narrative that, you know, that brings everything full circle.

And then the abstract, a metaphor for that that we often like to use in the Writing Center is the elevator speech, like say you have, you know, a minute in an elevator to answer someone's question, you know, about what your research was about, what you were hoping to do. The abstract is like that. It's just a capsule of all of the sort of central ideas in your overall study. It's certainly not comprehensive or all inclusive, but it gives the essence as you would if you were describing it to someone.


Visual: Slide # 7 “Misconception 1: The writing process should be linear.” opens. A common misconception is listed in quotes below the title with a clarifying statement below. Carey reads and discusses this.

Audio: And now a common misconception. A lot of students go into the writing process, which for the capstone obviously can be quite overwhelming because it's often the longest document students have written at that point, thinking that they need to do everything from beginning to end. You know, following the rubric. You need to begin with chapter, section 1, you know, and go from there.

And the problem with that is that the study tends not to develop in a linear way. So, that approach can be frustrating and tends not to work, and I think sets up an unrealistic expectation.


Visual: Slide #8 “In actuality…” opens. Three arrows pointing in a clockwise pattern are in the top right corner. The slide tells the participant that the study should be written in an iterative way with two key points listed. The bottom of the slide shows the literature review first, then an arrow pointing to the research design, and another arrow pointing to the study introduction. Carey discusses this.

Audio: So, we like to say that, instead, you should approach your study in an iterative way, meaning, you know, going back to the sections in a sort of circular fashion, you know, like the graphic here is suggesting. So even though it's a single document, it all needs to hold together, there's going to be continual revision and rewriting.

And I think having that expectation from the outset can be very helpful and can allow you to have more patience with yourself in approaching something this large. And, so, we encourage people to get comfortable writing sections out of order, which I think most people experience naturally in developing their study, but often the review of literature is the first element, really, that's going to be easy to write about, even though that tends to be second in most of the manuscripts. You know, it tends to be the first piece that you're going to work on. So there's no reason that you can't write some of that literature review material, you know, before you develop your methodology, you know, which would be usually the next section. And then the introduction, you know, the major work of writing the introduction may actually emerge after some of the material for these later chapters have already been written.


Visual: Slide #9 “Misconception 2: The introduction and conclusion are less important than the other sections.” A common misconception is listed in quotes below the title with a clarifying statement below. Carey reads and discusses this.

Audio: Another misconception that I alluded to at the beginning of the presentation is that the introduction and conclusion are less important than the other sections. That you can write it as an afterthought, that it's going to flow easily, you know, and can be done quite quickly, that these are just finishing touches. And the problem with that is that not only do readers expect high quality from beginning to end, but in many ways the introduction, conclusion and the abstract are going to be the most important parts of the work in that a lot of readers will only encounter, you know, -- a lot of them will only encounter the abstract, so that's quite important. That will be the public face of your work, to a large extent.

And then other people who may not be able to read the entire study might go to only the conclusions to try to figure out what you found in your research or may only get through the introduction. So these really do warrant special attention as parts of your writing.


Visual: The title slide for the next section “Introducing your study” opens. The body of the slide shows three bulleted key points about the introduction. Carey reads and discusses this information.

Audio: Okay. I will pause for a moment and I hope I'm not surprising you, Beth, or Basil, but are there any questions that have come up before I go on?

Audio: Dr. Considine: I think we're clear to continue.

Audio: Carey: Okay, thank you. All right.

So let's talk about the introduction in a little more depth. As I indicated in the discussion of how the writing process is iterative, the best introductions are often written later than the other -- than a lot of the other components of the document. And at least they should be revised after you know what you're going to say in the rest of the document. And as a corollary to that, I like to stress, as someone who conducts the form and style review at the very end of the process when everything has already been written, be sure when you are preparing your final draft to go back to your proposal chapters, especially the introduction, and revise all of that language to indicate that the study has actually been completed.

You know, if you have something speculative in the introduction, thinking about what might happen, that language, of course, needs to be revised to indicate what really did happen or, you know, at least to indicate that the study is now completed. And the process of writing and rewriting the introduction will also help you to understand your study better and get an overview of it.


Visual: Slide #11 “Beginning to write…” opens. A list of three steps to follow is shown. The first step has hyperlinks for templates, ORDS, and OSRA. A large green circle is at the bottom center of the slide. It is labeled “Your writing! Content, ideas, research, etc.” An arrow points to the circle from each side. The arrow on the left is labeled “Template & Headings.” The one on the right is labeled “Requirements & Guidelines.” Carey reads and discusses the steps.

