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Webinar Transcripts

Academic Writing for Military Students

August 26, 2015

View the recording

Last updated 3/8/2018

 

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

The slide says the title of the webinar “academic writing for military students” and the speakers names and information: Beth Nastachowski, manager of multimedia writing instruction and Amber Cook, associate director of faculty outreach and support

Audio: Beth: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the webinar today. Thank you so much for joining us. This is academic writing for military students and my name is Beth Nastachowski, I am the manager of multimedia writing instruction and I will be one of the presenters for today along with my co-presenter, Amber cook. Amber, do you want to introduce yourself real quick?

Amber: Sure, I’m Amber cook, the Associate Director of faculty outreach and support but I’ve been working for Walden ten years now this past May, doing student support as well, so happy to be here.

Beth: Thank you, Amber. Amber and I will be sort of handing the presentation off back and forth today but I’m going to get us started.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: housekeeping:

  • Recording
    • Webinar is being recorded and will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
    • Send to writingsupport@waldenu.edu
  • Help
    • Choose “help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Before I go into the session itself, I wanted to go over just a couple of housekeeping notes, so just a couple of things we go through at the start of every session. The first one as you might have noticed that I started the recording for this webinar so if you have to leave early or you’d like to come back and review what we talk about, you're more than welcome to do so. I’ll post this in our webinar archive and I’ll make sure to do so by tomorrow, probably tomorrow afternoon. Also, note that we have the PowerPoint slides available and that's in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. They're the first file listed there, and you can download those if you’d like access for them, access to them at a later date but you can also come back to the recording and download them from the recording if you forget to do so during this hour. The other thing I wanted to note is that we have lots of ways for you to interact with us today so Amber and I have a couple of chats that we’re going to be using throughout the session to talk with you and engage with you about what our focus is today, academic writing and military writing but we also have a Q&A box that will be open and our colleague, Carey little brown one of our dissertation editors at the writing center, she will be monitoring that Q&A box and she's happy to answer any questions that you might have. And I also encourage you to ask those questions when you have them. That way you don't forget about your questions and that way we get them in right away and can answer them right away. However, also note that if you think of a question later, or if for some reason at the end of the webinar, we often get a lot of questions and we can't always get to every one of them, if that happens, you're always welcome to email us at writingsupport@waldenu.edu with any questions. So, then the last part of this is the help button. If you have any technical issues, there’s a help button at the top right-hand corner of your screen and that's adobe’s option, the best place to go if you have any technical issues.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Today’s learning objective

  • Identity the differences between writing expectations in the military and academia
  • Identify key components of academic writing
  • Know where to go for hep citing military sources in APA
  • Know where to go for additional help with your studies at Walden

Audio: All right. So, we're going to jump right in. As I said, this webinar focuses on academic writing and, well, more specifically the transition from writing for the military, writing for military audience or in the context of the military and then writing in the context of academia or Walden, the sort of writing we do at Walden and that student are asked to do for their course work. So that's our main focus today is talking about the differences between, you know, academic writing and writing for the military so after this webinar, we hope you'll be able to identify those differences and see how the two sorts of types of writing work in different genres and how they have different conventions. We also are going to talk about or do a little introduction to the components of academic writing, so what constitutes academic writing, what does it look like, and 'then we're also going to touch on some APA information, too, we've gotten some questions in the past year or so from students about citing military sources and one of the things we're going to talk about is potentially as a students with a military background, military might be one of the focuses for your writing so it's important to know how to cite sources from the military, as well, so some resources on that. And then we also have some general information about additional places to go for help while you're writing at Walden. So that's what we're going to wrap up with today. So that is a general overview of what we hope you will get out of this session.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Caveat about Today’s Webinar

Audio: But before we dive in, I also wanted to start with just a little caveat about today's webinar. This webinar is exciting for us because it's the first time we have presented this webinar to students so this is the first time we've ever done this webinar and it's a little different than what we've done in the past mostly just because we're really focusing on one particular type of Walden student, those students that have a military background. But one thing I wanted to make sure to note was that, you know, we're going to be talking about military writing and students with military backgrounds and things like that and, really, that's a very broad term, we realize that. Within the military, there's many, many different experiences. We can see that potentially students who have a background in the military, work in the military, are currently in the military or are veterans might be the audience for this webinar and we don't mean to sort of homogenize that group by no means but we’re talking in very broad terms. We also realize there’s different types of writing in the military, itself, so we're not trying to paint that with a broad stroke or a broad brush or anything, but we just wanted to mention that, as well. And then we also wanted to say that throughout the session, we've really tried to build in lots of opportunities for you to give your perspective because I think every individual student can bring something a little bit different, everyone has different experiences so we hope that you'll be able to be able to bring those experiences to the table, as well. Okay.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Scholarly Writing and Military Writing as Genres

Audio: Let's get started. The first thing I want to talk about is…

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Consider what you bring to the table:

  • Skills:
  • Leadership and followership
  • Direct, concise communication
  • Planning and organization
  • Problem solving
  • Experience:
  • Global outlook
  • Working on deadlines
  • Understanding of rules
  • Initiative

Audio: How we’re talking about scholarly writing and military writing, we’re really focusing on scholarly writing and military writing as different genres, different genres that have different conventions and expectations. And the first thing I wanted to talk about a little bit was how students who have a military background who are veterans, who are in the military, who have that sort of context really can bring a lot of great things to the table that potentially other students might not necessarily bring. There's some unique experiences, I think, as being a student who is also related or part of the military. And these are kind of just a general list, they’re pretty broad, but a lot of times, students who come from this background have great leadership and followership skills, direct and concise communication, planning and organization skills, problem-solving, all things that are really important in academic writing and academic studies in general so those are all things that you might bring to the table that can be really helpful in the work that you do at Walden. But I would also like to focus on the experience you might bring, as well. As I mentioned, I think students who have been part of the military bring a lot of other experiences that other students may never have had and that can include more global outlook, experience working on deadlines and understanding of rules, we're going to talk about APA at the very end of the session but, you know, potentially, that experience understanding and following rules can work really well in APA where that is very rule-based. And experience, you know, showing initiative and taking charge of things, as well. Those are all skills that I think students from this background can bring to Walden and use in their academics and again that's academics in general but also academic writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat: Consider what you bring to the table:

What do you think you bring to your studies at Walden

that your civilian classmates might not?

