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Webinar Transcripts

Beginnings and Endings: Introduce and Conclude Your Writing

Presented August 7, 2018

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Last updated 9/4/2018

 

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

The slide says “Housekeeping” and the following:

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    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
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    • Now: Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
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  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Kacy:  Hi, everyone.  Thank you so much for joining us for this webinar.  My name is Kacy, and I'm a writing instructor joining in from Saint Louis, Missouri.  Thanks for joining us for this webinar about composing effective beginnings and endings in your writing. And before we get started and I hand things over to Michael, I just want to mention a few things.  First this webinar is being recorded and, in a day, or two, you’ll be able to access the recording through our website. 

So, if you need to leave early or you want to go over any portions of this webinar again later, you'll be able to check out that recording.  Along with it you'll find many other recorded webinars on various writing related topics.  There will also be several chances to interact with your colleague and with our presenter Michael, so please be sure to participate during the chat sessions in the large chat box just like you did before the webinar started.  Also, all of the links in the slide show are active so you can click directly on them for access to more information now or later in you’re watching the recording. 

We also have a few helpful files in our files pods and you can download them my clicking on the download files button at the bottom the pod.  And there's going to be a lot of information in this webinar, and if you have any questions, you can use the Q & A Box.  I'll be watching the Q & A Box and I'll answer your questions as quickly as I can.  If we run out of time however or if you would like to ask more questions later on, please send them to you at writingsupport@waldenu.edu and you'll receive a response through email.  Finally, if you encounter any technical difficulties, there's a help button in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar.  You can also reach out to me in the Q & A Box and I can try to help you out from there.  So, thank you so much again for joining is, and now I'm going to turn things over to Michael Dusek.  

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Beginnings and Endings” and the speakers name and information: Michael Dusek, MA, Writing Instructor, Walden Writing Center.

Audio: Michael:  All right.  Yeah, hello, everyone.  Welcome.  My name is Michael Dusek, you can see my flannel plaid picture there.  I'm a writing instructor here in the Walden writing center as well.  And this webinar really focuses on composing effective beginnings and ending to a piece.  I think this can be something kind of difficult for a lot of students.  I think especially composing a beginning or starting a piece can be kind of a source of anxiety, you know?  As I sit down even sometimes to write a piece, I think sometimes how do I want to start this or where do I even start?  So, we're going to talk about what an effective beginning looks like and what an effective ending looks like and give you some times to compose those and to bring those elements to your writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Objectives

After this session, you will be able to:

  • Understand why introductions and conclusions help readers
  • Understand what creates an effective introduction and conclusion:
  • Identifying an appropriate thesis statement
  • Succinctly identifying main points

Audio: So, further learning objectives for this session, you want to understand introductions and conclusions and how they can help readers.  When you think about introduction or a conclusion, it's really about audience awareness, right?  You want to be able to bring your reader up to speed so that they can understand what you're talking about in the body of your piece.  And then at the end, you want to lead them out and leave them with a feeling of completion.  Like, this idea, or this argument, that you've been putting forth has been talked about fully.

We're also going to understand what creates an effective introduction and conclusion specifically we are going to identify appropriate elements of a thesis statement.  I think this is another element, another feature of academic writing that go students find a bit intimidating so we're going to breakdown what a thesis statement is and how to compose an effective one.  And another part of composing effective introduction and conclusion is succinctly identifying and conveying these main points to the reader from your piece.  Bringing the reader up to speed, and then leading them out and kind of reminding them where you've gone in this piece touching on maybe some of your conclusions and giving them something they can take with them, some memorable thing as you end your piece. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Why a Conclusion? Why an Introduction?

Why a Conclusion?

  • Restate main argument of paper
  • Bring together all the subtopics
  • Point to larger implications

Why an Introduction?

  • Provide background and context
  • Establish the problem and why it is important
  • Give purpose or argument for paper

Audio: So, first, why an introduction?  Why use them?  Why not just start, right?  What an introduction is really meant to do is provide background and context.  One of the things it's meant to do is to provide background and context for the reader.  In any piece that you're going to be composing, right?  You're discussion is going to be elaborated upon, and it's going to get into some pretty specific areas.  So, providing the reader with some background information really helps them understand how you're approaching this topic.  And, yeah, I think just broadly, it's important to give the reader the information that they need to understand your discussion or your argument. 

You're going to establish the problem and discuss perhaps why it's important.  Sure.  On a broader note, introducing your topic, right?  Telling the reader what the paper is about which brings us to our last bullet point here, give a purpose or an argument for a paper and what that bullet point is getting after is the idea for a thesis statement.  And this is a very central and critical part of academic writing.  So, at the end of your introduction, the reader should both have the information that they need to move forward and to understand your discussion in the piece.  And know and have some idea where this piece is going.  What's going to be argued? What are you discussing?  What lens, perhaps, are you using to approach this topic? 

When we think about a conclusion, why include a conclusion?  What it's going to do, it’s going to kind of restate or paraphrase the thesis statement or the main argument of your piece.  A good conclusion gives the reader this sense that you kind of end where you start in a sort of circular way. And what I've mentioned before this idea of providing the reader with a sense of completion, like you've discussed a topic fully, this goes a long way to doing so. Restating your main argument of the paper or the main point.  The main argument is the best way to say that. 

You're going to bring together all your subtopics.  So, kind of touching on some of the main ideas or main topics that the essay was covering as well.  And you're going to point perhaps to larger implications.  How could this study, or how could my discussion, my analysis be more broadly applicable to the academic community or to my field?  Yeah, so this way, conclusions are also important to include in your academic writing. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Ways to Visualize the Introduction and Conclusion

Why an Introduction?

