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Webinar Transcripts

Practical Tips to Successfully Write in Academic American English

Presented December 11, 2019

View the recording

Last updated 1/5/2020

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

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

Audio: Hi everyone and thanks for your patience there. It is great to have you here. My name is Beth Nastachowski, I am the manager of multimedia writing instruction for the writing center and I am just going to get us started off here with a couple of quick housekeeping notes before I hand the session over to our presenter today, Claire.

So a couple of notes here, I have started the recording for this webinar and we’ll be posting that recording in our webinar archive by tomorrow, probably tomorrow afternoon so if you have to leave for any reason or if you'd like to come back and review the session you're more than welcome to do, you can access those recordings at any time. I always like to note here that we record all of our webinars in the writing center so if you ever see a webinar that is being presented live that you can’t attend during that time you're welcome to find it in the recordings archive. Additionally if you’re ever looking for help on a particular topic you can look at that archive and we have all the different webinars over 40 of them listed there so you could find help on different writing topics at any time in our archive.

We also encourage you to interact with each other and with us today, so I know that Claire has a couple of chats she’ll be using throughout the session today, so I encourage you to engage in those. We also have links to further information throughout the slides here and those links are active, and you could hover over them with your mouse and if you click the open up on a different tab in your browser. Also note that you can download the slides and then access the links that way so if you see the files pod at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen there is a slides file listed you can click on that and click download file and it will download to your computer so you can save and look at it, at a later date if you would like as well.

I also encourage you to ask questions or submit comments throughout the session. So, I’ll be monitoring the Q&A box that’s on the right side of the screen so you can submit questions or comments at any time, and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Claire, will be stopping for some questions that she’ll be taking a loud at certain points as well so I will be sure to save questions that might be useful for her to address aloud, so be sure to send those throughout the session so we have them ready when Claire is ready to take questions. Also note that if you have any questions after the webinar at the very end sometimes we have to end the session, if we don’t get to all the questions, please make sure to reach out to us at our email address writingsupport@waldenu.edu or our live chat hours those are available on our website. We’ll make sure to display that information at the end of the webinar too and I wanted to note that as well.

Alright, finally if you have any technical issues please do let me know in the Q&A box I have a couple tips and tricks I can give you but there is also the help button at the top right hand corner of the screen and that is the best place to go for any significant technical issues.

With that Claire I will hand it over to you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Practical Tips to Successfully Write in Academic American English” and the speaker’s name and information: Claire Helakoski Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Claire: Thanks Beth. Hi everyone. I am Claire Helakoski a writing instructor here at the Walden University writing center and I'm coming in from Grand Rapids, Michigan where we just got several inches of snow over the last couple of days. It’s our first big snow of the season here. Alright, so, we’re going to talk let practical tips to successfully write an academic American English.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Overview

  • Follow faculty expectations
  • Write in a linear structure
  • Develop arguments with evidence and analysis
  • Cite sources
  • Use clear, concise language
  • Spend time on revision and proofreading
  • Use Writing Center resources

Audio: Here is our overview. We are going to discuss following faculty expectations, writing in a linear structure, developing arguments with evidence and analysis, citing sources, using clear concise language, spending time on revision and proofreading, and using writing center resources. There will be a lot of writing center resources today so if they seem appealing, I suggest downloading the slides so you can click through those links later when you have more time.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Follow Faculty Expectations

  • Expectations may differ from what you are used to because of varying educational backgrounds

Approach with questions

Ask for models and samples

Follow the grading rubric to be sure you have all the required parts of the assignment

Audio: The first one I mentioned was follow faculty expectations. Expectations of your faculty may differ from what you are used to depending on your educational background. If you are not sure what your faculty is expecting approach them with questions, so ask questions. I have done some teaching in traditional classrooms and I really always would rather answer a few emails from a student and point them in the right direction then have to give them a lower grade than their effort really has earned because they did not understand the directions or something wasn’t clear to them so reach out, ask questions. Ask for models and samples so your faculty will know what’s going on in your field and have some journals to recommend or other things to look at to get a general idea for what their expectations are. And follow the grading rubric and make sure you have all of the required parts of the assignment.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Follow Faculty Expectations Resources:

           A Few Writing Center Resources:

Audio: We do have some resources for following those faculty expectations. We have a podcast about not meeting requirements and how to work on following your assignment instructions and we have a webinar about Walden writing prompts and learning the writing requirements that’s really great, kind of breaking down here's what my assignment says, what does that really mean? What is it asking for? How can I use the assignment instructions to organize and structure my response and make sure that I'm answering it fully?

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write in a Linear Structure

  • Linear versus circular
  • Expectations for the reader versus the writer

Audio: Our next point is to write in a linear structure so that means start at the beginning and go straight through that argument. So you’ll in a typical academic paper you will start with your arguments or your thesis and then you will have supporting ideas for that argument that build on one another and then you’ll wrap everything up so that is what we mean when we say a linear structure rather than a circular structure that comes back to the same points in a different way that’s more typical in other cultures in other forms of writing rather than academic American English writing.

