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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Paraphrasing Statistics

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One of the toughest academic writing skills is paraphrasing. Students ask me about paraphrasing at every residency, webinar, and course I teach, and for good reason. Paraphrasing is difficult!

Recently, I’ve fielded a few questions from students worried specifically about paraphrasing statistics. Using statistics in your writing is often a smart idea because they can provide specific evidence to support your ideas, but paraphrasing statistics comes with its own challenges. Here are my tips for successfully paraphrasing statistics!

Paraphrasing Statistics Title Slide


Use Your Own Sentence Structure
Students often ask me (sometimes incredulously) how in the world they can paraphrase a statistic like “57%.” This seems tricky, but it’s actually pretty simple. Paraphrasing is about the combination of your own sentence structure and vocabulary. If paraphrasing was just about using your own vocabulary, you couldn’t use “and” if the original source did, let alone “57%”. However, as long as you use your own sentence structure and avoid using the same unique phrasing as the original source, you can use the statistic without needing to reword it.

For example, take this quote: “In fall 2013, there were 5,522,194 students enrolled in any distance education courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions.” (NCES, 2016, para. 2)

I could paraphrase it like this: U.S. universities reported that 5,522,194 students were taking online courses (NCES, 2016).

Or, depending on how important the exact statistic of student enrollment is, I could even say something like this: U.S. universities reported over 5 million students were taking online courses (NCES, 2016).

In these paraphrases I use my own sentence structure and vocabulary, but I don’t shy away from the statistics in the original quote.

Present the Statistic in a New Format
You can also try reformatting the statistic. This won’t work in all cases, but take this quote: “Only 1,000 students responded to our survey, but of those respondents, 60 indicated they expect instructors of online courses to communicate frequently throughout the week.” (Ya Ni, 2016, p. 13)

Instead of incorporating this statistic exactly as the quote does, I could rephrase it like this: Ya Ni (2016) found that 6% of students want frequent interaction with online faculty.

This paraphrase rephrases the quote’s statistic as a percentage that’s still accurate, but framed differently than the original. Of course, this approach won’t work for all statistics because sometimes you don’t have enough information to rephrase a statistic or doing so wouldn’t be accurate, so make sure you use this approach judiciously.

Focus on Just the Statistic That’s Relevant
Paraphrasing multiple statistics can seem more daunting, especially when the statistics are throughout an entire sentence like this one: “Of the 40 students surveyed, 11 strongly favored online learning, 20 were neutral, and 9 preferred not to learn online.” (Means, Murphy, & Bakia, 2015, p. 75)

Whenever there are multiple statistics in one sentence, think about which statistic is really important: What main idea or topic are you trying to support with the statistic? It might be possible to focus on just one statistic, ignoring the others that are irrelevant, allowing you to incorporate it into your writing more easily.

For example, if I am writing about students who dislike learning online in my paper, I can focus just on that statistic: Means, Murphy, and Bakia (2015) found that 9 of the 40 students they surveyed dislike online learning.

Partially Quote the Statistic
Finally, if all else fails, you might partially quote the statistic. I usually recommend students try the other approaches outlined above first (more on this paraphrase topic in next week’s post), but there might be times when quoting a statistic ensures your writing is clear and accurate.

Let’s try this out with the following quote: “There is a 5:1 ratio by which learners differ, which means that the slowest student takes 5 times as long to learn as the fastest.” (University of Potomac, 2016, para. 6)

Using this quote, I might incorporate it into my own sentence like this: There can be a wide difference in the time it takes students to learn a concept, as much as “a 5:1 ratio by which learners differ” (University of Potomac, 2016, para. 6).

This partial quote works well because it accurately presents this statistic, but the quote is still integrated into my own sentence. 


And that’s it! Try these tips the next time you use statistics in your writing, and let us know how it goes. You can always e-mail or chat live with us, sending us your sentence and asking how you’re doing. We’d be happy to take a look!