  • Provide background and context
  • Establish the problem and why it is important
  • Give purpose or argument for paper

BODY of your paper

CONCLUSION

  • Bookend
  • Overview
  • Takeaway

Audio: Kind of the way to think about this if we're going to use a metaphor of a book case, right? Is that an introduction and conclusion, book-end your document?  You start with an introduction, you give kind of a broad overview of where things are going.  And this is preparatory, right?  You're preparing the reader for your elaboration in the body of your piece.  You don't want to get too in-depth in your introduction.  That's the body's job to elaborate on what you're arguing to provide evidence as to why you're arguing a point, or why your point is the most logical.  Yeah, you're preparing the reader in your introduction. 

And then the other book end, on the other side of the shelf, if you're still with me on this "Bookshelf metaphor" is kind of the same thing.  You're bringing a sense of completion.  You're going to overview some of the main things you touched on again and you're going to leave the reader with some sort of take away.  Something that they can bring, something that they will remember as they move on from your piece.  These broader implications as I've mentioned on the previous slide are a good way to do this. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings – Where are We Going?

What is the purpose of a introduction?

  • Attracts readers’ attention
  • Introduces the topic and scope of the paper
  • Gives some comment about the topic

Thesis Statement

Audio: Beginnings then.  Where are we going?  What is the purpose of an introduction?  So, really, again there are couple of elements here that need to be included in an effective introduction.  One, you're going gain the reader's attention.  This is kind of an aloof thing.  I found personally the idea of gaining the reader's attention is something of an intimidating idea because I don't necessarily know who my reader is so how should I know what is going to interest them?  There are a few different ways that you can do this. 

If this is something that you struggle with also, you might want to jot these things down.  Effective opening to an introduction can be one of a few things.  One, you can start with an illustrative quote.  So, a quotation that shows something about this topic for you.  That can gain the reader's attention.  You can start with a shocking statistic, or something that will jar the reader, right?  If you said something like, "98% of people would prefer 7 up over Sprite." That large statistic, that big percentage is something that's jarring to the reader and can make them kind of pay attention to what's to follow. 

Another technique that you can use is to use something of an anecdote from your own personal life.  When I was 7, I had my first 7 Up, and instantly, I knew it was better than Sprite.  This provides something of a personal touch to your writing and can gain the reader's attention that way.  And as always, fourth, you can just kind of bring it up.  Right?  You can just make kind of a blanket statement that brings up this idea.  Something like, you know, 7 Up is a very well-known soda. 

From my four examples here, you might tell the fourth one is going to be the weakest.  But these are ways, techniques that we in the composition community use to gain the reader's attention in the introduction.  So, as you're sitting down to do this, maybe think about using one of these four techniques.  Again, illustrative quote, shocking statistics, a personal anecdote, or just kind of a general blanket statement. 

To get back to what the information of the slide here, the first thing you want to do again is attract the reader's attention and then you're going to introduce the topic of your paper and the scope.  So, when you introduce the topic, you might be looking at this topic very broadly if this is a very long and well-researched piece, you might be approaching this very broadly.  If this is more of a focus, maybe a discussion post or short 10-page course paper, you're going to be more specific about how you're approaching this topic. 

So, the introduction is a place where you want to show the reader that, that idea of what is the scope of your discussion here.  Do we need to talk about everything within this entire topic area?  Or are we focusing it on one specific, perhaps, lens or one specific topic area within a topic area.  You want to give some comment about the topic.  Maybe tell the reader why this is important.  Why talk about this.  Why write about this.  And then lastly, you're going to provide the reader with that thesis statement.  Yeah.  Again, thesis statement is going to be the main argument of your piece. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Thesis Statement

  • Concise, specific, and arguable
  • Usually the last sentence in your introduction

The most important sentence because it directs the reader with your

central argument and purpose

Learn more about thesis statements

Audio: And we're going elaborate on this here.  So, again, I think when I think of a thesis statement, I think of the fact it's just a main argument.  This is central argument of your piece.  Right?  Every, the main idea of every body paragraph throughout your document should relate directly back to that one sentence.  Right?  You're telling the reader directly, concisely what the main argument of your piece is. So, as I've kind of mentioned, you want a thesis to be concise, you want it to be direct would be another way to say that, you want it to be specific laying out exactly what you’re arguing. And it needs to be arguable.  Someone needs to be able to come by and disagree with you.  That it’s a feature of a strong thesis statement. 

If you find that your thesis is really not that arguable, it's a good indication that you are really working with an informative thesis.  You are informing the reader rather than arguing a point.  So that's kind of one way that you can check yourself if you're making a strong argument or not.  All right.  This is going to be located usually in the last sentence of your introduction.  This is a pretty common convention of academic writing, the last sentence or the last sentence or two of your introduction is going to be your thesis statement laying out this central argument that then is going to guide the rest of your piece. 

I've mentioned this once before, but I'm going to say it again, because this is critically important.  The main idea of every body paragraph, in your document needs to relate directly back to the argument that you're making in that thesis statement.  And if it doesn't, you're getting off track and you need to really consider how you're laying out your argument or the argument that you're making. 

It could be thought of as the most important sentence, because as I've mentioned, it directs the reader with your central argument and purpose.  This focuses the reader’s attention, right? If I see that this is what, someone is arguing in a piece, it makes it easier for me to contextualize some of the evidence and some of the analysis that they are providing. 

Here on this slide, we have a link in the bottom right corner, learn more about thesis statements.  If this is something you're struggling with and want another explanation other than the one I just gave, by all means, click on that in your own time and take a look at some of the resources we offer here at Walden.  But, again, your thesis statement is at the very simplest way to say it, it is the central argument of your piece.  Everything else stems from that. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Thesis Statement

Poll Practice:

Which sentence best fits the definition of a thesis statement?

Audio: Okay.  We are at our first poll.  Taking a look at some of our choices here.  I'm wondering which sentence best fits the definition of a thesis statement?  Remember, this needs to be concise, it needs to be specific, and it needs to be arguable.  So, let's take a minute and read through these four choices and go ahead and vote in which one you think is the most or best fits the definition of a thesis statement.  And I'm going to give you guys couple of minutes to do that while I'm on mute. 

