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Walden University Writing Center

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A Writing Center Review: Recite Reference Checker

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Managing and updating citations is an arduous, but critical, part of the scholarly writing process. These tasks can be particularly vexing for capstone writers because their work is lengthy, undergoes so much revision, and demands precision, accuracy, and correct formatting. Today, I will provide some perspective on a tool that might be helpful to Walden students, particularly students in the process of writing their capstone studies. The tool is Recite Reference Checker.

The title slide for this post featuring a woman holding a placard with the title text

Many students are familiar with citation managers such as EndNote, Zotero, RefWorks, and Mendeley. These tools allow you to create a database of sources, from which you can compile citation information and automatically create in-text citations and reference lists. You can annotate research articles as well as create libraries for specific projects. For many individuals and those working on collaborative projects, these tools are useful at all stages of the research process, from writing a literature review to proofreading for publication.

However, Recite is different from a reference citation manager in that it is a citation checker. Its tagline is “Reference Checking Made Easy.” In contrast to citation managers, this is a tool that you would probably find most useful when proofreading your study before your defense or submission to the URR and ProQuest.

Recite is currently free as it is undergoing Beta testing. Its developer, 4cite Labs, plans to introduce “very competitive pricing” after testing is complete. All you need to use it is a Google account. Another plus for Walden students is that it is compatible with APA style, one of the two citation styles Recite supports.

User Experience: How Recite Worked for Me

To use the service, you login in using your Google account on Recite’s website. Then, you upload your own document. I recommend uploading your full study, as opposed to an individual chapter or section, as the software checks your in-text citations against your reference list.

Recite will first show you a list of all in-text citations from your document. The output is color-coded. Dark blue indicates that your citation correctly matches a reference entry. Yellow indicates a possible match while red indicates no match.

Demonstration of Recite Color coding
Demonstration of Recite's Color Coded Citation Checking
The software also compares your citations and entries to literature in its databases and suggests possible errors. For example, you may have a wrong name or, for a source with multiple authors, you might have authors out of order. Recite will show you an entry that it thinks is correct. That way, you can assess whether your citation and possible reference entry need to be changed. The software will also tell you when it can find no references for an author or year.

Another positive is that Recite checks your citations and reference entries and tells you about possible APA errors. For example, in one of your sentences, you might include “Smith et al.” as an author in a citation. If this work only has two authors, Recite can tell you that this is an invalid use of “et al.”  Recite will also go through your reference list and check whether your entries are correctly formatted in terms of APA. It will show you places for you need to include an ampersand or modify your punctuation, for example.

Evaluation: Is Recite Right for Walden Capstone Writers?

With its integration of APA and its ease of use, Recite seems like a helpful tool for capstone writers. Like any tool, however, Recite may provide you with inaccurate reference or formatting information. You cannot use it as an alternative for double-checking your source information and formatting. If Recite points out a possible mismatch between your reference entry and what it has in its database, you should still double-check your PDF or printout and confirm whether your entry needs to be corrected.

Likewise, if Recite points out a possible APA error (e.g., an ampersand should be used instead of “and” in the author element of a reference entry), you need to be able to determine whether this is, indeed, an error. There really is no shortcut to developing your own APA proficiency as a capstone writer. That is why we offer so many APA resources on our website.

You can test Recite for yourself by either uploading a document or by reviewing the markup on a demo paper on its website. Be sure to read Recite’s terms of service and privacy policy if you decide to use it. Also, keep in mind that Recite stores your document for a “short amount of time,” but the company says this is temporary, while the software is Beta.

Let us know in the comments box whether you have used Recite and what you think about it. 

Tara Kachgal
 is a dissertation editor in the Walden University Writing Center. She has a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and teaches for the School of Government's online MPA@UNC program. She resides in Chapel Hill and, in her spare time, serves as a mentor for her local running store's training program.