Have you seen the other posts in this Paraphrasing blog series? If not, click the links to learn more.
Paraphrasing, an Introduction
Paraphrasing More Than Quoting
Paraphrasing to Avoid Plagiarism



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Beth Nastachowski is the Manager of Multimedia Writing Instruction in the Writing Center. She joined the Writing Center in 2010, and enjoys helping students develop their own voice as writers through webinars, residencies, and multimedia resources. She is also Contributing Faculty for Walden's Academic Skills Center (ASC). 


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A Little Something to Remember: The Importance of Academic Integrity

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Recently, a BBC Brasil reporter revealed that a news photographer had been plagiarizing his photographs. Instead of taking his own photos of war zones, he took existing photos and altered them just enough to avoid being recognized. This isn't the first time a plagiarism scandal has been exposed in the media, but it helps to remind us that plagiarism isn't an issue confined to college-level writing.

A little something to remember from the Walden U Writing Center


While this specific case is an example of overt plagiarism, many academic writers struggle with passive or accidental plagiarism. One missed citation, one unclear citation, or even a series of pieced together paraphrases can create an issue related to academic integrity. To avoid such a situation, it can be helpful to review ways to avoid passive plagiarism.

The Walden University Writing Center has several resources to help writers understand why academic integrity is important and how to stay out of situations that might lead to unintentional plagiarism:

Avoiding unintentional plagiarism blog post
Patchwork paraphrasing blog post
Plagiarism prevention resource kit
Plagiarism prevention modules
The three components to avoiding plagiarism webinar


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The Walden University Writing Center
 is committed to helping students develop as writers. Resources include a blog, live webinars, modules, a podcast, and one-on-one paper reviews.


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Paraphrasing: An Introduction

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When I talk about literature reviews with dissertation students, I often tell them that, when they write about other authors’ ideas—as they report on dozens of sources and present their analysis of the scholarship in their field—they’re actually telling a story. This sometimes prompts a few puzzled looks from the students, so I add that they’re obviously not telling a made-up story, nor are they using figurative language or creating dramatic tension. They’re telling a story, though, in that their readers expect the contents of a scholarly text to make logical and sequential sense (it needs to clearly proceed from beginning to middle to end, just like a story), and—just as importantly—they expect that information to be delivered in a single, authoritative voice. The skill through which they can create this singular voice, I tell them, is paraphrasing.

The title image for this post with letters superimposed over a butterfly sitting on a leaf.


You might be skeptical about this idea. Etymologically, paraphrasing means “to modify the telling,” which can seem counter-intuitive: after all, as a scholar, isn’t it your job to faithfully represent an author’s original words? Don’t you have a responsibility to not modify the telling of someone else’s ideas?

Those are understandable concerns, but they’re a bit misplaced, because when you paraphrase, you modify the telling but not the essential meaning of another author’s ideas. In other words, you tell your own story of that evidence. It’s not a fictional story; you must remain as objective and truthful as possible. But that evidence doesn’t exist in isolation: to be comprehensible, it needs to be given context and woven into an overall argument about your topic. Other aspects of academic writing are involved in your storytelling (namely, analysis and synthesis), but paraphrasing is the unsung hero of this process, quietly doing the bulk of the work. When you paraphrase well, you’re telling a good story about the literature in your field.

Paraphrasing is a huge topic, far more nuanced than we can fully address in just one blog post. The enormity, and importance, of this topic is part of the reason why we will dedicate the next weeks on this blog to exploring paraphrasing’s role in scholarly writing. That said, if you’d like to learn more about paraphrasing now, we have several additional resources available for you. You could:



As you work through those resources, please keep in mind that, for the sake of simplicity and clarity, we in the Writing Center often focus on individual sentences or passages when we talk about paraphrasing. This makes sense—fundamentally, each paraphrase has to represent a single idea, so it’s often easier to tackle them one by one—but I strongly encourage you to also consider how your paraphrases contribute to the narratives you construct in your papers. Ask yourself: how does this paraphrase fit into the overall body of evidence? Does it follow logically from the text that comes before it? Am I telling my reader a clear and engaging story?