[pause as students type]

All right.  I see many of you have chimed in here. I'm going to give those of you, actually half of the group that's voted thus far, I'm going to give you guys a little bit more, maybe another 30 seconds or a minute to read through the four choices and vote for which one you think best fits the definition of a thesis statement. 

[pause as students type]

Okay.  We got about 80 percent of you have chimed in.  So, yeah, I'll talk through this a little bit.  Overwhelmingly, you guys voted for the fourth choice as the choice that best fits the definition of a thesis statement.  That one reads like this.  Lesson plans are essential to effective teaching because they require teachers to determine the best strategies to meet learning objectives.  Yes, this is a strong thesis statement because it's putting forth an argument.  The first choice that some of you that thought that best fits the definition of a thesis statement is not arguable.  This is what I mean by arguable.  When you read this one, I can talk about this little more. 

The purpose of this paper is to discuss lesson planning and to analyze one of my lesson plans.  That's not really arguable, right?  The reader can't come by and say, no, this piece isn't going to do that.  It's just not an arguable idea.  The piece, you're telling the reader where the piece is going to go, you're informing the reader as to what you're going to be talking about.  But that is not putting forth an argument. 

Taking a look at the fourth one, lesson plans are essential to effective teaching because they require teachers to determine the best strategies to meet learning objectives.  This is arguable.  Someone could come by and say, lesson planning is not essential, because it helps you determine the best strategies.  Lesson planning is essential, because it helps you allocate your time in the most efficient way.  In this way, someone can disagree with that point.  Making it arguable.  So, as you're thinking about your thesis statement that you compose for your own writing in your own coursework or what have you, make sure that someone could come by and disagree with you.  That's a key feature of the thesis statements is that they are arguable.  Don't just inform.  Make an argument. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: A Narrowing of Thoughts

  • Broad: Background/context
  • Narrower: The problem relating to that background
  • Narrowest: What you are arguing or proposing about that problem (thesis statement)

Audio: Backing up then a little bit and thinking about beginnings or introductions a bit more broadly, it's helpful to think of this as kind of like a triangle with one point, pointing directly down.  You can start broad with this background context information and lead the reader into more specific statements that then gets you to the most specific, which is your argument. 

This is a way -- excuse me.  This image here is an example of how this could look.  You start with a broad something to gain the reader's attention, you then provide some background information about this idea once you've introduced it, and then you get a little more narrow you then talk about a problem relating to that background, a problem within this topic area, sure.  Lastly, you get to your narrowest point, what are you arguing or proposing about that problem which is your thesis statement. 

So, you're going from broad down to more specific.  This is an effective way to craft an introduction paragraph.  As you can see, when you go from broad to specific, you're leading the reader into this.  I think that's a pretty effective way to compose this and an effective way what you're trying to do here.  Catch them all in the beginning and lead them to your specific point at the end of the introduction to the thesis statement. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Narrowing Thoughts

Chat:

Is this introduction successful?

Why or why not?

Conflict is inevitable in a healthcare environment because of emotional, financial, and operational stressors (Vivar, 2006). However, conflict is both a positive and negative phenomenon that effective nurses navigate.  By assessing conflict situations, nurses can develop insight, recognize strengths and limitations, and accept outside resources to manage such situations (Manion, 2005). The particular assessment best suited to nurse-doctor conflict is the PEPRS framework.

Audio: Let's take a look at this example of introduction then.  I'm not going to read this out loud.  You guys, you can do that on your own. But take a second and read this.  And then I want you to, in the chat box, discuss is this a successful introduction?  And be sure to include why or why not?  Why do you think this is successful or why do you think it is not successful?  Again, read through this and in the chat, box tell me why you think this introduction is successful or not.  I'll give you guys a few minutes to do this. 

[pause as students type]

All right.  I'm seeing some good participation there as multiple attendees are currently typing.  I'm going to give you another minute or two here and then we're going to talk through this.  Again, is this introduction successful?  Why or why not?  Okay. 

[pause as students type]

The chat box is dying down a little bit.  So, let's talk through this.  I saw a wide arrange of responses.  Some of you thought it was pretty successful introduction.  Some of you thought there were things could be improved, others thought it wasn't very successful.  So, as a writing instructor, the first think I take a look at or that sticks out to me here would be the thesis statement. 

It is as follows:  The particular assessment best suited to nurse-doctor conflict is, the PEPRS framework.  That, some of you thought that was not arguable. That is arguable.  Because it's saying that this assessment is the best in order to, in looking at nurse-doctor conflict.  Someone could come by and say no, that assessment isn't the best.  This other assessment is the best.  As many of you noted PEPRS acronym there is not defined in this introduction.  I would say that, that is an opportunity to improve this. 

Looking above, conflict is inevitable in a healthcare environment because of emotional, financial and operational stressors.  That's a piece of source material or paraphrase that illustrates something about this.  So, I think that effectively grabs the reader’s attention.  And as I read through this again, as some of you noted, it goes from that broad to more specific.  So, I think the conclusion for me as a writing instructor here, it can be improved upon certainly, but this isn't wholly ineffective.  It leads the reader in fairly well and provides an argumentative thesis. So those elements are well done. I think there could be more background information provided for the reader, I think as many of you pointed out.  So that was astute good work. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Balanced Focus

AVOID

  • Too much detail
    • Direct quotes
    • Evidence beyond background info
  • Too vague
    • Reiteration of assignment guidelines
  • “Blueprint”
    • Step-by-step description of paper

Audio: Moving on then, some things to avoid when we're looking at beginnings or introductions.  You don't want to provide too much detail.  You want to avoid direct quotes, especially at the level that you guys are at.  As graduate students you really want to be paraphrasing there. But you don’t want to provide too much detail. Evidence beyond evidence background information should be avoided.  You have the whole body of your essay to elaborate on what you're saying in your thesis to provide evidence of what you're saying and why that might be the strongest argument in this topic area. 

So, yeah, resist the urge to give the reader everything at once.  

