Preparing for the Form & Style: Common Errors and Editor Q&A
Presented July 9, 2020
Last updated July 15, 2020
Visual: Opening slide is titled Housekeeping:
- Recording: Will be available online within 24 hours.
- Interact: Polls, files, and links are interactive.
- Ask in the Q&A box.
- Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room.
Audio: [Beth] Welcome, everyone. It's wonderful to have you here today. We're pleased to welcome you to this webinar. My name is Beth Nastachowski. I'm helping to facilitate the session from the Writing Center. And I'm going to get us started by going over a couple of quick housekeeping notes to help you kind of navigate the webinar here and then I'll hand it over to Sam to introduce the session and get us started.
So, the first thing to note here is that I have started the recording for the webinar and I'll be posting that recording in our webinar archive by tomorrow afternoon. So, if you have to leave for any reason or you would like to come back and review the session, or you would like to recommend the recording to one of your fellow classmates, you're more than welcome to do so. You'll just find that in the webinar archive. We'll send a link in the follow‑up email we send to this session.
Additionally, we encourage you to interact today. I know Sam put together polls he would like you to weigh in and there's time for questions as well. There's links throughout the slides that you're welcome to click on and open up in a new tab on your browser. And you can also download the slides that Sam has here as well as a couple other files in the files pod; that is at the bottom right‑hand corner. That's a great way to save the links and information for further access. Feel free to download those at any point throughout the webinar.
As I mentioned, there's time for questions today and we encourage questions throughout the session, but also at the end. So, we have a Q&A box on the right side of the screen and myself and my colleague Sara will monitor that throughout the session. We recommend that you ask questions as soon as you have them. That way we can get you an answer right away but also save questions that would be helpful for Sam and Sara to discuss out loud for the session as well.
We'll make sure to share the information at the end of the webinar too, but we encourage you to reach out to the editors if you have further questions after the session, so they have their email address, email@example.com or live hours where you can chat with an editor. Either are great options to get answers to questions if you don't get answers during the session. Maybe we run out of time. Or if you think of something after the session as well.
Finally, if you do have any technical issues or questions, let me know in that Q&A box. I have a couple of tips and tricks I can give you. But also note that there is a help button at the top right‑hand corner of the screen and that’s a great place to go if you have significant technical issues.
Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar: Preparing for the Form and Style: Common Errors and Editor Q&A and includes the presenters’ names, pictures, and roles: Sam Herrington, MA, Form and Style Editor, and Sara Witty, PhD, Form and Style Editor.
Audio: [Beth] So then I think at this point, Sam, I can hand it off to you.
[Beth] Thank you very much, Beth, for that introduction. All right let's get started. My name is Sam Herrington. And I'm coming to you from Afton, Minnesota, which is about half an hour east of Minneapolis. And I'm accompanied today by my colleague Dr. Sara Witty. Be sure to ask her questions in the Q&A box at any point. And, yeah, we're both form and style editors, two of the 18 ‑‑ I think we're up to 18 now form and style editors. And we're in the Office of Academic Editing, which is housed in the Writing Center.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Agenda
- What is the Form and Style (F&S) Review?
- Common issues and errors
- Discussion and Q&A
Audio: [Sam] In today's presentation, our goal is to orient you to the form and style review to help you better prepare. We're going to start out by defining the form and style review, showing you what it is, what the goals are, what the general process is. Then we're going to look at common issues and errors and have a significant amount of time ‑‑ we're looking at about 15 minutes for discussion and questions and answers at the end. As Beth mentioned, you don't have to wait until the end to pose questions. If you have a question at any time, feel free to ask in the Q&A box. But if it's something you want to hold on to or you think this question will be answered during the presentation and I don't need to ask it, you're welcome to also just write it down and then if your question is not answered, go ahead and ask that question during the Q&A toward the end.
Either way, we hope to answer as many of your questions as possible and if not, if there's not enough time to get to your specific question or if yours is a question that requires a bit more specific information, we do encourage you to use our firstname.lastname@example.org inbox address.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Poll: Where are you in the capstone process?
- [Poll questions appear in a box in the lower right hand corner of the screen and as attendees fill out the poll, it shows what percentage and number of responses are for these various categories listed below.]
- Not yet writing my final capstone. – 20% (8 responses)
- Approved prospectus – 47.5% (19 responses)
- Approved proposal – 17.5 % (7 responses)
- Ready to submit for the form and style review – 15% (6 responses)
Audio: [Sam] So first of all I would like to get a sense of where people are in the capstone process. I'm guessing we have a mix. But it would be nice to know if you're kind of at the very beginning of this long drawn‑out process or if you're toward the middle. If you're just right at the end and trying to figure out what the form and style process really is.
So, it looks like we have a number of people who have an approved prospectus, but maybe not yet, approved proposal. That seems to be the majority of people at the moment. So, if you're at the beginning of this process and you don't really have much idea what exactly to expect from the form and style, you'll hear a lot of information today that is new. Try not to get overwhelmed by it. Just kind of take in the general outline and remember that you can always come back to this recording and review it later and use the links that we have embedded throughout the deck to give you more information. So, be sure to come back to this; it’s a lot of information if you’re kind of new to it.
Of course, if you already have been doing this for a while, the capstone that is, and you heard people talk about the form and style before, maybe you have attended sessions at residencies or otherwise, and heard more about this, maybe you just want to clarify some things, get a few final details before you really approach this final step. Either way, we have probably something for everybody in this presentation.