And join us in this blog space over the next weeks as we look at paraphrasing in a variety of different ways. These posts will hopefully give you a clear set of tools with which to develop these skills and master the art of telling the story of your scholarly research. Enjoy!

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Matt Sharkey-Smith is a senior writing instructor in the Walden Writing Center. He also serves as contributing faculty in the Walden Academic Skills Center.  Matt joined the Writing Center in 2010 with a BA in English from Saint John's University in Minnesota. He earned an MFA in Writing from Hamline University in St. Paul in 2011 and has worked outside of Walden as a technical writer, fact-checker, copy editor, tutor, and writing instructor.


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WriteCast Episode 43: How and Why to Revise with a Reverse Outline

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Revision is a process all writers encounter at some point. It doesn't matter if you breezed through your first draft or had to drag it out of yourself one sentence at a time. Once that first, second, or third draft is on the page, it has to be revised. Revision is a difficult step in the writing process, but the feeling of completing the next version of a draft is so rewarding! Revision isn't about finding what is wrong with your writing - it is about finding what can be made even better.

In this episode of the WriteCast podcast, learn about the revision strategy called reverse outlining. This is an important skill for academic writers as it is a way to make sure the entire piece of writing aligns and focuses on developing the all-important thesis or central idea.


Reverse outlining appears in several other Walden University Writing Center resources:
Access all of our podcasts on this page or press play below to listen to this episode.





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The WriteCast podcast is produced by Anne Shiell and the staff of the Walden University Writing Center and delves into a different writing issue in each episode. With new episodes each month, join Walden writing instructors to learn more about writing in an academic setting. 



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Student Spotlight: Lilly Abdulrohman Mohamed, College of Management and Technology

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The Walden University Writing Center is privileged to work with talented students. In the Student Spotlight Series, we aim to support incredible work our students do, both in and out of the classroom. The goal of the Student Spotlight Series is to provide the Walden community with a place to build bridges and make connections by developing shared understanding of the diverse and varied student journey. Students share stories about their writing process, their efforts towards social change, and their motivations for pursuing higher education. We ask questions, and students generously answer.

This Student Spotlight features Lilly Abdulrohman Mohamed, student of the College of Management and Technology.



What prompted you to pursue your Doctor of Business Administration degree at Walden?

Pursuing a doctoral degree has always been a dream of mine. However, once I started working after obtaining my master’s degree, it started to seem like a far-fetched goal as a result of the busy work schedule I faced. Luckily, as I was exploring online doctoral study options, I discovered Walden University. The proposed study plan, faculty, and flexibility offered by the program at Walden finally enabled me to leap into my dream of obtaining a doctoral degree.

What are you planning to research and write about for your doctoral study project, and what do you anticipate are the social change impacts of your study for yourself and others?

I am planning to write about the relationship between leadership and innovation. I believe that leadership has the power to introduce positive organizational effects, such as increased innovation. Therefore, through understanding the type of leadership that is conducive to positive organizational factors, it is possible to introduce positive social impacts. Furthermore, I currently find myself in a leadership position as Deputy CEO of at my place of employment. Therefore, I am looking for ways to enhance my ability to positively influence people through my leadership. One of my long term goals is to become an entrepreneur. Therefore, leadership and innovation are highly relevant to me.

This is a photo of Lilly, smiling
Lilly, smiling
How do you hope to apply the work you’ve done as a student to the work you will do after graduating?

I plan to apply the lessons I obtain on leadership to alter my personal management style to result in a positive workplace environment. In addition, I hope to elevate the performance of the company I work for by enhancing the level of innovation through the use of leadership. I am inspired by social initiatives that target wealth creation for low-income communities, and I am interested in initiatives that introduce employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to help communities sustain themselves financially. This connects to the work I do because the company I work for targets job creation and equality of representation of women in the workplace. In addition, my organization train employees to ensure that their employment prospects and earning potential are improved. My education at Walden is enabling me to obtain an in-depth understanding of the importance of introducing a social mission into all of the activities we engage in.

What successes have you had at Walden so far, and how have you overcome challenges you’ve faced?