Part of academic writing is organizing your thoughts in a way that is logical to the reader, right?  So, as you think about crafting an introduction, don't bring in too much detail.  Use the body of your piece to elaborate and provide the majority of your evidentiary support.  You also want to be, you want to avoid being too vague.  Reiteration of assignment guidelines.  So, don't just take your assignment prompt and craft that into an introduction, kind of touching on the main points that the assignment prompt is asking for.  You really want to use your own authorial voice and crafting something that is your own, and something that you can hear your own voice in, rather than just kind of a reworking of the assignment prompt.  Which is kind of what the last one is too. 

Step-by-step description of the paper.  First, I'll do this, next I'll do this, and lastly, I'll do this.  You want to avoid doing that as well.  Your thesis statement should encompass all those step-by-step descriptions when you tell the reader your main argument.  So, you really want to focus on, bring up the topic first, providing enough background information for the reader to understand what you are talking about and then offer the thesis statement which shows the reader your central argument. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Narrowing Thoughts

Chat:

Is this introduction successful?

Why or why not?

For this application, I have selected an acute care setting.  In this paper, I will explain why patient safety is important in this setting.  Second, I will identify the key challenges for nurses regarding patient safety. Finally, I will describe two strategies for improving patient safety and explain why I chose them.

Audio: All right.  Let's take another look another example of an introduction here.  And I want you to, similar to our last one, tell me in the chat box, is this introduction successful?  Why or why not?  Take a look at that and we'll discussion that in a minute.

[pause as students type]

Okay.  Thanks for chiming in, you guys. In the interest of time, I'm going to move on here.  This is an example of a weak introduction.  It kind of reads like a prolonged thesis statement, right?  First, I'll do this, second, I'll do this, finally, I'll describe two strategies.  But it's not arguable, right?  If you look at even this last sentence, finally I will describe two strategies for improving patient safety and explain why I chose them.  That's not an arguable statement.  Someone could say, no you're not.  But that's not a strong argument.  You're not really providing any direction.  It's not an arguable statement.  So, this would be an example of a weak introduction. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Format Tips

Length

  • Course paper: Usually one paragraph
  • Longer, complex papers: Could be several paragraphs

Audio: Okay.  Some practical tips for beginnings for introductions.  In a course paper, generally your introduction is going to be about one paragraph.  Now, this is writing.  This isn't math where you take a bunch of numbers and you plug them in an equation and it spits out an answer for you. This is a complex thing that involves your own judgement and subjectivity.  So, if you're crafting a 12-page paper or 15 pages course paper, it may be appropriate to have a two-paragraph introduction or a 3-paragraph introduction. 

But in general, for a course paper, you want one about paragraph that leads the reader into the piece.  For something longer more complex as I mentioned, yeah, more paragraphs are appropriate to include there.  And that's something that you need to determine as a reader using your own kind of authorial agency there.  But in general, if you're only composing a paper that's 5 pages, you don't want your introduction to take up a whole page, right?  You don't want it to take up a fifth of your writing.  So, in general, kind of a general rule, a one paragraph introduction is going to fit the majority of the purposes for coursework papers. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Use a Formal Academic Voice

Tone Tips

Avoid:

Let’s first discuss healthcare in America today.

As you know, healthcare is a big problem in America today.

Instead:

Healthcare is a problem in America today because many citizens are without insurance and therefore susceptible to untreated injury and disease.

Audio: Some tips on tone.  You want to avoid things like let's first discuss healthcare in America today.  Or as you know, healthcare is a big problem in America today.  You want to avoid these mainly because you're using a casual tone.  When you say "Let's" or using a contraction there, you're saying, "Let us." As a reader, I’m saying who’s "us?"  Is it me and you?  Like me the reader, you the author?  Is it everyone within this field?  Is it the people I'm sitting around, or who I'll talk to later about this piece?  It's vague.  So, you want to avoid inserting yourself into your writing in that way by saying something like "Let us." Or "As you know." You want to avoid "You" in general in your academic writing, because who is “You”, who are you referring to? 

You also comes with a number of assumptions about who your audience is.  When you say "You" you're assuming certain thing about your audience.  So, you want to avoid using that.  Instead, you want to be direct and use statements that avoid this kind of casual language.  Something like healthcare is a problem in America today because many citizens are without insurance and, therefore, susceptible to untreated injury and disease.  That is, you can tell, perhaps even as I spoke it, that is a strong scholarly sentence.  It has a strong scholarly tone to it.  So, again avoid casual language.  Use formal academic tone. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: use a Formal Academic Voice

Tone Tips

Avoid passive voice (no subject or “doer” of the action):

In this paper, the problem with healthcare will be argued.

Avoid anthropomorphism (human traits to inanimate objects):

This paper will analyze…

The literature review determined that…

Instead, use the active voice and “I”:

In this paper, I will argue that the problem…   

Through the literature, I determined…

Using “I” is okay!

Audio: Further on, and this was something many of you noted in our first introduction example for a thesis, this idea of passive voice.  I was actually really impressed that you guys, some of you keyed in on that so quickly.  You want to avoid using passive voice. Like something like this, in this paper, the problem with healthcare will be argued.  Here you’re burying the main subject, right? Really, what you're saying is that healthcare has a problem.  So, healthcare should be kind of, at the forefront of that sentence in active construction.  So, yeah, avoid using passive voice as generally that's a convention of academic writing. 

Also, you want to avoid anthropomorphism.  Where you apply human traits to an inanimate object. For example, this paper will analyze, well this paper is not really going to analyze anything, it’s just a piece of paper, right?  The literature review determined.  To determine something, you’re weighing options.  So, literature review doesn't really weigh option and determine something.  It is you.  It is the author who is doing that.  So that's an appropriate way to put this.  In this paper, I will argue that the problem.  Sure, through the literature, I determined.  Yeah, this is a feature of academic writing in general and especially of APA, yeah, use active voice.  And you can use "I" if you choose to.  That is okay.  If you are the one doing that, that is all right to say that. 

