December 2014 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Misplacing the Word 'Effectively'


In English, the position of a word in a sentence is significant. Where a word appears in a sentence depends on whether you are writing about time, a question, an adverb; it depends on whether you are writing a positive sentence, a negative sentence, or a subordinate clause.

Adverbs are problematic because they can appear before the subject of the sentence, between the subject and the verb, or after the verb. Their meaning will generally change according to position in the sentence. So it’s not uncommon to see adverbs misplaced in written English.

Such an adverb is effectively. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (preferred by APA and Walden), when placed between the subject and the verb, it means  in effect or  virtually <by withholding funds they effectively killed the project>. But when it is placed after the verb, it means in an effective manner <dealt with the problem effectively>. Follow this URL:

Putting an adverb in the wrong position in a sentence will likely confuse readers. For example, you would not want to write, “by withholding funds, they killed the project effectively,” if you meant to say only that the project was virtually killed (“by withholding funds, they effectively killed the project”).

To say how something was done, the adverb must be used after a verb. Use this infographic below as a handy reminder:

Using 'effectively' effectively infographic by the Walden Writing Center

Practice: Do a search (hint: use CTRL + F) in a piece of your writing for the word 'effectively'. Are you using it as you mean to? Share with us in the comments.


Tim McIndoo
, who has been a dissertation editor since 2007, has more than 30 years of editorial experience in the field of medicine, science and technology, fiction, and education. When it comes to APA style, he says, "I don't write the rules; I just help users follow them."

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Why I Almost Gave Up on My Degree Program and What Kept Me Going

Right now, I am in the unique position of being a staff member in the Walden Writing Center as well as being a student in Walden’s EdD program, and I am currently working on my proposal. I thought that because I know a great deal about the resources that are available to students and because I am well acquainted with the process and expectations of the doctoral program, I would be able to fly through the program with ease and grace without needing to rely on the numerous sources of support that Walden offers. Boy, was I wrong.

I love being a student, and I was right on track with my doctorate while I was in my courses. I was capable of going at it alone; I did not rely on my instructors, peers, or other resources, such as the Writing Center’s paper reviews or webinars, very much. I got into a rhythm, and I really enjoyed the program. Then the coursework ended. Now, you are probably reading this and thinking that maybe I have really poor time management skills, which would be reasonable considering the lack of a structured timeline during the proposal stage. Or you might think that I do not have the intellectual threshold or writing skills I need to move forward in the program. None of those were the problem, though. I am a planner by nature, so I like to think I have pretty good time management skills. I know I have the writing skills (the intellectual threshold part has yet to be determined), so these were not the problem. The problem I had was life.

Do you ever feel like giving up on a class or program? What keeps you going?
Photo by Ryan McGuire of BellsDesign | CC0 
I recently read an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education* about Ph.D. students and how difficult it is for them to get their doctoral degree in a timely manner. The recurring theme I noticed in the article was unexpected life events, and I have found that this rings true with me as well. I am willing to bet that many of you can relate to me. I am a student in a doctoral program, but I am also a full-time employee, a parent, and a person who has family, social, and community obligations. I balance many things in my life, and I plan, schedule, and make lists to help make it all happen. When it all flows like I expect it to, it is great. However, life has a habit of surprising us, and planning feels so futile to me at times. 

The life event that derailed me from making progress on my proposal was the death of my mother-in-law. She became ill, was hospitalized, and then became comatose and finally passed away over the course of a few weeks. I stepped away from my proposal in order to make time for my family because they needed me. I did not just take time off for the funeral, though. My mother-in-law’s death had residual effects on my husband, my children, and my in-laws. I ended up taking a few months off, and the longer I was away from my proposal, the more resistant I became to returning to it. 

It was really tough to make myself check my student e-mail or even enter the Blackboard classroom because I felt so behind compared to my peers in my cohort. I was constantly finding reasons to put off working on my proposal, and I had almost resigned to let it languish indefinitely as I contemplated quitting the program. I was really frustrated and disappointed in myself, but I just could not get motivated or inspired to continue. 