So far at Walden, I have been able to develop my APA and academic writing skills. In addition, I have been able to perform well in my classes through the guidance and feedback I have received from the faculty at Walden. However, one of the main challenges I have faced is my work and travel schedule. Although it can still be difficult to manage my time efficiently, I have developed this skill a great deal. I am now able to pre-plan and identify how to adjust my schedule to meet my deadlines. Additionally, some of the countries I have visited for work often have internet restrictions, meaning that my access to the student portal and myPASS has been cut off. However, my faculty and the Writing Center have been extremely cooperative, enabling me to continue my program and receive support.

You started using the Writing Center almost immediately when you started your DBA program. What drew you to using the Writing Center, and what Writing Center resources have you found the most beneficial?

I was drawn to the Writing Center initially as I was unfamiliar with APA guidelines and requirements. Once I started booking appointments with a writing instructor through myPASS, the reviews I received revealed the benefits of gathering more information on academic writing. I have benefited from paper reviews by finding my academic voice and focusing on forming my thesis statement. Some of the most useful lessons I have learned are proofreading strategies, building an APA complaint reference section, forming strong thesis and topic sentences, and using the MEAL plan for paragraph formation. The Writing Center has helped me and continues to help me strengthen my academic writing skills. In addition, I continue to learn and expand my knowledge base on APA guidelines.


How do you find the time to make appointments each week, and what additional resources would you recommend to your fellow students?

I have continued to frequent paper review appointments with the Writing Center from the first time I experienced them at Walden. I found that the instructors, through the paper reviews, offered feedback that was immensely beneficial to me. Therefore, that has motivated me to keep making appointments week after week. In addition to paper reviews, I often utilize Grammarly and it helps me to go through the notes provided on the Writing Center’s grammar webpages. I recommend that my fellow students use the Writing Center’s paper review services and Grammarly to receive writing support.


Keep tuning into the blog to read more posts in our Student Spotlight Series, and consider using our paper review services and Grammarly to support your writing, as Lilly kindly suggested here.




The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work.



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September Webinar Preview

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It's back to school season and, if you are a new student, returning student, or if you have never taken a break, there is that feeling of getting a fresh start that comes with September. To get into the academic mood, consider attending one of the Writing Center's September webinars. They cover a variety of topics relevant to writing assignments in your Walden University classes.

Webinar update

Here are the September webinars:

Date: Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Time (Eastern): 6:00 - 7:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Time (Eastern): 3:00 - 4:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Time (Eastern): 12:00 - 1:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Thursday, September 21, 2017
Time (Eastern): 7:00 - 8:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Thursday, September 28, 2017
Time: 4:00 - 5:00pm
Audience: Doctoral students working on final capstone draft

The full list of September webinars can be found on this page. Should these dates and times not work for you, remember that we record all sessions. The webinar recording archive houses all past webinars. Happy webinar viewing!


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The Walden University Writing Center presents weekly webinars on a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. In addition to webinars, the writing center offers paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast to support writers during all stages of their academic careers.


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AWA Student Spotlight: Ashley Hill

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The Writing Center’s Administrative Writing Assistants (AWAs) are at the front line of the writingsupport@waldenu.edu inbox, performing necessary tasks to make the Writing Center run smoothly. Writing Center AWAs are an integral part of the Writing Center as they communicate regularly with students. But, the AWAs are also Walden students, and thus integral to Walden University itself. That’s why we’d like to share some of their stories of academic success, professional accomplishment, social change work, and advice for other Walden students. In this spotlight series, we show our appreciation for all their hard work so that others can be inspired by their stories as well.   

Today's spotlight is on Ashley Hilla student in the College of Health Sciences. 

