Skip to main content

Webinar Transcripts

What Is Academic Writing?

Presented September 8, 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. Jes’s picture is in a small pod next to the files pod. The PowerPoint slide is titled “Housekeeping” and details how to use the webinar features that Beth discusses.

Audio: Beth: Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Beth Nastachowski, and I'm the manager of multimedia writing instruction for the Writing Center and I'm going to get us started before I hand over the session to our presenter Jes. Thank you so much for coming and for those of you who were chatting in the chat box beforehand it was really great to see everyone's favorite authors and favorite books they like to read as well as where they were coming in from. Thank you so much.

A couple housekeeping notes before I hand over the session to Jes and we'll go through these quick. The first is 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 session at a later date you're more than welcome to do so. We include all or recordings in our archives. We have about 45 to 50 recordings in there right now. If you find webinars a useful way to learn about writing and APA, I highly encourage you to look at that webinar archive and shift through it to see the offerings there.

We have lots of ways for you to interact with us today. Jes has some polls that she's going to be using and some chats that we encourage you to interact with your fellow classmates with and with Jes. So those are ways to get some discussion going during the webinar.

Also the slides and the files pod are in the bottom right-hand corner. We also have a handout that's in there as well a couple of different handouts that might be useful for you as supplemental material. You can download those at any time.

We have a Q and A box on the right side of the screen and my colleague Julia and I will be monitoring those questions. So we welcome any comments or questions throughout the webinar. We do encourage you to submit those questions or comments as soon as you have them. We can also save some of the comment questions for Jes to answer aloud when she has some time to stop for those as well.

I also like to note that if at the end of the webinar we aren't able to get to your question, sometimes we get lots of questions at the end or if you think of a question after the webinar and you didn't get a chance to answer it. Do e-mail us at I'd just like to note that we're -- we always welcome any questions that you have whether it's after a webinar or just any questions that you come up against as you're going through your program at Walden. So do note that e-mail address. If you don't know that one already, it's a great one to write down and have handy by your computer.

The final thing before I hand it over is if you have any technical questions, do let me know in the Q and A box. I'll try to help as much as I can, but there's also a help button in the top right corner, and so with that I will hand it over to you, Jes.


Visual: The title slide for the webinar “Strategies for Success: What Is Academic Writing?” opens. Jes’s name, job title, and photo are below the webinar title. Jes introduces herself and the webinar.

Audio: Jes:  Thank you so much, Beth, and hi, welcome to everyone coming from all over the world for today's session on what is academic writing. It is wonderful to have you here. My name is Jes Philbrook. I'm a writing instructor here at Walden University Writing Center, and I live in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, which is kind of near where Walden's headquarters is in Minneapolis. If I stood on my roof, I think I could see the building where Walden is.

Today we're going to be talking about what is academic writing and we're going to focus on that in two different ways. The first way is we're going to talk about describing academic writing. What are the things that make up an academic piece of writing? But then we're also going to talk about what are the habits that constitute academic writing and what kinds of habits do academic writers often perform as they go through their writing to help them be successful. So we'll kind of have that two-pronged approach as we go through today, and we'll have plenty of time for questions as Beth mentioned earlier, so again thanks for joining us and we're going to get started.


Visual: Slide #4 “Learning Objectives: After this session, you will (be able to):” opens. Jes reads and discusses the learning objectives for the session.

Audio: Our objectives for today are to articulate differences between academic writing and other forms of writing. So we're going to do that early looking at how does academic writing differ from the other kinds of things you might read. We'll also identify conventions of academic writing so what kinds of things make up an academic piece of writing. We'll work to understand effective writing habits for academic writers and ways to incorporate them into your writing process and then also I'll try to help you find useful Walden resources that can help you with your academic writing.

So you'll notice throughout the slides there's going to be a lot of blue underlined words. Those are all links to source material from the Walden Writing Center website so you can download these slides from the files pod as well as the sample in the handout and then later if you don't have time today, you can bookmark these URLs and look at them on your own time to continue to cultivate your expertise in academic writing.


Visual: Slide #5 “Academic Writing Overview:” opens. The slide title is in the top left corner and a textbox in the top right corner states a definition that Jes reads.

Audio: So academic writing. Here's the definition I'm going to give. So it's a type of writing used specifically in academia that uses particular conventions that differ from other kinds of writing. You'll notice that it's intentionally vague. So I'd like all of you to kind of help me formulate a more complex definition.


Visual: A chat prompt appears at the bottom of the slide and the screen layout changes. The PowerPoint slide gets slightly smaller as it moves to the left. The Q&A and captioning pods move side-by-side to the top right. A chat pod opens below them. The files pod and Jes’s photo are not available. Jes reads the prompt and discusses the chat activity.

Audio: So we're going to open up a chat box here. And in this chat box I'd like you to do some writing, it can be a word, it can be a sentence, it can be a little bit of free write. But, so far, what are your impressions of academic writing and how does it differ from other types of writing you've done at work or seen in books or papers or magazines or online?

Earlier we were chatting about our favorite authors. And a lot of us mentioned creative writers so that might be something you consider is what's the difference between academic writing and that other kind of writing we were discussing earlier. I'll hop off the mic to let you do some thinking and then I'll hop back on and we'll talk through there.

This is great. You're all coming up with some really great ideas. Please feel free to keep it coming while I talk through what I'm seeing here. So the first thing I noticed is it's research based. Yes, that's absolutely true. Most academic writing involves some kind of research whether it's synthesizing research that you've read or whether it's doing primary research and quantitative data. Yes, academic writing is definitely research based.

I see two things about APA. It depends on the discipline you're in. I'm in English so before I came here to Walden, I actually used MLA the Modern Language Association, and other people use things like IEE or other acronyms. Chicago is another style. But yeah, often they have some kind of common citation style that's used across the discipline in publications.