However, in terms of your tone, I would argue that perhaps it’s even more effective to just make that statement.  Instead of saying the problem with healthcare is, let's say, patient waiting list.  Excuse me.  That's a bad example.  In this paper, I will argue that the problem with healthcare is extended patient waiting list. Instead of stating that, it would be better to just say, the problem of healthcare is that patient with waiting list.  So, removing that, removing the I from your thesis statement can make it more effective.  But it is appropriate to use nonetheless. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Use a Formal Academic Voice

Phrasing Tips

Avoid questions:

If 40% of Americans are uninsured, what do they do if they become sick?

Why doesn’t the government do something about inflated health premiums?

Instead, phrase questions as statements:

It is unclear what the 40% of Americans who are uninsured should do if they become sick.

The government’s lack of involvement in fixing inflated health premiums results in continued issues for the general population.

Audio: For phrasing tips.  You want to avoid questions.  As academic writers, we are not such much in the business of asking questions.  We are in the business of providing answers.  So, use statements instead.  Instead of, if 40% of Americans are insured what do we if they become sick? A better way to put that is, it is unclear what the 40% of Americans who are uninsured should do if they become sick. You’re making a statement, it is unclear.  You're not asking the reader to supply an answer, you’re providing an answer and your commenting on the situation. 

Instead of saying why doesn't the government do something about inflated health premiums?  Again, you’re inviting an answer from the reader. Instead want to provide a statement that tells the reader something.  The government's lack of involvement in fixing inflated health premiums results in continued issues for the general population. So, you're making a strong statement there.  You're attributing a cause and effect rather than asking the reader or inviting the reader to supply their own responses. 

Again, in general, as academic writers, we are in the business of providing answers rather than asking questions.  Questions are for research.  Answers are for papers. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Beginnings: Use of a Formal Academic Voice

Evidence Tips

Avoid direct quotes:

“The great fault of the 21st century is the lack of access to healthcare for those of low socioeconomic means, leading to an increase in both preventable deaths and anxiety disorders” (Smith, 2010, p. 7).

Instead, paraphrase:

Many people in the 21st century have poor health because they do not have the monetary resources to access adequate healthcare (Smith, 2011).

Audio: Also, tips on using evidence.  You want to avoid quotes.  Instead paraphrase.  Now that's pretty straightforward and I've mentioned this earlier in the webinar. But at the graduate and doctoral level, really, you want to be using quotes extremely sparingly.  Whenever possible, unless there's specific wording that is attributable to that person and is known as that throughout the field, if they coin that certain language as that's known, then it's appropriate to quote.  But other than that, you really should be paraphrasing to show the reader I understand this information so well, that I can put it into my own words. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategies for Writing your Introduction

Use any or all of these strategies, depending on what works for you!

  1. Wait to write your introduction last
    • Can help you because you already know what you wrote about in the paper.
  2. Write a sloppy introduction for your first draft, then go back and revise
    • Can help you get in the “zone” for writing the body, but then you can go back and revise later.

Audio: Yeah, and here's couple of strategies for crafting an effective introduction.  One, you can wait to write your introduction until last.  As a mentor of mine in my schooling, in my education, excuse me, said, it's easier to tell the reader where you're going once you've gone there yourself.  So, once you’ve crafted the body of your essay, it's going to be easier to lead the reader into that elaboration of your ideas of your argument.  So that's one way to do that is to write your body of essay first and then return to the introduction. 

Or you can write a sloppy introduction for your first draft, then go back and revise.  Yes.  Revision for those of us who work in the composition community, in the composition field is something that is of elemental importance.  Right?  I think people have this notion about writers in general that they sit down and have all these great ideas and they know exactly how they want to say it and they start with the first word and they end with the last period.  That's not how writing works at all.  It's recursive, right?  It's okay to go back and make things better.  In fact, it's essential that do you so.  So, yeah, don't feel married to your first draft of your introduction.  You can always go back and change it and make it more effective, make it more tailored to the specific argument that you're laying out.  Yeah.

 

Visual: Beginning: Start with the Assignment

Thesis: Patient-centered advocacy theory should be implemented at the frontline nursing level in my hospital in order to be successful.

Paper’s main ideas:

  1. What patient-centered advocacy (PCA) theory is and how it has been used
  2. Advantages to PCA theory; what it helps do
  3. Barriers to implementing PCA theory; how they can be overcome
  4. My plan to implement PCA theory in my hospital

This Introduction Should Cover

Broad—Background

Narrower—Problem

Narrowest—Thesis

Consider…

What are the larger ideas?

What stance am I making? What’s important for the reader to understand about the background?

This Introduction Should Cover

Broad—Advocacy theory summary

Narrower—Advantages & barriers

Narrowest—My plan & thesis

Audio: So, yeah, if you're taking a look at this short outline where we have a thesis statement and few main ideas here that we want to get across to the reader and bring the reader up to speed.  The introduction should then start broad.  Give a background.  Get a little more narrow.  Providing a problem.  And lastly, giving the reader that thesis statement that we see above.  So, here's how that could look.  Broadly, you could say, you can talk about advocacy theory summary.  Summarize what you mean by advocacy theory here.  As you get narrow, you can talk about some of the advantages and barriers when using advocacy theory and lastly, supply the reader with this thesis statement.  Excuse me. 

What this slide is meant to do is show you how to go from an outline where you have a thesis statement and main ideas you're going to be discussing in your essay, and then transitioning into crafting an effective introduction from that outline.  So, in interest of time, I'm going to move on here.  But this is what it could look like if you have an outline, and then to take that and to craft that into an introduction. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Introduction – Body – Conclusion

Audio: Okay.  Yeah.  So, from there, now we're going to move forward.  We're going to skip over the body and discussions of the body of your essay, and we're going to transition into talking about endings and concluding your essay.  Again, in the body you want to develop your idea in such a way as to convince the reader of your argument.  Your introduction will again bring the reader up to speed and tell the reader that central argument.  Your body of your piece is then going to elaborate on why you say that and convince the reader.  It's persuasive.  You're going to convince the reader why the argument that you chose is the most logical and makes or most sense given the research that's available in your field. 