Audio: So, I want to start out with a chat here and just talk fairly broadly and get your perspective, what do you bring to your studies at Walden that your civilian classmates might not? How do you draw from your experiences with the military, past or present? And I’m going to pause for a second as I wait for those to come in.

[pause as student’s type]

Military, culture and leadership training, definitely. I’d be interested, I’m not sure if that's a particular type of training but I think that's great to emphasize that as part of the military, there's a lot of emphasis on leadership and potentially maybe what you're talking about there is really formalized training in that, too. Diversity, sure, sure.

[pause as student’s type]

Communication and teamwork, sure, and I can imagine that as part of the military, you've been able to practice both informal and formal communication extensively and the teamwork part I think becomes really important, being able to collaborate with others. I think in academics, we can always bring in more collaboration, sure. People skills, that's great. Yeah. Formal leadership training. Thanks for specifying, that's great to hear. Global views, I can imagine, right, that any veteran or someone whose part of the military who has traveled all across the world would be able to bring in the perspective and point of view that they've been able to have from traveling but also just traveling for the military, too, right, and being a part of that whole culture, I think, would be a unique experience that you would bring to the table, as well. Not everyone is part of the military so that's the unique experience and thing that you can bring, as well. Improvise adapt and overcome perspective. That's great. I’m going to pause just for another minute here and I appreciate so much for everyone who's contributed so far. Great! An anthropologist and interested in health issues and illnesses. Sound like lots of different things you can bring to the table. We really want to emphasize here, that you as someone who's part of or has this background in the military can bring so much to the table.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Transitioning from Military Writing to

Academic Writing

            Academic writing…

                  Is

  • A new type or genre of writing.
  • Driven by argument and a thesis statement.

 

Includes

           

  • Formal tone
  • Use of research
  • Thesis statement and paragraphs
  • APA style
  • Consideration of audience

Audio: And one thing that I like to emphasize when we're talking about academic writing in military writing as genres is really just that potentially, when you come into Walden, it might seem like everything is entirely different, that the academic writing that you're being asked to do is entirely different from anything else you've done but as we talked about, there’s a lot of things that you've learned with your background in the military and being in the military that you can apply to be successful in academic writing. There's just a couple of other things that we need to adjust, right? So, there are some commonalities between those two genres of writing and ways of communicating but there's also things that are different in academic writing and just about learning those conventions and getting used to them and practicing with them, I think, is also really important to note. So academic writing, I’m going to just do a quick introduction to sort of comparing these two genres and what academic writing is and Amber is going to pick it up with a bit more specific. I’m going to stay pretty broad here but we'll get more specific, too. So, it is a new genre of writing or different genre that has different conventions and in particular, academic writing is driven by an argument and a thesis statement. So, in your writing at Walden, for the most part, what you're writing should have some sort of point of view, argument perspective that you want to show or prove to the reader. And the summary or statement of what you want to show or prove is that thesis statement. Academic writing also focuses on a formal tone, a use of research to support that thesis statement and ideas. Like I said, the thesis statement and paragraphs that support and build towards that thesis statement, that's important in academic writing. At Walden, in particular, we use APA style, and then also consideration of audience. I think it's important to mention that in academic writing, your audience is much broader, it could be any interested reader, people in the field, policy-makers, government officials, you know, other academics, things like that. Potentially in any writing that you've done in the military, the audiences may be a little more narrow or just different so that's important to keep in mind, as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Transitioning from Military Writing to
Academic Writing

Writer vs. Writing

Audio: So, again, we want to focus on academic writing and military writing as genres and I mention this again, one last time, because it's not about the writer, it's about the writing and it's important I think to remember that if academic writing seems a little different to you or new, it's just you can do both. It's just a transition into something new and it's not a reflection on you as a writer, it's more just a reflection on you getting used to a new type of writing so that's one real big take-away I want you to take away from this webinar.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: transitioning from Military Writing to

Academic Writing

What are the differences that you’ve seen so far?

Audio: So, let's talk a little bit more about the differences between military writing and academic writing you've seen so far. I think my guess is at least most of you have been in one course at Walden, that's my guess. What sort of differences have you seen in how you have to communicate between the two? How might you need to adjust your writing and your writing practices?

[pause as student’s type]

Great, so, first (in audible) I write from a position instead of an argument perspective. I think that can potentially be a big difference in some of the writing you're doing in the military, you have a particular maybe goal, maybe you need to report out on what happened rather than having a particular argument or a thesis statement sort of thing. The APA formatting is different, that is certainly true, and know that everyone who comes to Walden, pretty much everyone, unless they had APA experience in past, you know, degrees, almost everyone is transitioning into APA too.  So, know that that is certainly something that everyone needs to sort of transition into. So, one big difference is writing as an expert instead of a researcher. That's a great point, as well, one thing to keep in mind is that in academic writing, you're writing as a researcher and that comes with avoiding bias and supporting your argument with research, other research and not just taking your perspective and point of view as the last thing or the only thing for readers to consider. Yep. Writing tends to be technical, potentially in the military writing and in academic writing, we want to spell things out a little bit more for a reader, maybe adjust our word choice, things like that. Military writing is all about brevity, yeah, and academic writing, potentially, you might need to spell things out a little bit more. I think that really does go back to your reader, like I mentioned, because all of this is spelling things out for your reader, sure. Yeah, great point, all right. Let's see. Military writing is a little bit more casual, potentially, and academic writing is more formal, supported by evidence. This is great, guys. I think you're pointing out the main things that we were thinking about so far. I don't see anyone else typing so I’m going to keep moving forward here and, you know, it's helpful to think about these differences and reflect on them mostly because it helps you understand where you might need to pay attention. If you're very used to military writing, it's very possible that then these are things, you know, word choice, being more formal, APA, things like that that you just need to watch out for in your own writing and that's where you need to maybe focus some of your time when you're writing and revising.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Military Writing à Academic Writing