Looks like we're looking at 46% at the approved prospectus ‑‑ it's hard to say fast ‑‑ approved prospectus stage. A few are not yet writing the final capstone. So welcome to the newer folks. And welcome as well to those who have been around a while and are getting ready to move on.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: What is the Form and Style Review?
- A required step for all doctoral capstones (i.e., dissertations, studies, project studies)
- Part of a collaborative effort to produce publication-ready manuscripts
- Draft approvals
- Chair approves manuscript for URR review
- URR approves and uploads to MyDR; editor is assigned
- F&S review
- Student takes a well-deserved (but short) break from document while editor completes F&S Review
- Editor returns manuscript to student, committee, and URR via MyDR; student makes changes
- Oral defense; student makes final changes
- Final approvals
- Chair approves for URR review; document sent to URR
- URR approves for CAO review of abstract
Audio: [Sam] So, what is the form and style process? This is something that is required for all doctoral capstones. Whether you're writing a dissertation or DBA doc study or DNP project study or any of the multitude of capstones that we have here at Walden. At some point you'll be required to submit it for form and style review. And this is really part of a collaborative effort. We are here to basically help out with meeting certain standards of formatting, effectively presenting important work that you're producing.
You can see where we come in, it's after the draft approvals. So, the chair is going to approve your manuscript once you finished your study, and, you know, if everything goes well, of course, that moves on to the URR. The URR approves it, assuming there are no issues and then uploads it. Basically, at that point you probably feel as if your work is done, like you have finished your capstone. But you're not quite done. You're pretty close but not quite done. It should really be as done as possible. But there is this final stage of review where the ‑‑ where you can take a well‑deserved but short break. When your form and style review is in the hands of the editor you should not be making any changes to your document. Just let it rest you know, take a nap (chuckling)... go for a walk, catch up with the other millions of things you have to do, but don't edit your document anymore. And when you get the document back from the editor, you'll go ahead and make changes working with your committee and so on and you'll go on to oral defense, make any final changes at that point, which should be very few, and then you go in for the final approvals and you're just about to take your hat and throw it up in the air. And you're very close to being done at that point. So, this form and style review is really very close to the end, sort of right in between a couple of approval stages.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Responsibilities
- Use the evaluation tools, rubrics, and template and meet formatting guidelines
- Know basics of APA style documentation, check spelling and grammar, align citations with references
- Write and conduct research with integrity
- Apply the feedback your committee has given you
- Ask for capstone writing help along the way: email@example.com
- Help students prepare capstone document for publication in the ProQuest database
- Provide constructive, positive, collegial feedback for writing concise, grammatical, and APA–compliant scholarly work
- Watch for potential integrity and confidentiality violations
- Ensure that research problems, theory, questions and hypotheses, methods, findings, and conclusions are articulated in a way that demonstrates basic alignment and consistency
Audio: [Sam] So, where do responsibilities lie? Ultimately this is your document. So, the responsibilities ultimately lie with you. You'll work with your chair and committee, of course. They'll be there to help you and you can take advantage of the various resources at the Writing Center and elsewhere in the university, but you will want to use the tools and rubrics and the template, of course, to make sure that you're meeting the formatting guidelines, and just a quick note, again, even though they're not highlighted in blue, anything you see underlined in this presentation is a hyperlink. So, we have taken great care to make sure to embed lots and lots of information into this document. Make sure to take advantage of those hyperlinks. If you don't know where to find these evaluation tools and rubrics or template or information on APA style, these links are there for you. Maybe you want to click on it, open it and leave it to the side and then come back.
Make sure you know the basics of APA style documentation. Make sure that you have thoroughly checked the spelling and grammar, you know, like the word choice and the sentence structure, making sure that it makes sense, you have proofread it, and make sure citations match references, that everything that you have cited in your paper has a reference and everything that you have a reference for has been at some point cited in the paper.
Of course, make sure that you're writing and conducting research with integrity, that you have quoted where necessary and given appropriate credit to authors for work that they have done, making sure you're not accidentally plagiarizing ‑‑ not purposely plagiarizing either, but usually it's the accidental stuff we need to worry about. Of course, apply feedback your committee has given you. Again, by the time you get to the form and style you have gotten feedback from your committee and you want to make sure that that's all been taken care of.
And, of course, ask for capstone writing help. Remember, when we get it, we're expecting that this document is essentially done in terms of the content, the research quality, all of that, because the content and research quality is not our job. That's really for the chair, the committee, the URR, we're there to look at the form and the style.
So, editors are going to help you prepare the capstone document for publication. As you know, all of these capstone documents get published in the ProQuest database and we want to make sure the documents are really representing to the best of your ability your important work that you have done and also that they're representing Walden well. If you go into the ProQuest database and you start opening up dissertations and doctoral studies, I'm telling you, you're going to find errors. You know, there are going to be some that you think... oh, there's an error here, there's an error there...
They're not going to be 100% perfect. But our goal is to make them as absolutely good as possible. The better they are the more effectively they will communicate the ideas you have worked so hard to put together. So, it really is an important step.
We're here to provide constructive, positive, collegial feedback. We're not here to tell you if your work is good or bad. That's really not our goal. Our work is to take whatever work you have done and help you to make it better. If you have an amazing piece of writing already, well, we would like to help take it up a notch and make it even more amazing. If you have some writing that has some issues in it that prevent it from being totally clear, well, we hope to help you make your writing clearer. So, our goal is to make sure that we are honoring your intentions in terms of what you're trying to communicate, but then to help you communicate that in that way that is going to reach your audience more effectively.
