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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

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Meet the Walden University Writing Center's Plagiarism Prevention Kit

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Academic writers have a lot of style considerations to acclimate to. What does an academic voice sound like? What information appears inside the citation? When do I use the ampersand sign vs. the word “and?” What is anthropomorphism again? In addition to that, academic writers have to ensure that they have focused on a strong central idea, have developed it in organized paragraphs, and have remained rooted in research. With all of these things going on, academic writers also have to ensure they avoid plagiarism.

Plagiarism is defined as using, or presenting, someone’s ideas or work as your own. However, there are a variety of things that actually are considered plagiarism. Actions that can constitute plagiarism range from submitting someone’s writing as your own to misplacing a citation. Because writers start their academic careers with different experiences and understandings, we created a Plagiarism Prevention Kit to house information students can sort through to find a specific answer regarding how to prevent plagiarism or to learn more about the topic in general.

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The Walden Writer Center’s Plagiarism Prevention Kit is a resource full of materials, tools, and tips to help you avoid plagiarism in your writing. All of the materials can be found in the menu on the left-hand side of the page, but highlights include:

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The Walden Writing Center supports students during all phases of the writing process, offering one-to-one paper reviews, webinars, modules, live chat and WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast.

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Top 10 Preproposal and Proposal Fixes for Capstone Writers

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Today we’ll be presenting some easy fixes and things to revise in your preproposal documents to help prepare your work for submission and, later, to transition to your doctoral documents. Both Claire as a Writing Instructor and Tara as a Dissertation Editor will be weighing in today with our ideas about doing some up-front work to help enhance your documents as you prepare for your capstone, which at Walden University is a term we use to describe the premise, prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Note that we will not be discussing content today, as this is particular to your discipline and project. Instead, we’ll go through 10 tips to streamline wording, keep your reader in mind, and review APA errors as you revise.

Tip 10 Preproposal and Proposal Fixes

These easy fixes we’ve identified below fit with proofreading and revising strategies for the capstone. Based on our experience, these are the some of the most important, but often overlooked, things that preproposal and proposal writers can do to make their capstone writing experience as seamless as possible.

We have arranged the fixes into three main categories: Streamlining your wording, keeping the reader in mind, and reviewing for APA errors. These categories were collaboratively created by us after some discussion of what we most often see both in the Writing Center’s myPASS preproposal schedule and in the form and style review process. We found that our top quick fixes all fit into these categories, so if you are in the preproposal stage start now! If you are already in your capstone work, these are still useful as you revise prior to submitting at any point in your process.

Fixes 1-3: Streamlining Your Wording

1. Work to have clear citations with “I” statements. We often see phrasing like: I will use qualitative methodology (Barnes, 2018).  Since Barnes didn’t write about your choice--the researcher wrote about the methodology itself--readers will likely be confused about why a citation is being included in the sentence.  Only include citations when you have summarized, paraphrased, or quoted from source materials.  A more expansive explanation of evidence or narrative citation can help clarify things. See also: Creswell Did Not Write About You blog post

2. Be consistent with your use of verb tenses, and make sure that they reflect the current status of your research. In the preproposal stages, that means you will likely write in the future tense “I will interview”. On the Writing Center instructor side of things, Claire often sees confusing language here in the past tense when at the preproposal stage, your study hasn’t been approved yet so everything is hypothetical at that point. In the preproposal stage, make sure it is clear that you have not yet completed the study itself.

Another important note from Tara is that you will have to revise your verb tenses as you complete your study (e.g., change future tense in the proposal to past tense in the final capstone study to reflect the fact that you have completed your study). Just because you get that initial approval doesn’t mean you should be done revising or ensuring your work is clear and correct.

3. Ask yourself whether you’re writing as concisely and economically as possible. Read your work aloud. Shorten and connect sentences with effective transitions and synthesis. Tara often recommends that capstone writers try to keep sentences to about three lines, maximum, and paragraphs to about 5-7 sentences (or, about half a page). This may vary slightly depending on your project of course, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind since your readers have a lot to get through.

Join us next week as we continue our post and give you the final seven fixes for capstone writers. We'll cover topics like how to keep your reader in mind and how to check your writing for adherence to APA style. Happy writing, Walden writers! 

 Claire Helakoski author photoTara Kachgal author photo

Claire Helakoski
is a Writing Instructor and Tara Kachgal is a Dissertation Editor in the Walden University Writing Center. Both are dedicated to supporting writers as the begin, progress, and complete their capstone projects. 

