September 2010 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

What is the Point?

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By Amy Kubista, Graduate Writing Tutor

Have you ever wondered, as you toil away at ensuring your paper adheres to all of the APA rules that the manual throws at you, what is the point? Why do you, as a student, commit so many mind bending hours to correcting grammatical nuances, inserting running heads, and choosing appropriate wording so your paper follows APA format? Well, for one, because your professor tells you to, but why is it so important? Let’s take a deeper look at this issue of APA format and its importance in the academic world.

Many journals within the social science realm require articles to follow the APA style in their publications. One of Walden’s goals is to help students produce scholarly articles worthy of publication, and therefore APA is drilled into the students via the papers that are assigned. It is much easier to submit articles for publication if they are already in the correct format, even though most manuals are very similar with their rules (the differences are often in the details). So the strict adherence to APA is due in part to the potential publication of students’ work.

Academic journals utilize specific formatting in order to maintain consistency throughout their publications. This helps avoid confusion between articles. For example, one article may have pretest, another pre-test, and a third Pretest. A reader may easily interpret these as different while in reality they all refer to the same type of test. By having rules to follow, uniformity is assured, and there is less chance of a misunderstanding.

APA rules also help professors in their reading and grading of papers. These rules act as guidelines so professors can easily look for necessary components of a paper instead of quibbling about certain grammatical or style rules. Instead, everyone follows the same rules. Think of it as something constant in a skill that has so much elasticity. Plus, learning to use APA shows you are capable of taking directions from professors (or a future boss) and problem solving by finding answers to APA questions you may have.

So the next time you are flipping through your APA manual because you can’t remember how to cite a personal communication, know that there is some reasoning behind the madness. When you are submitting articles for publication, you will be grateful that Walden and your professors were so insistent on using APA format.

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Introductions: Waiting Until the End

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By Jessica Barron, Graduate Writing Tutor

I dread creating introductions to my papers. A blank MS Word document is quite intimidating, and I know that the opening sentences of my introduction should and will set the tone for my whole paper. Not only do I want the first sentence to grab my reader’s attention, but I want the rest of the paragraph to set the stage for my thesis statement. Because my anxiety often overshadows the actual paper I have outlined in my head, composing introductions is the last task I complete in my writing process.

“But, Jess, it’s called an introduction for a reason! Your whole paper will be disorganized if you just start in the middle.” This might be true, but as long as you have a solid outline that flows smoothly between topics and a strong thesis statement that encompasses the argument of your paper, why couldn’t you write your third section first? I mean, who ever said that you have to write your paper in order? Whatever mood I’m in when I sit down at my computer dictates what section I begin to write.

How do I overcome my introduction anxiety? Once I get into my writing groove and have a rough draft of the body of my paper, the anxiety begins to dissolve, and I am able visualize my first paragraph. I know what my paper is about and what background information my reader needs to know, and because I’ve already written my thesis, I just need to add transitions to link this statement to my newly created opening sentences. Forming an introduction can be quite a simple task once I know what I am introducing.

So, any other writers out there who are stuck on an introductory paragraph, try putting the task aside for a day. See if you, like me, prefer constructing the beginning of your paper near the end of your writing process.

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