Audio: So, in beginning to write in any program, you do want to follow the program's template and rubric, or checklist, which is often going to specify what the introduction needs to contain. And different programs are different levels of I would say proscriptive or, you know, specific in their requirements about what specific content needs to be in there. But each program does have some kind of document that will let you know. But, again, you can find on that doctoral resources page or on the Office of Research and Doctoral Services, which is also linked here.

And then when you've looked at that, it can be helpful to take, if there are certain sections or certain topics that you need to include in your introduction, to review those headings and create a preliminary outline. I know that's very helpful for me when I'm doing academic-type writing, to make sure that I'm covering all of the points that I want to cover in an organic way, you know, but also making sure that I can check off all those boxes. And then you want to, you know, use any templates and requirements to keep things in mind as you write, not only about content but, you know, about the other, you know, structural requirements of your document.


Visual: Slide #12 “Goal of the introduction to your study” opens. This slide shows a list of five key ingredients for the introduction. Carey reads and discusses these.

Audio: So, the introduction of the study establishes kind of the key ingredients or ideas of your research. So typically it's going to include the following components. Background information on your topic, definitions of terms are in every study in the introduction, major theories that form your theoretical or conceptual framework and related concepts, and then -- so that's all giving an idea of the field of information that you're entering and what you're talking about. And then the introduction also should introduce the problem and letting people know what specific issue the study addresses. It's going to present the research question or questions so that the reader knows what you were trying to find out in your study. As well as a brief overview of the method and design, how you're going to try to find out what you're trying to find out. And then, finally, the introduction will give some indication of the social purpose and significance, both social and academic purpose and significance of the work that you're conducting. Why do you want to know this, you know, and how does it matter, you know, to your academic field, to the world at large.


Visual: Slide #13 opens with a chat prompt. The layout changes so that the slide shrinks to the left half of the screen. The Q&A and captioning pods are in the top right corner of the screen. The files pod is not available. A chat pod is below that. Carey reads and discusses the prompt and then the responses as they appear. The example for the activity is: Throughout history, people have strived to improve relations between elderly patients and their primary caregivers. Researchers in the 21st century have focused primarily on the role of health care providers in facilitating this relationship, yet no scholars have considered the extended family members’ role in the patient-caregiver relationship. This study will address this gap in the literature and, in doing so, help strengthen the bond members of these two groups share with one another.

Audio: So, with all those things in mind, we have an activity that I'm hoping that you'll participate in. I'm going to open up the chat box, and there's some opening lines that we'd like you to read and just, if you're willing to share your insights on that, let us know what you think of these opening lines. And I'll give a moment of silence for everyone to have a chance to read that and comment as you'd like.

I'm seeing some great comments coming in. I'm going to give another minute or so to give everyone a chance to comment who would like to. Oh, and one thing perhaps I should have clarified in going into this slide, this is an example of how a study might begin. These sentences are not going to encapsulate everything about the study. So we're just looking for your perceptions on how this would read to you, you know, if you were the reader, opening up the study and reading that first paragraph.

Yeah, I see some great points coming in the chat box and I wanted to highlight a few of those. But feel free to keep typing if you'd like to, and I will try to look back and see what's been added there. A lot of people noted that, you know, while this -- this isn't a terrible introduction, and there are certain, I think, good qualities to this beginning of a paragraph in conveying some of the ideas. There is a very broad feeling to it, a lack of specificity. And I think that's -- in reading this myself, that's the first thing that jumps out to me.

I saw a great comment that I think now has scrolled up because new things have been added, where someone was noting that, you know, making the claim that something is true throughout history is really very difficult to defend. You know? How long is history? And what evidence do you have of this? So, in general, I tend to advise student writers to be cautious in using these really broad generalities, you know, especially to begin a study.

And I think in our writing education, we learn, I think, to always begin broad. And I think that's -- you know, that can be a good impulse when you're giving background on a topic, but you don't want to go so broad that you're making claims that you can't ultimately defend with some kind of evidence, you know, if you need to later in the discussion. And, in general, I think people were noting that, you know, that people that are being referred to here, you know, the specific population of interest here could be refined a bit more so that it's clearer to the reader what's being targeted here.