It focuses on those expectations for the reader versus the writer, so you want to really think about how am I going to make this clear for my reader in academic American English? It is really important to make sure that you are doing most of the work for your reader. So, you don't want to leave gaps in your reasoning and just count on your reader to figure it out type of thing. Instead you want to really lay it, explain it to them and really work through that material to have those effective academic works.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write in a Linear Structure: Resources

           A Few Writing Center Resources:

Audio: We have some resource for that, too. We have a page on paragraphing, and I will go over a paragraphing example in a little bit so you can see more of what I am talking about. We have blog posts on paragraph organization. We have a podcast episode on creating successful paragraph and we have a wonderful webinar on writing effective academic paragraphs. It is one of my favorite webinars. It really walks through organizing paragraphs and has a lot of different examples of what they can look like.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Develop Your Arguments With Evidence and Your Own Analysis

  • Expectations may differ from what you are used to because of varying educational backgrounds

Beyond summary

Expected to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize

Audio: Develop your arguments with evidence so evidence I mean outside resources and your own analysis. Those expectations might differ from what you are used to because of varying educational backgrounds so beyond just summarizing a source, you are expected to analyze, evaluate and synthesize that source information. That means like saying before you really want to spell it out for the reader, connect those ideas, explain why you picked this piece of evidence, how does it support your argument? What is the connection? How do different pieces of evidence connect together that is synthesis. Evaluating is this piece of evidence. Supportive is it contrary to my point? How is it working with the argument that I am making?

So, rather than focusing just on evidence and letting the evidence speak for itself you have the evidence and then you speak for the evidence as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Develop Your Arguments: Resources

           A Few Writing Center Resources:

Audio: We have some wonderful resources on developing arguments too. We have our webpage on synthesis. We have a great series of blog posts about using evidence. We have a webinar on adding analysis and synthesis to your writing. And a webinar on synthesis and thesis development so we have tons of resources. And again, I will go over what a typical academic paragraph looks at with that analysis and evidence in a few minutes here.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Following the MEAL Plan to Write in a Linear Structure Supported With Evidence and Analysis

Paragraphs can be organized like this:

M  = Main idea/topic sentence. Written in your own words.

E = Evidence. The evidence is supported with outside sources.

A = Analysis. Explanation, commentary, or informed opinion about the evidence.

L = Lead out or conclusion.

Audio: Or,, I will do it right now. I thought there was another slide before this. So, when I am talking about organizing your academic paragraphs you can use the meal plan to write in a linear structure supported with evidence and analysis.

The meal plan is just an outline structure to keep in mind as you are working and make sure you have all the elements in each paragraph, so MEAL stands for main idea, evidence, analysis and lead out. The main idea is that topic sentence, it will be in your own words. It should not be with a source generally. Evidence is the outside resource where you are paraphrasing or quoting source material. Analysis is where you are going to explain, comment on or just break down the evidence in context to your overall argument or point. And the lead out is kind of a conclusion or summing up sentence that tells the reader what they should've understood from your paragraph.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Example Paragraph in MEAL Plan

           Another component of doctoral writing evidenced in this dissertation was the author’s use of summary or paraphrase, demonstrating her ability to critically assess the material from several sources and make a unique contribution by synthesizing the material in her own voice. Instead of directly quoting sources, Hackshaw (2012) summarized the literature, citing only one page number, indicating a paraphrased passage. The absence of direct quotes contributes to the paper’s flow and readability because there is consistency in the author’s voice opposed to multiple voices from direct quotes. Specifically, Hackshaw used paraphrase and summary to directly relate relevant aspects of other works to her own study, rather than using direct quotes followed by explanations or analyses. In this way, the author explained and contextualized her research using her own voice.

Audio: And just to clarify that does not mean that you should only have four sentences in a paragraph. You just should have all of these elements in each paragraph. So, here's an example paragraph using that meal plan. Another component of doctoral writing evidenced in's dissertation was the authors use of summary or paraphrase demonstrating her ability to critically assess the material from several sources and make the unique contribution by synthesizing the material in her own voice. There is our main idea sentence.

Instead of directly quoting sources Hackshaw summarized the literature citing only one-page number indicating a paraphrased passage. So, there is our source information we can tell because it has a citation. The absence of direct quotes contributes to the papers flow and readability because there is consistency in the authors voice opposed to multiple voices from direct quotes. Specifically, Hackshaw used paraphrase and summary to directly relate relevant aspects of other works to her own study, rather than using direct quotes followed by explanations or analyses. So, there is our analysis. We are telling the reader what this all means in context. So, we have that source information about Hackshaw using quotes and then we are going to explain why is paraphrasing beneficial and this kind of explains why that is beneficial.