For more help on this, you can take a look at couple of links in the bottom here.  One about paragraphs and paragraphing. How to compose effective body of paragraphs.  That's idea is really outside the scope of this webinar, but if this is something you like more information on, by all means, there's a link that could be a jumping off point for you.  And lastly, we have another link about organizing arguments.  This is again is outside the scope of this webinar.  It's a really important topic though.  Crafting strong arguments is really central to doing well as a scholar.  So, if you like more information on that, there's a link for you there as well. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Tying Things Up

Rather than just stopping, you will want to ease your reader into your final thoughts on your topic, and wrap everything up so they know what to take away.

Audio: Moving forward, then skipping over the body and going right to the conclusion or ending, this is really about tying things up.  Rather than just stopping, or just cutting, you know, kind of this abrupt cut off, you want to ease your reader into your final thoughts on the topic and wrap everything up so that they know what to take away and we're going to talk more about how to cultivate this feeling that you're tying up or that you've completed your discussion in the conclusion section. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Tying Things Up

Poll Practice:

What is the purpose of a conclusion? (Choose all that apply.)

Audio: Okay.  Let's take a poll here.  What is the purpose of a conclusion in your opinion?  And you can choose all that apply here.  This is not -- well, the hint is, there's more than one right answer.  But let's take a minute and take a look at this poll.  And we'll talk about which of these five options is part of crafting, the purpose of a conclusion, excuse me. 

[pause as students type]

All right, in the interest of time, I'm going move on.  Looking at these five choices, what is the purpose of the conclusion?  One, to repeat all the things you did in the paper.  That's not the purpose of the conclusion, right?  That's what the body is for.  And to try to repeat the whole body, that's going to be pretty difficult.  So, yeah, A is not something that the conclusion is meant to do.  B, to repeat your thesis statement.  Sure, repeat or paraphrase your thesis statement.  That's a great way to start your conclusion.  That's one thing, B is something the conclusion is meant to do.  C, to provide closure for your paper.  Yes, absolutely.  Perhaps even more centrally it's to provide closure to your paper.  Good.  To introduce any ideas, you didn't get to yet.  No, nobody voted for that one.  So that's awesome. It's kind of what we think of as a real taboo in the community to bring up new ideas in your thesis statements. 

It's okay to leave the reader with a final thought or something that relates directly back to the argument that you were making.  But bringing up new evidence or new main ideas, main points, new topics, supporting topics within an argument is not appropriate within a conclusion section.  To remind the reader of your main ideas.  Yeah, that's another purpose, another thing that the conclusion is meant to accomplish.  Touch on some of those main ideas to remind the reader where this essay has gone.  Good.  You guys are pretty much on top of that.  Well done!

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Tying things up

(1) Acts as a reminder of

  • Argument
  • Main points

(2) Gives the big picture

(3) Provides closure

(4) Avoids presenting new information

Audio:  All right.  Endings.  Tying things up again. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings Tying Things up

Without a conclusion…

…your readers may feel lost, confused, and unsure why they spent all that time reading your paper.

Audio: Without a conclusion, yeah, without a conclusion, your essay just doesn't really have a coherent end.  Okay, I skipped over the bottom section here.  Without the conclusion, the reader feels that the ending is abrupt and they don't really get the idea or they don’t really get the feeling that you're done talking about the topic or that you've discussed a topic fully.  They just get the idea that you're currently done, right?  I'm done with this now, so this is over. 

You don't want your reader to be thinking that there are perhaps loose ends that you didn't talk about.  A strong conclusion section really gives the reader, again, this feeling of completion that this author has discussed this idea fully.  They fully supported their argument and persuaded me even perhaps to see things the way that they do.  Yeah, it can provide this kind of book end to use our example from the beginning.  Without a conclusion, the readers may feel lost, confused, or why they spent all this time reading your paper.  I really hope that the reader doesn't think that about my writing when they're done.  You know, like why did I even read this?  [Laughter] That would be really unfortunate.  So, including a conclusion can help you contextualize this and give the reader kind of a strong idea of why this is important to read. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Tying Things Up

  • Create Closure Through
  • Avoiding new information or the “blueprint”
  • Including synthesis rather than summary

Audio: So, when creating closure, you want to avoid new information or this kind of blueprint.  So, the step-by-step thing we talked about in the introduction.  Yeah, new information should be something, new supporting ideas should be brought up in the body of your essay.  That's the place for your supporting points.  But by the time you reach the conclusion, you should have reached your supporting points fully.  And lastly is leaving the reader with the "So what" thought or last thought for them to take away.  You want to use synthesis rather than summary. 

Rather than summarizing the main points of your piece or just mentioning them briefly, you can talk about how they work with one another.  How maybe one main point leads into one another.  And this is a good place to provide local transition as well to, again, show relationships between these main ideas.  Now, you want to show relationships between your main ideas in the body of your piece as well, but you can kind of do this in miniature in the conclusion. 

 

Visual: Slid changes to the following: Endings: Tying things Up

Just like an introduction, a conclusion should not be in a “blueprint” format:

In this paper, I discussed how informatics is an important part of nursing. I included information from peer-reviewed sources and noted how informatics will impact my field and organization. I concluded with some of the trade-offs of implementing informatics.

Audio: Yeah, so, again, we want to avoid this blueprint format.  Here’s an example of that in this paper, I discussed how informatics is important part of nursing.  I included information from peer-reviewed sources and noted how informatics will impact my field and organization.  I concluded with some of the trade-offs of implementing informatics.  This sounds like a robot wrote it.  This doesn't have real synthesis or human application.  Yeah, human element in it.  So, you want to avoid doing this kind of blueprint format as we've discussed with introductions as well. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Structure

Not sure where to start?