Of course, we're also going to keep an eye out in case of potential academic integrity or confidentiality violations. Generally speaking, these things should have been taking care of at earlier stages, but we are just one more set of eyes that can take a look for those things.
And, of course, we're also going to look to see that the research problems, the theory, the questions and hypotheses and so on and so on are all articulated in a way that demonstrates basic alignment and consistency. In other words, are you still writing about the same study in Chapter 5 that you were in Chapter 1? And you would be surprised. Once in a while you get one where the student has clearly not done what they need to do to revise the earlier sections or chapters to reflect what actually happened in the study. And so, we want to make sure that the study is a cohesive unit of meaning, a document that makes sense from beginning to end.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: F&S Review Process
- Addresses formatting, clarity and conciseness, scholarly tone/voice, cohesion, and APA style (e.g., citations, references, tables/figures), as well as possible academic integrity, copyright, & IRB issues
- Conducted with track changes and comment balloons (some line-by-line mark-up; much pattern identification)
- Averages 6-8 hours (Includes preliminary pages and all of introduction chapter or section, minimum 5-10 pages of subsequent main chapters/sections, a few pages of References, quick check of appendices)
- Concludes with editor returning the marked draft with a detailed letter/checklist to guide revisions
Audio: [Sam] So, what do we look at? We editors are going to be looking at formatting, clarity and conciseness, scholarly tone and voice, cohesion, and, of course, APA style, citations, references, tables and figures and so on and so on. But, again, we'll keep an eye out for academic integrity, copyright and IRB issues. Those are things we can signal to you to say, hey, this is something you should check with IRB on or this is something you should consult with your chair on. If it's a serious enough issue, we might have to halt the review, but that's a very rare occurrence.
Of course, we're going to conduct it with track changes turned on. If you're not familiar with Microsoft track changes feature, well, I suppose you probably should be familiar with it at this point, but if you still have some misgivings about it, be sure to go to the Academic Skills Center's website and look for Word support. If you're not sure where to find that, if you search for Word support on our website on the doctoral capstone form and style website, it will come up with a page that is one of our kits, and in that kit it has a link to Word support. Make sure you know where to find that. I believe it's also accessed through Blackboard, but Beth can correct me if I'm wrong on that.
The review averages six to eight hours. And really, it's a minimum of six. Eight is probably closer to the average. This includes the preliminary pages, you know, the formatting and making sure that all the correct information is there, that you have a table of contents, for example, that you have an abstract, that you have a list of tables if you have tables. And we'll look at all of the introduction chapter, if it's a dissertation, or if it's a doctoral study or a project, we'll read the introductory section, and in those cases where the literature review is integrated into Section 1, we'll basically go up through several pages of that literature review in Section 1. But essentially, we are going to review all of the pages that are the general introduction to the chapter that provide the overview ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ of the document ‑‑ that provide the overview of the document. And then we look at several pages of the subsequent chapters. We'll edit a few pages of references. And we'll give a quick check of appendices. And, of course, we skim throughout. As we scroll through, we might make a change or comment here or there or provide a reminder about a pattern that we have seen so far, but in terms of pages that actually get edited in more detail, it's really about the introductory chapters or sections and then the first several pages of each section or chapter.
And then at the end, we will send that marked draft with a detailed letter and an abridged version of the form and style checklist, and we will send that through task stream. So, you can check My DR. We also will send an email right away as a courtesy to let you know we uploaded it to My DR, because those notifications from My DR, there's a bit of a lag there. We want to make sure you know right away when we've uploaded it, so we send a quick note to let you know about that.
Visual: Types of F&S Feedback
- Tracked changes and comments can include
- required changes to follow Walden, ProQuest, and APA citation guidelines
- recommended changes to conform to scholarly writing standards
- suggestions to improve quality, clarity, and general readability
Audio: [Sam] What kind of feedback can you expect? Well, there are some required changes. There's recommended changes. And there are just some general suggestions. We're going to look at examples of these in the next couple of slides. But keep in mind really that that top category, the required changes, that is something that we really have to address. And so the more time we spend fixing formatting or APA style, the less time we have to make or recommend changes that can improve the general quality of the writing. In other words, the more time we have to spend on the first category of required changes, the less time we have to help you really make this thing pop and just be incredible. So, again, as you're preparing for the form and style, one thing you can really do is make sure that you know the requirements of the document and you're following those formatting requirements so that when it gets to form and style, we can just really help you clean up the writing itself and make it really, really great.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Examples of Required Changes
- Document must conform to Walden and ProQuest formatting guidelines. For example,
- Left margin set at 1.5 inches.
- Document in (or at least following) the correct template.
- Headings formatted per APA guidelines, apart from Walden-specific Level 0 heading.
- APA and grammar errors must be corrected. For example,
- Multiple citations within parentheses listed in alphabetical order.
- Numbers 10 and above written as figures, nine and below spelled out (some exceptions: units of exact measurement, such as time, are written as figures).
Audio: [Sam] So, some examples of required changes, of course, document formatting, these are a few examples. There are many other requirements, but the left margin throughout the entire document is at 1.5 inches. And you don't have to think about that at all if you are using the correct document template. Because if you use the template, all the formatting is already taken care of for you. All of the page numbers, the margins, as long as you don't accidentally delete section breaks or other formatting marks that are in there, you should be fine. So I would really recommend using that template.