            An illustration of a written introduction paragraph highlight the following points:

                        Image/text running head and heading

Block quote to begin

Footnotes/endnotes

Pictures

Audio: Here's -- I have a couple of examples for you that I just wanted to go through to kind of illustrate, a lot of what you guys talked about. This is a screen shot from a military guide that was accessed online and you can see some of the differences, you know, even thinking about what you might have handed into your course work already, right? Military writing we're seeing images and text in the running head which isn't the case in APA and academic writing.  Potentially for the most part, we suggest students avoid a lot of block quotes, particularly I would say sometimes you can use them to start a paper but most of the time you want to start with an introduction paragraph instead. This particular guide also used footnotes and end notes, which is used in some academic writing but just not in APA, and there’s also a lot of pictures in here, as well, which we would avoid in our academic writing, as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Military Writing à Academic Writing     

            Questions

Original: What is the “Threat” of terrorism? How does terrorism impact on U.S. military forces in the conduct of operations and institutional support? What measures exist to minimize terrorist action in the contemporary operational environment?

Revision 2: The questions we seek to answer include the following:…

Revision 1: First it is important to know what “threat” terrorism poses, as well as how it impacts U.S. military forces and what measures exit to minimize terrorist action.

Audio: Here's another screen shot, I took this of a paragraph and in particular I wanted to point out the use of the questions in this paragraph. So, this paragraph says, what is the threat of terrorism? How does terrorism impact on the U.S. Military forces on the conduct of operations and institutional support? What measures exist to minimize terrorist activity in the contemporary and operational environment? I included those questions here. And in military writing potentially that's just fine, you're introducing some questions and maybe potentially the author is going the answer those questions or address them later on. But in academic writing, because we need to focus on our reader, we want to provide more context and potentially avoid those questions altogether. So, in this revision, instead I might introduce those questions by saying, the questions we seek to answer include the following. But an even better or stronger, more academic revision might be just to make those questions into statements. Saying first it’s important to know what threat terrorism poses and so on and so on. So, these are just a couple of examples of an actual, you know, military writing source and how we might translate that into academic writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Military-Like Writing à Academic Writing

Leaders must be mindful of the organization’s goals, mission, and strategies. Leaders must be willing to utilize all available resources to the successful achievement of those goals. There is no one leadership style or theory that is the fit for all types of organizations and the challenges that they face. Theories have their own focus as well as strengths and weaknesses. Four leadership theories that are popular in business and academia today are:

  • Transformational,
  • Team,
  • Complexity, and
  • Situational leadership theories.

Audio: Here's another example for you. This is a paragraph which isn’t from an academic write but is something from a student who has a military background and I can see that influence a little bit in a couple of ways. So, I’m going to read through the paragraph quickly here because we'll then see the example. It says leaders must be mindful of the organization's goals, missions and strategies. Leaders must be willing to utilize all available resources to the successful achievement of those goals. There is no one leadership style or theory that is the fit for all types of organizations and the challenges that they face. Theories have their own focus as well as strengths and weaknesses. Four leadership theories that are popular in business and academia today are transformational, team, complexity and situational leadership theories. This paragraph is very clear, it's direct. As the reader, I’m following pretty well, in general, but it sounds a little bit maybe stilted. There isn't very much context here, and things like that.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Military-Like Writing à Academic Writing

In order for an organization to remain fit and competitive in today’s increasingly global market, leaders must be mindful of the organization’s goals, mission, and strategies. Additionally, leaders must be willing to utilize all available resources to the successful achievement of those goals (Johnson et al., 2014). There is no one leadership style or theory that is the fit for all types of organizations and the challenges that they face; however each theory has its own focus as well as strengths and weaknesses. Four leadership theories that are popular in business and academia today are transformational, team, complexity, and situational leadership theories.

Audio: So, this is an example of how we might revise so on the left we have the original and on the right, I’ve made some revisions with my bold, the wording in bold, so I’ve added some introductory information to this pierce par graph saying in order for an organization to remain fit and competitive in today's increasingly global market, leaders must be mindful. I’m adding a bit more context about the purpose of what I’m talking about here, introducing the ideas for the reader. I also added a few transitions like additionally here and however here, and I’ve also cited a source and included source information to support my ideas here, as well. At the very end, I also removed the bulleted list. While bulleted list might work very well in military writing, in academic writing they sometimes can indicate a more informal tone. Now, that isn't to say bulleted lists are never used in academic writing but they're used much more sparingly. So, you can see again just some of the differences here in what might be a first draft, I would say, on the left of a student writing a paragraph for a paper, at Walden, and then going back and revising it a little bit more with these considerations about academic writing in mind. Adding more transition than context and research and things like that.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

Audio: All right. I feel like I went through that very fast. I wanted to stop at this point before I hand it off to Amber to talk a little bit more about characteristics of scholarly writing. Have there been any questions that I could address or talk about?

Carey: No, there aren't so far and I wanted to encourage anyone who does have questions as we go along to enter those in the Q&A box and I’ll either answer it myself or hold that so that Amber and Beth can address it at one of the Q&A stopping points.

Amber: Great. Thank you, Carey, and I’ll echo what Carey was saying, send those questions to us in the Q&A box and we're happy to respond to them. Amber, at this point, I think I’ll hand it over to you, then.

Amber: great, thanks, Beth. So, Beth has been talking a lot about characteristics of military writing and a lot of this is sort of our observations based on what we've seen in student papers. We've talked with faculty members and also with military services to get a feel for, you know, the sort of things that they see from students in the military and questions that they've gotten.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

Goals of Scholarly Writing

  • Contribute to the existing scholarly conversation on a topic
  • Convince the reader of your argument (inform and persuade)

What are the goals of military writing?