I'm noticing writing with supportive data. Yeah, absolutely. So academic writing has a lot of evidence in it and it is scholarly fact based clear concise. Excellent. Very good descriptors here.

I'm seeing too some recommendations for page length. Oftentimes it varies based on the project and what you're doing. For example, you'll notice here at Walden that the discussion posts you write, they're still academic writing but they're shorter and maybe a little more informal but they still have the citations and evidence and then you get to capstone state and you're writing dozens and dozens of pages. So it kind of depends on the project you're working on.

I like what I'm seeing here about evidence based. Absolutely. So there's evidence in academic writing.

I like this too. Academic writing is purposeful in adding to instruction or understanding and follows a specific quality of research and it's scholarly. Yes, absolutely. So academic writing is supposed to be for a purpose. You're supposed to be furthering something or creating new research or asking questions. Yes, excellent. I'm going to move on from here and then we can chat a little bit more about what makes up academic writing.


Visual: The chat pod disappears and the layout returns to the original setup. Slide #6 “Academic Writing Conventions” opens. Below the slide title are three stacked textboxes with key ideas about academic writing. Jes reads and discusses these key points.

Audio: So you guys brought this up in the posts that you were sharing: academic writing conventions. One is that the text is clear, consistent and has a formal style. Another is that there's some kind of formal organization and presentation of ideas. And then a third is that they're cited evidence and analysis. None of that is going to be new. You saw it before.

And this differs from other source material like a newspaper article is going to have a consistent and formal style, but the evidence is going to be cited in a very different way. There's not a work cited or a reference page at the end of the article that's being written. Or with a novel or a book the prose might not be clear and consistent and formal and it may have a varied organization with no cited evidence. So these are kind of the conventions that make academic writing different from the novels or the poems or the newspaper articles or magazine articles that we might read.


Visual: Slide #7 “APA Style and Academic Writing” opens. Five bulleted items list the common characteristics of APA Style and academic writing. Citations and reference list are hyperlinked in the list. Jes reads and reviews all of the listed points.

Audio: So going into more depth with this first one. Here at Walden, the formal academic style that you're using is APA style in academic writing. So again, I mentioned before you might have a different clear style if you were elsewhere, but at Walden they make it easy for us. We know we're working with APA. So APA style includes a lot of different things. So one of those is in-text and parenthetical citations. According to APA all source material that's paraphrased or quoted in a text needs to have an in-text or parenthetical citation.

In addition those citations are paired to a reference page and the reference page provides entries that have the source material that you read and cited listed there in length so that the reader can then go and find those references. You'll notice here too that there are these links. These go to our web pages on citations and then also our reference page examples. So if you want examples beyond what I'm able to say here today those are great.

Another thing that APA Style brings to the table is formatting. APA requires double spaced, a certain font size. It requires certain things for headings so like level 1 headings need to be centered and bolded and title case. So all of that is part of that common style with APA.

Beyond kind of those aspects of how things are cited and how the paper is formatted, APA offers some recommendations for how sentences are written and how information is conveyed. So we have bias free language is another one so making sure that the language doesn't create gender discrimination or doesn't reveal that the author disagrees with a certain political party or something like that, so the language needs to be bias free. But then APA also offers rules for lists, capitalization, punctuation, bold face, underlines, and abbreviations. You may have encountered all of this in your time at Walden so far or before dealing with APA.


Visual: The slide remains and a new textbox appears on the right side. It has a list of hyperlinked resources on the Writing Center website for APA style. Jes reads and reviews these resources.

Audio: What's nice is you don't have to memorize this all because we have resources for you. So you can click these links here and go to our APA course paper template which shows you exactly how to lay out a paper. We also have this link to our other APA guidelines page which includes information about how to present lists or capitalization or punctuation. And then there's also our APA reference and citation modules, and these are interactive modules that you can work through that will teach you different things about how to create a reference entry for an article or a book or website and also how and when to cite in-text. So this is one of the main parts of academic writing conventions that's important to keep in mind as you're working through your program here at Walden.


Visual: Slide #8 “Organizing Ideas in Academic Writing” opens. The first bullet point is visible. Three subtopics are listed and have hyperlinks for “introductions,” “thesis statements,” “MEAL plan,” and “Conclusion.” Jes reads the information and discusses overall organization for academic papers.

Audio: The next component to think about is how to organize ideas. The second point was formal organization and presentation of ideas. Here at Walden, you know, we have general recommendations for how to organize papers, and at the Writing Center we've adapted a strategy for how to write body paragraphs. Academic writing typically has a beginning, middle, and end. Introductions often have background information and a thesis statement, and body paragraphs are often structured using the MEAL plan.

 MEAL stands for main idea, so that's the topic sentence. Evidence, that's going to be your cited information or paraphrased or quoted information or maybe an example from your own life if that's relevant. Analysis of that evidence so you are unpacking that evidence and explaining what it means for the reader, and then the L is a lead-out or the conclusion sentence. That allows you to construct body paragraphs that have some clear organization and flow where you're starting with an idea, presenting some evidence, analyzing and then leading out of the paragraph and then usually these posts or papers end with a conclusion paragraph that summarize the main idea.


Visual: The next two bullet points appear. “Headings” and “type of assignment and paper” are hyperlinked. Jes reads and discusses these points.

Audio: Some other things to keep in mind with organization is that in APA you can use headings and transitions throughout. So headings can be level 1, 2, 3. You can use them to convey transitions and to show connections between ideas and especially with lengthy papers. But another thing to keep in mind too is that the organizational specifics of your paper are going to depend on the type of assignment and the paper being written. So if you're writing an annotative bibliography, this structure might not be relevant or if you're writing a literature review the organization might need to be a little bit different.

It's also helpful to research the content you're in and find out what the specifics are in terms of the organization or citation or format to see if they're a little different than what's normal. And you can follow that link there to look at the type of papers that are written here at Walden.


