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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

MEAL Plan Variations: Building Paragraphs From a Structured Foundation

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If you’ve ever attended a Writing Center webinar or participated in a paper review appointment with one of our writing instructors, you may have heard mention of the MEAL plan. The MEAL plan is useful model we at the Writing Center often use to outline the fundamental components of an academic paragraph. The MEAL plan is composed of four parts, including: 

E- Evidence
A – Analysis
L – Lead Out Sentence 

The MEAL plan can be an insightful and helpful tool for creating effectively organized paragraphs that have both a single focus and an even balance of outside evidence and your own analysis and synthesis. In other words, when your mind is still filled with questions of how to get your ideas down on the page, the MEAL plan makes it easy to ensure this information is communicated in a concise, organized, and scholarly manner. You might consider it like a foundation upon which to build the presentation of your ideas. 

MEAL Plan Variations

However, it is important to remember that the MEAL Plan is a general model. It does not often translate to a perfect, four-sentence paragraph with a sentence dedicated to each aspect of the MEAL plan. If only, writing could be that neat and tidy! More often, academic paragraphs require additional space and flexibility to address an idea fully. As a result, how the MEAL plan comes to be applied to your writing and what it looks like on the page can vary from project to project or even paragraph to paragraph. Therefore, the goal of this blog post is to explore a few examples of how the MEAL plan might be applied. 

Variation 1: The MEAEAL Plan Paragraph
For example, one example of the MEAL Plan that I often employ myself includes a give and take between E-Evidence and A-Analysis, where I take the time to explain different pieces of evidence before highlighting my conclusion in the L-Lead Out Sentence:

M- Utilizing Walden Writing Center’s resources is an effective way students can advance their writing skills and reduce stress. E- Mattingly (2019) reported that students often come to the Writing Center lacking confidence but walk away with greater knowledge and awareness of their writing abilities. A- This recommendation highlights students’ potential to advance their writing skills through the Center’s resources and reflects a welcoming environment of instruction and learning. E- Philbrook (2019) similarly noted that many students find the Writing Center a safe place to explore writing anxiety and locate related resources on writer’s block, mindfulness, and self-reflection. A-Each author highlights a unique way Walden’s Writing Center works with students to develop stronger writing skills and reduce stress. L- The Writing Center, in this regard, can have a meaningful and healthy impact on students’ scholarly writing skills and overall wellbeing.

In this example, there are various places where the E-Evidence and A-Analysis components of the MEAL Plan appear. By taking this approach, you can demonstrate a greater level of critical thinking and engagement with your source material, as you take the time to explain the meaning of all evidence before moving ahead to incorporate additional research that advances and strengthens your argument. This approach can work well for assignments that require comparing or contrasting or identifying common themes in the existing research as is common to literature reviews

Variation 2: The MPEEAPEL Plan Paragraph
Another version of the MEAL plan might include a more detailed demonstration of your own perspective and point of view through a combination of personal experience (which I'll mark with PE in the paragraph below), evidence, and analysis:

M- The Writing Center’s paper review service is a vital resource for Walden students seeking to become not only better writers but also scholarly communicators. PE- Upon enrolling at Walden, I contacted the Writing Center to learn about resources available to students and was invited to set up a paper review appointment. E- These paper reviews, according to Walden’s Writing Center (n.d.), are designed to “help students develop their academic writing skills as emerging scholars and encourage students to engage in an ongoing writing process” (para. 4). A- The Writing Center promotes an environment where students’ writing projects are viewed as part of a larger process of professional and scholarly development. PE- Though reluctant at first, I quickly found the paper review service to be an invaluable experience in my growth as a scholar because I received personalized feedback that highlighted patterns in my writing style and made me more prepared to communicate my research. L- The Writing Center’s paper review service helps students see how daily writing projects relate to an ongoing process of scholarly development and communication. 

It is quite common in coursework for you to be asked to draw on your own experience and analysis in order to present argument. Making sure to support your experience with evidence is essential to demonstrating how your ideas and expertise aligns with the existing research and can boost the overall credibility of your claim. The MEAL plan would likely be applied differently in this case; however, it is still beneficial in making sure all the required elements are present. Thus, in the above example, the main piece of E-Evidence is introduced not only after the M-Main Idea but also a personal account. It is then followed by more in-depth A-Analysis and L-Lead out sections.