Audio: So, I do want to kind of change gears now and talk about that contrast so looking at scholarly trying, dissecting what that actually means and where there might be some contrasts with what you might have been used to in more military writing. First, I want to talk about the goals of scholarly writing, because I think that's kind of the root of a lot of these differences that we'll talk about. For scholarly writing, the primary goal is to contribute to the existing scholarly conversation on a topic. So were not necessarily going to be solving a problem, fixing a crisis, it's going to be more about contributing to the conversation. Here's my idea, and then of course, then, trying to create that idea in a way that's convincing to the reader. So, it's not just an opinion, it's not instructional but it’s also not just an opinion saying here's what I think. It's got to be persuasive and a big part of that persuasiveness, then, is research, which we'll talk about a little bit more later. So, the primary goal is again contributing to that scholarly conversation and convincing the reader of the argument. So, the reader doesn't necessarily just trust that you know what you're talking about.

[chat box appears]

And I want you to think again about military writing and in the chat box, if you could go ahead and type in what you think the goals are of military writing and that can be in contrast to what I just presented for scholarly writing or you could talk about how they're similar but if you had to say here is the goal of the kind of military writing that I do, and, again, we know that's not always uniform, what would those goals be?

So, we've got one suggestion that conveys information as clearly and concisely as possible. Good. And I think that the concise issue is definitely part of the sticking point between these two types of writing.  Concise writing is a value of scholarly writing but I think you're right that we really see that as more of a value in military writing. Impact, action and results. Good. So, this is all very kind of goal-oriented writing, not so much about a conversation or a dialogue so much as results. Another suggestion that it's providing information for decisions. That's great, that's another kind of difference when you think about the goals of scholarly writing, there's not necessarily an action step that results from the writing that you do. There might be -- you might be suggesting a new approach to something, a new way of thinking about something but most of your scholarly writing isn't going to result in an immediate action step much like in the way that military writing might be issuing a directive, so, again, the concession and clarity is going to be good there, too. Presenting facts, providing information. Supporting argument, okay. I’d be interested to note because that does come up in scholarly writing, as well, that the argument requires support, that the reader doesn't automatically take the writer's word for it, so it would be interesting to know how kind of that looks in those two styles of writing. Providing policies and instructions. Good. Yeah, so it sounds like you all have a pretty clear sense of what those goals would be for military writing and if you compare those to what we've put on the screen for the goals of scholarly writing, it’s quite a bit different. And I think one of the issues students have and this is true for students who aren't coming from the military but are coming from other writing styles that often the goals of scholarly writing and the conventions of scholarly writing can seem a bit more gray. If you look at the ways you describe the goals of military writing, it's pretty black and white, it’s pretty clear, you sort of know what you're after, the directives are clear, what you're looking for is clear. It's not always quite as cut and dried in scholarly writing. So, we will talk a little bit more about that.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

Audience for Scholarly Writing

  • Specialized reader, familiar with foundations of your field
  • Critical reader, who will ask questions of the author/compare text to existing knowledge

      Audience for military writing

  • Reader looking for relevant, practical information related to mission
  • Critical reading and questioning of text less expected

Audio: Thanks for your contributions there, by the way. So, I also want to talk a little bit about audience because that's one of the bigger differences between these two and you didn't really address that too much in your comments but I think that's part of the -- part of the goals is sort of who you're talking to, why you're talking to them. In scholarly writing, your audience is generally going to be a specialized reader so if you're somebody in, for instance, a psychology program at Walden, you're assuming that the person who's reading your papers or your dissertation or whatever it is that you're writing at Walden also has a psychology background. You're not going to assume that me, for instance, I am a music major with an English background, I’m probably not going to under as much about the psychology terminology and conventions and theories as your instructor will or as your colleagues will so we're assuming a reader is somewhat familiar with the foundations of your field. You don't have to start from ground zero, you don't have to assume completely lack of knowledge, you're assuming that you're talking sort of within this field. Also, your audience is a critical reader so this reader is going to be asking questions of the author. They're going to, again, they’re going to be coming in with some foundation so if you say something that they consider suspect, they're going to bring that knowledge in with them and say, wait a minute, this other author has said this or this other thinker has proven that wrong or there's going to be that kind of conversation within your reader's head. There's always going to be questioning and some thoughts about what you're writing and, again that, kind of questioning is part of the reading process for a scholarly reader.

In military writing, it doesn't tend to be quite as much of a give and take between the reader and the writer, so in military writing, for the most part, readers are looking for relevant, practical information related to mission. A lot of you talked about this in the chat box a minute go, that you're really looking for results, instructions, there's often not time and that's not part of the process to sit and think, well, could this be done better? What about this? I’m not so sure that that uses, you know, makes best use of this particular theory, it's just not the way that's written and not the way the reader is expected to behave as the reader. The critical reading and the questioning of the text is less expected, therefore, so you just don't see as much of that wrestling with the text, pulling in other ideas. Not to say the reader doesn't have other ideas and doesn’t’ have questions but that's not sort of the purpose for the exchange in the same way it is for scholarly writing.

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

      Thesis-driven writing

  • Paper opens with a statement of argument: Here is what this paper will do
  • Thesis supported by critical analysis of sources
  • Writer develops a voice/tone in keeping with conventions of the field but still distinct

Informational/instructional writing

  • Focus on outcomes and calls to action rather than argument
  • Sources used for reference rather than support or comparison (and disagreement isn’t expected)
  • Uniform voice

Audio: We also sort of talk about these two types of writing differently so for scholarly writing, it tends to be thesis driven so most papers you write will open with some sort of statement of argument. So, you're setting out your course early on, somewhere in the introduction saying, this is what this paper is arguing, you know, you're going to be presenting all these pieces of research and all this analysis but it does kind of front-end with here's what this paper is going to say. That's kind of the main idea of it. And then that thesis, then, is going to be the guiding point for the rest of the document. So, the thesis is going to be supported by the sources that you pull in and then your critical analysis of those sources so you don't just, you know, line out different people who agree with you, you sort of have them talking to each other. You say this author thinks this, this author thinks this. You know, this is more convincing for x reason, this person worked with a different audience than this person did and you're kind of, again, creating this conversation around the ideas of other sources and how those connect to that original thesis.