   
Originally from Ohio, Ashley now lives in Georgia after traveling around bit. As a graduate of Walden’s Masters in Public Health program, Ashley continued her education by enrolling in Walden’s PhD program in Public Health, specializing in Epidemiology; she currently scheduled her final oral defense. After graduation, she plans to teach and work in the field of infectious disease. Committed to Walden’s social change mission, Ashley is interested in public health for social change—health issues such as the growing issue of opioid dependency, the Zika virus, violence against women, and necrotizing fasciitis (the focus of her dissertation). As a single mother, Ashley balances working on her doctorate degree, spending time with her daughter, and volunteering for emergency preparedness for a local public health district in central Georgia. We asked Ashley some questions about her work as an AWA and tips she has for writers.

Walden University Writing Center (WUWC):What do you enjoy about your AWA work? 

Ashley Hill (AH): I enjoy the plethora of activities we do as AWA’s, but I enjoy helping students in any small way the most. 

WUWC: What are the most common questions you find in the writingsupport@waldenu.edu in box and what feedback do you provide regarding these questions? 

AH: Common questions sent to the writingsupport@waldenu.edu inbox are often questions about referencing specific sources (i.e. journals, books, or websites). For the best understanding, I refer students to the common reference examplesinstitutional reports, and webpage references

WUWC: How have you struggled as a writer and how have you overcome that struggle? 

AH: I had an issue with anthropomorphism and as I work on my dissertation, I’ve experienced issues with writing concisely. I think learning about what writing issue patterns may arise in your writing is the first step towards revising. Second, I found help from peers, dissertation workshops, and my family to improve my writing. 

WUWC: What writing (drafting, revising, editing) tips do you have for other students? 

Ashley's family
AH: I think first making a schedule for yourself once you are in your dissertation capstone is a big element that helps you stay on track. Next, setting aside days to write and other days to revise and edit is helpful as well. Additionally, finding help in any way is a great way to stay focused— whether it is family that reads over your pages, colleagues, the Writing Center--having a couple helpful people outside your committee keeps things going smoothly. 

WUWC: What Writing Center resource(s) have you used that you found helpful, and why? 

AH: There are quite a bit of resources at the Writing Center that are helpful. As I mention previously, the reference list pages but also outliningtemplatestables and figurespaper reviews (if you are working on course work, the premise, or prospectus), [Academic Skills Center] workshops (if you are working on your dissertation), and so much more. 

WUWC: As a Walden student yourself, what academic advice would you give other Walden students? 

AH: Listen to your professors and allow them to guide you. In my experience, there were an endless number of great professors at Walden. Additionally, use the resources available—the Writing CenterCareer ServicesCenter for Research Quality, and any other sources. There are some universities that do not offer this amount of help so be grateful Walden has these resources. 

Ashley celebrated her three year anniversary as an AWA this past April, and we have been greatly privileged to have her as part of our Writing Center—for the Writing Center, AWA’s such as Ashley are a valuable part of our Writing Center support team. 


The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work. Students can email WritingSupport@waldenu.edu and expect a reply from one of our expert AWAs.


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Thursday Thoughts: Self-care and the Walden Student

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Being a student is just one of the ways you define yourself. All of us here in the Writing Center have many titles and fill many roles. We know what it is like. Parent, spouse, employee, student, caregiver, and friend may be just some of the ways you think of yourself. Missing from that list is: self. So many of us fail to take care of ourselves in the process of filling the other roles, which tend to either serve or focus on the needs of others.

How do you make time for self-care?


Although student may seem like another responsibility, this title can actually work to help you care for your self. Stick with me on this one! While being a student requires a lot of work, rigorous thinking, and demands on your time, it also provides you with the opportunity to think about who you are as a person. What will I do with my degree and what I have learned? How do my actions have a positive influence on society? What are my goals? What do I want to get done today? Some of the tasks you do as a student, from discussion posts to proposing research, ask you to reflect on these things. That reflection can serve double-duty as it completes the assignment and gives you a moment to think about what you do and who you are as a person.

Also, as a Walden student, we have resources to help you find wellness and moments of reflection:


Remember that writing is more than a task. It is a process that involves both your intellect and body. As writers, we have to remember to take the time for self-care and not overlook the ability for writing to be part of that self-care regimen. If you have any writing and self-care tips, please share them with us in the comments!