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WriteCast Episode 32: The Great Debate

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The Walden University Writing Center has just released its 32nd episode of WriteCast, our podcast on all things writing. This episode is titled, "The Great Debate: Continuity or Variety in Writing Feedback." In this episode, Beth Nastachowski and Brittany Kallman Arneson discuss whether it's best to work consistently with one writing instructor at the WUWC or to work with a variety of writing instructors. 

Beth and Brittany make arguments for both approaches, and they present different student mindsets and how these mindsets might affect the choice you make. If you're curious about this topic, take a listen. Hit the orange play button below. 

For a list of all of our WriteCast episodes, visit the Writing Center website for Interactive and Multimedia writing resources. Here, you can also access download information and transcripts for each of our podcast episodes. Happy Listening, WriteCasters!

WriteCast is a monthly podcast written, produced, and published by staff in the Walden University Writing Center. WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers offers listeners the chance to sit in on a dialogue between two experienced and trained writing instructors. Possible episode topics will always be considered from listeners, just let us know in the comments. 

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And/Or No More: A Stylistic Consideration

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Sometimes there are minor issues that crop up in papers that, while they don’t ruin a student’s academic writing, are still worth remarking upon in a blog post like this. Today I will talk about a small issue I see as I work with Walden University students in Paper Review Appointments: the use of the forward slash between conjunctions “and” and “or,” like this: “and/or.”

This term is meant only to pop up in sentences rarely, in situations where either options in a sentence or both options are simultaneously possible. That means, in order to use it in a sentence, both the “and” and “or” must make sense by themselves in a sentence.

This is where students get tripped up. Here is a sentence where it does not work: 

“This paper will explore the effect of teacher evaluations on student grades and/or test scores.”

Why does this not work? In order to use “and/or,” you would want to make sure that “and” by itself and “or” by itself both work in the sentence. First, the conjunction “and” works because you are talking about two separate factors, and you plan to focus on both of them in the paper. The word “or” does not work so well—you are not working on one or the other, right? You are looking at both. Therefore, “and/or” does not work here and should be revised for better clarity.

Even in those situations where “and/or” does work grammatically, instructors and editors here at the Writing Center strongly encourage you to express yourself another way, without that term. And we are not the only ones. Many of our favorite resources for academic writing style advise writers to avoid a forward slash between words. The APA Sixth edition manual tells readers “not to use a slash when a phrase would be clearer.” And blogger Grammar Girl reaffirms, “you’d be hard-pressed to find a style guide that doesn’t admonish you to drop and/or and rewrite the sentence with just and or just or.” It may sound smart in your writing sometimes, but chances are, editors and proofreaders don’t like it so much.

So try to avoid “and/or.” Even if it sounds smart in a sentence, or grammatically appropriate, you can still probably express yourself another way, without forward slashes between words.

Nathan Sacks
 is a writing instructor in the the Walden University Writing Center. He also enjoys writing books, playing guitar, and playing with cats. 

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Thursday Thoughts: An Autumn Reprieve

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Walden students!
We hope you are enjoying your current courses! Whether you are enrolled in a quarter- or semester-based program, you are on your way to a brief coursework reprieve. Quarter-based students, you are on vacation from coursework right now! Soak it up. You deserve this time off. Semester-based students, you are so close! Just a few more weeks until you're in a window between current classes ending and new classes beginning. We at the Writing Center enjoy seeing so many final papers for all your interesting courses, and we are excited for your new courses to get started, too! Soon, the cycle will begin anew, with your very first course discussion posts.

Intermittently throughout this cycle, we meet new students in their first courses at Walden, and we say goodbye to students completing their programs. To all of you, we would like to say thank you for making our job so much fun. You inspire us to work hard and to work towards our dreams, like you.