In this way the author explained and contextualized her research using her own voice so that is a nice summing up sentence that take away for readers we are talking about how this author used her own voice and contextualized her research. So that is a great example of the meal plan and the underlining in italics is just for emphasis so you can visually see those different elements. You should just use plaintext for your paragraphs in your academic work.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Rearrange these sentences to follow the MEAL plan.

         (1) Hewett (2013) reported that 45% of writing centers are connecting with students via social media, as compared to the 10% Kubista (2007) reported from her 2006 survey. (2) This large increase may be due to the increasing familiarity both students and writing center staff have with social media. (3) Additionally, Kallman (2014) noted that writing center directors described their writing centers offering a variety of seven kinds of services, including workshops, course development, and websites.  (4) In conclusion, Hewett and Kallman’s findings show writing centers not only offering other services besides tutoring, but a wide diversity in services. (5) Writing centers are beginning to offer students more than one-on-one tutoring services.

Audio: I have a practice for you. Go ahead and rearrange the sentences to follow the meal plan. And I will read the paragraph. Oh no I won’t because that would be confusing. I will give you a few minutes to read the paragraph as it is written and consider what numerical order should these sentences go in to be in a meal plan and again meal is main idea, evidence, analysis, and synthesis. So, go ahead and take a couple minutes. Read through that and write your responses in the chat box.

[Silence as participants are working on exercise]

Claire: We are going to give everyone another 30 seconds or so, go ahead and write in responses and then we’ll talk over.

[Silence as participants are working on exercise]

Alright, I’m seeing a drop off in people typing. So, we are going to go ahead and move on to the answer and the correctly organized.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Answer:

           (5) Writing centers are beginning to offer students more than one-on-one tutoring services. (1) Hewett (2013) reported that 45% of writing centers are connecting with students via social media, as compared to the 10% Kubista (2007) reported from her 2006 survey. (3) Additionally, Kallman (2014) noted that writing center directors described their writing centers offering a variety of seven kinds of services, including workshops, course development, and websites. (2) This large increase may be due to the increasing familiarity both students and writing center staff have with social media. (4) In conclusion, Hewett and Kallman’s findings show writing centers not only offering other services besides tutoring, but a wide diversity in services.

Audio: It seems like a lot of people have said 5, 1, 3, 2, 4, so let's see you are the winners.

Not that it is a competition but five, one, three, two, four is an effective meal structure. Let's talk but that. We have writing centers are beginning to offer students more one-on-one tutoring services, so we are explaining what the focus of this paragraph is going to be, in our own words.

Hewett reported that 45% of writing centers are connecting with students via social media as compared to the 10% reported from her 2006 survey. So that is some source information. So we know that that is the E in meal so it comes after our main idea and then we have another piece of evidence here, additionally Kallman noted, that writing center directors describe their writing centers offering a variety of seven kinds of services including workshops, course development and websites. So, there we have two pieces of evidence so like I was saying it does not mean that you should only have four sentences just means you have evidence and analysis and a topic sentence and a conclusion sentence. Then we have this large increase may be due to the increasing familiarity both students and writing center staff have with social media. There we are having our analysis where we explain or contextualize that source information and then in conclusion Hewett and Kallman’s findings show writing centers not only offering other services besides tutoring, but a wide diversity in services. So, there we are bringing altogether our ideas, right?

With the different pieces of evidence with 3 and 2 we could write, we could have two after number 1 because we are talking about that large increase so we are kind of explaining it in context there and we could potentially switch those sentences up a little bit, if we wanted to add some additional analysis because I know a lot if you had that as an option, too. There are options. You could move things around to try and make the best strongest most linear argument that you can and when it is your own work you’ll be fully in control of that. So great job everybody.

We're going to continue forward.

Beth: And Claire I think…

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Cite All Ideas That Come From Sources

  • Collective versus individual approach to writing
  • In APA, use paraphrasing instead of direct quotes whenever possible

Audio: Claire: Just in case you are going to be looking for that, I will just go ahead and move forward. So, our next point is to cite all ideas, all ideas that come from sources. So, this is a collective versus individual approach to writing and in APA we use paraphrasing instead of direct quotes whenever possible. You want to give credit to every sentence that you have that is informed by a source. So that readers know where you got that information and where they can find it. And that’s different than potentially other types of writing, other writing formats like MLA doesn’t cite as often as APA. Chicago has different things going on so there is a lot of different theories and philosophies about citing out there but for APA you need to cite every sentence that is informed by that source reading.

And you want to paraphrase rather than using direct quotes whenever possible. Like our example we were talking about said that, that’s going to help keep things in your own voice and contextualize that for your reader where is a direct quote tends to pull readers out of your voice and it does not have that contextualization so quotes are a lot more work to make work effectively in your writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Is this correctly integrated? Part 1

No. Language is the same as the original. There are no quotation marks or page number.

