USF Writing Studio

Archive for November, 2011


The Struggle to Write a Personal Statement

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 | Posted in USF Writing Studio Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Sometimes writing that personal statement is anything but personal. Between word counts, trying to “sound smart”, attempting to come off as interesting/funny/serious/intellectual/etc, the whole process is exhausting! From graduate and medical school to scholarships and grants, many of us will find it necessary to write these statements and try to explain our entire reason for being in 500 words or less.

The New York Times recently published an article about these difficulties and discussed how writing a college application is a lot like writing poetry. It’s an art form.

The article’s message? Don’t feel bad, you’re far from being the only one struggling with this genre of writing.


Sample Dissertation Proposals

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 | Posted in Dissertations & Theses by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Writing a dissertation proposal is a daunting task. Some students find it helps to see samples while constructing their own work.

The University of Texas at Austin provides sample proposals from a wide variety of disciplines. Search for the discipline and/or topic most closely linked to your own to see how other students in your position are putting dissertation proposals together.



Thesis Proposals: Quick and Dirty

Monday, November 7th, 2011 | Posted in Dissertations & Theses by dmfarrar | No Comments »

The University of Massachusetts provides a quick guide to preparing and writing a thesis or dissertation proposal. Here are some key points from the article:

  1. While proposals may be had to find online, dissertations are readily available. Review the table of contents in a variety of dissertations to get an idea of what you should expect to include in your work.
  2. Talk to your advisor(s). He/She/They will know when you’re ready to write and provide insight into both the process and your own research.
  3. Organizing your thesis around conference papers can help you maintain hard deadlines.
  4. Keep your proposal between 20 and 80 pages, but check with your advisor and colleagues for the typical length.

Here is the link to the UMASS article: http://ciir.cs.umass.edu/~strohman/proposal-tips.html

Keep in mind that the guidelines listed here are specific to UMASS, but the general information may be quite useful to you.


Highlighting & Error Finding

Monday, November 7th, 2011 | Posted in USF Writing Studio Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Here is another great tip from Writing Center consultant Sandy Branham.

A tool that has been helpful for students performing critical analysis is the highlighting method. This is particularly helpful in papers for composition classes. Highlighting can really be used for anything, but I use it in 3 different ways.

1. I ask students to highlight each quote or paraphrase in their paper. Then, I ask them to use a different color highlighter to indicate areas in which the student analyzes source material. If the student uses yellow to highlight quotes and paraphrases and blue to highlight analysis, every instance of yellow highlighting should be followed by blue highlighting.

2. I use highlighting to deal with issues of tense – I ask students to use 3 different colored highlighters, and to highlight each verb in the paper. Past, present, and future tenses are each highlighted in a different color, enabling the student to easily identify areas in which unnecessary tense shifts occur.

3. I also ask students to use highlighting to identify passive voice by focusing on “to be” verbs. By highlighting each instance of a “to be” verb in the text, students are able to identify areas of passive voice and can then revise these sentences in active voice.

Grab a set of highlighters at home and try this yourself. See if you start to notice your errors and learn how to fix them on your own.

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