Visual: Slide #9 “Evidence in Academic Writing” opens. Three pairs of textboxes are stacked. The left side of each pair identifies a type of academic source and the right side provides descriptions. Jes reviews the three types of sources.

Audio: Then there's evidence in academic writing and a lot of you mentioned that. Evidence is varied. It might include books that are written by scholars or published by scholarly presses. It might include journal articles, so peer-reviewed publications, things you might find in a database. Generally they don't include things like the New York Times or Newsweek. That may be helpful for context but typically the information in those more popular presses or news presses, they're not going to be peer reviewed so they're not going to be the kind of sources you want to use as the bulk of your evidence in your paper.

And then there's web pages like government websites that might help you have relevant information in your paper. For example I see a lot of students citing the CDC in their papers especially the nursing students that I work with and that's totally relevant because the CDC is an authority in that area and has something unique to offer so that's just something to keep in mind as you're working with evidence in academic writing, you want to be looking for credible evidence. Try to steer clear of things like Wikipedia or things that don't have cited information because that will help ensure you're dealing with academic writing. Keep in mind too it is occasionally okay to branch outside of academic writing and bring in those articles like New York Times. You might need an article from the New York Times that talks about a specific school and what their school lunch program did as context for your paper but then you would be using those more academic sources as you're defending your argument and using them as your evidence.


Visual: Slide #10 “Using Evidence in Academic Writing” opens. The left side textbox is labeled “Quote” and the right side textbox is labeled “Paraphrase.” Each textbox contains a list of the components for how the evidence is presented. Jes reviews the information in each.

Audio: Then with using evidence in academic writing so once you find the sources that you wanted to use, then it's time to figure out how to present that information in your paper. So you have two options. You can quote it or you can paraphrase it. So with quotations that means that you take the text from the source and present it identically to how it was presented. It needs to be 40 words or less, and then you cite it with author year and page and paragraph number. Quotation is allowed in APA, however paraphrase is much more preferred because it allows the writer to use their own voice and also allows the writer to write more clearly and concisely as they're going through their paper.

So paraphrasing is when you read a passage from an author and then you rewrite it in your own words and your own sentence structure kind of pulling out of it the meaning that's important to you. Typically a paraphrase will be significantly shorter than the original text because you're pulling out just what's relevant for your paper. And a paraphrase is always cited and it only includes the author and year and you don't need the page and paragraph number. So that's one difference.


Visual: A new textbox appears at the bottom of the slide directing participants to a hyperlink for the “Using Evidence” webpages on the Writing Center website. Jes briefly discusses this resource.

Audio: If you'd like to learn more about how to effectively quote and paraphrase or see some samples. I recommend you to use this link. That opens you up to our web page. You'll find some really helpful information there as you're working through.


Visual: Slide #11 “Analysis in Academic Writing” opens. A description of analysis and a description of summary are stacked on the left. An arrow shaped textbox on the right points to analysis and states “Fit yourself and your ideas into the conversation!” Below that is another textbox with hyperlinked information for a blog post on the MEAL plan. Jes reads and discusses the difference between analysis and summary.

Audio: Then there's analysis in academic writing. So I mentioned this briefly when I was talking about the MEAL plan. So analysis is another component of academic writing, and it's different than other kinds of writing because sometimes you'll see just summary of information. So for example Wikipedia, those pages are just summary information that they got elsewhere. That's not academic.

Academic writing includes analysis. You present information but then you explain to your readers the evidence and link it to the main idea. So you're taking that evidence. You're unpacking it and explaining it and you're trying to figure out how it's relevant to my topic and idea and how does it connect to other information.

And again this differs from summary because summary is restating the basic argument in basic points. It doesn't require unpacking or dissecting or connecting to other ideas, but analysis does. Analysis is important in academic writing because it allows you to fit yourself and your ideas into the conversation. And that's a big purpose of academic writing is you're -- a lot of you are starting your programs. I saw that in the poll at the beginning so you're trying to find your place in your academic conversation, and one way to do that is through analysis and through reading these sources and making these connections on your own.

If you'd like to learn more about analysis you can check out this blog post called Breaking Down the MEAL Plan: Adding Analysis and that gives some helpful examples for how you can integrate analysis into your writing.


Visual: Slide #12 opens with a chat prompt. Jes immediately opens the sample discussion post from the files pod. The layout changes to show the chat pod. Jes reads and discusses the chat activity.

Audio: So we want to do a little bit of practice here. I'm going to open up this PDF. And you can download this too. Maybe you did already. But the thing we want to look at is what makes this sample an example of academic writing. What is it about this sample that suggests to us that, oh, yes, this is academic writing? I'm going to scroll it down here, but I'd like you to take a minute and read through it and think about those different components that we talked about earlier like APA style, organizing ideas, evidence, analysis, those kinds of things.

What do you see here in this post and what makes this sample an example of academic writing. I'm going to go on mute while you do some reading.

This is great. Keep things coming, but I'm going to do the same thing and talk through you as we go. Yeah, there are definitely citations and reference entries in this sample discussion post that we wrote. Absolutely. So you can see those with Walden University here I'm going to sync it and kind of point through. You can see that with Walden University 2013 and Hemmeter 1990 and then there's this short quote so then there's a year and there's also these reference entries down here.

Yes, excellent. There's a thesis statement at the end of the introduction. So here you have two of the most important and common characteristics of academic writing is writers are required to support ideas with sources and use a tone to create trust between the author and reader. So yeah, that's the thesis and the next two paragraphs are about those two topics, supporting ideas with sources and using academic tone.

We've got that academic organization that you were talking about earlier. Yeah, absolutely. And yes, there's appropriate headings and template. You can see there's information that you would usually put on a title page but it's on one page for clarity and because it's a discussion post. There's also the reference page that has the APA style reference entries and it's spaced appropriately with hanging indents and all of that. Scholarly tone. So yes, you'll notice this isn't extremely informal. It's pretty formal and academic. The paragraphs all start with topic sentences. And it's followed by evidence and there's some of this analysis and lead-out in the same sentence. So it also follows that MEAL plan that we were talking about earlier.