And I think in that second sentence several people had noted that making a claim that no scholars have considered a certain topic, it can be a dangerous thing to do because how comprehensive is your knowledge of the literature? Can you make a claim like that?

And I'm just going to look and see what else has been added here in the comments. Yeah, I see -- I think the main theme coming out of the comments is the same thing that I would say is the main issue here, that there's not a lot of specificity. And I think in writing this kind of material, introductory material, background material, it can be a delicate balance to try to figure out how to sort of convey the broader relevance of your specific topic to your field, to society at large, while still being grounded enough that the reader knows really specifically what you're talking about and what your study was conducted in an attempt to do. You know, what specific gap in the literature you're filling.

But with that being said, I think that this example does have some, you know, some strong qualities in that it is trying to bring in some of that background and situate the study in the context of the current literature, although there could be more citations and so on to fill that out. And it's alluding to the social significance of it. But, again, there could be more specificity there. So, I'm just seeing if there was anything else here. All right.

And I think I'll pause here, actually, before we go into the next section of the presentation, which deals with the concluding parts of the manuscript, and see if there's any questions that have come in through the question box that I could answer. Beth or Basil, is there anything that would help for me to address?

Audio: Dr. Considine: Just some brief reminders from questions. If you want to download the slides when we're not in this screen, select from the files pod. We have had a couple questions asking about the difference between the prospectus and the proposal version of the same material and the final chapter version. So if we have a little extra time and you want to say a couple remarks about that, that would be great.

Audio: Carey: Basil, you're welcome to contribute to this, too. I'm always a little bit hesitant to talk about the specific requirements for these documents because there is so much variability across programs. And, Basil, is the prospectus, like, limited to the PhD program or do others now have a prospectus also?

Audio: Dr. Considine: Sure. That's a great question. And to just clarify.

Audio: Carey: Yeah, because of that I -- yeah, go ahead, Basil.

Audio: Dr. Considine: Every doctoral program will have something like a three-stage process, where you have a preliminary proposal for what you do that's called the prospectus in some programs, and this leads to a more detailed version that is formally called the proposal, and you need the first stage approved to write the doctoral proposal, the doctoral capstone proposal, and you need the proposal approved to write the final study or dissertation, and in each of these stages there are more details that you add in and additional sections, among other things, because before you have what's usually called the prospectus approved, you're not allowed to present your IRB application to do your research. So you won't be talking about that.

And then the final section 1 or chapter 1 will reflect what you did so there's more detail you have to put in beyond what was in the earlier stages. But it's intended to grow organically. You go back, you expand, you put in additional information, and each program has its own material which usually include a rubric or checklist of things that you need to put in for each one.

Audio: Carey: Thank you, Basil, I think that's an important point. And was there anything else that we could talk about before going into the next part of the presentation?

Audio: Dr. Considine: I think we're all set.

Audio: Carey: Well, thank you.


Visual: The layout returns to the previous setup. The title slide for the next section of the presentation “Wrapping everything up: So what? What now?” opens. It shows two statements about the conclusion of the study. Carey reads and discusses these.

Audio: Okay. So, this slide is perhaps a bit manage leading because it looks like the presentation's going to be over, but, in fact, when we're talking about wrapping everything up here on this slide, we're talking about the conclusion. So we have a way to go still. But the conclusion obviously wraps everything up, and it should indicate in relation to the research, answers to the questions, so what and what now.

As I said at the beginning, at the end of the study you need to show that you've fulfilled the promises you made in your introduction about what you were going to do in your research. And in that sense, you know, it should kind of mirror or echo the introduction without repeating it. And what you do specifically to conclude your research does vary quite a bit by program. So there's going to be different content requirements for the dissertation, doctoral study, and project study.

And what we're focusing on here in our presentation are those elements that, you know, form summary and conclusion, you know, in the final part of your document, you know, as well as addressing, you know, implications and recommendations, which are going to be common across studies, but there's some other elements, like, for instance, some of the programs have more space for personal reflection. We won't be talking about because they're program specific.


Visual: Slide #17 “Wrapping everything up…” opens. Directly below the slide title is a graphic with three large ovals overlapping horizontally. The ovals are labeled “Introduction,” “Body: Chapters/Sections,” and “Conclusion.” A green arrow above the ovals points to the left and one below the ovals points to the right. Two key points about conclusions are bulleted below the graphic. Carey reads the points and discusses all of this.