How ever you come to apply the MEAL plan, be sure to make it your own. The MEAL plan may not be appropriate for all academic paragraphs, so make sure you understand its limitations and follow up with your instructor if you have questions about its application to an assignment. The most important thing to remember is the MEAL plan is not designed to be a hard and fast template that should be applied exactly the same way to each paragraph in your project. Rather, it is a flexible writing tool intended to make the principles of scholarly writing easier to spot and incorporate into your writing. As such, you should feel encouraged to experiment with the varied applications of the MEAL Plan. In fact, doing so will make you a stronger scholarly writer as you gain greater familiarity with the core components of an academic paragraph and move fluidly between them as you write.   

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Miranda Mattingly is the Manager of Writing Instructional Services and a former Writing Instructor at the Walden Writing Center. When working with students, her primary focus is on encouraging students to have confidence in their skills as writers and to cultivate their voices as critical thinkers in an increasingly global community. 

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Thursday Thoughts: Practice and Test Your Writing and APA Knowledge

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Looking to test and practice your knowledge of sentence structure or grammar? How about your knowledge of APA and avoiding plagiarism? In addition to many of our web pages that provide “knowledge check” links for students to test their writing knowledge, the Writing Center also has interactive modules on several different grammar topics, sentence structure, APA style, plagiarism prevention, and even paragraph development  and transitions.

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You can access our modules at any time, so check out one or more of our modules today!
Once you check out our modules, tell us what you think—what modules did you try and how have they helped you continue to practice and test your knowledge of writing and APA?

The Walden University Writing Center creates content to help students with a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. We host webinars, and offer paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast.

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Keep Your Writing Organized With Seriation

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Some weeks ago, I was offering some feedback on a student essay when I came to a section that should be formatted using a bulleted list. Instead, the author used a numeric list (audible gasps from the gallery). It was at this point that I asked myself this question: “Why is it that a bulleted list is conventional here?” This may be an unpopular observation, but APA generally doesn’t stipulate arbitrary rules. There is usually some explanation for choosing one feature over another. Put differently, there is a guiding logic that dictates why we do things a certain way in APA formatting style. 

Person writing in a journal with the post's title text

So, I set off to answer this “why,” question. With a deep investigation into the different kinds of seriation that are present in APA style, how they are subtly different from one another, and when each should be employed. What follows is a breakdown of the different kind of seriation: sentence-level seriation and seriation within a section of a piece that will help to answer the age-old question: When crafting a list, why do we do things one way over another?

Sentence-level Seriation
When it comes to seriation within a sentence, there are a number of ways to format a serialized list. Each has some different features depending on how you are constructing that list and the items that you are including in it.

The simplest and most common is the serialized list where items are separated using a comma. This is known as a serialized list. When you have three or more equal items in a list, you separate these using commas. Here’s an example of what this can look like: For lunch I ordered a salad, a side of raw carrots, and a hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge. It is important to note that there is a comma between each of these three items, including the last item. This is the simplest for of seriation and one that many students are familiar with. For more information about seriation generally, take a look at page 63-65 of the Publication Manual of American Psychological Associations (3.04 Seriation).

You can also use lowercase letters to distinguish between specific items in a serialized list. This shows the reader what information belongs to each specific item in the list. Here’s an example of how this could look: My dog has toys that are used for specific occasions: (a) a stuffed football that he plays with outside; (b) a blanket, which he lays on to take naps; and (c) a bear, his companion inside the house. Here, you can see that each item is distinct; the lowercase letters break up this list and make it clear what information belongs to what item. For more information on this, check out page 64 of your Publication Manual of American Psychological Associations (3.04 Seriation)

Seriation Within a Section
At times, it is appropriate to craft a list that expands beyond a single sentence, taking up most of an entire section. This becomes common and conventional especially when looking at larger pieces like dissertation documents or articles for publication. When doing this, you can use a bulleted list or a numbered list; each contains specific attributes that are important to consider when deciding between the two.

As with sentence-level seriation, the most common seriation within a section is also the simplest: the bulleted list. When you have items that are meat to appear in no particular order, you should use bullets. Here’s how this should look:

  • Dusek (2018) argued… [paragraph continues]
  • Philbrook (2016) posited… [paragraph continues]
  • Dado (2018) found… [paragraph continues

As you can see, these imply no chronology, importance, priority, etc. These are simply separate pieces of information that appear in no particular order. For more information on how to do this, you can look at page 64 of the Publication Manual of American Psychological Associations (3.04 Seriation).

