Even for the most experienced writers, producing academic writing can be a daunting task. When I was a graduate student I often felt paralyzed by the pressure to produce something brilliant, or at least coherent, on my first try, knowing that my work would be evaluated and given a grade. Sometimes, as writers, we acknowledge that there will be errors in our first draft, but we assume that those errors will be mostly surface-level grammar or punctuation errors, or problems with the organization of our paper.
Well, I'm here to tell you that it is completely normal for the ideas in your initial draft to be as rough as the grammar or organization. Though we are often taught otherwise, writing is not a linear process. It's unrealistic to expect to come up with all your ideas in your head first, and then simply transcribe them onto the page. Instead, let your ideas develop through the writing process. You don't need to "have it all figured out" before you begin to write. Just start: Getting something on the page is usually the hardest part of the process. Start early, so that you have plenty of time to go back and evaluate your draft's ideas, as well as its grammar, punctuation, and organization.
Finally, I encourage you to talk to your colleagues and instructors about writing. Share what works for you, and what you're concerned about. This dialogue helps demystify the writing process, making it less nerve-wracking. You can also take a look at the Writing Center website's resources on avoiding writer's block. Good luck!
Throughout this course, you will be asked to respond to each week's resources in a variety of ways. Look for these terms in your assignment descriptions; then, use these definitions to be sure you create the right kind of writing for that particular week.
Describe: to give a detailed account of something.
Summarize: to express the main points of a reading in a shorter form. Think about the who, what, why, where, and how.
Analyze: to study or determine the nature of something by breaking it down and looking closely at its parts.
Apply: to use or show the relevance of an idea or theory in a particular situation.
Evaluate: to determine the significance, worth, or condition of something studying and appraising it carefully.
Propose: to form or put forward a plan or intention.
Reflect: to think about an idea deeply and consider its impact.
· Using the APA course paper template. Use the first template listed on this page to save yourself a lot of trouble! For your application assignments, you will not need to include an abstract, so be sure to eliminate that page in the template!
· Asserting a strong thesis statement
Citations: The Basics
During these first two weeks, you will respond to your experience attending a faculty colloquium through your first journal entry. Journal entries are a unique type of writing and require you to reflect deeply on experiences or course readings (see the Course Definitions box to the left for more on reflection). Take a look at the Writing Center's handy resources for writing an effective journal entry before you begin, to make the process easier and more enjoyable.
Your module two assignment is a writing assessment, which you will complete through the Vantage software program. While the term "writing assessment" can sound a bit scary, don't be alarmed; it's simply a way to measure where you're at with academic writing right now, so that Walden can help bring you up to speed if you need some extra guidance. The Vantage assessment values succinct, focused writing. You might want to review our resources on writing concisely before you complete it. Good luck!
As you conduct your interview for this module, keep in mind that APA has specific guidelines for how to deal with personal communication in academic writing. This is because, unlike most other resources you would cite in a paper, your reader will never be able to access a transcript of a conversation. Therefore, because you cannot provide evidence that your quote is exact, you should never directly quote a personal communication. Read more about this important topic on the Writing Center website.
This module is focused on identifying credible academic sources. Academic sources are those which have been peer-reviewed by scholars who are knowledgeable in that particular field. If you have any questions as to whether a source is academic or not, make sure to contact the Walden librarians for more guidance.
As you learn about effective paraphrasing, academic integrity, and proper APA formatting, remember that although these rules can often feel arbitrary, they are actually valuable tools that will help you communicate your ideas about your field more effectively and efficiently to your audience. Following proper APA format gives you credibility, while proper citation and paraphrasing shows that you understand the context in which you are working. Take a peek at our web resources on APA style and paraphrasing for more information on this important aspect of scholarship.
Evaluating and analyzing the content of academic sources is the next step after determining whether a source is appropriate to use in academic writing. You will need to think critically about the sources you are summarizing and evaluating for this module's assignment. Critical thinking is something that comes with practice, and it starts with reading. As you read this week's resources,
You can read even more about critical reading here.
Your Module Seven assignment includes a review of the literature, which is your opportunity to give your reader a window into the academic conversation on a particular subtopic in your field that has taken place up to this point. Rather than simply summarizing the content of the research, you should show how the different authors' ideas are similar or different from one another, and describe the implications they have for further research in that field. It can help to think about your literature review as a description of a dinner party where all of the scholars in your field are present. Read more about this helpful metaphor here.
Your final reflection is personal in nature, but it still should have a clear structure and argument, and be supported by outside sources that are properly cited. Be sure to create a clear thesis statement that describes the main focus of your reflection, and place it at the end of your first paragraph. Because your reflection paper may have multiple parts, you may need to take two sentences to state the focus of your paper. This is okay, especially in a reflection, where the thesis is more of a guide to the paper's content than to its argument. If any writing-specific questions have you stumped, be sure to ask a writing tutor (email@example.com).