Original: “Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children, while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also expected small class size, close student-teacher relationships, and strong sports programs” (Baade, 2016, p. 99).

Example: Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children, while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also expected small class size, close student-teacher relationships, and strong sports programs (Baade, 2016).

Audio: We have a practice here and I am not going to have a chat for this I’m just going to talk through it and I just want you to hold your answers in your minds. We have an original quotation which I’ll go ahead and read.

“Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also expected small class size, close student teacher relationships and strong sports programs. And that’s from Baade”.

Here is an example of how a student might use this source information in their paper. Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children, while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also excited small class size, close student teacher relationships, and strong sports programs. I will give you only moment to consider, do you think that this is correctly integrated or used in the students’ work?

You can see the original on the left and what appears in the student’s paper on the right. You can see what appeared in the student's paper on the right there.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Is this correctly integrated? Part 2

No. The language is too close to the original and follows the same general structure. No citation is included.

Original: “Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children, while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also expected small class size, close student-teacher relationships, and strong sports programs” (Baade, 2016, p. 99).

Example: Participants wanted the school district to provide their children education, while reinforcing conservative beliefs. They also expected small classes, close student-teacher relationships, and good sports programs.

Audio: Okay, so this is not correctly integrated. Right? And that is because it is the exact same wording as the original source so it is exactly the same word for word in the same order but it does not have quotation marks to let the reader know that that is the exact wording from the source and it is missing a page number so if we did want to include this in our work which again we should try to paraphrase instead but if you wanted to include this in our work we would have to have quotation marks around it to correctly integrate them into our writing and effectively give credit to that source because this example on the right is saying without the quotation marks is that the writing is in the writer's own words and sentence structure so you are saying I paraphrased this I wrote the words in this order based on what I read but that is not true here, right? Because he wrote those exact words in that exact order, so it is important to give appropriate credit to that source.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Is this correctly integrated? Part 2

No. The language is too close to the original and follows the same general structure. No citation is included.

Original: “Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children, while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also expected small class size, close student-teacher relationships, and strong sports programs” (Baade, 2016, p. 99).

Example: Participants wanted the school district to provide their children education, while reinforcing conservative beliefs. They also expected small classes, close student-teacher relationships, and good sports programs.

Audio: We have another example, so we are still trying to work in this Baade source into our paper so here's another example. Participants wanted the school district to provide their children education while reinforcing conservative beliefs. They also excited small classes, close student teacher relationships, and good sports programs. Is this example correctly integrated? Is it giving credit to the source like we need to? Is it being used effectively? Just hold your answer in your mind there.

So, this one is also not correctly integrated. First because while we are putting this somewhat in our own words, so it is not exactly the same like in the first example. But the underlined words are all exactly the same words in the exact same order and that is too close to the original for us to call it our own words and sentence structure so we would want to mix it up a little bit more than that. We would want to have a unique sentence structure in our paraphrase and there is no citation so with no citation we are telling the reader these are just my ideas, this is my experience, I am saying this, it is not informed in any way by something I read and that’s not true. We know this is informed by Baade, so we need to cite them and we want to mix up our sentence structure and phrasing more so it is not so close to the original because it is in our own words without those direct quotes.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Is this correctly integrated? Part 3

Yes.  Language and sentence structure vary from the original and the ideas are cited in APA.

Original: “Participants expected the school district to provide a quality education to their children, while reinforcing the conservative beliefs and values of their parents and grandparents; they also expected small class size, close student-teacher relationships, and strong sports programs” (Baade, 2016, p. 99).

Example: Participants had various expectations of their school, including that the administrators maintain small class sizes, provide sports, and maintain good student-teacher relationships, while also supporting their conservative values (Baade, 2016).

Audio: Last example: participants had various expectations of their school, including that the administrators maintain small class sizes, provide sports, and maintain good student-teacher relationships, while also supporting their conservative values. Think about this one. Is this example correctly integrated in the students’ work?

Yes, this is what we are looking for. While of course some of the words are going to be the same like participants and small class size, those just aren’t things that you can change. The word order and structure is completely different from the original here so we are reinterpreting this in our own words for the reader and we have a citation so that’s really important, too. We are saying this is what Baade said and I am rephrasing it for you so it is more concise and fits with the tone of what I am saying in the rest of my paper. But this is from a source and if readers wanted to read more they would go find Baade and read through and they would probably be able to find this quotation or section where you got these ideas from and understand where that came from.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Cite All Ideas That Come From Other Sources

           A Few Writing Center Resources:

Audio: In supporting you citing ideas that come from other sources we have lots of resources like our citation webpage, our plagiarism prevention modules those are really great if this whole siding thing is new to you, I highly recommend them. They have this interactive aspect let you practice and find errors like the exercise we just did. Really great. Blog posts about citations. We have paraphrasing source information webinar that really walks through and gets a lot more examples. Sort of like the ones we just did but much more depth. And we have a video on paraphrasing strategies.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: Empty Phrases

Eliminate empty phrases

Example: Regardless of the fact that he just graduated, he is quite skilled.