Picture of man walking on mountain peak, text reads: Walden University Writing Center Thursday Thoughts

We hope you're able to thoroughly enjoy your breaks between courses and, as you begin new courses and new writing assignments, we hope you'll return to us for paper reviews and writing support!  We have a few announcements for you during your coursework break:

  • The Writing Center will be closed on Thursday, November 24, and on Friday, November 25. Our services will resume on Monday, November 28. 
  • Our webinar on Engaging Your Reader With Sentence Structure, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 17 at 5 pm Eastern, is now scheduled for Nov. 30 at 5 pm Eastern due to the presenter's illness. We hope you'll join us this time around! 

Most importantly, we want to tell you: You make our job worth doing. Without you - and your fun APA questions, and your thought-provoking discussion posts, and your informative and educational papers - our job would not be worth it. Thank you.

We cannot wait to see you again when your new courses begin!

The Walden Writing Center offers to Walden students 1:1 writing support and offers to students and non-students alike all the writing expertise, tips, and information a writer could want.

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Developing Your Research Writing Process

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One of the most frustrating things to me, when I was starting my academic career, was determining what research to include in my writing. Not only would I spend so much time fretting over this, but I was never quite sure when to start my research or what to actually research. I would find myself writing a paper before doing any research at all, which almost always resulted in me having to rewrite large sections of the paper. It was not until I went to graduate school that I learned what it truly meant to do research writing and how this process can differ from other types of writing. Today, I’d like to share with you some of my top tips for working with research at each stage of your writing process.

Prewriting: Develop your Topic and Engage with the Existing Research As you begin your process, start with some prewriting activities. These preliminary steps will help you determine targeted, specific research that will be relevant to your project.

First, try a freewriting session. Often, if we begin our writing and research process by freewriting, we are able to more fully develop our ideas and research interests. Although this may not be thought of as part of the research process, freewriting will lead to more targeted and specific research as well as a deeper focus on your content. You can find more information to help you with this at the Writing Center’s page on prewriting.

Another preliminary step that will help you later is reading existing research pertaining to your topic. In reading current research on specific topics, you are able to find gaps in research, so you are able to more easily target your specific research topic. When you go to write your paper, you will already have your sources vetted and ready to include in your writing! Your friendly Walden University Library can be a huge help with this initial step.

Thesis Construction: Craft a Detailed and Specific Thesis that Focuses on the ResearchMany times we forget that a strong thesis allows the reader to fully understand the focus of the research. Much like the reader needing to understand this focus, the writer also needs to see the overall arch of the paper before it is completed. One of the best ways to ensure that your paper stays focused, and that the research you plan to use is addressed, is to have a clear and detailed thesis that will work with the topic sentences of your body paragraphs. The Writing Center website has lots of great information on thesis statements where you can learn more.

APA Integration: Adhere to APA Rules & Guidelines for Including ResearchAs it is with any type of writing, academic writing has some specific requirements that may take a few revisions to meet. Although the content and research included in your assignment are the most important aspects of your writing, the formatting and style of your writing are also important. In correctly referencing and citing your research, you will avoid intentional and unintentional plagiarism. You will also make your writing stronger and more accessible to your readers. You can practice this step by using our APA basics checklist.

Revision: Take Time to Revisit Your Research Writing ProcessEven though your initial draft and research methods are very important aspects of your final draft, most of your best work will come during the revision stage. After you have a completed draft of your work. it is much easier to make sure that you are providing the correct information in the correct places with relevant research to back it. This is also a perfect time to re-visit many of the different techniques you used in your drafting to ensure that you have fully developed your ideas and presented the best and most relevant research as possible. I recommend these resources about revision and self-editing to help you develop these skills.

In following these tips and tricks, you should be able to draft a detailed and research-driven essay while spending an appropriate amount of time drafting, revising, and researching. If you find these resources helpful, you can bookmark this page so that you can revisit it during your drafting and revision stages of future papers.

Happy Writing!

Meghan Barnes is an instructor and writer based in the South. She has two dogs, and a handful of composting worms that she enjoys feeding scraps to. When she is not writing, editing, or reading, she enjoys playing kickball, softball, and other active sports.

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