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The Walden University Writing Center is dedicated to supporting students throughout the writing process, including care of, and a focus on, the student as a writer. Our goal is to improve the writer, not just the writing. 


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AWA Student Spotlight: Leah Marie Silverman

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The Writing Center’s Administrative Writing Assistants (AWAs) are at the front line of the writingsupport@waldenu.edu inbox, performing necessary tasks to make the Writing Center run smoothly. Writing Center AWAs are an integral part of the Writing Center as they communicate regularly with students. But, the AWAs are also Walden students, and thus integral to Walden University itself. That’s why we’d like to share some of their stories of academic success, professional accomplishment, social change work, and advice for other Walden students. In this spotlight series, we show our appreciation for all their hard work so that others can be inspired by their stories as well.   

Today's spotlight is on Leah Silverman,
a  student in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences  

Administrative Writing Assistants Spotlight Series

Leah Silverman is currently seeking her PhD in Public Policy and Administration. Having completed her coursework, and awaiting approval of her prospectus, she will be working on her dissertation soon. Leah’s moved around the United States since she was a child. While she lives in the Mid-Atlantic region now, she’s lived in the South, Midwest, New England, and the Intermountain West. One thing Leah learned from living in various places across the U.S. is that a person “can find great landscapes, great people, and great food wherever you go.”

We asked Leah to share about her AWA work, tips for students reaching out the Writing Center writingsupport@waldenu.edu inbox, Writing Center resources she uses and values, and how she, as a student, balances life, work, family, and or other responsibilities. Here are her responses:

Walden University Writing Center (WUWC): What do you enjoy about your Administrative Writing Assistance (AWA) work? 

Leah Silverman (LS): I’m so excited about helping other students succeed at Walden. I have had the best experience as a Walden student, and I love giving back to this community.  Getting answers to writing and APA questions may be a small part of students’ experience at Walden, but I hope to provide the information they need to be successful in their academic progress.

WUWC:  What are the most common questions you find in the writingsupport@waldenu.edu in box and what advice / feedback do you provide regarding this question?

LS: Many of the questions I see are related to correctly citing unusual sources. Sometimes a source doesn’t quite fit the template the APA manual provides. Sometimes a reference must be pieced together with different components from multiple templates. The advice I give to students in these circumstances is to remember the purpose the references list serves: guiding your reader back to the source in the most direct, accessible way. Often, putting that into perspective makes it clear how best to cite an otherwise confusing source.

WUWC: What Walden resources have you used and how have they benefited you?

LS: I am very fond of all Walden’s webinars.  Of course, the Writing Center has a huge collection of webinars that focus on everything from brainstorming tips to APA guidelines to paraphrasing and more. As well, the Library, the Career Center, the Academic Skills Center, all have amazing webinars.  Walden has an amazing student support system, and I’ve found the webinars key to accessing all of that information.

WUWC: How do you, as a student, balance life, work, family, and or other responsibilities?
Leah's family

LS: I’m a big fan of my day planner.  I do best when I schedule time in blocks so that I can categorize my responsibilities.  If I allow one hour for housework, then I do as much laundry as I can in that hour, but when time is up, time is up.  If I have scheduled two hours to dissertation research, then I do as much as I can in those two hours, and then I call it quits and move on to the next thing. Admittedly, some days just don’t go according to plan (especially with children who are not concerned with my schedule), and I’ve learned to let it go and try again tomorrow.

Thanks, Leah! We at the Writing Center are lucky to have such a dedicated colleague—you are a true asset to us as part of our Writing Center support team, and we know that students appreciate your work as well.  


The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work. Students can email WritingSupport@waldenu.edu and expect a reply from one of our expert AWAs. 


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Thursday Thoughts: New DOI Formatting Guidelines from CrossRef.Org

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CrossRef.org, the group that organizes and tracks DOI numbers recently updated their preferences for what a doi number should look like in reference entries. As of March 2017, they now prefer the use of https://doi.org/ before the doi number.