As a writer, you're also developing a voice so even though you're not going to be really using something with a lot of personality -- a lot of scholarly writing gets criticized for being dry, certainly doesn't have to be but you will have a somewhat distinct voice in which you are articulating a point of view and analysis. That tone, of course, is going to be in keeping with the conventions of the field so, again, depending on which department you're this at Walden, you probably observed already some of the course readings that you've done that authors send to use similar terminology. There are words that maybe have fallen out of favor or ones that are emerging in your field. You could probably all play that bingo game where, you know, some of those overused terms in your field come up and you'll know what those are because that's where you're kind of steeped in that field from now on. But there is that kind of distinct voice that emerges from those writers and it's not just reporting out information, so even though you are using research and there is a formal tone, there's still some of the own author's voice with the author's own analysis and kind of critique of what he or she is talking about.

Informational instructional writing which is sort of what you all were describing in the chat box earlier; the focus is more on outcome and also on calls to action. So, the writer is not as concerned about convincing you. If you're just trying to find out what to do next, you don't necessarily need three or four paragraphs of reasoning and research as to why that's happening. You might want that later but usually there's more urgency around that sort of thing and that's going to be secondary in informational writing. The sources are used more for reference than for support so you're not necessarily saying here are these three or four articles that will support what I’m saying, go and read those. You can compare them. This is more about if someone needs to look up more information for practical purposes, they know where that information came from. Disagreement isn't expected so they're not necessarily going to say, we've decided to do this, you know, so-and-so disagrees but we're going to do it anyway. That's not really welcome in informational and instructional writing. It's not the best use of space. And then you tend to see a more uniform voice, and this is something I’m not sure if you've noticed but if you look through a lot of writing within the military, you know, even on military websites and in military manuals, there is a pretty consistent, crisp voice, reading level tend to be very similar. Just the tone tends to be very similar, there's not as much room for the actual author to inject a personality or a perspective. Again, it wouldn't be appropriate to that style.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

Structure

  • Scholarly writing:
    • Paragraphs with MEAL-type format
    • Transitions, introductions, conclusions
    • Focus on thought process
  • Military writing:
    • Lists are more common
    • Focus on facts more than construction

Audio: Structure of writing and this is something that you've probably talked about this a little bit in your courses so this might feel familiar. In scholarly writing, we tend to write in paragraphs with the meal type format and for those of you who don’t know that acronym meal stands for main idea, evidence, analysis and lead-in, which is sort of a little formula for creating a paragraph. So, you start with your main idea, you present some evidence in support of that idea. You create some analysis around that evidence, you know, maybe discussing any disagreements that might be there and then the lead-in is sort of making your way to the next idea. So, there's, you know, doesn't have to be exactly that formulaic but that's the basic structure of most scholarly paragraphs. We also tend to use transitions and introductions and conclusions which in other writing that might look like filler but it’s part of the conventions for scholarly writing to be able to present to the reader in these conventional ways. There is also a focus on the thought process so the reader needs to know how the author arrived at certain conclusions, not just that they arrived at the conclusion but how did you get there and as a writer, the scholarly writer, the job is to walk your reader through that. You can't really jump to the conclusion too quickly without losing your reader.

In military writing, we do tend to see more lists and, again, some of the examples that we showed and some of the things you've probably seen tend to be a little bit more abbreviated so there's not as much focus on complete sentences and making sure that everything has a narrative flow. Just listing out either verbs or nouns just to get the point across is more common. Again, the focus which a lot of you have said is more on facts than on construction, so the artfulness of the paragraph, how well the author has argued something or the turns of phrase that come along with the writing are really less important in military writing because, again, the focus is more on facts and actions.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

This paragraph has unexplained abbreviations, abrupt transitions and passive voice.

In a GO, there are many factors affecting the work environment. Social, cultural, physical, and ethical are some of these (Cooper, 2012). Culture variations are sometimes ignored by states and FGs, but deadlines, contract value, or pay on deliverables are often impacted by them. The greatest challenge would be creating policies and laws to formally establish cultural norms the organizations. 

Revised paragraph

Many factors can affect the work environment in government organizations. These factors include social, cultural, physical, and ethical issues that can vary from organization to organization (Cooper, 2012). States and federal governments sometimes ignore these variations in culture, but a problem culture can negatively impact deadlines, contract value, or pay on deliverables. These entities can benefit from creating policies to formally establish cultural norms the organizations.

Audio: So, let's look at an example of what this might look like in an actual piece of work. So, this is something that has more of a military style of writing. So here in a go, there are many factors affecting the work environment. Social, cultural, physical and ethical are some of these and there is a citation there. Culture variations are sometimes ignored by states and FG’s, but deadlines, contract value or pay on deliverables are of impacted by them. The greatest challenge would be creating policies and laws to formally establish cultural norms the organizations. A couple of things that we see here, number one is a series of unexplained abbreviations. This is something we see really across different writing disciplines, we all kind of assume that everyone knows what things stand for. We talk about this even in the writing center, you know, will a new writing staff member know what a cam is, what does that stand for and we abbreviate a lot of our offices around Walden, it's sort of family talk, it's what you do when you assume everyone knows what's happening in scholarly writing, that works less well, even within your field, even though there are going to be certain terms that are common, you tend to be so specialized that most things that require an abbreviation will require an explanation. You also see here, there are some abrupt transitions between sentences so you're not really seeing any phrases or things getting the writer from a to b in a more transitional way, it's just sort of bam, bam, bam. So, it’s kind of that military style of just the facts. We're also seeing a little bit of passive voice so here it says cultural variations are sometimes ignored. And that's, you know, a pretty typical way of presenting fact when you don't necessarily need to put the blame on someone. We see politicians do this all the time. They'll say mistakes were made, different than saying I made a mistake, saying a mistake was made. And we do tend to see this quite a bit and different styles of writing and scholarly writing, ownership of the action is more important so we see less of the passive voice.