If you don't use the template... and honestly, if you don't, you're making a lot of work for yourself. If you don't use the template, then you have to make sure that the document is following the correct formatting. In other words, modeled on the template. But really your best bet is to open up a copy of that template that you downloaded from the website and to copy and paste your writing into that document and then save it with a new name for that file. If you try to copy and paste from the template into your current draft that you're writing, one that isn't in the template, it won't work. The formatting doesn't work in that direction. You have to go from the other document into a template formatted document.
Of course, make sure that the headings are formatted per APA guidelines. The one exception there is that we have a little zero heading at Walden that is not actually part of the APA style, but that's specific to Walden.
And, of course, make sure you have the APA grammar ‑‑ APA, excuse me ‑‑ and grammar that is sentence structure and word choice and so on, that those are all corrected. For example, if you have more than one citation in the same parentheses, you need to put them in the same order that they're going to appear in the references. In other words, in alphabetical order. So Jones would go before Smith, for example.
And numbers 10 and above are written as figures. Nine and below spelled outside. But there are exceptions to the rule. These are a couple examples of APA issues.
Notice in the files pod that we have two checklists. We have the form and style checklist for APA 6 and form and style checklist for the seventh edition.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA 6 and 7
- APA sixth edition is still acceptable for 2020; seventh edition is required for 2021.
- Learn more information about transitioning to APA 7:
Audio: [Sam] So, speaking of APA... if you're at the capstone level and working on your capstone document, in other words, your proposal or your final study, then APA 6th edition is still acceptable for 2020. Whereas if your document is going to go to form and style after December 31st, 2020, you will have to have that document in APA 7.
There's more ‑‑ there are more details about the grace period, about the APA transition, about the notable differences between APA 6 and 7 in the links that are underlined there, but, again, this is something you might want to consult with your chair on. Think about where you are in the process; if you are not sure if you're going to be finished by the end of 2020, maybe talk to your chair about that. If you're really far along in the process and so close to being done, there's really no reason that you need to switch to APA 7 for that document unless you want to, of course. You know, the APA is going in that direction anyway. If you think you're going to be doing other publishing, why not jump in and learn APA 7. But, again, talk to your chair about that. Make sure you know what the grace period is by clicking on those links.
Again, that applies to the capstone; for coursework you're already in APA 7, to my understanding.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Examples of Strongly Recommended Changes
- An editor may
- model changes to the text that remove wordiness to follow APA guidelines for precision, clarity, and conciseness (i.e., economy of expression)
- make or recommend adjustments to certain passages to maintain consistency throughout the document
- clarify (or recommend clarifying) ambiguities
Audio: [Sam] All right, so back to our changes. Strongly recommended changes might be things where we model a change in the text. We might remove some words that are unnecessary, words that don't contribute to the meaning. Because APA has guidelines not only for precision but also conciseness. Economy of expression. And APA style you want to say what you have to say and then move on. We don't ‑‑ you know, we don't want flowery text and embellishment of sentences. Long sentences don't impress anybody. If they're long, they have to be really carefully structured to make sure they're clear. So really helping with that style to make sure that the ideas you are trying to communicate are communicated clearly.
We might also make or recommend adjustments to certain passages to maintain consistency. For example, if we notice there are differences on how you worded your research question in the first chapter, whereas you may have changed it later, in a later section, we're going to make a comment about that and say, hey, make sure you're being consistent in what your research question is or in your problem statement or make sure that you're still talking about the same study at the end that you were talking about at the beginning.
And we might have to help you clarify some ambiguities. And what I mean by that is sometimes a sentence is written in such a way that a reader might interpret it in a couple of different ways. It might be grammatically correct, but there might be something a little bit unclear because of the way it's worded. So, in order to help the reader read this without having to stop, read this without having any sort of speed bumps along the way, we'll make recommendations to clarify those things that could be taken in more than one way.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Examples of Suggestions to Improve Quality
- Sample editor comments:
Audio: [Sam] A couple examples here to show you what a suggestion to improve general quality might be. We might say something like, “In this passage, you are arguing the need for your study, so ‘seems to’ could detract from your authority. See APA 3.09 on precision and clarity for details.” One thing is APA 3.09 is referring to the 6th edition of APA. But often we refer you to a specific web page on the website or to a section of the APA Manual so you know where to go to find more information on an issue that we're commenting on.
Also, you can see that second example there, “As a reader, I thought this paragraph read more like the Purpose section, so readers might expect to find it there instead. I recommend discussing this comment with your committee faculty for expert guidance.” You can see in this example that sometimes we're going to direct you to talk to your chair about something. Because when it comes to content or the research itself, we're not the content experts. We can't tell you for certain what your document should contain for the most part. Those are things that you should really talk to your chair about.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Post-F&S Revision Expectations
- The editor does not edit the entire document. The student is responsible for revising for final publication.
- The editor will not see the document again. Work with your chair as you make final changes.
- Your committee will expect you to abide by the editor’s required and recommended changes.
- Make sure you work from the editor’s edited document; do not attempt to transfer the editor’s changes into a new document.
- Plan ahead: Six hours of review generally results in many more hours of work, and editors have 14 calendar days to return the document.
Audio: [Sam] Let's see... ah, yes... After you get this thing back and after we have taken our 6 to 8 hours to provide feedback, you'll get it back, and these are some things to keep in mind.
The editor does not edit the entire document. As I said before, we're going to do the first part of the document and then several pages of the subsequent chapters or sections. So really, it's your responsibility to go through and take the kinds of changes that we made and the explanations that we provided and apply those throughout your paper, not just to the pages we edited but to the pages we were not able to edit.