CrossRef doi format preference: https://doi.org/10.xxxx/xxxxx
Previous format: doi:10.xxxx/xxxx

The purpose of the change in formatting is to simplify the process of using a DOI to find a source. It is important to note, however, that APA requirements allow for either the new or old formatting. The policy here at Walden is to follow APA guidelines unless otherwise instructed. This means (for now) that a DOI can be presented with either the https://doi.org/ or doi: before it. Whichever formatting you decide to use in your references list, make sure you use it consistently throughout. 


DOI: It's all in the numbers


For a bit of context, that number that comes at the end of each reference entry for an electronic source is called a DOI, or a digital object identifier. This number is unique to that specific article or source and can be used to locate the source in a database or through the CrossRef.org website. You can think of it like being the social security number, national insurance number, or ID for each of your sources.

Want to explore DOI some more?

APA Style Blog explains the change in formatting requirements in this post.

Review the definition of a DOI in this blog post from a Walden editor.




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Walden University Writing Center offers support to writers during all phases of the writing process. Through paper reviews, modules, webinars, a podcast and more, students can learn the ins and outs of drafting, revising, and perfecting APA style.


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Student Spotlight: Shaima Alraiy, College of Social and Behavior Science

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The Walden University Writing Center is privileged to work with talented students. In the Student Spotlight Series, the WUWC aims to support incredible work our students do, both in and out of the classroom. The goal of the Student Spotlight Series is to provide the Walden community with a place to build bridges and make connections by developing shared understanding of the diverse and varied student journey. Students share stories about their writing process, their efforts towards social change, and their motivations for pursuing higher education. We ask questions, and students generously answer.

This Student Spotlight features Shaima Alraiy, student of the College of Social and Behavior Science.


What are some of the most useful lessons you've learned through paper reviews?
The paper review was a huge learning experience for me. The feedback I received from the Writing Center was significantly constructive and valuable.   It helped me better understand the use of the APA Style in a practical way through the suggestions and examples provided by the Writing Center Instructors. In some of my courses, I received minimal feedback from instructors but that was compensated by the feedback I received from the paper reviews. Through the feedback I received from the Writing Center, I was guided on how to find answers to my questions by always referring to the prompt of the assignment or discussion post. The suggestions of enhancing structure and using more formal and suitable words enhanced my language substantially. I have to admit that what I learned through the Writing Center paper review did not only enhance my work at Walden but also my writing for my work.

What does social change mean to you?
To start talking about social change, I would like to share an excerpt from my first discussion post in my current PhD program. "You changed my life." That was an honest statement an 11-year-old boy said to me in the closing ceremony of a project called "from Child to Child" that I was coordinating in sponsorship by UNICEF in 2006. That phrase made me speechless with no words to respond back. That phrase was ringing in my mind non-stop for a long time until it made me realize its meaning and the achievement behind it. I have not seen that child again, but I can never forget his words and smiling face. He made me realize that I can be of help, and I can be a change agent. He drafted my first rough goal in life which is to help children, who I believe are both current citizens and future leaders.

That was an introduction that I wrote in my first discussion post in my first course in this Ph.D. program. Social change, which is the main goal in all I do, is also the motive, which made me select Walden University. The reminder of social change in most of the assignments and discussion posts throughout the various courses made it part of my thinking and actions. As for my understanding of the meaning of social change, I do believe there is always a motive and a reason for a person to be a social change agent. That motive is what directs the person towards a goal that contributes to social change. The meaning of social change for me is what we do as individuals, groups, and organizations to create change that yields to positive social outcomes. 

Group of 20+ students posing for the camera
Shaima is on the far right of this photo, wearing a black scarf
What social issues have you observed in your community, and how have you advocated for positive social change?
Children and women are the most vulnerable groups, who are mostly dealt with as secondary citizens in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region. The person I’ve become and what I achieved so far as a Middle Eastern woman is what I consider a great accomplishment. Going against the norms to achieve noble goals to contribute to social change was a struggle in a conservative society such as Yemen and the MENA region in general. However, I was able to harvest the fruits of my work when I saw the youth I supported come out of their shells and speak for themselves. With my determination and passion for change, I led national campaigns and programs contributing to the welfare and protection of children and young people.