I like this too. Very organized and focused writing with citations and proper form of references. Yes, that's absolutely true. This is a good example. And the tone is clear. Yep.

Oh, I see this question too. I noticed with the references the second line is indented. Does that need to be indented? Yes, with a reference page all the entries have a hanging indent where all the lines after the first one indent in and if you go to our website you'll see some explanation of that that shows kind of how to do that in Microsoft Word. Thank you so much for talking through all that.


Visual: The chat pod disappears and the layout returns to the original setup. The chat prompt is still visible, but Jes continues to discuss the sample in the files pod.

Audio: I'm going to move us back, and if you'd like, you can go and download that sample that we were just looking at from the files pod. It's kind of down in the lower right hand of your screen next to my picture. It's our sample academic writing and if you download that that might be a good thing to keep on hand and take a look at when you're trying to refresh your brain and figure out how do I organize this and how do I cite things. That's a good guide or sample to use as you're going through with your course work. All right.


Visual: The next slide says “Questions about the conventions of academic writing?” at the top. The bottom left corner shows a stack of books with a magnifying glass in front of them.

Audio: So I'm going to pause for a moment then. Beth, do we have any questions about the conventions of academic writing that I can answer now?

Audio: Beth: You know, I'm trying to look. We had a number of questions just about APA in general, Jes, and I -- you're going to talk more about Writing Center resources coming up next, right?

Audio: Jes: Yeah, yeah, I'll talk about Writing Center resources a little bit next.

Audio: Beth: Yeah, I was just thinking about maybe when you talk about those, a couple of students were asking about APA resources and especially if students are new to APA so maybe -- I feel bad because we're jumping the gun a little bit but I was going to ask you about what APA resources you would recommend but we haven't talked about them yet. I got ahead of myself a little bit there. Maybe that's something to watch out for. Jes is going to talk about that soon.

Let's see. We had a couple questions about sort of more formal tone and formal voice. So I wondered if you could maybe talk a little bit about things, some common errors that you see students who are sort of new to academic writing that they should watch out for when thinking about tone and word choice. Does that question make sentence?

Audio: Jes: Absolutely. And maybe while I'm talking through this you can pull some of the resources from our website and share them in the Q and A pod. Would that be okay? I see a yes in the chat box.

One of the things I noticed in a lot of new students writing is kind of improper use of pronouns, so I think there's this non-academic writing convention of saying you and writing just like I'm talking here today when you say you could do this to improve something or saying we if you're trying to collect people and make them feel connected to you. You might say we a lot. But in APA it's actually not really appropriate to use you and we because it makes a lot of assumptions about the reader and who they are and what they know and what connections they might have to your topic. So I guess that's one little one with conventions and tone is to try to avoid saying you and try to avoid saying we unless you're writing with a coauthor and that's kind of the one time it's appropriate to do it. Instead be more specific. So instead of saying you can do this in your classroom. Do you mean teachers? If so, then just say teachers. If you're saying we implying other counselors could do the same thing but maybe I'm reading your paper and I'm not I counselor, so instead you could say counselors across the nation could do this, so being more specific with your pronouns will be helpful.

Similarly with I, I'll see a lot of students at the start say things like I think or I believe or I feel in their writing, but that's not necessary because by the nature of writing those things, it's implied that you think and feel and believe those things. So you can cut that form of I.

So I see students kind of scared to say I maybe because they were taught not to earlier. But APA allows for saying I. So you can say I. You can say I found this result through the research that I did, or I conducted this study and did X, Y and Z. So if you are the agent who is doing some work in a paper, it's absolutely appropriate to say I.

Another thing with tone would be a crazy long word called anthropomorphism. Which just means taking something that's not a person and giving it agency or making it look like it can do something. This paper will solve this problem or this study explained that X, Y and Z. It's not the paper that did those things, it's the author. So you would want to say the author, or scholars, or researchers, or their names. So say Smith 2010 showed X, Y, and Z through the study.

I guess too, I don't mind touching on the APA stuff right now either because I won't go into too much detail about that later. If you go to our Writing Center home page and I'm going to do it on my own computer. If you go to the Walden Writing Center home page and maybe Beth you can put that in the chat box. At the very top of the bar under the Walden University heading, there's a heading that says APA style. And under that heading there's links to a page on citations, several pages on reference lists, tables and figures, templates, so getting familiar with the Walden University Writing Center home page is a really good way to get started with working on APA. And then also if you go to the home page and hover over the writing help tab, you can find our tabs for webinars and modules, and you're in a webinar now so I'm guessing you found that earlier, but you can find webinars and modules about APA that you can work through too. So that would be a good starting place. Get to the website and see what you can find from there. Is there anything else, Beth?

Audio: Beth: One other question you kind of touched on a little bit was about whether there is a template to help students write and format their papers. Would you want to talk a little bit about that?

Audio: Jes: Yeah, absolutely. We do have a template and it was amazing. I think it was a couple slides earlier. Maybe I shouldn't try to click back. But we do have a template. It's the APA course template with instructions and it offers some -- basically a mock paper with fake content that you wouldn't want to use. And you can insert your name and your course name and your paper name and then kind of use the formatting to write your paper with your introduction and it will also help you with that hanging indent and your reference list and so if you go to that link there, it's the APA course paper template with advice the APA 6th edition. That's the one I like to use. You can use the one without advice, but if you have advice there, why wouldn't you want to use it. So yeah, the template is there. Yeah, thanks Beth. Anything else?

Audio: Beth: I don't think so. We just have lots of questions that Julia and I are going through, so we'll take care of those, yeah.