That second point addresses a question that I often get from students. But we will not see the document again. After we finish the form and style review, you move along and you work with your committee to make those changes. None of those changes have to be approved by us. We don't need to see it again. All the approvals lie with your chair and the URR, so don't worry about sending it back to us. Your committee chair will take a look at it.
Your committee will expect you to abide by the editor's required and recommended changes. Of course, if we've made a comment that ‑‑ a comment that seems more like a suggestion or kind of a question about something you might consider, those are the ones where you have the discretion and you might talk to your chair about them, but if you already know for sure that you're going to ‑‑ that doing it a different way is good and makes sense, then in those cases you can go ahead. But when it comes to the required changes and the strongly recommended ones, we expect them to be made.
Also make sure you work from the document that we send you. Don't try to attempt ‑‑ don't try to transfer that into another document that you're working on. What I recommend is that when you get your document back from form and style, you're going to see that we have named the document with your name and then usually the word "edit" and then our initials. So, I would recommend saving it just the way it is, exactly the way it is when you received it, but then also save it with a new name, whatever name you want to give that draft. That way you have two copies of the document, and you can go back to the one that we sent you in case you need to refer to it after you have made changes. But ‑‑ and that way you have a document that you're working on that has all of the changes and all the comments that we made already in it.
Plan ahead, of course. Make sure that you take the time that you need. The review is going to be six hours. Now, some people are going to have lots of changes to make, I'll be honest. You might have many hours of changes. And some people will only have a few. We see a wide range in form and style. We see some papers that just require very little to fix them up. And we see some others that require a bit more work. So, you should anticipate that you will be making some changes. And be sure to plan your time accordingly.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: What aspect of preparing for F&S are you most concerned about right now? (Select all.)
- [Poll questions appear in a box in the lower right hand corner of the screen and as attendees fill out the poll, it shows what percentage and number of responses are for these various categories listed below.]
- No specific concerns – 5% (2 responses)
- Document formatting/working with the template – 42% (16 responses)
- APA style requirements – 48% (17 responses)
- Sentence structure/word choice – 37% (14 responses)
- Other – 0% (0 responses)
Audio: [Sam] Now, back to you all. I want to ask you quickly... what aspect of preparing for the form and style are you most concerned about right now?
All right, so at least one person says they have no specific concerns. Maybe they have a few unspecific ones. Document formatting, APA style requirements, issues of sentence structure, word choice. Someone else wrote the turnaround time for feedback. That's an easy one to answer. Once we receive it, we have 14 days to return it. That's 14 calendar days. We try to get it back to you well within that. Of course, you know, we have ‑‑ if there's a backlog and stack on our desk we move through as quickly as possible, but it will never be more than 14 days.
A template... okay. Yeah, the template can be challenging. So, make sure that you ask for help with it. Citation management. That can also be challenging.
All right, well, looks like we have a lot to work with here. You can go ahead and ask questions. I see ‑‑ we'll take one more minute because somebody is typing. I'll let somebody else address that question right now. Maybe save it for the end: Is reciteworks good? The 3m Version. Yeah, the free manuscript. That’s a program specific question.
Thank you for sharing your concerns. We're going to look at some of these concerns and we'll try to answer questions related to them as we move along. So, if you didn't get to put yours there in the box, be sure to ‑‑ if you have a question about something, be sure to put it in the Q&A and we can get to it either now or later.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Common Issues & Errors
- overall format (use template and F&S Checklist for your program)
- APA style
- academic integrity (use SafeAssign and Grammarly to check for citation errors)
- copyright and IRB issues
- See “Top 10 Reasons for Delay at the F&S Review”
Audio: [Sam] So some common issues and errors. Overall format. APA style. Academic integrity. And then copyright and IRB.
These are issues we've mentioned already, and we see issues in all of these areas. There's a link there to the top 10 reasons for delay in form and style. I recommend clicking on it because those are things that can prevent your document from going smoothly through the form and style process. You don't want to have the delay where your form and style is sent back to you from form and style without being edited and needing to be resubmitted. That happens very rarely, but it's something you want to avoid. So, make sure that you have checked that out and that you know what is expected.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Common Corrections
- appropriate use of first person, per APA and Walden
- appropriate use of active and passive voice
- abbreviations (e.g., introduced on first use and used consistently)
- italics (e.g., for statistical abbreviations, list of search terms)
- capitalization (e.g., names of theories, job titles, and diseases should generally be in lowercase)
- use of past tense to report literature (e.g., Researchers concluded/suggested/noted)
Audio: [Sam] So, a few common corrections. Many of these having to do with APA style. Yes, you can use first person, but you have to use it appropriately. You can't just say "I think... I believe..." all over the place. You use the first person, meaning I or me or my, when you are stating something that you did in your study or in the proposal if you're still writing the proposal, it's something you will do, of course, but make sure you change that when it comes time to write the final study. Sometimes people try to avoid first person, and this leads them to doing things like using anthropomorphism, where they say something like "This chapter discusses... " A chapter can’t discuss because it has no brain and no mouth, it’s not human. A person discusses. So you could include, say, the chapter includes discussions of, or, in this chapter, I discuss... And that’s perfectly fine.
The appropriate use of active and passive voice. If you're not sure what these are, I recommend clicking on the link but quickly to say that if you're using a lot of passive voice it can make it unclear to the reader who is doing what. So, you can use passive voice but in a very limited manner. You have to use active voice in order to clarify who did what. So, if, for example, you're talking about your research but then you're also discussing it in relation to the research of others, then it's going to be really important that we know whose research you're talking about. Are you talking about the study you're working on and things that you did or are you talking about the ‑‑ what other researchers did?