Then something wonderful happened. I opened my student e-mail. There was an e-mail from my chair, and another one from a student in my cohort. They wanted to know how I was doing, they offered help, and they sent encouraging words about how they believed in me. They reminded me of how far I have come, and they gently coaxed me back into the classroom. Gradually, my academic spirit and my motivation returned as they continued to support me and persuade me to keep going.

Find strength in the relationships you build, and lean on folks when you need to do so. In turn, support others.
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What I hope you can take away is this: life happens. It is messy and it gets in the way. When it does, look for support within your Walden community. Find strength in the relationships you build and lean on folks when you need to do so. In turn, support others. If you notice one of your classmates is not as active in discussion boards or seems to be falling behind, reach out to him or her. You have no idea what other students might be going through, and you never know how much a kind word or a show of support can mean to someone. It made such a difference for me.
Do you need help finding a writing community? Join a January writing group or the Walden Capstone Writing Community.

* Walden students: Access the full text of “The Ph.D. Student’s Ticking Clock” through the Walden library.


Amy Kubista is the Manager of Writing Instruction at the Walden Writing Center. She is pursuing an EdD with a specialization in higher education and adult learning. 

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WriteCast Episode 16: Why You Need to Join a Writing Community

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Being a part of a writing community is a great way for student writers to connect with each other, stay motivated, keep each other accountable to writing goals, share challenges, and celebrate successes. This month, Nik and Brittany chat with Dissertation Editor Lydia about the importance of having a writing community, the communities that the Writing Center offers, and new resources for doctoral students.

To download the episode to your computer, press the share button on the player above, then press the download button. Visit the Writing Center's WriteCast page for our episode archive and transcripts. Happy listening!

Next year, we're going to be trying another kind of writing community: small, private writing groups through Google+. Fill out this brief survey to become part of a group for January!

Resources mentioned in this episode:
Walden Capstone Writing Community 
Writing Center on Facebook
Writing Center on Twitter
"Writing Together: How Peer Writing Communities Can Be Your Secret to Success" blog post


is hosted by writing instructors Nikolas Nadeau and Brittany Kallman Arneson and produced by writing instructor Anne Shiell. Check out the podcast archive for more episodes.

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Responding to Feedback is Hard--Here's Why You Should Do It Anyway

This fall, for the first time in my life, I was accused of plagiarism. I had written a literature review for my online graduate program, and due to the frequency of citations as well as the length of my reference list, my draft received a rather high similarity score in Turnitin (TII). Having felt proud of the work I submitted and confident in my paraphrasing and citation skills, I was shocked and disheartened to see a note from my professor advising me to rewrite the entire paper.

Okay, so this was not exactly an accusation, but it sure felt like one! After a moment of panic, I wrote back to my professor, politely pointing out that the only flagged content consisted of citations, references, and a few common academic expressions. We engaged in a small debate on the topic, and at last my professor concurred, acknowledged that a high similarity was to be expected due to the nature of the assignment, and even thanked me for reminding him of the need to analyze TII reports rather than judging a paper solely on its similarity percentage. This story has a happy ending, but I found the whole experience to be incredibly uncomfortable, and I had to wonder: If I did not have so much professional experience with TII, would I have stood up for my work? Would I have contacted my professor at all?

Words of wisdom from the Walden University Writing Center
Original image (c) 2014 Doug Robichaud via Life of Pix
My purpose here is not to discuss how to interpret TII reports—we’ve done that in previous posts—nor is it to criticize my professor, who only wanted to help me improve my writing. Instead, my goal is to offer a student’s perspective on Amber’s recent blog post as well as to WriteCastEpisode 15, both of which focus on responding to faculty feedback. These resources offer invaluable tips and best practices. However, as I learned this fall, engaging with feedback can be harder than it sounds – even for someone who reviews academic papers nearly every day.

Writing that first e-mail to my professor was not easy. I had to rein in my initial reactions, including panic that I had inadvertently plagiarized, indignation (“Don’t you know what I do for a living?”), and a natural inclination to acquiesce to authority figures. I had to analyze an idea that I found unpleasant—the possibility that I had plagiarized—and ask myself: Can I see where my professor is coming from? Do I understand the nature of his concern? Do I see anything that I did wrong? What evidence do I have to support my perspective? And then, after all of this, I needed to craft an articulate, respectful, convincing e-mail voicing my questions and concerns.