More concise:  Although he just graduated, he is quite skilled.

Wordy                                                   Concise

As a matter of fact                                In fact

At all times                                             Always

Due to the fact that                              Because

For the purpose of                               For

For the reason that                              Because

In the event that                                   If

Audio: Continuing on our writing effectively in academic American English you want to use clear concise language that means avoiding empty phrases. So empty phrases are extra words that don't really mean anything. They don't add to the meaning and usually there is a much more concise substitute so here's an example. Regardless of the fact that he just graduated, he is quite skilled. A more concise version of regardless of the fact that would be although he just graduated, he is quite skilled. So, tried to eliminate the excess junkie language and get to the point.

Here’s some wordy examples and some more concise revisions. As a matter of fact, in fact. At all times, always. Due to the fact that, because. For the purpose of, just for. For the reason that, because. And in the event that, if. And these aren’t, you know…take into consideration the context of your sentence and make sure is going to make sense but these are just some examples. There usually are some nice concise options as opposed to those more wordy empty phrases.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: Strong Verbs

Replace nominalizations and long phrases with strong verbs

Example: The registrar’s note is a clarification of the school’s policies.

More concise:  The registrar’s note clarifies the school’s policies.

Wordy                                                              Concise

To give examples                                             to exemplify

To give consideration to                                to consider

To have an understanding of                       to understand

To put emphasis on                                        to emphasize

To make an analysis                                       to analyze

To conduct an interview                               to interview

Audio: Again, on writing, using that clear concise language you want to use strong verbs. So, an example is the registrar's note is a clarification of the schools’ policies. That is a nominalizations or long phrase instead we could replace it with a verb. The registrar's note clarifies the school’s policies. So instead is a clarification we could just say it clarifies so we’re making that a verb instead.

Here are other examples. To give examples, to exemplify. To give consideration to, to consider. To have an understanding of, to understand. To put emphasis on, to emphasize. To make an analysis, to analyze. Je conduct an interview, to interview. So, if you find you're using these kind of wordier phrases you can replace them with a simplified verb.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: There is and It is

Replace “there is” or “it is” with the real subject

Example: There are many people who believe…

More concise:  Many people believe…

Example: It is imperative that these guidelines are followed by students.

More concise: Students must follow these guidelines.

Audio: Alright, so now let’s talk about there is, or it is. You can replace there is an it is with the actual subject to be more concise and more importantly to be more clearer with your reader. So, when you say there is are it is it is often vague so having your subject more specifically is more beneficial for your reader.

Here is a couple of examples. There are many people who believe. So that’s not really necessary. Many people believe. It is imperative that these guidelines are followed by students. Or students must follow these guidelines.

You can often cut out excess words there.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: Redundancies

Eliminate redundancies and unnecessary words

The work is basically done. 

The parking lot where people park is always full.

Marco is now employed as a violinist in the Detroit Symphony.

He was offered a free gift.

Important essentials are …

Audio: And you want to avoid redundancy and unnecessary words. Like the work is basically done. Basically, is a qualifier where you are telling the reader how to interpret something so you could just get rid of it. The work is done. The parking lot people park is always full. Parking lots are where people park right? If it is not essential to the meaning of your sentence you can get rid of it. Marco is now employed as a violinist in the Detroit Symphony. Marco is now a violinist in the Detroit Symphony. Being a violinist is a form of employment. He offered me a free gift. Gifts are always free and important essentials are the same meaning so we can just start with the essentials are.

 

Visual: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: Relative Clauses

Replace relative clauses with adjectives or phrases as appropriate

Example: The procedure that is most common is….

More concise: The most common procedure is….

Visit reduced relative clauses for more information and examples

Audio: Now we’ll talk a little bit about relative clauses, so you want to replace relative clauses with adjectives or phrases as appropriate. Here's an example. The procedure that is most common is. . . Or you could have the most common procedure is. So here we have the excess language the procedure that is most common and we really just mean the most common procedure. So, we could eliminate "that is" and have the most common procedure kind of have that descriptor upfront rather than needing to have a verb.

We do have a reduced relative clauses page for more information and examples.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: Pretentious Language

         Avoid pretentious language

  • Example: Engaging in the profusely exciting intellectual endeavors commenced, perpetuated, and achieved by this highly praised institution of higher learning, its constituents, pursuant of wisdom and insight, are worthy of our most profound sentiments of support—as it is they who ultimately will raise our hopes of ameliorating the miserable and disadvantaged conditions experienced by society’s economically disenfranchised and underprivileged participants.
  • More concise: The university encourages students to engage in continual intellectual discussions because it is these students who can help achieve fairness and equality in society.