Audio: Jes: Lovely. Thank you everyone for putting them in the Q and A box. Please feel free to keep them coming.


Visual: The next slide “Effective Habits for Academic Writing” introduces the next main section of the presentation. This slide has a list of 11 habits that Jes reviews individually.

Audio: So this is the point in the presentation where we kind of switch from what are academic conventions of academic writing and what are the habits. Now you'll find a lot on our website about the conventions of academic writing. We had all those links before.

What's kind of harder to find in the writing world and on any website is like how do you create a writing practice that's productive and that's sustainable and that allows you to feel good about the writing you're doing and feel like you're able to balance the life that you're living.

My guess is a lot of you are like me where you're working and you're in school and you have a family and you have home commitments and other kinds of commitments and that's a lot to balance. So today on the second half of the presentation I want to share some effective habits for academic writing that will hopefully help you as you're working to cultivate your practice as an academic writer and hopefully also help you balance all the different things that you have demanding your time on your life right now.

So here are these habits and I'm going to work through them one by one.


Visual: Slide #15 “Habit #1: Embrace the Writing Process” opens. The six steps of the writing process are listed in textboxes and stacked in two rows. Arrows on top of each row direct the viewer to look from left to right. As Jes discusses the nonlinear aspects of the writing process, arrows point from one text box to another in a seemingly disorganized way.

Audio: So habit number one is to embrace the writing process. So the writing process really is just this process that you go through where you get an assignment and you do some prewriting. You think about the ideas. Maybe you write an outline. Maybe you do a draft. Maybe you get some feedback and revise. You proofread and reflect. This might be an idealistic writing practice. I'm assuming some of you get the assignment write it and submit it and that's all you have time for.

And then ideally what you're going to find is it's not this linear thing where you prewrite your outline and do the draft and revise and proofread and reflect. It's a circle and goes back and forth. You prewrite and realize you need to say something else and you go back to prewriting. Maybe you drafted and got feedback and you realize you need to rewrite because it's messy. You go back to drafting and maybe you get to the end and reflect and think about what could I do differently next time and how can I improve this.


Visual: A textbox appears at the bottom of the slide with a hyperlink for a related webinar that Jes discusses.

Audio: So if you want to kind of think about this writing process and different ways to embrace it and work through it, I recommend the Lifecycle of a Paper webinar recording. Full disclosure, I'm actually the presenter on it so you'd be listening to my voice once again but this webinar goes into more detail. How to tackle an assignment and go through the steps. So if you find you're not embracing this process and you want to, that's a great resource.


Visual: Slide #16 “Habit #2: Make Time” opens. This slide shows a list of time management strategies for writing. Jes reads and discusses these.

Audio: Habit number 2 is to make time and I think this is one of the hardest things for our Walden students just because you all have so much going on. Here's what I recommend. I recommend setting aside time to work on projects regularly. So instead of saying, all right, I'm going to get all of my course work on Monday and not even thinking about it until next Monday. That might be what you have to do but if you're able to I recommend aiming for at least 30 minutes of writing a day whether it's your discussion posts or papers or paper down the road.

If you're able to sit down and work on a project for 30 minutes a day, that's going to help that project fresh in your mind. During those 30 minutes you don't have to just be sitting there and writing. You could be researching or taking notes, you could be outlining, free writing, drafting, revising. Whatever you need to do in that moment that's enough. See if you can find this time to carve out space in your day to make time for writing.

This will also help you to break up your project and avoid what I like to call binge writing. So instead of, you know how like you eat a million cookies because you're worried you're never going to get any cookies anymore. That's binge eating. So binge writing is kind of like the same thing. Instead of spacing your writing out over the week you sit down and do all of it in one moment. Sometimes that gets the work done but it doesn't feel good. So if you're able to space out your writing over the week instead of doing it all in one time, you might find that you feel better about your writing and you're able to embrace that writing process a little bit more.


Visual: A textbox appears in the bottom right corner with two related resources that are hyperlinked. Jes introduces and discusses these resources.

Audio: So if you want to learn more about this strategy of making time, I recommend this blog post called writing against the clock, five tips for writing when you have no time written by one of our instructors, and also we have this assignment planner that helps you take an assignment and break it down into parts to ensure you get through things. If you're like me where you like to have a checklist and you like to check off things, it takes a big assignment that might feel overwhelming on the checklist and breaks it down into ten different pieces where every time you finish something you get to check something off. It kind of satisfies that check box part of us who like that.


Visual: Slide #17 “Habit #3: Focus and Set Goals” opens. A large textbox labeled “Environment” is on the left. Two columns below the label offer suggestions for finding the right environment. Jes reviews this information.

Audio: Habit number 3 then is to focus and set goals. Part of this is finding an environment that you're capable of working in. Do you like a busy coffee shop or a quiet room at home? If you're not finding what you're doing works you have to find something else. For me I work from home so this is -- and I just moved so I'm in take new space. So I'm trying to find for me what's the best place for me to write because I'm working full-time and also writing a dissertation. So maybe I need to go to a different room. Maybe I need to set up a writing space in the basement to get away from the noise and other stuff so I can spend 30 minutes on my dissertation. Kind of think about what works for you. What environment helps you to focus?


Visual: Another textbox opens to the right. It is labeled “Set Goals” and has three columns for ideas on how to set and achieve goals. Jes reads and discusses these.

Audio: And then setting goals. It's important to set goals that are achievable. If your goal is pass this class, that's achievable, but it's not small. It's going to be hard to feel like you're accomplishing things week to week. Or if your goal is finish the dissertation, that's achievable but it's not small and it's going to be really hard to feel good as you're working over the number of years that you're working on it. So I recommend breaking things into small pieces kind of like that assignment list before where it's like do some research and once you do some research check that off. Or maybe try and write the introduction to a chapter and check that off. Maybe it's do some outlining for this discussion post and then do that and check it off. Maybe it's review the assignments given in the course and check it off.