Audio: Now, again, the conclusion of the study needs to be fully consistent with the information in the introduction. The scope of these two elements should be roughly the same. You shouldn't have a lot of topics in one that isn't addressed in some way in the other. But that isn't to say that it should be a cut and paste from the introduction to the conclusion with, you know, tenses and minimal changes. It just should be consistent. And everything should flow ideally through the document, from the presentation of evidence and your findings and your explanation of them. All of these should be consistent with one another and there shouldn't be any big sort of disconnections of focus or scope between any of those elements.

Visual: Slide #18 “Misconception 3: Studies do not include persuasion or opinion” opens. A common misconception is listed below the title followed by a clarifying statement. As Carey reads and discusses this misconception, an examples for persuasion and opinion/recommendation appears.

Audio: So, in dealing with the conclusion, we can talk about another common misconception that we hear in relation to doctoral work, and that's that there's no place for persuasion or opinion in this kind of academic writing.

And while you don't want to be making a lot of unsupported claims and opinion statements that you can't defend, there is a strong element of persuasion and even opinion in this kind of writing. And there's a couple of examples here. So, persuasive writing might look something like this. Responses in this study indicated that 47% of struggling readers benefitted from after-school tutoring. Administrators should consider funding for tutoring programs... So, their persuasive statement is emerging out of data, you know, is supported by data. And the overall tone still remains quite academic.

You'll also be making, to some extent, opinion statements in the context of recommendations. Which is shown in the previous example and in this one. Researchers should study the impact of afterschool programs on students who struggle in math. So, you know, these show there is a strong persuasive element in this kind of writing. And that's going to be coming out in your concluding elements of your draft.


Visual: Slide #19 “Goal of the conclusion to your study” opens. Four bullet points for take-aways from the conclusion are shown. Carey reads and discusses these.

Audio: So, the goal of the conclusion overall is to give the takeaway, you know, take-home message basically of your research for the reader. So there's going to be interpretation and discussion indicating what you found out and how did it fit in with other studies, applications and implications of your work, and that should be showing what can be done with your results, you know, how can other people take your work forward in various ways. And what do your results mean for the field, you know, for research, you know, for society?

And connected with that are the recommendations, which also address what comes next. And then typically there's going to be some element of reflection or conclusion, which, as I said, it's going to be more personal in its tone in some programs than in others, that shows, you know, what was learned or what you learned through the research.


Visual: Slide #20 “Beginning this section” opens. Two key points are shown for the overview. As Carey reads and discusses this.

Audio: So, typically at the beginning of the conclusion you give some kind of brief overview of why and how the study was done. Some of that will be a bit repetitive, but ideally your language isn't exactly repetitive of what you've used before, but you're going to usually be restating or summarizing the research questions and issues and giving a short summary, again, of the findings which were explained in a lot more detail in a previous section. There shouldn't be anything new at this point. The language might be new. Ideally it should be new because it's more interesting to read. But the findings themselves, there shouldn't be anything new coming out in the conclusion. It should have all been presented. And you're just distilling it down to -- boiling it down to really the essence of the most important things that were learned from the research.


Visual: Carey reads and discusses the example that appears at the bottom of this slide.

Audio: And here's an example of, you know, what the beginning might look like. To explore connections between adults' past learning experiences and current reading practices, I collected surveys and interview data from ten adult participant who disclosed a history of struggling to learn to read. Data analysis indicated the intrinsic role of agency and the extrinsic role of social expectations for adults who are limited readers. The data revealed the lived experiences of these participants.

And that's just an example of how the concluding section might start. That it's indicating why the study was conducted, you know, how that was done very briefly and a few key points that were discovered through the research.


Visual: Slide #21 “Interpretation of findings” opens. Four key points are list3ed at the top of the slide. Carey reads and discusses these.

Audio: In addition, the findings are going to be interpreted, to some extent, in this section, in the discussion element of the concluding chapter, section. And you should be ensuring at this point that all of the research questions are being addressed. That you're referring back to data from the findings so that everything is concrete. And you should be relating everything back in the final section or chapter in discussion, you know, and conclusions to the larger body of literature to the field as a whole and, again, kind of bringing everything together, you're also bringing in how the findings relate to your theoretical and conceptual framework.