Audio: We want to avoid pretentious language so pretentious language can happen when we are trying really hard to sound very smart and knowledgeable about our topics and we want to come off as these great intelligent people that we are in our fields but that does not mean you need to add a bunch of extra language. That ends up just cluttering up your statements and you’re your ideas and that is what happens most of the time so that is what I mean when I say pretentious language. I mean too much language. So, here's an example. Engaging in the profuse the exciting intellectual endeavors commenced perpetuated and achieve by this highly praised institution of higher learning its constituents pursuant of wisdom and insight are worthy of our most profound sentiments of support as it is they who ultimately will raise our hopes of ameliorating the miserable and disadvantaged conditions experienced by societies economically disenfranchised and underprivileged participants.

You’ll notice that not only did we use a lot of weighted words in that sentence but there are extra descriptors. Lots of extra descriptors in there and to be concise we really want to focus on what is essential. We want to be sure that our reader understands exactly what we mean and that is more important than using big fancy words or additional descriptors.

A more concise version might be the University encourages students to engage in continual intellectual discussions because it is these students who can help achieve fairness and equality in society.

And you might hear pretentious language if you read your work aloud. I highly recommend that strategy as you are working on this aspect of your writing to be more concise too you will hear those kind of clunkier wordier phrases much more easily if you read them out loud. It is really easy to skim over them with your eyes.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Practice: Revise this sentence for concision.

I believe that it is necessary to revise the No Child Left Behind policy on account of the fact that a lot of students are still failing the standardized tests. (30 words)

Audio: Now that we have talked a lot about being concise, we have a practice to revise this sentence for concision. I believe that it is necessary to revise the no child behind policy on account of the fact that a lot of students are still feeling the standardized tests. How might we write this more concisely? I will give you all a couple more minutes.

[silence as participants respond]

Claire: I am seeing some really great responses and I am happy to see that all of you are keying in on the essentials of this sentence. The essentials are that students are still failing so no child left behind needs to be revised. And a lot of you really get at that point very succinctly. For example, because students are still failing standardized tests, it is necessary to revise the no Child left behind policy. Or the no child behind policy should be modified due to failing, due to students failing the standardized tests. Is necessary to revise the no Child left behind policy because students are failing tests. This one a little bit casual but still concise. Students are still failing standardized tests, so the no Child left behind policy needs to be revised. I would maybe have therefore, for example instead of "so." Just because the phrasing is a little bit casual for academic writing. And this one is a little bit wordy I think we could revise it a little bit more. Many students still fail standardized test pointing to a need to revise the no Child left behind policy. I think rather than pointing to a need to revise come up with something a little bit more concise there. But you did a great job cutting out some of that extra wording like I believe that it is necessary, that’s kind of extra wordy.

Generally, in academic writing unless your assignments passively asks for it you are not going to have "I believe" statements. Your statements are what you believe so you could cut that all out and then on account of the fact that a lot of you caught this, that, that is extra wordy and really not necessary there. Wonderful job everyone.

I am going to move forward.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Write Using Clear, Concise Language: Resources

           A Few Writing Center Resources:

Audio: Here are some resources for writing using that clear concise language. Writing concisely webpage, we have a verb choice webpage and blog posts on word choice. And of course, you could use a paper review and we will give you some feedback as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Spend Time on Revision and Proofreading: Process

  • Writing as a process
  • Multiple drafts are expected
  • Might be most time consuming part of the process
  • Revision

Audio: Another key component of writing successfully in academic American English is to spend time on revision and proofreading. So, think about your process. Writing is a process. Multiple drafts are expected, and they might be the most time-consuming part of the process. With revision so you really want to write your draft, outline it, take a day away, look at it again, make some revisions and then look at it again before you turn it in and it is kind of a cycle. figure out what process works best for you, but you should have more than one draft of your work as you are continuing to build your writing skills.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Spend Time on Revision and Proofreading: Steps

  • Adjust your expectations
  • Plan for revision time
  • Think big picture
  • Think critically about your revisions
  • Use a Revision Checklist
  • Become a peer reviewer
  • Read your writing out loud
  • Save each draft as its own separate document

Audio: Here’s some steps. Adjust your expectations so don't expect to just crank out the perfect paper. A day before your assignment is due. That’s really not realistic even for very accomplished and practice writers. I still write lots of drafts of everything that I produce because the revision strategies look different and I am looking for different things than maybe I used to but I still have different drafts and still take that time to look back at my work and consider how to make it better and stronger. So, plan for that revision time. Think about the big picture of your work, how you are effectively conveying ideas, what are trends you see in your writing that you consistently need to revise? And think critically about those revisions. If you are consistently making revisions to make sure you meet the meal plan because you are missing parts of it for example, the next time you write your draft think about that as you are working on it.