Abbreviations, we see this quite often. If you're using any abbreviations ‑‑ really you should try to be sparing with the number of different abbreviations you use. You don't want your paper to look like alphabet soup. You know, use a small number of abbreviations. Make sure it's an abbreviation worth using. Just because an abbreviation exists doesn't mean that you have to use it. If you're going to use an abbreviation, make sure that you introduce it the first time you use the term that you're abbreviating. And then after that point, throughout the narrative at least, you're going to use the abbreviation and not use the full version of the term again throughout the rest of the chapters. So, if you mention this thing in Chapter 3 and you introduced the abbreviation in Chapter 1, you're still going to just use the abbreviation and those later chapters.
The use of italics, we often see a lack of italics used for statistical abbreviations. It’s a little hard to see in the font, so you have to look carefully at the APA style manual, but if you do you see most of the statistical abbreviations listed in the table that they have are italicized. There are some that are not. But most of them are. So, make sure that you're checking for that. So like N, meaning sample, or P or the T, all those things need to be italicized.
Your list of search terms, where you're talking about what you ‑‑ what terms you used when you did your literature review, that list of search terms, and this is not changing from APA 6 to APA 7 even though there are other changes in italics, the rules for italics in APA 7, the list of search terms itself should continue to be italicized, no quotations marks for that.
Capitalization, we see this a lot. It's a common misconception that you would need to capitalize names of theories. No, you do not. Names of theories, names of job titles, diseases, these should generally be in lowercase. Of course, there are a few exceptions. If a person's name is part of a theory or there's another proper noun that is part of a theory, well, that particular noun would be capitalized, but the theory in general would be lowercase. Even though the abbreviation of the theory, if you use one, would be capitalized because acronyms have capital letters. The name of the theory itself would still be lowercase. Same with job titles and diseases.
The use of past tense to report literature. Now, this is something specific to APA style. In my career as a writing instructor, before I came to Walden, working in universities, teaching academic writing to grads and undergrads at a couple different universities, I had to work with a couple different styles. APA, MLA, even some Chicago and a couple others for doctoral students working in various sciences. But past tense is specific to APA. Some others use it as well. But you will see some research that doesn't use it because of the style they're using. So if you see something you're reading and see it says "researchers conclude" or "researchers note" or "Jones states..." that's because the particular style they're writing in for the publication that accepted their work does not require this, but this is an APA requirement. Make sure that you use past tense when you're reporting what other researchers did or stated.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: More Common Corrections
- revisions to proposal language for the final study
- The purpose of the study is/was
- I will interview 10-15 managers/I interviewed 12 managers.
- one page, one paragraph—no indent
- no first person (I/me/my); passive voice is acceptable
- report findings and articulate social change implications
- table and figure formatting
- tables from SPSS cannot just be copied over; must be adapted to APA style
- must fit within margins
- be sure table/figure is worthwhile
- *The CAO abstract reviewer has final word on abstracts and titles.
Audio: [Sam] Some more, this is a big one. Revise proposal language. Use know, the first three chapters of a dissertation or the first couple sections of a study are going to be incorporated into that final study. But at the proposal stage, you were talking about what you will do in your study, or you're talking about your proposed study. But in the final study, you have to change that language to make sure that it reflects that this study is now complete, that it's done. So if you said the purpose of this study is or the purpose of the study will be even, you change that to" the purpose of the study was." That doesn't mean you change every single verb to past tense. There are some reasons not to change a verb tense. Be sure to click on the underlined proposal language in the bullet there if you're not sure. There are some great guidelines there on revising your verb tenses when you're going from proposal to final study.
If you said "I will interview 10 to 15 managers..." well, at this point, once you have done the literature ‑‑ excuse me, once you have done the study, you know how many you interviewed. And also, you interviewed them in the past, so you have to change that.
Abstracts, there are some rules for that. And we'll look at those as editors we’ll give you feedback on that. But also know that the CAO abstract reviewer will have final word on abstracts and titles. So, they may have additional feedback for you even after the form and style. But chances are you have taken care of most of it beforehand.
Table and figure formatting. We see a lot of trouble with this. I would say 75% ‑‑ I'm not sure. This is an approximation, probably 75% of form and style reviews I see have some kind of problem in the table or figure formatting. Sometimes people think they can just take tables from SPSS and just copy them into their document, but that's not true. There will be problems with APA style. So make sure that you study, if using tables or figures, make sure that you study the examples and the guidelines in the manual as well as on our website, which is, again, linked there in the underlined text.
Also be sure that the table or figure is worthwhile. Make sure that you're not just simply repeating in the table everything that you already said in the narrative. If you're explaining everything in the table or figure in the narrative too, then you're doing too much work. Either just discuss highlights of the table and then have those details in the table or leave the table out altogether.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Common Copyright and IRB Issues
- IRB approval number is required in the text or in an appendix.
- Keep identity of study site and participants confidential in narrative chapters/sections, as well as in acknowledgments and appendices (certain appendices/information needed at proposal stage should be removed).
- See the Writing Center/IRB FAQ document.
- Permission to use a test instrument for a study is separate from permission to include it in the dissertation or doctoral study.
- Tables and figures from sources not in the public domain require due diligence to check with copyright holder; fair use rules may apply.
Audio: [Sam] Okay, we're getting close to question time. I just have a couple more slides real quick. Make sure that you have your IRB approval number. Usually this goes in the methods section. If you don't have that at the end, we're going to tell you to make sure you have put it in. So just put it in and then you don't have to worry about adding it later.