Visual: An example of this section appears at the bottom of the slide. Carey reads and discusses this example.

Audio: So, here's another example just to make that a little more tangible. If you had the research question, what is the relationship between strength training and self-esteem among men ages 55 to 64, you might have something in your manuscript like this, in your concluding part of it. In this study, the data indicated that self-esteem increased among participants according to the time they spent lifting free weights at home. These findings suggest that self-esteem aspects associated with going to the gym in other studies were not necessary for participants to benefit from at-home exercise in this study.

And you might have -- the wording could be refined here, I think. But this is successfully, I think, you know, indicating the findings, you know, and referring to the study's larger place in the literature in relation to those findings.


Visual: Slide #22 “Implications for social change” opens. Two points about social change are listed. Carey discusses these.

Audio: And when you're also making these points and having this discussion, you're also going to be coming back to the question of how does your study have implications for positive social change, which is common to all of the capstones at Walden and all of the research, is that everything should be, to some extent, forwarding on a small or large scale positive change in society. And this issue's addressed in the conclusion in a way that harkens back to the introduction and results.

And one thing that we like to stress in talking about how to write about these implications, which I think can be quite difficult as a task for a lot of students, is it's usually best to talk about -- I would say always best to talk about the implications in terms of tangible, concrete improvements for specific groups.


Visual: Carey reads and discusses an example when it appears at the bottom of the slide.

Audio: And here's an example, something you might find in the study. One implication for social change resulting from this study involves helping caregivers use social media to develop support networks. Sharing resources can widen caregivers' circles of support beyond medical personnel when caring for older relatives with limited mobility. Caregivers with wider support bases could envision themselves as contributing both to the well-being of relatives and to the quality of caregiver communities. And, so, this indicates various things that could flow from the findings.

But the one thing I would say if I were reviewing this would be that the way in which these things would be achieved, you know, these implications would be realized is not entirely clear from this, like, who's implementing programs that would achieve this, that would widen caregivers' circle of support, but I would assume that this being an excerpt, it would be expressed elsewhere in the text.


Visual: Slide #23 “Recommendations for action” opens. Carey reads and discusses the three points listed.

Audio: So, recommendations for action, you know, the implications need to be consistent with the rest of the study. They should flow from the conclusions and should be reasonably concrete so that a reader would have an idea of what steps you could take based on the research towards some kind of useful action.

Again, the audience needs to be indicated in recommendations, you know, who would be affected by these results. Who is the ideal audience for your research, who can do something with your research? And typically in this section, too, you talk about how the results might be circulated, how you're going to disseminate your research.


Visual: Carey reads and discusses the example that appears at the bottom of the slide.

Audio: So, here's an example of some recommendation language. In light of these findings, I offer three recommendations. The first recommendation is for educational leaders to acknowledge the value of identifying agency in students who struggle with reading. The second recommendation is for literacy leaders to expand instruction to include the six processes developed by Roja and Wu. The third recommendation is for educators to augment self-esteem curricula, especially for younger struggling readers.

So, I think this has the strength of, there's a clear, like, audience or, you know, target group for each recommendation. And -- although -- these are broad categories, but we're mostly talking about educators, you know, people who are leading literacy initiatives, that sort of thing. And I think these are -- you know, these are reasonably concrete so that I have an idea of what this might look like, what it might look like to implement these recommendations.


Visual: Slide #24 “Recommendations for further study” opens. Carey reads and discusses the information.

Audio: There's also in the recommendations space to identify topics that could generate new questions, things that you didn't -- you weren't able to study within the scope and limitations of your research but that would be productive for other people to pursue in future research.


Visual: Carey reads and discusses the example that appears at the bottom of the slide.

Audio: And there's another example of that kind of language. This qualitative study has generated questions for future research beyond the scope of this study. These questions concern three areas. You know, and then it lists them. To address these areas, qualitative or mixed methods research may be more appropriate than quantitative work because participants' self-reported perceptions can reveal rich data, you know, et cetera.

So the writer here is giving a clear idea of some areas where they think future work would be productive and the kind of research that might be conducted to meet those gaps.


Visual: Slide #25 “Take-home message” opens. Carey reads and discusses the brief information and then the example at the bottom.