And it's also a good idea to reward yourself. So once you finish that task for yourself, take a break. Get some coffee. Walk around your house or walk around the block. Also make sure you stay on task. So when you set time out for yourself and say I'm going to work on this task and accomplish it make sure you do that. Minimize distractions by turning off your phone or hiding Facebook on your computer or maybe even making sure your family knows when your office door is closed that you're working on a task and they should respect your privacy unless there's an emergency.


Visual: A textbox appears at the bottom with a hyperlink for a podcast. Jes introduces and discusses this resource.

Audio: Habit number 3 is focusing and setting goals. Academic writers usually have success with that. You can listen to our pod cast number 7. One of our directors talks about balancing school, work, and family and how she balances being a full-time employee, being a mom, being a wife and being a full-time student. If you're in that boat where you're balancing a lot, this episode might be helpful for you.


Visual: Slide #18 “Habit #4: Take Notes About Readings” opens. Three stacked textboxes have labels to the left: read, sort, and tools. The textboxes give information about each. Jes discusses the information.

Audio: Habit number 4 then is to take notes about your readings. So I do see sometimes that new writers here at Walden might get all these course readings, read through them, and do nothing with them. Sometimes that works but for a lot of us that doesn't work and it's not going to work later as you get on with your course work either and write bigger projects like capstone.

As you're going through your reading, make sure you engage with your reading and take notes. Once you take those notes whether it's on a note pad or a note card or in a Word document or in a program, organize those and keep them fresh in your mind. There are so many tools you can use. You can use electronic things like a Word document. Or you can use paper like a notebook or index card. I kind of like using index cards because they're small and I can space them around me.


Visual: A textbox appears at the bottom right with a hyperlink for a resource that Jes discusses.

Audio: But people like different things and these days with cell phones being in most people's pockets a lot of apps are used for taking notes. So if you want to, get tech savvy. I have not, I don't use any of these apps. If you want to get tech savvy, you can read this blog post about apps for prewriting and sorting it in programs like Zotero or OneNote. Maybe if one of you e-mail me and say this program is amazing, maybe I'll give it a try.


Visual: Slide #19 opens with a chat prompt. The layout changes to show the chat pod and an additional pod opens below the slide for Jes to create a list of participant responses. Jes reads the prompt and discusses the activity.

Audio: I'd like to have a chance to share some information since so many of you have your unique strategies for taking notes. Take a minute and write in the chat box about how do you take notes? What note-taking strategies would you like to share with us today?

Thank you all so much for sharing. So I'm seeing things like using a notebook, summarizing paragraphs. I'm also seeing Evernote. What else. I've never heard of Rverton on the iPad. That's kind of interesting. What else. Yeah, rewriting in the tablet. Oh, I like that. So writing in a notebook and then translating to the PC. I like too jotting down important points. Yeah, I see some people reflecting too I've used a notebook in the past but I wonder if I need to change into an electronic program. I see here too people saying they write in books. I'm sure that works for some people, but I found that I wrote in all these books and I moved and I can't find the books anymore. So that's not very helpful. I wish I still had my notebook. If you're smart about your book placement and can find things easily, I think writing in books can work, too. Thank you so much for sharing your tips here. If you want to after the session is over and the recording is available, you can always come in and see all your peers’ responses too.


Visual: The chat pod disappears and the layout returns to the original setup. Slide #20 “Habit #5: Plan Through Outlining” opens. Two columns of three textboxes fill the slide. The column on the left is labeled “Outline” and the right column is labeled “Timeline.” Jes discusses how to use outlines and timelines for writing.

Audio: I'm going to pop back to the presentation so we can keep going along. So habit 5 is to plan through outlining. Outlining, academic writers outline. It really helps with organizing ideas. It means using your notes compiled by topic to draft an outline before you write, and it can include an outline in your introduction, your body paragraphs, your conclusion. Figuring out what's my main idea for this paragraph and what sources do I want to use.

That's usually what I outline because that helps me the most but also establishing a timeline for that outline can be helpful. Maybe you create this outline and set your goals. I'm going to give myself 30 minutes to write this body paragraph and 30 minutes to write the introduction or maybe with a discussion post even fewer because you have so many to write.


Visual: A textbox appears at the bottom with hyperlinked resources for outlining. Jes discusses them.

Audio: So creating an outline and setting a timeline is helpful. Here's some tools. You can go to our website and visit our outlining a paper page. We also have a blog post called outlining your outline which helps you see how to create an outline and create those time stamps for that outline.


Visual: Slide #21 “Habit #6: Engage your Faculty” opens. On the left side of the slide, three textboxes “faculty,” “your writing,” and “you” are arranged in a triangle with double-sided arrows pointing between the textboxes.

Audio: Habit 6 is to engage your faculty. Now this is a tip that's more relevant for academic writers who are in school. Those who aren't in school it can be helpful like perhaps engaging your mentors or engaging your colleagues. Here while you're a student at Walden, engaging your faculty is really helpful. You're doing the writing and your faculty is the one doing the reading and grading.


Visual: A reminder appears to the right of the “faculty” textbox. Jes reads the sentences and discusses it.

Audio: It's important to remember that successful students know how to engage faculty in a meaningful dialog and the feedback but also you're the person who cares the most about your writing and education so take ownership. Ask for help and seek out resources when needed. I think students feel it's not a good idea to ask for help because it shows they need help. But you're here to learn so ask for that help and engage your faculty as needed.


Visual: A textbox appears at the bottom with a hyperlink for a resource on how to use feedback. Jes discusses this resource.

Audio: One thing you might find is you'll get feedback from your faculty and you don't know what to do with that feedback. It's fine to respond to your faculty about that feedback and to say, can I have some more explanation of how I can improve on this or can you explain to me why you marked me down on organization and what can I do to improve that. This blog post is from one of our instructors who took a class and got some feedback and gives ideas for how to engage your faculty.