Confidentiality... this is something you have to be mindful of because, again, you might have ‑‑ you might have been more specific about the location of your study in one place than in another. Make sure that you're following the recommendations of IRB. Make sure that you're not providing information that could reveal the identity of your participants. There's more information on that in the IRB FAQ document there.
Copyright as well, be mindful of that. If you are using a test instrument for your study and you have permission to use that testing instrument and you're going to put that permission, of course, in your appendices, also make sure that if you plan to publish that test instrument, in other words, if you're going to include a copy of that test instrument in your, for example, appendices, make sure that you have permission to do that as well. Because permission to use the test instrument is a little different from permission to ‑‑ permission to include it in the study. If you're going to do both, make sure you have permission for both.
And, of course, tables and figures may require permission if the information is not in the public domain. So be mindful of that as well.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Reasons an Editor May Halt a F&S Review
- missing an essential element (e.g., abstract, table of contents, a chapter/section, list of references)
- academic integrity violations
- significant writing issues that interfere with editing (e.g., incoherence or inconsistency, incorrect grammar and syntax/nonscholarly voice)
- major formatting errors that interfere with editing (e.g., wrong edition of APA, use of “hard returns”)
- tracked changes and comments left in document
Audio: [Sam] I mentioned before that there are some reasons that the editor might have to halt a form and style review. And, again, this is rare. But if there is a missing abstract or missing table of contents, something like that, we simply can't edit it, the document is not complete. We have to send it back and it has to go back to you and then back through the URR approval stage.
If we notice academic integrity violations, you know, again, this isn't something that we are focused on, but it's something that if we notice it or suspect it ‑‑ well, if we see it very blatantly, obviously, we have to stop it.
If there are other significant writing issues with editing, for example, it's incoherent in some way or the grammar or syntax or voice is such that the editor would not really be able to interpret what the person is trying to say in order to help them communicate it, in those cases it's just not editable, it would have to be sent back. If there are major formatting errors that interfere with editing, again, these would have to be errors where the editor is going to spend so much time on formatting that they're not going to be able to really get to the narrative itself.
Or if there are a bunch of track changes and comments left in the document and the editor would have to spend a lot of time dealing with those, we'll have to send it back. Again, this is rare. Generally speaking, people get these things taken care of in advance. So just make sure that you are checking that top ten reasons for delays that I linked to you earlier.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Resources
- Doctoral Capstone Webinar Series from the Writing Center
- Doctoral Capstone Writing Workshops from the Academic Skills Center
- Form and Style Website for capstone writing resources
Audio: [Sam] There are a few resources, of course, that you can use as you are preparing. Make sure you check out the doctoral webinar series, the writing workshops from the Academic Skills Center, and our form and style website. Among the other resources we have linked here.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later
- firstname.lastname@example.org • Editor Office Hours
- Learn More:
- Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography Basics
- Refine your style with webinars from the Scholarly Writing series
Audio: [Sam] And now I would like to open it up to questions. So let's take time to hear what questions there might be. And Sara and I can discuss those. Sara?
[Sara] Hello. We're going through a lot of stuff. Some people had questions about at what point they change the tenses in the proposal to the final document. So I know you mentioned it, but maybe we could just go over that one more time about how the proposal is written in the future tense, because it's things you haven't done, but once you get to the end you have to change that to the past tense because you have done them. Do you want to say more about that?
[Sam] Absolutely. This is something you shouldn't overthink. You want to make sure it's logical. Basically think about it this way. The proposal is a completely different document from the final study. It's seen by different audiences. That proposal is going to basically give you permission to do the study. So, it's going to be ‑‑ it's going to have a lot of future tenses in it. I will do this, I will do that...
And once you have submitted that proposal and you have those first three chapters or the first couple of sections, they're waiting, you know, and you go out and start doing your other research, at any point in that ‑‑ at any point then you can start going back to those earlier chapters and revising them in order to incorporate them into the final document. So, think of it this way. The proposal gives you a head start on your final document. But it is not the same as your final document. When we look at a five‑chapter dissertation, for example, we're not saying, oh, the first three chapters were the proposal. Not really. Your proposal is your proposal. And then those first three chapters... those three chapters that were part of the proposal can be adapted to fit into the final study. But they have to make logical sense.
So, if you are saying something about the implications of a study, those things are still going to be forthcoming, right? They're going to be in the future. Because even after the study is completed, you don't ‑‑ you know, the effects of the study have not been fully realized. And so if you're discussing implications or if you're discussing general truths that can be found ‑‑ that can be stated from the findings, those things still end up being either present or future tense because they are still true or they still will be true in the future. But any time that you're talking about something that you will do in the proposal, that's going to be something that you did do in the final study. So, it's important to get back to that.
Again, there's ‑‑ make sure that you ‑‑ if you're not sure, click on that link. It's in the verb tenses page in the form and style website. There was a link to it earlier when we mentioned proposal language. But that is the basic idea. Make sure that it's logical. Think about the time in which the person is going to read it. The reader of your final study is going to read this thing after it's completed. So, it needs to make sense to them in terms of it being a completed study. I hope that helps.
[Sara] Yeah, I was just going to jump in and say, someone asked why tenses matter. And I was just going to expand on what you were just saying about imagining your future reader. You need it to make sense to the reader and your reader doesn't understand, if you spend the paper using the incorrect tense, the reader doesn't understand when you will do things or if you have done them or what has actually happened. We need it to be ‑‑ your reader needs it to be written in a tense that clarifies what will happen and what has already happened.