If the order of the elements in your list matter, however, you should use a numbered list. This is very similar to a bulleted list, only you use numbers, and these numbers show the reader a specific order that the listed items appear in. This order can be a chronology, a significance, a priority, etc. The point I’m driving at here is that the order matters, and the numbers in the numbered list tell the reader the order that the information should come in. Here’s an example of this:

1. I wake up in the morning… [paragraph continues]
2. As I come to midday… [paragraph continues]
3. At night time… [paragraph continues]

This list reflects the chronology of a day. The order that these items appear are important. Reading them out of order would give the reader an inaccurate impression of the day. More information on this can also be found on page 64 of the Publication Manual of American Psychological Associations (3.04 Seriation).

Seriation allows an author to get a lot of information across to the reader at once, but there are some specific rules that dictate how lists should be used in APA style. Asking “why,” led me down a path to see what these rules actually are. Through this, a seemingly arbitrary rule of APA gained an order and a logic. I encourage you to be curious writers and seek answers to questions derived from instances that don’t make sense to you. Doing so can have benefits like, reduced anxiety, true understanding, knowledge application, happiness, fulfillment, etc.

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Michael Dusek is a writing instructor in the Walden University Writing Center. He enjoys working with students and improving their writing skills. The idea that an essay is expressive as well as formal is a cornerstone of the way he views writing. He believes that approaching a writing project as a creative problem-solving activity can alleviate apprehension that students often encounter. In his personal life, he enjoys the outdoors, books, music, and all other types of art. 

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Virtual Conference Invitation: Water is Toxic and Food is Scarce. What Will We Do?

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On behalf of Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon, Vice Provost, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Dr. William C. Schulz, III, Director, Walden Center for Social Change, you are hereby invited to an exciting event happening tomorrow, March 8th. Please join us for Walden University's free, virtual social change conference from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. eastern time. 

Flyer for the social change conference with text describing the event's details

The conference, A Social Change Challenge: Water is Toxic and Food is Scarce. What Will We Do?, will engage in a robust exploration and dialog related to the direct and underlying causes that contribute to ongoing food and water insecurity and quality problems across the globe. This virtual, interdisciplinary conference will support Walden University scholar-practitioners in their collaboration for positive social change. 

You can find the detailed conference agenda here.

Click here to reserve your spot for the conference

If you'd like to learn more about Walden's Center for Social Change, please follow this link.

We hope to see you tomorrow, March 8th. 

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The Walden University Center for Social Change
is a connective hub that promotes, facilitates, and supports collaborative partnerships, action research, and projects that lead to purposeful action for sustainable positive social change.

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A Brief History of the DOI

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When I started university digital object identifiers (DOIs) were not a thing. Well, they were, but no one used them yet. We PDFed copies of books, used links that would often break or disappear, and go to physical libraries to hunt down paper copies of books to use for our research. Now, I can access materials from all over the world, that will always be there, from the comfort of my dog-filled home while drinking some espresso in my PJs. What a life!

A brief history of the DOI

However, it was a long road in the making. One that involved me learning multiple different academic formats, library resources, and how everything changed every few years (and no amount of eye rolling could change it), and I was often left thinking to myself: Huh, this bookmark to my source used to work.

Then everyone started using DOIs, I didn’t have to re-research my research when links expired, and my life as an academic became much more enjoyable.

Because I obviously love this resource as a researcher, I am going to share some information that will give you my favorite academic super power: The ability to find and cite references quickly, easily….and have them stick around forever.

The digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique identifier that had first been standardized for use with identifying academic sources, but has recently moved to including many additional online sources such as videos, commercials, eBooks, and data sets.

So, what does this mean for you as academic scholars? It means that the DOI system is housed in many places, which is different from local library identification systems (think ISBNs), that are only available through a single publication. This makes them super valuable, and as Marc Langston and James Tyler noted in a study on linking to journal articles, the DOI allows for readers to access materials through permanent channels including, but not limited to, the URL, journal page, or PDFed forms.