Visual: Slide #22 “Habit #7: Use Writing Center Resources” opens. The left side has a bulleted list of resources and services offered by the Writing Center. Jes discusses each of these resources.

Audio: Habit 7 then you're doing it by being today here in this Writing Center webinar is to use Writing Center resources. This is specific to students, but as a student I hope this is helpful for you, so here at the Writing Center we have so many resources available for you. We have paper reviews. Those are one-to-one appointments with instructors where you can get feedback on your writing. I do those. So does Julia. We have these webinars. We have our interactive modules. We have so many web pages. Some are linked in the Q and A box. We have Grammarly. Chat where you can talk live with an instructor and also social media where you can get engaged with your peers and read things like a blog post or a Facebook post or a tweet.


Visual: A textbox appears on the right with hyperlinks for the Writing Support email, the introductory webinar, and the Writing Center homepage. Jes discusses these links.

Audio: So if you want to get hold of us, one way you can reach out to us by e-mail and e-mail us at You can also see our recorded webinar “Welcome to the Writing Center.” I believe Julia hosted that one. And then we have our visit Writing Center home page so you can go there too. We have so many resources and we're happy to share them with you.

I see too here just click in the chat box someone asking about paper reviews. So those are appointments that you make from our website. You click on a link to myPASS and then you make an appointment with an instructor, upload your paper and the instructor gets back to you in one to two days. And you find out more information about that if you go to the Writing Center home page link and click on writing help and paper reviews and we have lots of information there for you.


Visual: Slide #23 “Habit #8: Use Campus Resources” opens. Three columns list resources available at the Walden Library, Career Services, and the Academic Skills Center. Jes reviews the resources at each.

Audio: But then there's also bigger campus resources that you can use. There's a library which has reference services. There's Career Services with resumes, webinars, and there's Academic Skills Center which can offer statistics and math help, tutoring and there's also Turnitin there. Walden has a lot of resources. You can talk to your faculty or you can talk to us. You visit the library or Career Services.

Make sure you cultivate that habit of asking for help and these are some of the ways that you can do it. Here's some e-mails you can contact them for help. Then there's the library and Career Services and the Academic Skills Center. We're going to take a minute.


Visual: Slide #24 opens with a chat prompt. The layout changes to show the chat pod. Jes reads the prompt and discusses the activity.

Audio: What Writing Center, library, Career Services, or Academic Skills Center resources have you used so far and how did you find them helpful? If you've used or paper review services or gone to career services or if you've done a module let us know in the chat box. What are people using and what's useful for them? I'm just going to go ahead and mute while you type.

Lovely. So I'm seeing a lot of people say that they use Grammarly. You can also use it for plagiarism checking and it will show you matches with text. It's not as good as Turn-it-In but it will still match things for you so you can see what's there.

I'm seeing two things about the library and APA webinars. Yes, those are extremely helpful. Yep, the library for peer-reviewed articles. That's great. But yes, I see someone too saying it seems like too many choices. You know what? That is maybe a good problem to have, but I understand. We have a lot here at the Writing Center and I think a big part of that is since Walden is an online institution we want to make sure we have the resources, but if you ever feel overwhelmed and aren't sure where to go always e-mail that with any writing question and the people who answer those e-mails can get you the resources you need if you're a little bit overwhelmed with finding out what you're looking for. Yep, and I'm seeing the Writing Center e-mail too. Asking for help from faculty and staff. Oh, good. Seems like you all have an excellent start. I hope you're able to continue using our resources and pop into our paper review service and our chat. I'm actually on chat tomorrow morning from 9 to 11 a.m. central time, so you can talk live with me if you have questions after today's webinar.

Yeah, so we have a lot of different resources. Thank you all so much for -- I like that. Asking help from existing students. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Lovely. I'm going to keep moving along. Thank you again for sharing those suggestions.


Visual: The chat pod disappears and the layout returns to the original setup. Slide #25 “Habit #9: Revise” opens. The left side of the slide lists how and when to revise. Jes reads and discusses this.

Audio: Habit number 9 then is to revise. Revision is reviewing your writing for organization, idea development, use of analysis and evidence, paragraphing, and flow. This often occurs during and after writing.


Visual: An arrow shaped textbox points left and has hyperlinks for “create a reverse outline,” “MEAL plan,” and “feedback.” Jes discusses these strategies.

Audio: Some strategies for revision are to create an outline. To use a MEAL plan and analyze your paragraphs, and to get feedback from the Writing Center. If you're at the revision stage, getting a paper review is a great idea.


Visual: Slide #26 “Habit #10: Edit and Proofread” opens. Three textboxes are shown side-by-side and are connected by arrows from left to right. The first is labeled “Write/revise” and at the bottom is a picture of a fountain pen resting on a piece of paper. The middle is labeled “Wait” and has a picture of a clock. The last is labeled “Proofread” and has a picture of a magnifying glass amplifying typeface. Each textbox has key points for the topic. Jes reads the information and discusses this process.

Audio: Habit 10 is to edit and proofread. One you've revised and the paper is the way you want it to be, take the next step of proofreading. As you're writing, keep track of your progress, take a pause, give yourself a break and go back to it and look at past suggestions, read the paper out loud or use Grammarly as you proofread. I often ask a friend or my husband to look at my writing if I feel like my brain is mush and I need some help, so that's a totally appropriate thing to do is ask for some help.


Visual: A textbox appears at the bottom with a hyperlink for the tool Jes discusses.

Audio: And there's a link for our tips for proofreading page which gives a checklist to help you find different strategies for proofreading.


Visual: Slide #27 “Habit #11: Reflect” opens. Three stacked textboxes are labeled “Before writing,” “While writing,” and “After writing.” Each textbox lists reflection questions. Jes reads these and discusses reflection.