Use a revision checklist. You could become a peer reviewer with fellow students in your class. Read your writing out loud and save each draft as its own separate document. That way you can always go back and your work that has been revised won't be gone forever.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Spend Time on Revision and Proofreading: Strategies

Audio: Here are some additional strategies you can visit the scholarly voice page. You can take note of commonly used phrases in your field of study and general formulaic academic language. So read things written in your field so that you get a sense of the tone, the words that are being used. Use a thesaurus to search for synonyms of less formal words and multilingual writers may find Merriam-Webster's learner's dictionary helpful.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Spend Time on Revision and Proofreading: Outside resources

Audio: Here are some additional resources so use a corpus to check for phrasing so that is basically if you are multilingual you will know that prepositions and just generally the way things are phrased sometimes are very hard to memorize all of them so you can type them into a corpus and see if you are using a phrasing that is typical in American English or if maybe you meant something slightly different. You can search the Internet to see if a particular phrase is used. You can search Google scholar and you can use this alternative corpus that focuses exclusively on academic writing. So, there is a lot of resource out there to double check phrasing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Use a Grammar Revision Journal

Grammar Revision Journal:

Let’s take a look!

Download from the files pod!

Audio: And you can use a grammar revision Journal which you can download. This is what it looks like it is kind of this table so you might make notes of specific issues that are cropping up in your writing like parallel structure or semicolons and you can write down an example from your work so maybe your instructor commented on this, you came in for a paper review, maybe your faculty commented on it and you want to just pull that out and paste into your grammar Journal. Here's an example of a sentence you used that had this grammar issue. Here's how you can revise it and here's the grammar rule to keep in mind. So you can keep track of those kind of instances that are happening in your work and then you can take a quick look through your work as you're revising as part of your process and think where do I use parallel structure? I need to double check that, where do I use semicolons, want to make sure I'm using those correctly and whatever other issues are cropping up in your writing time and time again. It’s good to keep track of those and keep track of how to fix them. Maybe even include links to where you can find more information on our webpages. You can really make a resource for yourself and use those revisions to your advantage to enhance your work with each new draft and assignment that you're working on based on the feedback that you have been getting.

Again, you can download them from the file spotted just click handout_grammarjournal and click download file.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Proofreading Tips 1

  • Print out a copy of your writing
  • Proofread backwards
  • Use a  ruler/blank sheet of paper

Audio: Considering proofreading we have some various tips as well which should be part of your process in addition to revision. You can print out a copy of your writing so that you can look at it separately from on a screen. You can proofread backwards so that means read each sentence in regular order you start at the beginning go to the end but you start with the last sentence of your paper and read the second to last sentence and so on and that can often help because you are not reading for the linear content in that case. You can pay more attention to commas or weird phrasing or whatever else you’re looking for. You can use a ruler a blank sheet of paper to kind of keep track of different things that are going on in your writing. You can take notes. And keep up with your grammar Journal type of thing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Proofreading Tips 2

  • Know your own typical mistakes
  • Proofread for one type of error at a time
  • Take a break between writing and proofreading

Audio: You can know your own typical mistakes that grammar Journal can be helpful. Proofread for one type of error at a time so don't try and proofread your paper and remember all the comma rules and all the APA rules and scholarly voice. Read it for each aspect that whatever else you're working on. Read it through separate times for each aspect that you are working on. And take a break between writing and proofreading. You are not going to be a good proofreader if you have just written your work. You just are not because you are too close, you just wrote it. You need a break to see it with fresh eyes and examine those sentences again.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Proofreading Tips 3

  • Proofread  at specific time of day
  • Proofread once aloud
  • Be wary of spellcheckers on your computer

Audio: Proofread at a specific time of day so a time of day when you know it's going to work well for you. Set aside that time of day and know that you are planning to proofread. Maybe it’s before dinner or right after dinner, maybe it’s before you go to bed, whatever's going to work. Proofread once by reading aloud and be wary of spellcheckers or other programs that are proofreading for you. They make mistakes. I see them all the time in student writing. Spellcheckers won’t catch for example the wrong form of "there" as a place versus "their" as belonging to them. Spellcheckers won’t catch that and there are lot’s of other things that cannot catch so while they are a great additional proofreading tool don't think because I ran it through spellchecking I have no spelling issues in my draft. That is not necessarily true.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Spend Time on Revision and Proofreading: Resources

           A Few Writing Center Resources:

Audio: And we have some great resources. We have our revising webpage, proofreading webpage, a series of blog posts on revising, and we have a webinar on reflecting on and perfecting your writing, we have a podcast and what to do with negative feedback on your writing, and maybe Beth can find it because we recently had a podcast episode called killing your darlings about specifically the difficulty of cutting out and revising pieces of your work when you're proud of what you have written. And we have a podcast on the five R’s of revision.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Use Writing Center Resources

Audio: Here are some more writing center resources. We have a lot of writing center resources to help you with whatever your needs may be. So, we have quick answers, it’s the writing center search tool on the homepage so if you have just a question you can type it in there, phrase as a question.