Engaging takes time. It takes mental effort. It requires us to juggle confidence in our perspective with open-mindedness and humility. No wonder so many of us, at the end of a long working day, are wary about expending this kind of effort. No wonder we want our homework to be as simple and painless as possible. And no wonder that even when we feel confused, isolated, or frustrated, we hesitate to reach out, to challenge, to ask.

But this type of engagement is exactly what we signed up for when we enrolled in higher education. If we are unwilling to engage our faculty in conversations and to learn more about our work, we run the risk of become passive consumers of knowledge or of falling into learning ruts. When we actively communicate our questions, comments, and concerns, however, we are co-creators of our learning experiences. We are holding up our end of the academic conversations. From my perspective, this is our responsibility as students: not just to absorb information, but to process that information, interpret it, make it relevant, and contribute to it.

So the next time you receive difficult feedback from a professor, a classmate, or even a Writing Center writing instructor, remember the following:

1. You’re not alone! If you have a question or concern, odds are that someone else does as well.
2.  Your instructors don’t know how to help you unless you contact them. They can’t meet your needs until you make those needs known.
3.  It is your right and responsibility to construct your own learning experience. Make it a good one.


Kayla Skarbakka is a writing instructor and coordinator of international writing instruction and support. She is earning her M.S.Ed. from Purdue University. 

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New in 2015: Join a Walden Writing Group!

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We’ve talked about the importance of having a writing community here and here on the blog, and we'll also be talking about it in our next WriteCast episode (stay tuned!). We know that finding such a community can be challenging, though, particularly at an online institution. That’s why next year, we’re trying out a new service: small, private writing groups for Walden students. 

writing group

The groups will run for four weeks in January and will take place in Google+ communities. A Writing Center staff member will organize the groups and will post some discussion questions to get things started, but what you want to get out of the group will be up to you and your group members. To help make the groups useful for everyone, we just ask that you commit to checking in to the group twice a week.

The writing groups are open to all Walden students--undergraduate and graduate--working on coursework. If you're interested in joining a writing group, please sign-up via this brief survey. If you're a doctoral student working on your proposal, we encourage you to form a group through the Walden Capstone Writing Community.

What can you do in a writing group?
Discuss writing questions, challenges, and successes
Motivate each other
Keep each other accountable to writing goals
Share writing tips and advice
Get feedback from peers on your writing

We're going to start forming groups this December, so fill out the sign-up survey today!

If you have questions about the groups, please ask them here in the comments. 


Anne Shiell
 is a writing instructor and the coordinator of social media resources at the Walden Writing Center. Anne also produces WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast.

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What's Your Writing Question?

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If you're a Walden student (or a student somewhere else), I'm sure you have at least one writing question just waiting to be answered. Maybe you're wondering why you have to use APA style. Maybe you have trouble with writer's block and want suggestions for getting unstuck. Maybe you rock your introduction paragraphs but struggle with conclusions. Whatever it is, we can help!

Submit your question to be answered on WriteCast

We're gathering questions about writing to be asked and answered on a WriteCast podcast Q&A episode. Simply click below (alternatively, visit our voicemail page) to record your question using your computer. Here are a couple guidelines to ensure the best recording:
  • Please ask your question slowly and clearly.
  • If you have more than one question, please ask them separately.
  • If you'd like, feel free to introduce yourself and your program or degree. You can also remain anonymous. 
  • If you have a microphone or headset with a mic, using it will provide the best sound quality. If you don't have a microphone, that's fine--just try to get close to your computer when speaking.
Follow these steps and you may hear your question--and Nik and Brittany's answer--in a future episode!

Note: If you're a Walden student or faculty member and you need an immediate answer to your question, also feel free to e-mail it to us at

Thank you!


is hosted by writing instructors Nikolas Nadeau and Brittany Kallman Arneson and produced by writing instructor Anne Shiell. Check out the podcast archive for more episodes.

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