Audio: Habit 11 and our last one is to reflect. I think sometimes with the constant barrage of the papers, you might not take the time to reflect. Once your Sunday is up and all your papers are done to pause and think. Did I give myself enough time to finish the assignment? What worked well? And after that writing think about the next assignment, so as you're starting the next week have, I read everything necessary? Do I understand my assignment? And as you're writing mid week am I getting distracted? Am I following my outline? These kinds of questions really help you as an academic writer to be reflective about your writing and intentional about the choices you're making as you're going day to day.


Visual: A textbox appears on the right of the slide with hyperlinked resources for reflecting on writing. Jes briefly discusses these.

Audio: And you can go here to our website to read about reflecting and improving and also this blog post about self-reflection and getting to know about your writing. We have lots of great tips again about most things writing related.


Visual: The slide “In Review: 11 Effective Habits for Academic Writers” opens. It lists the 11 habits on the left and has a chat prompt on the right. The layout changes to show the chat pod. Jes reads the prompt and discusses the activity.

Audio: In review, here's our last chat box and I'm going to give you a minute to do this while we kind of collect too what questions you might want to have me address at the end. After this review of these habits and conventions, what conventions of academic writing do you plan on developing? And what habits of academic writers would you like to include. Use that tip 11 of reflect. Kind of maybe even before you start your next writing project. So what conventions do you want to work on and what habits do you want to develop? I'll give you a minute.

This is so great to see. I'm really, really happy to hear that all of you seem to have these different habits that you're going to work on. So yes, focusing and setting goals, outlining, using Writing Center resources, engaging faculty more. Make time, yes, absolutely. But then, yeah, I like too that I'm seeing these conventions so working on things like paraphrasing and also, you know, outlining is, you know, a habit of academic writers but it's also a convention of academic writing so it's both. Working on APA, tone and style, yes, absolutely.

I like too more of these habits. So trying the MEAL plan as a way to organize ideas, and working on time management. Embracing the writing process. Yep, you know, I get it. It might not be that your passion is writing but I think embracing the process will help get it done and you might even find that it helps you enjoy it a little bit more because it's not such a painful process if you're not just sitting there on Saturday night writing for 6 hours.

Yeah, I'm so glad too to hear that you're going to use these resources from the Writing Center. Oh, how wonderful.

And yeah, I'm noticing too some people mentioning they've been out of college for a while and some of this is new or kind of a refresher. That's okay. A lot of us are in the same place and we're coming back to things after a while away. That's one of the wonderful things being at Walden is we kind of come from these unique places and that uniqueness bonds us together a little bit.


Visual: The chat pod disappears and the layout returns to the original setup. Slide #29 “Questions?” opens. This directs participants to use the Q&A pod or send questions later to Writing Support. Two related webinars are hyperlinked at the bottom of the slide.

Audio: Thank you for sharing those. I'm going to move on so we have a little bit of time for questions. Here's our question box. Beth, are there any questions that I can answer in our last minute?

Audio: Beth:  There was one question that a student had about paper reviews. They were asking if they have trouble submitting their writing at the last minute before the deadline. Do you have any suggestions or tips or strategies for submitting to the Writing Center even if they don't have much time?

Audio: Jes:  Yes, absolutely. It's entirely appropriate to submit a past paper to the paper review services. So if you wrote a discussion post last week and you're already turned it in and maybe you got feedback or maybe not. It would be entirely okay to submit that to the myPASS paper review service and then an instructor can read through your paper and give you ideas. The suggestions might not be about revision because the paper isn't going to be revised but if you let the person know in the submission form that it's a past paper and you're looking for tips to improve your writing, then the instructor can focus on here how you outline an instruction and here's some tips. Or here's how you cite these things in your paper and here's some tips for how to do it next time.

Although it might be ideal to have a paper reviewed that you're currently working on, you can still learn a lot from having a past paper reviewed and apply those lessons to the next paper as you go. Another thing too is to work on as you're here over time work on making time. So you can finish your draft on Wednesday, have an appointment, and revise on Saturday. You might find as you get used to things and find a schedule that's a little more possible.

Is there anything else, Beth?

Audio: Beth: I don't have other questions, Jes, but I did have one other suggestion. I also wanted to say too if you're working on, you know, a paper and you have a question about a reference entry or, you know, grammar in one sentence or a citation and you just want a quick check to see if what you're doing is correct, you're welcome to e-mail us or use the chat hours that Jes mentioned to get help that way too. We can't review full papers that way but we can give you individual help on that kind of stuff and I'm guessing Jes you get questions like that in chat all the time, right?

Audio: Jes: Yeah, I do. People come into chat a lot and say I wrote this paragraph and I'm not sure if this is the MEAL plan. Can you look at it and let me know what I can do to make it more MEAL planny.

Audio: Beth: I love that. Here's how you can make it more MEAL planny. I love that. That's great. All right.

So I think with that we're going to have to close out the session. We're at the top of the hour, but thank you so much, Jes, for this fantastic presentation and everyone for attending and your wonderful questions and engagement throughout. Jes, do you have any last thoughts that you want to like leave everyone with?

Audio: Jes: Sure. Thank you all for coming. It's wonderful to have this many people here on this topic on what is academic writings. And I notice a lot of you are at the beginning of your programs, so I want to encourage you to keep working through it. Find the help you need, find the resources you need. Use the habits that we described here today and also know that you're not going to wake up tomorrow and have all these habits under your belt. It's a process, but you have time, and so I encourage you to keep working on it, keep asking questions, keep attending these webinars and let us know how we can help you and support you through your program.

Audio: Beth: Awesome. Thanks so much, Jes. We have our whole September schedule still out in front of us so take a look at that if you'd like to attend another webinar and do send us any questions that you have after this session at All right. Thank you so much everyone and have a wonderful evening. We hope to see you at another webinar soon.