Locating the DOI
Option 1: Check the article PDF
Locate the PDF of the article. Many publishers include the DOI along with other citation information on the first page of an article. Look in the margins, header, and footer.

Option 2: Check CrossRef.org
CrossRef.org is the organization that facilitates the creation and use of DOIs by publishers and scholars. Its database contains citation information for all articles that have been assigned DOIs.
1. Go to the CrossRef.org website.
2. Click on the tab to Search Metadata.
3. Copy and paste (or type) the article title into the Search Metadata box, and hit the Enter key or click the Search icon.
4. Locate the result that matches your title. The DOI is listed at the bottom of the result as part of a link. Disregard the beginning of the link (http://dx.doi.org/...) since this is not part of the DOI. All DOIs start with the number 10.

Pro Tip: Crossref DOI search walkthrough

Note: If your article does not show up in the result list, you can learn some tips to find a DOI in our help guide. In addition to this, if CrossRef.org has no DOI listed, you can assume there is none for the article you searched and cite this source as an article with a URL.

Additional Resources for Reference Citing without a DOI:
Find more details on citing electronic sources.

Take a look at a PDF flowchart that addresses how to cite sources with and without DOI numbers.

See some common reference entry examples on the Writing Center's website

So now that you have your newly learned academic super power you can more easily and clearly identify your DOIs… And hopefully save a bunch of time along the way.

Meghan K Barnes author image

Meghan K Barnes holds a BFA in Professional Writing & English, an MFA in Nonfiction Literature, and a MAT in Post-Secondary Adult Online Education. These degrees lead to multiple opportunities including a Fulbright Scholarship to study the nonfiction work of Sylvia Plath in England, three Pushcart Prize Nominations, and four book publications.

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Thursday Thoughts: Live Webinars in March

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Can you believe it’s March already? How is your progress on your New Year’s writing goals?
Whether you did or didn’t set any writing goals for yourself this year, why not plan to work on your writing now by joining us for some of our live webinars in March!
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Improving Your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofing, and Using Feedback
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
8:00p.m.-9:00 p.m. (Eastern)
This webinar will discuss the revision process in all its forms, including explaining the difference between proofreading and revising, how to revise on your own, how to revise using Writing Center or peer feedback, and how to revise using faculty feedback.

APA Citations Part 2: Nontraditional Sources
Thursday, March 14, 2019
12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. (Eastern)
In this second of two APA sessions, Writing Center staff members will discuss nontraditional APA citations and reference entries, with an emphasis on those that are common to Walden assignments. We will provide guidance on citing discussion posts, course videos, and other sources that are required at Walden but not explored thoroughly in the APA manual. Participants will receive links and other tools for helping students master these formats.

Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. (Eastern)
This session will focus on writing approaches to synthesizing the research, including strategies to help organize and evaluate your sources, particularly in the literature review of doctoral capstone studies.

Practical Writing Skills: Using & Integrating Quotes
Thursday, March 21, 2019
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Learn the best way to use and integrate quotes in your academic writing in this interactive webinar. In the first half of this webinar you'll learn the basic principles for incorporating quotes into your writing, and then in the second half you'll practice integrating quotes so you can master this writing skill.

Mastering the Mechanics Part 2: Compound & Complex Sentences
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. (Eastern)
The second webinar in the Mastering the Mechanics series focuses on writing compound and complex sentences, with an emphasis on using correct punctuation, identifying common errors, and practicing skills. This webinar will support students in composing varied, sophisticated, and grammatically correct sentences.

If you are unable to attend any of these sessions in person, we post recordings of every live webinar event on the Walden University Writing Center website. The recordings of these sessions are posted 24 hours after they take place, and you can watch them free and on-demand. 

The Walden University Writing Center creates content to help students with a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. We host webinars, and offer paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast.

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Superhero Complex

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Sometimes, getting to work on a school paper can feel like an insurmountable task. After reviewing and re-reading the assignment prompt over and over, your mind feels like a blank sheet of white paper. You have no ideas; you don’t even know where to start. If you were in a superhero movie this would be the exact right time for one of the Avengers to crash through your wall and save the day; and, if you were on a limited budget – heck! - it would be the perfect time for you to discover your own super human writing powers.
Super Hero Complex
If you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to be saved from what seems like the world’s worst paper-writing situation, you’re not alone. Now more than ever, living in world where “comic book solutions” (e.g. potions, heroes, and magic gadgets) seem to populate every film, TV show, and iPhone screen, viewing your own writing skills as anything less than “amazing,” “spectacular,” or “Thor-like” really feels like it’s the norm.