  • Revisit the thesis.
  • Try a reverse outline.
  • Think about a takeaway.
  • Narrow: Restating the thesis
  • Broader: Reiterating main points
  • Broad: Implications of argument to social change and future research

Audio: In the opposite way that an introduction starts broad and leads you more narrow.  A conclusion and ending should start narrow and lead out more broadly.  So, you can start by restating or paraphrasing your thesis statement.  I think paraphrasing is the best way to say that.  You don't want to restate your thesis verbatim word-for-word.  You want to paraphrase that and say it a little bit different way.  Then you’re going to get a little bit broader.  Again, reiterating your point showing synthesis between your main ideas and lastly, talking very broadly about some of the implications to social change or future research.  For those who read a lot of academic writing, you'll notice in a lot of conclusion sections that you encounter, they will say, they show the reader opportunities for future research.  It's appropriate to do that in your writing as well.  That's how your argument can be applied more broadly to the world around you. 

Not sure where to start?  Start by revisiting your thesis.  You might then try reverse outline where you go and look at each body paragraph and pick out the main idea.  That will give you an idea of some of the main ideas you've been discussing if that's not something that's not really clear to you and lastly, think about a takeaway.  Something to leave the reader with. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Think About the Beginning

Tie back to your introduction and thesis

Reiterate overall argument

  • Why did you write this paper?
  • Why is this topic important?

Remind readers of how you proved that argument

  • Studies, theories, experience, data

Audio: You want to tie back your introduction and thesis.  So, I've mentioned this before in this webinar.  But a strong piece of writing has almost a circular feel to it.  And by that, I mean that you kind of end where you started.  You start with your thesis statement and you come all the way around telling the reader your main points and why you think this is a strong argument or the most logical argument in this topic area.  And then in your conclusion, you end with just kind of paraphrase of your thesis statement, reminding the reader what you were arguing.  This goes a long way to give the reader a sense of completion to your writing. 

You want to reiterate your overall argument.  As I kind of said there, why did you write this argument?  Why is this topic important?  You want to remind the reader how you proved that argument.  Studies, theories, experience, data, evidence of all kinds.  Yeah.  Again, touching on some of these main points that you show the reader in the body of your essay. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Format Tips

Length:

  • Course paper: Usually one paragraph
  • Longer, complex papers: Could be several paragraphs

Use headings:

  • Level 1 heading
  • Common headings: Conclusion, Summary, or Discussion

Follow the same writing rules as an introduction:

  • Avoiding anthropomorphism, passive voice, rhetorical questions, and incorrect verb tense

Audio: Practical notes here.  In terms of length for a course paper, again, it should be about one paragraph.  If your introduction is one paragraph, you know, your conclusion should probably be one paragraph.  These are kind of corresponding elements.  Now, this isn't a perfect system, right?  This isn't a perfect way to think about this.  But in general, your introduction and your conclusion should be of similar lengths.  In a longer more complex essay, yeah, it's certainly appropriate to have several paragraphs.  A good way to think about this is if you have headings and subheadings within a document that's a lengthy document, these headings would be good places perhaps to split up your introduction and your conclusion along these lines.  But, again, this takes your own authorial agency, your own subjectivity to determine whether this is a good move or not. 

In transitioning to a conclusion, you want to use a level one heading to tell the reader that this is a summary or conclusion or a discussion at the end.  This is something you're familiar with as you researched in academic writing. Often times it will label a conclusion, a conclusion section or a summary section.  And it's appropriate to do it in your writing also.  And you want to follow the same writing rule as your introduction.  Avoid passive voice.  These rhetorical questions.  Anthropomorphism.  Incorrect verb tense.  So, all of these general APA guidelines listed here that apply to your piece as a whole also apply to your conclusion.  Sure. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: The Future?

Discuss future implications of research or topic

Not new information

  • Should naturally build throughout your text
  • Reiterates the importance of your argument

Audio: In discussing future implications of research or your topic, you should be naturally, you should build naturally throughout your text.  So, as you're discussing your argument throughout the body of your text, you should be building upon this and then your thesis statement can build further from that.  Or excuse me, your thesis statement, I mean your conclusion can build further from that, again, telling the reader where maybe future research can go here.  Or where social change comes in when thinking about this topic. 

And it can also reiterate the importance of your argument with that kind of social change amount that I've discussed.  Why is this an important topic?  When studying this, how can this be applied to the real world is a really good way to leave the reader with something to think about when they're done reading your piece.  I think it's important to note here also that the last line of your document is the line for whatever reason that the reader is going to be most likely to remember.  So, leaving them with a little bit of a zinger there is a good idea and by "Zinger" I mean like a good strong piece of information.  A strong application, whether it be about the importance of that topic or opportunity for future research, that is something that stays with the reader as they are done with your piece. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Endings: Sample

This paper is about the implementation of informatics and the writer’s own experience with this in her organization.

Chat:

How is this paragraph successful?

Is there a restated thesis, reiteration of main points, and larger implications?

Employing informatics in an organization may include frustration and pushback from healthcare staff, but using a system like CPOE is a necessity. In my organization, improved and consistent patient care was an early benefit, and scholars continue to note the long-term benefits of informatics. As CPOE becomes a future requirement for healthcare organizations, administrators should encourage its use and fund training to have a smooth, well-received implementation.

Audio: Okay.  Taking a look at this sample conclusion.  Go ahead and read this.  We're going to then chat about it a little bit.  I'm looking for you to drop into the chat box an answer to this question.  How is this paragraph successful?  Is there a restated thesis, a reiteration of the main points, and larger implications?  And, again, this is about how successful is this sample conclusion?  Take a couple of minutes and drop your answer into the chat box. 