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APA Style Refresh: Using Multiple Sources with the Same Author and No Date

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As you read our APA Style Refresh series, you’ll start to wonder (if you haven’t already) how in the world anyone remembers all of these rules. The dirty little secret? We don’t! Even Writing Instructors, who help students with APA Style every day, have to look up the finer points of APA with some regularity. 

APA Refresh:  Using Multiple Sources with the Same Author and No Date

One rule that I’ve had to look up more than once is what to do when you have multiple sources that have the same author and no date. The answer comes out of the rule for referencing multiple sources with the same author and year of publication. In that case, lowercase letters are placed immediately after the year and within the parentheses in both citations and reference entries: (2018a), (2018b), (2018c), etc. 

If multiple sources have the same author and no date available, the formatting is just a little different. In this case, follow “n.d.” for “no date” with a hyphen and lowercase letter. 

Here are the example references entries for these types of sources:

Walden University. (n.d.-a). Citations: Citation variations. Retrieved from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/apa/citations/variations

Walden University. (n.d.-b). Reference list: Common reference list examples. Retrieved from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/apa/references/examples

How do you choose which source is letter “a” and which source is letter “b”? Simply place the sources in alphabetical order by title, disregarding any initial articles like “A,” “An,” or “The.”

Be sure to use these letters in not only the reference entries, but also the citations so that your reader knows where to find each piece of information

I have to say, I’m glad that this blog post is now published so I can go back to it the next time I forget this rule—which I surely will! What new APA rules have you learned lately?

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Cheryl Read
 is a Writing Instructor in the Walden University Writing Center who seems to learn something new about APA Style just about every week. 

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APA Refresh: Foreign Titles

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As Walden University is a global university, sometimes in your research you may come across an article or book that has been translated into English. To best help readers find the original article, APA style asks researchers to include both the foreign title and the translated title into English. What does this look like? Read on for an example!

APA Style Refresh: Foreign Titles

If you are citing a foreign journal article (or book) that has been translated, provide the original title in your reference as well as the translation of the title into English in brackets.


Vergauwen, J., Neels, K., & Wood, J. (2016). Impact de la situation économique sur la mise en couple en France (1993-2008) [Educational differentials in the impact of micro- and macro-level economic conditions on union formation in France (1993-2008)]. Population, 71(4), 593-617. doi:10.3917/pope.1604.0593

Note that the capitalization follows the foreign title in the English translation as well, and there is no punctuation (other than brackets) between the foreign title and the translated title. APA does not state to translate the title of the journal into English. You can read more on page 99 of the APA Publication Manual or review the references below.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Hume-Pratuch, J. (2012, Dec. 6). Citing translated sources in APA style. Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/12/citing-translated-works-in-apa-style.html

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Claire Helakoski
 is a writing instructor at the Walden Writing Center. Claire also co-hosts WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast. Through these multi-modal avenues, Claire delivers innovative and inspiring writing instruction to Walden students around the world. 

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August Webinar Preview

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Here in the Writing Center, we love hosting webinars to share writing and APA style tips and tricks with all of you! Join us for one of our many live, interactive Writing Center webinars in August.

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Webinar Calendar

Title:Engaging Your Reader with Sentence Structure
Date:Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Time (Eastern):7:00PM - 8:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:APA Citations Part 2: Nontraditional Sources
Date:Thursday, August 2, 2018
Time (Eastern):8:00PM - 9:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:Beginnings and Endings: Introduce and Conclude Your Writing
Date:Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Time (Eastern):7:00PM - 8:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:Grammar for Academic Writers: Identifying Common Errors
Date:Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Time (Eastern):12:00PM - 1:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:Using Restorative Writing to Enact Social Change
Date:Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Time (Eastern):12:00PM - 1:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:Practical Skills: Paraphrasing Source Information
Date:Thursday, August 23, 2018
Time (Eastern):1:00PM - 2:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:Life Cycle of a Paper
Date:Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Time (Eastern):7:00PM - 8:00PM
Audience:All Students

Can't make it to one of our live webinars? No worries! We record all of our webinars and publish them in our webinar archive for you to view at your convenience.

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The Walden University Writing Center
 produces a live webinar each and every week. Walden University students are encouraged to participate and practice their scholarly writing skills with one of our instructors or editors. 

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