Audio: And then, finally, your conclusion needs to have a very clear take-home message for the reader, as I said before. And that's achieved with a strong, clear concluding statement. And here's an example of how that might look. As the findings of this study indicate, the strategies and day-to-day practices that managers use to lead their teams contribute to the success of start-up businesses. Those who use collaborative approaches to leadership or who develop those approaches over time have a greater chance of meeting expectations both of employees of their teams and of supervisors to whom they report. Workplace environments that value collaboration can result in employee and organizational growth. And there's a little anthropomorphism in there, as you might notice, which we can address if you'd like, you know, an environment can't value something. But I think, in general, you know, this does convey a fairly strong message about the importance of collaboration. So the reader would have a succinct idea based on the succinct statement of what to gather from the research.


Visual: The title slide for the next section “Writing the abstract” opens. Below the title is a phrase “Boiling it all down.” An illustration of a cauldron over a fire is to the right. Carey pauses for questions.

Audio: So before we go into the abstract, I wanted to pause again to see if there were any questions. Basil or Beth?

Audio: Dr. Considine: Can you hear me now?

Audio: Carey: Yeah, I can hear you. I couldn't before.

Audio: Dr. Considine: Including about the specific sections that need to be included and whether you can use -- whether you can use "I" statements, personal pronouns in the abstract, the answer is no. And can you use language like "these findings suggest," which as you and I have discussed before, the people who wrote the APA manual have clarified, yes, you can say, "the findings suggest," because it's like saying, the clock says it's 1:45, it's just a statement of fact.

Audio: Carey: Yes. Well, I won't get into the abstract questions yet because we'll talk about that in some more detail in just a moment. Although I will say, as you indicated, Basil, the abstract is the one place in the study where you should not use the first person pronoun "I." Elsewhere in APA style, if you're referring to yourself, an action that you've taken, and this should be true in all programs, it's certainly true for the purpose of the form and style review that we conduct for all programs at the end, you're allowed to refer to yourself with a first person pronoun, I, me, my, et cetera.

And, in fact, that is often the most reasonable thing to do when discussing, you know, something that you did. We don't accept the researcher, the author, and other third-person terms to talk about yourself because we're applying APA guidelines. I know there are other academic conventions or other academic styles where the convention is to refer to yourself in the third person, to maintain a super objective tone I think is the impulse. But in APA, for the purpose of clarity so that the reader always knows who you're referring to, you are allowed to refer to yourself in the first person.

And in carrying on about that, Basil, I think I may have lost track of whether we had another question. Was there anything else I should address right now? Rubrics, I think. That's what else I heard you ask about.

Audio: Dr. Considine: Well, I can say something else really quick there. Be always aware of what the most recent version, what the current version of your program's rubric is because sometimes the requirements do change and you want to have the latest one, which you should go to the ORDS website, which I think we shared a link to that earlier, you should see in the Q & A box.

Audio: Carey: Yes, I absolutely support that statement. And this is a challenging session, I think, for us to do because, you know, there are so many content requirements that we can't address because it's going to vary by program in the introduction and conclusion. And I strongly encourage you, you know, early and often, you know, to refer to the rubric documents because they really can be helpful in structuring the writing process. And in outlining and so on, as I mentioned earlier.

The abstract is one area where I think you see a lot more commonality across studies, and where we're looking in the form and style review and near the very end of the process when your title page and abstract go for review at the chief academic officer's office, they're looking for the same things across programs, more or less. And, so, we have a bit more concrete detail to talk about here. And if it's all right, I'll go into that content now.


Visual: Slide #27 “APA and Walden formatting guidelines” opens. Four key points are listed for writing the abstract. At the bottom of the slide is a textbox with a reminder to consult pages 25-27 of the APA manual. Carey reads and discusses this information.

Audio: Okay. So, some basic formatting guidelines for the abstract. It should be one block of text. And that means it's not indented like the rest of your paragraphs. It should be double spaced. Justified only on the left. It needs to fit on one page within the required margins for the capstone. If it goes over a page you'll be asked to trim it down. In the abstract only, all numbers are expressed as numerals unless they're at the beginning of a sentence. And that's done basically as a way to conserve space.

There should be no references or citations in an abstract. So if you refer to a theoretical framework, you're not going to include the citation that you might have later when you talk about that in more depth. You would just mention the author's name, but you don't have anything parenthetical. And typically not a lot of statistical notation. It is a broad overview.

And there's a treatment of this in the APA manual and there's some page number reference here if you'd like to look at the APA guidance in more detail. There are also a lot of resources available at Walden, specifically on the abstract.