But why…?

Well, with very little prompting, it’s very easy for one to bring to mind the success stories of early achievers, prodigies, and change makers (e.g. Mozart, Picasso, Einstein) whose highly lauded “natural ability” made them professional “super heroes” early on. In addition, there is the inevitable association one has with school mates, peers, and work colleagues whom, by cosmic coincidence, also seem to possess some of the amazing earth-bound skills (i.e. paper-writing, problem-solving, organization, and goal setting) you’ve been trying to develop for years. As if living in a universe populated by fictional superheroes on the silver screen wasn’t enough (e.g. The Avengers, Spider Man, Iron Man, etc.) the online universe of Walden further exposes all of us to the possibility that everyone else seems to be writing superhuman, radioactive-perfect papers while we can’t even develop a sensible paper title.

In fact, what makes being a non-Avenger, “normal student” in the Walden Cinematic Universe so difficult, even harder than lifting Thor’s hammer off of Tony Stark’s coffee table on a bet, is that there are no easily accessible stories in TV or film that perpetuate the blockbuster adventures of everyday students who overcome big challenges by just moving ahead one step at a time. Somewhere between being a Tony Stark genius from birth to being an Asgardian God whose been fighting bad guys for centuries, it’s much easier for your brain to conjure up old stories about your own academic short-comings, rough starts, and failures than it is imagine a world where learning one new thing a day can start you down a new path to success in whatever field you select. Epic battles of exploding losses and giant radioactive Fs on assignments may have been part of your worst super hero stories in some of your early prequel stories, but times have changed. Your story at Walden is a new beginning and a chance to finally set the story in your super hero universe straight.

The heroes studying and writing papers at Walden University may not wear capes, but they don’t have to. Study upon study shows that the best way to overcome fear and anxiety about past failures is to simply create a new powerful story about success that lasts. If you want to know what the secret formula really is this is it: What really works is starting small and going slow. Don’t assemble the Avengers all at once. If you know you have a new paper assignment coming due in two weeks, don’t wait until the last-minute to writer it; don’t give Loki the advantage he’s been waiting for.

The best way to save the Universe – and your next writing assignment! - is to make a plan and to start early. Make an appointment with the Writing Center, visit our page on how to create a proper citation; practice your new skills daily, and give your new super-brain a workout.

The truth is there aren’t enough stories about Walden students “saving the day” by just completing one small task at a time, but there really should be. Walden students are absolutely their own kind of superheroes. They do things no other students can do and being at Walden now is proof-positive that things have changed. You’re already starting a new adventure in a whole new cinematic universe. You don’t need to wait for Thor or Iron Man to crash through the wall to save you. You have all the tools you already need. Get started today!

James A. Horwitz author image

James A. Horwitz is a writing instructor in the Walden University Writing Center. James received his MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, having first earned undergraduate degrees in both English and Psychology. James has taught at the college-level for over 13 years and is passionate about student-learning, mentoring, and student writers developing their work.

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WriteCast Episode 55: Struggling with Spelling

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In this month's WriteCast podcast, Claire and Kacy discuss how spelling can be included in the conversation about APA-style scholarly writing. Listen in as your hosts discuss some of the ways that spelling can trip up writers, especially writers writing in their second or third languages. Common pitfalls are discussed along with practical strategies and tools for avoiding spelling struggles. For example, did you know that it is possible to adjust the dictionary settings in Microsoft Word? Listen in to learn more! 

To subscribe to WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, click the icons in the player below or click "subscribe" for sharing options. 

Visit our show page for a list of all of our WriteCast episodes and written transcripts for each episode.  

Episode Resources: 

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WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers is a monthly podcast written, produced, and published by staff in the Walden University Writing Center. Join us each month for a dialogue between two experienced and trained writing instructors. Possible episode topics will always be considered from listeners--share your questions and suggestions in the comments.

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Prewriting Strategies From the Very Beginning

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Many students believe that the writing process begins when they sit in front of their computer and start typing. Although getting those first few words onto the page is an important step in the writing process, there are some things you can do before you type to make the process easier. In fact, the act of writing begins when you start reading your assigned articles.