We have a page for multilingual students for resources specific that will be supportive of you. We have grammar resources. Including webpages, blog posts, modules and webinars. We have some information about how to access Grammarly which is a grammar checking tool that we don't run but it is free for all Walden students and we have some information about how to use it on our webpages. And you can have a paper review which I mentioned before. We can review your work if you are an undergraduate, graduate or writing your premise or prospectus and it hasn’t been approved that we can review your work and give you feedback.

You can let us know what your writing goal may be. What you are working on, what you’re worried about and we will read through your work with you, comment on some things, and give you some specific examples and you can continue making appointments as part of your writing process if you want. There is also the form and style webpage if you're premise or prospectus is approved, and you are in the doctoral phase.

 

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

writingsupport@waldenu.edu •  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Grammar webinars, including “Mastering the Mechanics” series.

Strategies for Success webinars, including “What Is Academic Writing?”

Audio: What additional questions do we have?

Beth: We have been getting some great question so far. One student was asking about making sure that they were paraphrasing effectively and being nervous about being able to check to be sure they were not incorrectly paraphrasing so do you have any strategies or tips for students to use to ensure they are paraphrasing effectively?

Claire: I know that it can sound really scary but I would definitely recommend especially if you like this format our paraphrasing webinar is really great. It goes through it and a lot more detailed but generally speaking one strategy that I highly recommend is to read the original source and then put it away. Don't look at it. Close the book, close the screen and then try to write in your own words as though you were explaining it to someone you know, maybe a classmate or maybe a friend. Write down what that source said what is the essential thing that source was talking about, what is the takeaway and don't worry about being academic. Just break it down and then you can go back and rephrase it and make it work within the sentence structure of your paper and after you’ve done that look back at the original source and compare, read both aloud if that was helpful to you in this presentation and see, oh I use these exact sentences verbatim what is in the original source. And you will be able to tell that way if you are accidentally borrowing some phrasing you did not mean to and that will give you the opportunity to revise as well.

Beth: That is fantastic, thank you Claire. We also had students asking about whether we had a recordation for the number of words in a sentence I know we were talking about concision. Should students really count number of words per sentence? Should they think about that? What are your recommendations around that?

Claire: I would not recommend counting specific words in a sentence. That sounds really tedious. I think that reading your sentences aloud will be the most helpful kind of way to tell if you are having those excess words. It is really less about the amount of words in a sentence and more about is each word in the sentence necessary? Is it the most direct way to say something? And you also want to think about when you’re reading out loud are all your sentences exactly the same length because that will read really repetitive after a certain amount of time, so you want shorter and longer sentences. That is definitely not what we are proposing is to have the shortest possible sentences all the time. Just to be concise with your phrasing so that you are being precise and specific and avoiding those extra fluff kind of words.

Beth: Fantastic. We had another student asking about any processes or approaches to writing that you recommend, and I wonder maybe if you could just talk about what, I don't know, what is your biggest writing process recommendation for students?

Claire: That is a good question. I feel like we have a webinar that talks a lot about writing process, the name of which is escaping me right now. It may be what is academic writing? It may be what is academic writing, too.

Beth: Either one of those would be good.

Claire: We talk about it in both of those. So, I think my biggest recommendation is to really find what works best for you and to give yourself time, right? Give yourself a lot of time as much time as you can to work on your work. Set reminders like plan ahead in your planner, make a writing center appointment, make yourself accountable to writing more than one draft. By planning think about I am going to research on Tuesday that is the day I am setting aside for my research and then I will write my draft on Friday and then I’m going to submit it to the writing center on Monday and plan to revise it before it is due on Wednesday so whatever process looks like for you give yourself time and space to work and you might need to try some different things and figure it out what is going to work best for you and your process. Maybe you like to work on things several days in a row and as long as you're not trying to write your draft the two hours before the paper is due that can really work too so I biggest recommendation is to try some different things and try and figure out what works best for you.

Beth: Thank you so much Claire. I know we are at the top of the hour now so do you have any last thoughts to leave anyone with before I wrap this up?

Claire: I know this was a lot of information so don't feel too stressed about it. Work on one thing at a time. Take your time and have other people read your writing. We are here to support you with the writing center. We can support you in paper reviews or through our other resources like live chat or email, so you are not alone and don't feel like you need to tackle everything at once.

Beth: That is a great way to end. Thank you so much Claire. Thanks everyone for attending. We really appreciate it and thank you to Claire for a fantastic presentation. I do want to remind you that we want you all to reach out and use those resources mentioned and we hope to see you at another webinar. We have more sessions scheduled coming up and we will be posting in December so keep an eye out for that and happy writing everyone. Have a great day. Thanks all.

[End of webinar]