[pause as students type]

Okay.  I'm seeing some answers come in.  To allow for some opportunity at the end of this webinar for some questions, I'm going to kind of move on here quickly. But this is an effective conclusion.  Right?  They start very broad as many of you noted.  They moved more narrow.  And they ended with this kind of -- excuse me, they started narrow.  [Laughter] These corresponding parts, right?  They started narrow, and they worked more broadly.  And then at the end, they offered some perhaps implications for this, that administrators should encourage this use, to improve the system to make a more well-received and smooth implementation.  So, this is an effective conclusion section.  Yeah. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Introduction – Conclusion

Chat: What are the main similarities here? The differences?

Introduction

All leaders must learn to communicate effectively in order to be successful. There are several main forms of communication, but two of the most important are face-to-face and online (Helakoski, 2016). In my process of becoming a successful leader and communicator, I will analyze my strengths and weaknesses in order to improve my communication skills. Once I have analyzed my skills, I will be able to apply changes in order to enhance my skills as an ethical face-to-face and online communicator and leader.

Conclusion

Becoming a skilled communicator through both face-to-face and online communication has a positive impact on our personal and social interactions. By analyzing face-to-face and online communication skills, I identified my strengths and weaknesses and developed ideas on how to become a more knowledgeable and skilled communicator. I plan to be an effective and ethical communicator by further educating myself in this area and practicing verbal, nonverbal, and active listening skills that I learned in the communication course.

Audio: Taking a look here at this example slide.  We have an example of an introduction.  And we have an example of a conclusion.  I think we're going to skip this one to allow time for questions at the end.  For those who have downloaded the slides, go back and take a look at this and reflect on what are the main similarities and main differences.  Again, an introduction and a conclusion are part of the corresponding element of your scholarly writing, but they're not identical.  So, there's going to be some difference if there's going to be a great difference of similarity between the two.  I'm going to move forward again.  But for those who have downloaded the slides, please do go back and take a look at this and reflect on the similarities and differences here

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Introduction – Conclusion

  • Broad à Narrow
    • Construct an arguable thesis
    • Establish your scholarly tone
    • Remember the funnel shape
  • Narrow à Broad
    • Reiterate your thesis
    • Synthesize your main points
    • Remember the triangle shape

Audio: As I've mentioned in the last couple of minutes, these are corresponding elements.  They work somewhat in reverse.  You want in an introduction construct an arguable thesis, establish your scholarly tone and remember that funnel shape.  That triangle with one pointing straight down.  So, you're working from broad to more narrow.  The conclusion is going to be the opposite of that.  You're going to start narrow and then you’re going to work more broadly.  Some synthesis of your point in the middle and again in the middle, and at the end some point of implication for this research.  Why is this important?  How can this applied more broadly? 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision Tips

When you’ve finished your paper—

  • Read just the beginning: Does it cover the main ideas and scope of your paper?
  • Read just the ending: Does it go over your main points and leave the reader with takeaway?

If the answer is “No” or “I’m not sure” try a reverse outline and make sure you’re touching on the main ideas in the body of your work in both of these places.

Audio: When you finish your paper, read just the beginning.  Does it cover the main ideas and scope of your paper?  So, this is a way to check yourself.  Read just the ending.  Does it go over the main points and leave the reader with a takeaway?  In doing this, if you answer no or I'm not sure, then it's a good time to rework the sessions.  And retouch the outlines and body of your work in both of these places.  Right?  So, again, this is kind of a way to check yourself.  In reading these sections you feel that it doesn't cover the main idea or scope of your paper, that's a good indication that you need to go back and do some revisions. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following; Questions: Ask Now or Later

writingsupport@waldenu.edu •  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Check out the recorded webinars “Writing Effective Academic Paragraphs” and “Cohesion and Flow: Bringing Your Paper Together”

 

Audio: Here we are at the end.  I'm going to ask Kacy for the remaining couple of minutes here, what questions came into the chat box or question box that you think the group can benefit an answer to? 

Kacy:  We had a question about the conclusion.  You mentioned that you don't want to add any new information into the conclusion.  But would it be all right to include information about potential further research that might be conducted? 

Michael:  Yeah, absolutely.  As I've mentioned previously, yeah, totally.  Telling the reader what perhaps what the next step in research is, or where this argument could go in further writing, further research is an appropriate way to have that kind of application piece at the end of your conclusion, right?  We're starting very narrow.  Paraphrasing our thesis.  We're getting more broad, talking about the main points within our document.  And then lastly, we're getting to the most broad where you kind of unleash your argument on the world.  Well, maybe that's not the right way to say it.  Where you suggest potential applications and opportunities for future research. So that is appropriate.  Good question.        

Kacy:  Awesome.  And when you're writing your own introduction and conclusions, do you have any specific techniques or specific order of writing them? 

Michael:  When I write my introduction and conclusions?  [Laughter] Okay, so this is my own writing process here, right?  And as always, what works for me might not work for others.  What I do is I write an introduction that is how I'm thinking of the essay going.  So, I'll have like an outline, and I'll write an introduction in the same format, right?  Starting broad, then touching on these outlined ideas that I plan to talk about in the body of my piece.  And then presenting my thesis statement.  But I often go back and revise this.  Right? 

So, I guess to look at our two techniques here that we talked about earlier in the webinar, I write a first draft or a poor draft of my introduction.  And then I go back and revise that.  I mentioned this before, but a mentor of mine once said that it's easier to tell the reader where you're going once you've already gone there.  So, I'll start with the introduction, kind of a poor introduction.  Then I'll elaborate through my body of my piece.  Then I'll return back and I’ll make that introduction better, being more directly related to the content of the body of the piece I'm composing.  Does that make sense?  Did I say that in a clear way? 

Kacy :  Thanks, I do that really helpful.  Because people have different writing techniques or writing processes, and it's always nice to hear how other successful writers are doing it.  So, thanks so much for sharing and thank you, all, so much for joining us for this webinar.  With that, I'm going to close it off.  But please do remember that you can always reach us at writingsupport@waldenu.edu, if you have any further questions And we hope to see you at another webinar soon.  Thanks so much!