Prewriting strategies from the very begnning

One of the easiest ways to streamline your writing is to be a good reader. But what makes someone a good reader?

A good reader makes smart use of their time by actively reading the text. Most of us have probably had the experience of reading an article or a chapter in a textbook late at night and having no recollection of what we actually read the next day! This often means that we were passively reading; our eyes might have been moving across the page, but we weren’t really taking in the information in a meaningful way.

One way to make sure you are being an active reader taking in necessary information is through note-taking. Effective note-taking could mean paraphrasing ideas from various articles, highlighting key passages, or keeping track of key terms that authors use across articles. The most important thing about note-taking is to write down information that you think is important and to be sure to include where the information came from. No matter how informal your notes are, you should always include a citation at the end, just to be safe. There is nothing worse than having the perfect piece of information to support your thesis – and realizing that you forgot to write down which article it came from!

You don’t need to keep highly detailed, encyclopedic notes on every article you read, but it helps to jot down a few key ideas to help refresh your memory when you are ready to write that big course paper. For instance, what was the main argument? What methodology did the researchers use? What conclusions did they come to? What were some of the main themes? Keeping track of this material will help your brain actively take in the information, rather than defaulting to scanning the pages passively and not truly taking in the information.

If you are reading multiple articles for one paper, you can also start synthesizing the main  ideas by as you read by thinking about how these articles relate to one another. Do the authors of Article A agree with the Authors of Article B? Do they take different approaches? Was something less effective in one article? These notes may feel random or disjointed at first, but they will help you start to see patterns in your readings and will help you build your thesis before you even sit down to type.

Another important element of being an effective reader and, by extension, an effective writer, is to stay organized. Your notes won’t be of any use to you if you can’t remember where you put them! Thus, once you get into the habit of taking notes as you are reading, try to keep your notes in a single notebook or in a separate Word document to keep the most important information readily available. Keeping these notes all in one place you don’t waste precious time hunting through multiple notebooks or multiple documents in your computer.

By making sure you are being smart about how you read and how you keep track of what you read, you will make the writing process just that much easier for yourself! As daunting as academic writing can seem at times, you can make the process smoother and saving yourself time before you even sit down to write!

The Walden University Writing Center

The Walden University Writing Center creates content to help students with a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. We host webinars, and offer paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast. You can check out all of our resources by visiting our Walden University Writing Center home page.

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February Webinar Schedule

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It's the middle of February, and we still have some live Writing Center webinars to love this month! Won't you join us?

February webinars in the Walden University Writing Center

Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts
Thursday, February 20, 2019
7:00-8:00PM EST
As a Walden student, you'll write many discussion posts in your courses. Attend this webinar to learn the Writing Center's tips on how to create strong discussion posts and how to respond to your classmates' discussion posts.

Building and Organizing Academic Arguments
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
12:00-1:00PM EST
As a scholar, the purpose of your writing is to create an argument for the reader to consider. Thus, you also need to know how to convey that argument in a persuasive, convincing way. In this session, discover how to construct an academic argument as well as how to present it through your writing in with a focus on thesis statements, organization, using evidence, and paraphrasing.

If you are unable to attend any of these sessions in person, we post recordings of every live webinar event on the Walden University Writing Center website. The recordings of these sessions are posted 24 hours after they take place, and you can watch them free and on-demand. 

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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Overcoming Writing Anxiety with Paper Review Services

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When it comes to academic writing, it is common to experience writing anxiety. For many students, academic writing is a new adventure. However, some students have been out of school for decades, and the high expectations of course assignments can create anxiety.

Overcoming Writing Anxiety with Paper Review Services

As a Writing Instructor in the Walden University Writing Center, I have seen students struggle to write academic papers for many years. Throughout my 14 years of teaching adult learners, I have heard the concerns of many students from diverse academic backgrounds, and I noticed commonalities in what my students have to say. For example, students often say that they do not know how to begin or they do not know whether their writing is cohesive at the sentence or paragraph level. And of course, there is the common concern on the proper use of APA formatting, references, and citations.

Time and time again, I tell students they do not need to be afraid of writing because there are services to help. Writing anxiety does not have to exist because resources are available to support students in the writing process. One significant resource that I recommend is the Writing Center’s paper review service

Although the thought of getting a writing expert to review your writing may seem daunting, I would like to assure you that getting a Walden University Writing Center Instructor to review your work will only help you in the long run and lessen your fears when it comes to academic writing.

