In composing a doctoral capstone, student writers must balance a variety of concerns so that readers will perceive their work as clear, precise, relevant, well articulated, and appropriately targeted to the intended audience. When a work has these qualities, readers are more likely to see the writer as a reliable expert on the topic of interest. Developing these qualities in a written study means developing scholarly voice.
Through the effective deployment of scholarly voice, writers subtly convey to readers that they are qualified to produce scholarship in their area of expertise and signal that they have approached their research with precision, care, and integrity. They also indicate their membership in a community of scholars who observe norms of academic expression and presentation. These norms encompass both specific APA style rules and subtler tendencies common in what is sometimes called Academic English.
The pages in this section of our website address specific strategies that doctoral capstone writers can use to develop appropriate scholarly voice in their writing while following APA style guidelines:
- Tone and Audience addresses the importance of identifying the intended audience for an academic work and then adjusting language and presentation to reflect that audience’s interests, norms, and knowledge.
- Avoiding Bias delineates various ways in which writers may unintentionally convey bias in their use of language, as well as strategies to avoid these forms of bias in capstone writing.
- Commonly Confused Words for Capstone Writers contains a list of words that capstone writers often confuse with one another, along with helpful examples.
- Precision and Clarity
- Language to Avoid contains descriptions of common problems in academic writing that compromise scholarly voice, including the use of jargon, colloquialisms, clichés, and pejorative language.
- Active vs. Passive Voice contains an explanation of the APA preference for active rather than passive sentences and examples of appropriate uses of both active and passive voice in academic writing.
- Precise vs. Vague Descriptions illustrates how imprecise language in study procedure descriptions, literature summaries, and comparisons can be confusing for readers and undermine the quality of scholarly writing.
- Use of It contains specific guidance for avoiding ambiguous uses of the pronoun it.
- Use of That differentiates grammatical functions of the word thatand addresses appropriate uses of thatin academic writing.
- Anthropomorphism contains a discussion of anthropomorphism, or the inappropriate attribution of human characteristics or actions to nonhuman entities in academic writing, along with strategies to identify and avoid it.
- Writing in the First Person contains a detailed explanation for why capstone writers should refer to themselves with first-person pronouns when appropriate (rather than using third-person terms such as the researcher). Using first-person pronouns in this way ensures compliance with APA guidelines while preventing awkward statements that can leave readers confused.