So, here's how the same piece of writing might look in a scholarly voice, so, again, similar information but presented in a slightly different tone. Here we say, many factors can affect the work environment in government organizations. So, it’s spelled out government organizations. And we've also kind of created a more introductory phrase there. These factors, include, that's kind of transitional because we mention them in the first sentence and now this writer is pulling that word back this to lead the reader through. Include social, cultural, physical and ethical issues that can vary from organization to organization. We've got a citation there, too. States and federal governments sometimes ignore these variations, so, again, we've taken it out of passive voice and now putting an actual actor here so it's the governments that are ignoring the variations but a problem culture can negatively impact deadlines, contract value or pay on deliverables. You'll see the sentences are a little bit longer and I it’s not that, I think a lot of times when people move to scholarly writing styles, they think we have -- you have to have longer words, longer phrases, longer sentences, and that's not so much the case but it does help the rhythm of your sentences if some are short and some are long. That's one of those things that, again, in scholarly writing, you'll probably pay more attention to than you would in a just-the-facts-ma'am meeting. These entities can benefit from creating policies to formally establish cultural norms in the organizations. So, again, here, we've got a little bit more of a recommendation, a little bit more of an argument and a little bit less of just an observation which is what we see in that next one. It's sort of a just a slight difference, very similar information but a different way of presenting it.

I see a question in the box about explaining the idea of abrupt transitions so before I leave this screen, I’ll go ahead and take look at that. See if I can go back so you can see the way that one looked. Okay. So, if you look at the way these sentences are structured, and this is advice I give to a lot of students who come to the writing center, if you read your work out loud, it’s easier to hear something like an abrupt transition so in this case, in a go there are many factors affecting the work environment. Period. Social, cultural and physical and ethical are some of these. Period. Culture variation are sometimes ignored. There’s just a little bit, of that, those two first sentences are the same length. There's not really a clear connection between the two of them so it takes you kind of till the end of the second sentence before you realize that you're talking about factors. So, when I revised it, I moved the note about factors a little earlier in the sentence. So that first sentence says many factors can affect and then next sentence, these factors include and that way I’ve made a transition between the two sentences so the reader doesn't have to wait as long to see that connection. So, I hope that makes sense. Feel free to ask another question if that wasn't clear.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing

Word Choice: Scholarly Writing

  • Specialized but clear
  • Avoids abbreviations and “insider” language whenever possible
  • First person (e.g., I, me, our, we) acceptable in most fields
  • Preference for active voice (e.g., “The troops destroyed the bridge”)

      Word Choice: Military writing

  • Jargon and abbreviations common
  • Third person (e.g., he, she, her, they)
  • Passive voice common (e.g., “The bridge was destroyed”)

Audio: one more detail about scholarly writing I want to talk about, is the idea of word choice and we’ve talked about this a little bit in the previous slide but to think about scholarly writing, the word choice, again, is specialized but it's clear so, avoiding those abbreviations and things like that. Yes, there's going to be some jargon, there’s going to be a little bit of using terms that your neighbor won't necessarily know because your neighbor’s not in your field but it shouldn't be so obscure and dense and full of insider information that your reader can't follow it. So even though the concepts can be complex, the writing itself shouldn't be overly complex. And I think a lot of time, again, people think again, scholarly writing means big words and long sentences and that's not really always the case. It avoid abbreviations of using insider language, so insider in the sense that you are in a field, there are conventions in your field but also within that field, you are so specialized that you don't lose track of the fact that there’s a bigger picture. So, abbreviations should be spelled out at least the first time. Any language that's sort of assumed on the part of the reader should be kind of examined to make sure that it really is common language. First person is acceptable in most fields and this is a shift. Most of you, if you have studied school 20, 30 years ago, you probably were taught something different, even ten years ago. First person was considered something that was too casual for scholarly writing but as most of you know, if you've ever tried to write without using first person and without using passive voice which is another style of writing that we try to avoid, it gets tricky. It’s very difficult to talk about your own research, for instance, without either saying "I" or then flipping it to talk about the action instead of the actor. So, APA endorses using first person in those cases so rather than the surveys were distributed to the participants, you would say I distributed surveys to the participants. That's clear, we know who did it, there's nothing wrong with that. Obviously, you still want to avoid the I feel, I think, you know, injecting yourself too much in it but first person in general is acceptable.

And there's also the preference for active voice. In a sentence like the troops destroyed the bridge, again, we've attributed the action to an actor, it’s not as vague as passive voice is. Military writing, again, there is some contrast here. Jargon and abbreviations are more common, again, partly because there is a more shared vocabulary across military writing. It's more efficient, it's quicker, you know, again, there tend to be things that would just take more time to write out the entire term. I know I’ve looked around in doing some of the research for this webinar I’ve seen lists of military acronyms and it's staggering how many there are and I would guess that probably most of you could school me on what they all mean but, again, it’s not something familiar to most civilian writers or readers so it's something that you have to kind of watch out for. Third person, again, tends to be more common because there's less sort of the personal, less perspective voice-oriented writing going on in military writing so you tend to see more third person, they, it, she, he, and not so much of the here's what I think or I did. And then passive voice, again, which I mentioned before is more common so rather than saying the troops destroyed the bridge, you might say the bridge was destroyed because, again, if you're getting to just the facts, what we really need to know here is, no more bridge, that's been executed, and the details of who did it maybe come out later and are less important in that initial exchange.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Characteristics of Scholarly Writing: Chat

How would you adjust this sentence to shift it to a scholarly voice?

Have been assigned TDY and returned

from brief LOA to resume my studies at Walden University.

Audio: So, in thinking about some of these things we've just discussed, how would you adjust this sentence to make it a scholarly voice instead of military voice? The sentence here is, have been assigned TDY and returned from brief LOA to resume my studies at Walden university. So, this is a typical sentence that we might tend to see of a student who maybe is introducing him or herself in the class room, in a discussion board, how would you advise this student to make adjustments to pull it into a scholarly voice? So just take a minute enter that into the chat box. You can either type a revision of the sentence or make a suggestion on what it should look like.