In case you are skeptical on whether paper review services can help, here are five ways you can overcome writing anxiety with paper review services:

1. Share your assignment’s instructions and your own writing goals

One of the first steps to obtain a paper review appointment would be to fill out the appointment form. On the form, you are encouraged to share your assignment’s instructions and any writing goals that you wish to gain from the appointment. The appointment form is a great place to share all of your anxiety and fears when it comes to academic writing. Let it all out. You are in a safe, judgment-free, and welcoming place to be as honest as possible. Providing this specific information will help the Writing Instructor internalize the given information and determine the best way to approach your paper to ensure satisfactory personalized instructional feedback.

2. Receive personalized instructional feedback

During a paper review appointment, the Writing Instructor will provide instructional feedback catered to your writing needs. After reading the paper and reflecting on your appointment form, the Writing Instructor will provide personalized instructional feedback. The paper review process is a time to share ways to support your writing and also point out strengths in your writing through encouragement. This specific technique does not include line-by-line editing. Instead, the Writing Instructor will provide you with feedback to address areas of concern, ease any anxiety you may have, provide examples to go into more depth, and include any necessary writing resources to support the instructional feedback.

3. Reach out with any follow-up questions after the paper review appointment

At the end of the paper review appointment, the Writing Instructor will encourage the student to review the instructional feedback and reach out with any questions while they apply their feedback to the current draft. When questions arise, sometimes it creates anxiety, and that’s when reaching out to a Writing Instructor at writingsupport@waldenu.edu would come handy. If a suggestion does not seem clear enough or perhaps you would like additional examples, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Writing Instructor with your writing-related questions. The Writing instructor will respond via email with 24 hours. After you received the necessary answers, take some time to apply the Writing Instructor’s feedback to your current draft.

4. Apply the Writing Instructor’s feedback

A great way to ease your anxiety, it is essential to read through the Writing Instructor’s feedback and apply it to your current draft. By taking this step, you will gain valuable insight into how you can strengthen your writing and ensure that your writing meets the assignment’s requirements. Some students notice a significant change in their writing that they come back to the Writing Center for multiple appointments.

5. Make multiple paper review appointments

To maximize the resources in the Writing Center, I like to encourage students to make multiple paper review appointments. In my experience, students who make at least three paper review appointments have noticed a positive change in their writing and academic success. Read more on our Third Time's the Charm: The Magic of Multiple Paper Review Appointments blog post and find out additional benefits of making multiple paper review appointments.

Academic writing can feel difficult and create writing anxiety, but it does not have to be that way. Overcome your writing anxiety by setting up a paper review appointment today, and I guarantee you will feel confident as a writer and increase your academic success. Click “Paper Review Appointment” to make an appointment today and receive useful personalized instructional feedback to strengthen your writing.

Jeannie Croichy author image

Jeannie Croichy has 14 years of experience in the field of education and she has used that time to develop unique and innovative writing pedagogies to bring out the highest potential in students. She is a dedicated and well-rounded writing educator with extensive experience working with students from all over the world. She received her MEd in English Language Learner from Ashford University and BA in English Writing from William Paterson University of New Jersey. She is currently pursuing her EdD in Higher Education and Adult Learning at Walden University. 

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Thursday Thoughts: Remembering your Reader

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Sometimes in the midst of all your coursework, it can feel like all your writing is made to be read by your classmates on a discussion board. It becomes easy to assume that this is your most common audience, but as you move through your academic program, and after graduation, your audience will become more varied. Perhaps you will be writing for other professional in your field, or for co-workers, or for the general public in popular publications. Maybe you will write for people who don’t know a lot about your topic yet, and maybe you will write for people whose expertise exceeds your own. Whatever your audience may be, it will have more variety than your classmates, and it will appear in more places than a discussion board. So how do you consider your audience?

A little something to remember

When writers consider their audience, they are able to engage them through appropriate content and word choice. and Knowing that our students will work and write in many fields, and that the purpose for writing may also shift, we have created resources for considering the audience:

The Walden University Writing Center

The Walden University Writing Center creates content to help students with a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. We host webinars, and offer paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast.

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