[Sam] I agree wholeheartedly. As you pointed out, whenever we're doing any kind of writing, we have to keep the reader at the center of our mind. We have to think, how is the reader going to interpret what I'm writing? And who is my reader? It's not just your chair. It's not just your URR. It's not just your editor. Though we are reading it, the document, once it's published, is there for anybody to read. And there are people that might need to read it in order to do other research that they're doing. And they need it to make sense for them to do so.
[Sara] We also have ‑‑ we have a one question about examples of academic integrity violations. And a question about plagiarism. So, do you want to tackle the academic integrity first?
[Sam] Absolutely, yeah. You know, I would say that any time I have seen a problem with academic integrity you know, even at previous institutions where I was teaching, it was pretty rare to see purposeful plagiarism. People don't usually mean to do it. Of course, there's going to be the outlier, but generally speaking, if somebody has an academic integrity violation, it might be because of sloppy notetaking. Now, you might be thinking, wait, what is the connection there? So when taking ‑‑
[Sara] That's my experience as well.
[Sam] You're taking notes from something you have written, you might have ‑‑ you might have many things going on. Maybe there's a pot of pasta on the stove, maybe you have a dog barking in the background, Sara, right? (chuckling)
Maybe there are other things going on. And you have to quickly write down this thing because you're like, oh, if I don't write it down now, I'll forget. Maybe you copied and pasted a quote from your article into your notes and you forgot to put quotation marks around it. And a week or month later you're back and trying to do some work on it and you see that text and you think to yourself... oh, yeah, I remember writing that down. And you might think that it was your own writing. You might forget it was a quote. So in notetaking, it's really important if you write down a quote ‑‑ I don't recommend you do unless it's just one of those questions where you don't have time to make a paraphrase and you know you're going to come back later and paraphrase the work, if you're going to write down anything that is quoted, make sure you use quotation marks when you do so.
The other common thing that I see, apart from where it's literally somebody else's words verbatim that you have put in your text without quotation marks, the other thing that we often see is just very close paraphrasing, where the paraphrasing is so close to the original that it's pretty clear that the writer ‑‑ that means you ‑‑ has not really processed that information. Maybe you changed a couple words for synonyms, rather than really thinking about what the essence of the idea was and reporting what the author was getting at. So, it's sort of incomplete paraphrasing or trouble with notetaking are a couple of issues that might lead to academic integrity violations.
But basically, if you are ‑‑ and also if you're using ideas from a source, they didn't spring from your head, you need to make sure there's a citation. Even if it paraphrases. Especially for paraphrases, because that's mostly what you should be doing. You know, quoting is pretty rare in APA style. Most of what you should be doing is paraphrasing or summarizing in order to synthesize and bring together the work of many authors. And so you have to make sure that you are citing the ‑‑ providing citations for those sources. Does that make sense? Anything to add to that that I might have forgotten, Sara?
[Sara] No, I think that's well‑summarized. I wanted to bring up a question that just came up about something that we see a lot, which is anthropomorphism and how to avoid it. I would say the best way to avoid anthropomorphism, when writing, keep in mind that non‑human entities can't perform human actions. I just like to, as I'm ‑‑ as a writer, I like to imagine if something can do the thing that I just said it can do. So if you are writing, this chapter discusses... to imagine a chapter discussing something, and then you'll see pretty quickly how surreal and ridiculous that is. Do you have any advice for avoiding? Exactly, a chapter is having a Tea Party, exactly. If a chapter can't ride a horse or go to the store, it also can't discuss. So that's usually how I think of it. Do you have any advice for how best to avoid anthropomorphism?
[Sam] We have just a minute before Beth is going to wind it up for us, but I think studying some examples in the APA manual would be really important. Because they ‑‑ I think they clarify this idea as well as on our website. You know, we laugh about the discussing thing, because that one is kind of funny. To us it's very clear. But it's true there are many cases when you might look at something and two well‑educated people might look at the same sentence and one might say, oh, definitely anthropomorphism and one might say, I don't think it is. If it's something you're on the fence and you're not sure if it is, go to the Merriam Webster dictionary. M‑w.com. Look the word up and read the usage examples and read the definitions and find the one closest to the way you're using it. Read the usage examples and see how the word is used in those examples. You know, do a Google search for that word. You know, carefully, of course, pick only sources that have used that word that seem to be from academic sources. See how they're using it.
You know, you want it to make logical sense, basically. I wouldn't start, you know, seeing anthropomorphism everywhere just because it's something that you're concerned about. But definitely make sure that it makes sense. The guidelines in the manual and the website I think can help with that. But, yeah, the big one we see is probably discuss, I think that's the one I see most often. All right, thanks. And thanks, everybody, for your questions. If you didn't get an answer to your question, of course, make sure you send us an email. Among other people, I believe Sara is one of those who answers the email@example.com and she'd be happy to answer questions. Thanks, everybody.
[Beth] Thanks so much, Sam and Sara. This was such a fantastic presentation and I really appreciate your work putting it together Sam, and Sara, all your work in the background answering questions and the Q&A session at the end. Looks like a lot of thank yous coming in. We appreciate it. And I want to echo what Sam said. Do make sure to reach out to the editors for further questions and information. We can't know if you have a question or are looking for help until you reach out to us. So do let us know how we can help and we'd be happy to assist. We're going to go ahead and close outside for the day but I want to note here that we will be presenting webinars around the capstone study throughout the next couple months. Keep an eye out on the webinar calendar and we hope to see you at another session again in the future. Have a wonderful day, everyone! And happy writing!