[pause as student’s type]

I see some typing going on, here’s an alternate sentence. I have been assigned temporary duty and returned from a brief leave of absence to continue my studies at Walden universities. Good. So, this suggestion does a couple of things, first of all, it creates a complete sentence. If you look at the original sentence, there wasn't an actual object in the sentence. It just goes straight to the action. Have been assigned TDY, who has been assigned TDY? So, we’ve got the "I" there. Good. Second solution has the same thing. [ reading the sentence] I’ve recently returned to my studies after a brief leave of absence and temporary duty. Good. And I think, that's another solution, obviously we've spelled out the two acronyms that might have been unclear to your instructors or to your colleagues, since this is on the discussion board civilians might not know what TDY and LOA mean. I mean they’ve also written it in a way that makes it clear to a civilian audience. I recently returned to my studies after a brief leave of absence on temporary duty. So, I think most of us, military or not would understand what that means. Another suggestion, I have returned from work-related travel and a brief absence but now will resume my studies at Walden university. So good, here we're not even assuming that the terms are familiar, you've explained LOA and TDY without using the military terms. Good, these are all really good suggestions and I like how you all recognized the need for a complete sentence, as well. I think that's something that we see sometimes missing in scholarly writing where, again, we're looking at relaying the facts as quickly as possible. I see one more idea coming in. Be sure to type in questions in the Q&A, about to hand things over to Beth so that's my periodic reminder to be sure to ask questions as we go. All right. Well, I think we had some good suggestions there and I think I’m going to hand things over to Beth from here.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Common Military Sources in APA

  • Follow regular APA rules
  • See examples on our website
  • Ask if you need help!

Audio: Beth: thank you, Amber. So, what I wanted to do now was take over a little bit and talk, well not take over, but shift our focus a little bit and we're going to talk a little bit more about APA format for military sources. And, this isn't to say you all are using military sources for every type of writing you’re doing at Walden or that you all have a military focus in your writing at Walden. But potentially as I mentioned at the start of the session that might be the case so we wanted to go over some APA information and I actually wanted to say, too, I’ll show you this is -- we realized when creating this webinar that there was a need for this on our website, too, so I’ll make sure to point to you that area of our website, as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Follow Regular APA Rules

  • Authors: Individuals or departments
  • Titles: Italics for sources published as their own entity
  • Publication information: Accessed in print versus electronically

Audio: So, the first thing I want to mention, in general, is that citations for military sources follow regular APA rules, and in particular they follow the regular rules for authors, titles and publication information. And what I mean by that is potentially you'll have individuals or department as authors for those sources and you'll actually see in some examples I have most of the time it's departments. And you'll also see that we need to use italics for sources published as their own entity but will not use italics for sources that are published on their own so you'll see in my examples, I’ll have maybe a guidebook or something like that that's published on its own which it has its title italicized but let's say you were looking at one particular web page on the department of defense's website, that one web page wouldn't be italicized because it's part of the larger website. The publication information is to remember that if you access something in print, include the print information so the city, state and publisher, but if it's accessed electronically, even if there is a separate print version, you'll include the electronic retrieval information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following:

Army Regulations

U.S. Department of the Army. (2007).  The Army Family Advocacy ProgramArmy regulation 608-18. Retrieved from http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r608_18.pdf

            Executive Orders

                        Exec. Order No. 13655, 3 C.F.R. 80451 (2013) Reprinted (codified in U.S.C.)

            Field Manuals

Headquarters, Department of the Army. (1994). Sniper training (FM 23-10). Retrieved from http://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/fm_23-10%2894%29.pdf

Audio: And here's some examples, like I was talking about, so we have army regulations, executive orders and field manuals. Now, I’m not saying here that these are the only kind of sources you might cite or that I am being comprehensive or that you have to cite these sorts of sources but I wanted to show you those examples of how we take APA format and use them for these military specific sources. One thing in particular, you can see here with the authors, I’ve included the U.S. Department of army, and headquarters, department of army here, these are the organizations responsible for these sources so we list them here. You can also see we have a publication here just like we would with any other source in APA, and the title of this particular source is italicized. Still also follows the capitalization rules for APA, as well, remember. In APA we only capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon and proper words in a title. You can see that playing out here as well as down here. You can also see for the regulations and manuals, I’ve included the retrieved from URL because this is an electronic source. The only other thing to note here is the executive order which is some sort of a bill or law or something like that, as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Examples on our website

Audio: Now, again, these aren't the only examples. We have many examples for you that we've put on our website, actually, and, again, this is in response to a need we saw from this webinar so I’ve linked that right here and go ahead and click the link. Otherwise, it's also under the common reference list examples on our website and if you use military sources often in your writing, I encourage you to bookmark it and have this page handy. We have the three examples that I just showed you as well as a couple of others, as well and I think it's useful to see those examples to help you create reference entries and also to check them when you're writing with sources from the military.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Ask for Help!

Audio: So, I think, then, handing it back over to you, Amber for the last couple places to look for help, right?

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Resources

Audio: Amber: right. So as Beth mentioned, there's lots of advice on citing military sources if that's something that you wind up doing in your writing. Again, we're not assuming that you will but that might be something you wind up drawing from. These cites on this page, which, again, you'll be able to access by clicking or by using the slides in the presentation, they help with APA format for military sources, a lot of ones that Beth just showed you, we sort of worked with those, with these sites to get that information so they can be handy for some of the maybe more detailed source that we didn't talk about specifically in those slides.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Other Department’s Resources

Audio: Also, within Walden, there are several departments that do specific work with military students and you're probably aware of these here but to kind of plug for those in case you're not, Walden’s office of military services, there is a great website there if  you haven't visited yet, it's fairly new and updated and it looks really fantastic and can be helpful for you in finding resources within Walden and also outside of Walden for your studies here. Walden's career services center also has some resources for military students and they do the occasional webinar for students. Coming from the military or going into military careers, so I would encourage you to avail yourself of those if you haven't already.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Center Resources

