April 2012 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

My Personal Journey With Microsoft Word

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By Julia Cox, Writing Consultant

Amid the emotional maelstrom of my third grade year—which included maddening multiplication tables, a painful introduction to cursive writing, and one truly subpar season of TV’s Friends—I met Microsoft Word.

Greeted by the exuberant paperclip assistant “Clippy” (a 1990s animation retired after Windows 95), I knew my days of handwritten assignments and crayon embellishments were coming to an end.  I had to pick myself up by the fuchsia overall strap and soldier on—into the territory of word processing.

Microsoft Word has been my fair-weather companion for over 15 years now. Even though I grew up with the program, it still manages to throw me a curve ball at the worst of moments.  To possibly lend some support, or maybe just tell a fellow sufferer’s tale, I have enumerated a top 5 list of MS Word annoyances.

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Assumption Junction, What’s Your Function? Making Sense of Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations

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Jen discusses sections of the dissertation.
By Jen Johnson, Dissertation Editor

A common area of confusion for students at the proposal stage (or even at the final Form and Style review) is understanding what, exactly, should appear in the Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations sections of chapter 1 (or section 1, for EdD and DBA students). As an editor, I’ve seen a wide range of student responses to the challenges of these sections: some that have been spot-on, some that have been perplexing, and many more that have fallen somewhere in between. So how do we begin to make sense of assumptions, limitations, and delimitations?

First, let’s start with some rubric definitions. The DBA rubric defines assumptions as “facts assumed to be true but not actually verified.” Similarly, the PhD qualitative and quantitative checklists describe assumptions as “aspects of the study that are believed but cannot be demonstrated to be true,” with the added injunction to “include only those assumptions that are critical to the meaningfulness of the study.” In the DBA rubric, a limitation is a “potential weakness of the study,” and delimitations are the “bounds of the study.” And the PhD checklists define limitations as those items “related to design and/or methodological weaknesses” and delimitations as “boundaries of the study.”

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Let’s Make a Word

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By Amy Kubista, Writing Consultant

Did you know that every year, new words are added to the dictionary?  I have often thought this ridiculous; it is difficult enough to learn the words that are already there, much less new ones.  What about people who are learning English?  How can they accurately grasp a language that is in constant flux?

In 2011, a slew of words were added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  While some, such as bromance (a close friendship between men that is nonsexual) and cougar (an attractive, middle-aged woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man), derive from pop culture, other terms are more indicative of the times and society. 

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How to End a Relationship Part II:The Graduate Paper

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By Jeff Zuckerman, Dissertation Specialist and CSS Faculty Member

In my last blog post for the Writing Center, I offered expert advice on how undergraduates should end an academic paper. I also gave some inexpert advice on how to end a relationship. Most of my advice came from two places: Lunsford (2008) and the participant-observer research I did by way of my lousy romances before I met my wife.

This time let’s stick with finding ways to conclude a graduate paper or research article.

No doubt you’ve read some primary research in your graduate work. Whether studying the relationship between barking dogs and human aggression, bowling performance and mental skills training, or banking laws and consumers’ likelihood to have a checking account, authors of journal articles most often conclude their work with a discussion and interpretation of the work, a commentary on its significance, and the resulting avenues for future research.

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Why You Shouldn’t Wiki

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By Nik Nadeau, Writing Consultant

Close your eyes. Now, imagine a person against whom you would just love to win an argument. Maybe it is your boss, brother-in-law, or that snotty neighbor across the street. Anyway, whoever it is, picture this person, in high definition, standing right in front of you, a malicious grin spread across his or her face, saying, “Go ahead. Try me.”

This person, as your nemesis, is itching to hear your argument.  Then tear it apart.

Now, imagine that you have chosen a topic--say, the health benefits of exercise. Your nemesis declares him or herself the world’s fattest couch potato, takes pride in being less active than even Garfield, and considers extra-greasy potato chips a primary food group. Wouldn’t you just love to blow this person’s socks off with a winning argument?

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