Visual: Slide #28 “Abstract assistance” opens. At the top is a reminder to consult with members of the capstone committee for help. The Office of Research and Doctoral Services/OSRA is hyperlinked and their resources for assistance with the abstract are listed. Carey reads and discusses this all of this.

Audio: The key person to talk to, of course, is your chair. Your committee member and URR may also provide you some really useful help in meeting all of the Walden requirements related to the abstract and making sure that the content is effective as it can be.

And there's also a link here to a number of abstract resources that are gathered together at the Office of Research and Doctoral Services. There's a Walden abstract guidelines document, an abstract primer, some self-paced tutorial material and a video that can all be useful to you. So after this presentation or whenever it's convenient for you, I would recommend checking those out.


Visual: Slide #29 “Abstract elements: First-draft outline (1)” opens. The beginning of an outline for the abstract is presented. Carey briefly reads and discusses these elements.

Audio: Now, this I will go over fairly quickly, but this is a useful outline that was created in our department indicating some of the main elements that we typically see or want to see in an abstract. And I find this useful actually when I'm reviewing abstracts to make sure that it meets all of the criteria that we're looking for in an abstract.

That having been said, you don't need to structure your abstract exactly like this. This is a helpful outline that can help you make sure that you are getting all of the content in the abstract that needs to be there. But this is meant just as a helpful tool. By "this" I mean the list on the next two slides. And we've been told it can be quite helpful in structuring the abstract.

So the first sentence usually is something meant to gather the attention of the reader, to be some kind of interesting opening statement on the state of research on the topic. Like, you know, blah blah blah has been a focus of scholars since, you know, et cetera.

The next sentence then would be a statement summarizing the findings of existing research. The sentence after that would be a statement on, you know, what is missing or unknown in the literature. And that's identifying the gap that your study filled. Then you might have a sentence that clearly states the purpose of your study.


Visual: Slide #30 “Abstract elements: First-draft outline (2)” opens. The potential outline for the abstract is shown. Carey reads and discusses this, too.

Audio: And that could even begin with "the purpose of this study was to" et cetera, et cetera. Then you might have a sentence about the theories that informed the research. Another sentence about methods. And then one to two sentences bringing out like the key results.

In the abstract often it is not possible to summarize all of the results of the study, but you want to bring out those most important conclusions -- or the most important results, the most meaningful ones. And then, finally, most abstracts end with a statement on the social change impact that's anticipated from the study.

And that might start with, you know, a specific group, you know, which will be identified, may benefit from the results of this study by... And I'll talk about that a bit more in a moment again.

Visual: The next slide “Social change statement in the abstract” opens. Two key points about the specific and precise language for the social change statement are listed. At the bottom is a hyperlink to the Writing Center webinar for Writing for Social Change. Carey reads and discusses the information about the social change statement for the abstract.

Audio: So the social change statement is one area where we've seen a lot of writers struggle because it's, again, as I said before, I think it can be a difficult thing to articulate and it's necessarily speculative because you're talking about something that might be done with your work. And the best advice I think that we can give is to make sure, again, as I said before, that your language is specific and precise as much as possible. Any implications for social change that you're talking about should be grounded in some kind of tangible outcome or improvement that affects individuals, organizations, you know, cultures, societies.

In general, you want to avoid making broad claims that are not really likely to be achieved. But if you talk about who might apply your findings and how they might do that, that's usually -- those two elements, you know, the audience, the who, and, you know, what they're going to achieve with it are usually the two key ingredients of a good social change statement.

And there's a link here for -- we did, in the Writing Center, a series of webinars on writing for social change, if you're interested in exploring that general issue in some more depth, there's a link here to go to those recordings.


Visual: Slide #23 opens with a chat prompt. The screen layout changes to show the chat pod on the right with the Q&A and captioning pods above. Carey reads and discusses the activity. As people respond, Carey discusses their responses. The example for the activity is: [. . .] The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of middle school teachers with regard to violent subject matter included in the curriculum and changes in student behavior. [. . .] This study will contribute to positive social change by leading to lower levels of violence in middle schools.

Audio: So, as a last activity, I wanted everyone to look at some sentences from an abstract and give me some impressions again in the chat box. And I will go there and be silent for a moment to give you a chance to read that and comment. I'll give just another moment for some more comments and then I'll jump in.