  • Writing Center

Paper reviews

  •  

Web-based resources

Quick Answers

Video on military writing vs. college writing from Uvize 

Audio: Within the writing center, we do have quite a bit of resources and this is for all students but just kind of, again, a plug, if this is your first writing center webinar, we do provide paper reviews for students who would like to have another set of eyes on their writing so if you have assignments at Walden and would like somebody to look at it, we have an appointment system where you can type in, you know, what you're looking for, the kind of help you need, especially if you've gotten feedback from faculty members about adjusting to the scholarly writing conventions or tones, you can also mention that to your writing instructor during the paper review and they can work you through some of those strategies. We also have plenty of other webinars on using APA, I know some of you mentioned that as a particular challenge. Scholarly writing conventions, specific scholarly writing skills, like paraphrasing or writing thesis statements lots of good sessions that might be a good supplement to the one that we just had today. Lots of web-based resources on everything from, you know, paragraphing to grammar issues to using APA formatting. There's lots of stuff there, too, that you can seek out on your own and then quick answers, this is becoming one of our more popular services too, if you haven't checked this out, it’s a database loaded full of questions and answers that are really common among Walden students, I think we have over 800 questions in there now and not just from the writing center, also from, you know, other departments within Walden, financial aid kind of questions, library questions, just anything that you might want to know as you're working on your studies and you can just plug your question into that database and it will pull up pre-populated answers based on the questions that we get most frequently. So, I’d recommend you take a look at that, as well, it could be handy if you're not able to get a hold of somebody, in person. Especially if you're actually in active duty and in a time zone that keeps you from being able to talk on the phone, with a lot of folks this is a great way to get responses as well. One other resource I wanted to point you too and this we actually got from the military services department at Walden, they had found this nice video on military writing versus college-level writing and we have a link to it right there, really handy, really short but a nice overview of some of the things we've talked about today so I would encourage to you take a look at that.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions

Audio: All right. I’ll hand this back over to Beth so we can wrap up and get any final questions.

Now: Let us know!    ·          Anytime: writingsupport@waldenu.edu

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New to Walden and academic writing?

Check out the recorded webinars “What is Academic Writing?” and “Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts”

Audio: Beth: thanks so much, Amber. Yeah, and while -- I guess I would say we'll spend the last -- I think I have seven minutes here on questions, if you have questions, we'll be sure to answer them so I’ll give you a minute here to type those into the Q&A box but as you do that, if you have questions after the webinar about what we talked today or about writing in APA in general, please make sure to email us at the writing center. We are always happy to help and here for you, that's what we're here for. Our address is writingsupport@waldenu.edu. And also note that I’ve linked to a couple of other webinars that might be useful next steps for you so what is academic writing and writing and responding to discussion posts. Great introductory session is the first one and the next one is focusing on discussion posts. I should also note that we are presenting what is academic writing live and I believe that's next week, already, I think semester starts up next week so I encourage to you check that live session out if that interests you, as well. Carey, were there any questions that Amber and I could talk about as we finish off the webinar here?

Carey: Well, I’m in the process of answering a question right now that might need an illustration, which is a specific reference related question but I thought you might address, again, I had a question earlier that I answered about the correct APA format for introducing an abbreviated term. I thought maybe it would be helpful to other listeners if you went over the way in which we write out the full term the first time and kind of some guidelines on, you know, which terms are worth abbreviating and that sort of thing.

Beth: Certainly, yeah, Amber I’ll start with that and you can add or correct anything I said if that works for you.

Amber:  Sure, sounds good. [ chuckling]

Beth: In general, in APA, what you want to do if you're using or wanting to use an abbreviation, is you'll spell out the full term or phrase, organization name first. And you'll do that the first time you use that name or organization, so let's say we were doing the department of defense, in my first sentence I talk about the department of defense, I would write that organization name out and then I would introduce the abbreviation in parentheses and so just immediately after writing it out, I would include parentheses, and include the abbreviation, but it's important to note that there on out for the rest of the paper, I would then use the abbreviation. One thing that Amber really emphasized was readers and making sure to address your readers and that's where it becomes important to be consistent with abbreviations so you don't want to introduce an abbreviation and then never use it again. You also don't want to introduce the abbreviation the third or fifth time that you mention something or a name or organization, so you want to introduce it the first time and use it throughout the rest of the paper every other time. Did I get that right or address every point, Amber? Anything you would add?

Amber: I think there was a sub question to that about when to bother with an abbreviation, do you have any thoughts on that and when do you just keep spelling it out

Beth: That's a good question. I guess -- that's sort of a judgment call a little bit for you as a writer. When a name or a phrase or something is extremely long and it helps save you time or space to use the abbreviation, I think that's when it's useful. But you don't want to overuse abbreviations, you don’t want to abbreviate everything so you have, the reader has to juggle in their mind ten abbreviations. I hate to even give a number because I think it can vary but maybe like three, three to five depending on the length of your paper, the longer of a paper you're writing, maybe the more abbreviations you might have. It sort of depends. Those are the considerations at least to keep in mind. I don't know, Amber, if you have anything else, any other guidelines.

Amber: No, I would say -- I would say the same thing and just a point of preference for any of you that might have your APA manual handy. The section of that is on page 106 of the 6th edition manual. And there is a little bit of discussion there about deciding whether to abbreviate and then which abbreviations you can sort of assume. There are some, like IQ, HIV, some really common abbreviations that most everyone would understand but for the most part, you want to just kind of think through the way it impacts your sentence. You can have a sentence that's loaded down with abbreviations that can be a problem, even if you're using them all appropriately. So, like a lot of things in scholarly writing, I think it’s a little bit of a gray area but those are general principles.

Beth: Yeah, that's great. Anything else, Carey, that came into the questions box? >>

Carey: Yeah, so far, nothing. I had a thank you to all from Joyce for the helpful examples and links. And other than that, I don't think we have any outstanding issues. >>

Beth: Well, that means either, Amber, we did an alright job or it's afternoon and everyone is eating their lunch. [ laughter] alright. Well, I guess, then, at this point what we'll do is 53 we'll go ahead and end the webinar. I encourage everyone, take a look at the webinar schedule for the rest of the month and email us if you have any questions. Amber, do you have any last thoughts before we head on out?

Amber: I don't. I think just, like you're saying, please stay in touch and if there's anything we can do in particular for you as students with a military background, keep us posted.

Beth: Agreed. Thank you. Thank you so much, Amber and to Carey for facilitating today. Thank you to you for joining us and have a wonderful rest of your day. Thanks so much, everyone.