I contributed to social change through the children/youth empowerment network that I initiated with my colleagues in Yemen, which I consider my life project. Some colleagues and I started this network with 4 teachers and 10 school students. We trained them on essential life skills and designing and managing community-service projects. The impact of this project was tremendous on the community and the youth as well. The outcomes of this project made me and my colleagues decide to continue and expand the project. Now the network operates in ten cities with around 1500 youth and 600 teachers who work in community-services projects to support their communities. My colleagues and I (trainers, field coordinators, and mentors) are volunteers who made this network one of the biggest in the country. Some of these young people were selected to present their experience in international conferences and won in some other international competitions. I always see the youth transform when they go through an experience in which they design and lead initiatives themselves and contribute to social change. It is rewarding when some of these young people meet us and say “you changed our lives”!

What challenges have you encountered in your pursuit of social change? How have you overcome them?
In a developing country like Yemen, promoting rights sometimes is a challenge. Young people and children are merely passive listeners in the different settings, especially home and school. To convince parents, school teachers and admins, as well as children themselves, that they can be social change agents was not an easy task at all. However, after they see the impact of such an experience on their children’s personalities, they usually support the concept significantly.

How has your education at Walden influenced how you think about social change?
The reminder of social change in all discussion posts and assignments always fosters what I am doing and motivates me to keep moving forward. Moreover, Walden emphasized the importance of research as a key element in social change.

What are your strengths in writing? What are your greatest challenges?
I think my strength in writing is that I often capture the whole picture when I write about something. However, the fact that English is my second language makes it sometimes hard to be very expressive and formal.

Can you describe one writing project or assignment that meant a lot to you in some way?
Actually, they were three assignments: the final projects of the grant writing course, the annotated bibliography of the Research Theory Course, and the Public Policy analysis and planning course.  The final project of the public policy course was a great exercise of how to analyze and plan for a public policy in reality. I am grateful for this exercise as I was able to analyze a very important policy, which is Family Reunification in Canada. It was a great learning experience as I was able to analyze and provide solution options based on literature, similar policies, and commendable practices. This paper was appreciated by the MP office of the area where I live.   

What would you like other Walden students to know? What advice can you give them as they begin, continue, or close out their degree programs?
In the two residencies I attended, I advised some colleagues I met to utilize the services available for them such as the Writing Center, the library, and the Research Center. I was surprised to know that many of them have not used the services of the Writing Center yet and some of them did not know about it. I immediately showed them some papers that I got reviewed by the writing Center and how the paper was enhanced by the feedback of the reviewer. I would also advise them to look for the motive that makes them want to contribute to social change. That motive will guide every aspect in their PhD Program and how they apply the knowledge and skills they gain to contribute to the social change of the discipline they are interested in.

What writers do you admire, and what is it about their writing that interests you?
Zayd Mutee Dammaj is my favorite writer. He is a Yemeni writer whose novels were appreciated and won prizes internationally. When I read Dammaj, I feel like I am one of the characters, living their experiences. The way he narrates the story is very engaging, making the reader visualize what is happening.

What inspires you to write?
At the personal level, writing is like a close friend with whom I can say what I feel without restraints. Whenever I see something wrong that needs to be addressed or something rightful that needs to be shared, I start writing. This writing can be in different forms, such as a post in Facebook, a study report, a proposal to a funder, etc. In the course of my career, I contributed to different studies such as the “Country Profile on the Situation of Children in Yemen,” “Regional Analysis on the Situation of Violence against Children in Schools in Lebanon, Morocco and Yemen,” a study entirely led by adolescents on the situation of children using the “Child-led Data Collection” methodology, national quantitative and qualitative assessment research on “Violence against children in Schools,” qualitative research on “Child Marriage, Armed Children and Children in Conflict with the Law in Yemen.” I also drafted grant proposals to different funders such as the EU, Oxfam, World Bank, MEPI, UNICEF, Save the Children, and different embassies such as the US and the Netherlands Embassies.



The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work.


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