Okay. I'm going to jump in because I know we're running low on time and I wanted to address some of the comments. Some people were noting that there weren't any citations.

And because this is -- well, for one thing, this is just an excerpt from the abstract, this isn't the whole abstract, this is just a couple of sentences to look at. The implication is that there's more material here that might provide a little more detail. But in the abstract, you would not have any citations. Because it's so condensed and there's no reference list to go along with an abstract. And an abstract needs to be able to stand on its own away from the study. So that's why there are no citations in it.

However, there's a lot of good observations, I think, that I'm seeing coming through the chat box. And, again, people are noting that this is a very broad claim that's being made about the kind of social change that will emerge from this study. And I would say that even the use -- there's nothing necessarily wrong with using the word, you know, "will" in a sentence, like talking about implications, however, it does sound extremely confident, and I think there's a certain humility in using "may" instead of "will" in a sentence like this. So, I tend to prefer something like "this study may contribute to positive social change" in, you know, whatever way, because that sounds a bit more speculative or tentative or just humble than claiming that something will happen.

Of course, if you, for your study, have developed a program that's going to be implemented somewhere, you can certainly use "will" to indicate that that is something that's going to happen. But I think that -- a lot of the comments that I've seen are right on about the fact that this is making a broad claim about the study leading to lower levels of violence, but it doesn't say who's going to implement that, how that's going to be achieved, those two elements I talked about of, you know, who will apply the findings of the research and what specifically will they do with them, those things are left very up in the air by the social change statement. So, that's one thing that I would comment on if I were reviewing this. And the language in general as people noted. It's kind of vague and unclear. So, in the abstract, you want to have as much clarity as possible.


Visual: Slide #34 “Resources for Capstone Writers” opens. Three Writing Center resources are listed: Doctoral capstone workshops, the Walden Capstone Writing Community, and chapter editing services. The doctoral capstone workshops and Walden Capstone Writing Community are hyperlinked. Carey discusses the three resources.

Audio: We are running low on time. So, if you're discussing, you know, feel free to continue for a moment, but I just wanted to highlight, we're basically at the end of our content, but there's some good links here that I would encourage you to explore if you download the slides and these are more resources for capstone writers available at Walden that can help with writing these elements that we talked about today. There's a doctoral capstone writing workshops through the Academic Skills Center and they have one specifically for the introduction which is linked here, as well as one on the post-proposal chapters or sections, which would include the concluding chapter, section. These are fee based. There's a fee associated with them. The other two services that are listed here are not fee based. And one is the Walden Capstone Writing Community, which I always like to promote because I think it can be a great way to communicate with other capstone writing peers, as well as the editors in the Writing Center, and there's a link there that will tell you what that is and how to join.

And I'll also mention here something fairly new that we've been bringing out in our editing group specifically, and that's the chapter editing service, which is limited to one-hour edits and this is for writers who have established content where their chair has agreed that the content of their study and what they've written, you know, that the ideas are on point, but there are writing issues that need to be addressed or refined. If you're interested in that, there's an address here where your chair can apply on your behalf to be part of that program.


Visual: The last slide “Questions” opens and shows how to contact the editors with future questions. Two related webinars are hyperlinked: “Beginnings and Endings: Introduce and Conclude Your Writing” and “Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research.”

Audio: And I won't go into a lot of detail on that, although I'm sure there are questions. If you have questions about that or anything else, please feel free to contact us at

And I'm sorry, we've gone right up to time, but is there anything we should address urgently at the end?

Audio: Beth: You know, Carey, I just wanted to say thank you, thank you to Basil for answering so many questions in the background. I wonder if you could just end with any last tips, if you had one tip that you could provide everyone, maybe end with that, we could end for the day. Does that sound good?

Audio: Carey: Sure. Again, I think the thing I would bring out in this session is the importance of being, you know, specific and tangible to the extent possible in your writing, to making the importance in discussing what you set out to do in your study and what you did, you know, being specific and grounded. And I think if you keep that in mind, a lot of the writing issues that people run into you can avoid.

Audio: Beth: I love that advice. That's great. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Carrey, it was a fantastic presentation. And thank you, everyone, for attending. We're going to go ahead and end for the evening. But as Carey said, do e-mail if you have any questions, check out our other webinars that we have scheduled this month. Have a great day. And hope to see at another webinar soon.