USF Writing Studio

Archive for March, 2012


Three Research Paper Tips

Monday, March 19th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Studio Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Here is some great advice for writing a research paper from Writing Center consultant Haili Vinson.

It’s that time of year again, Midterms, which means you have probably been assigned an essay of some sort, or are getting ready to start a final research paper for your class. Here are some pieces of advice to help you through the writing process.

1. Keep an annotated bibliography of sorts (even if you don’t have to!).

Ever spent hours frantically searching JSTOR for a source that you think contained something useful? Did you finally find it? How much time did this take away from actually writing your paper? Really, we know annotated bibs are not the most entertaining things in the world, but they can be incredibly helpful in keeping track of the sources that you have read. Most students dislike annotated bibliographies in part because they feel pressured to use perfect citations. Optional annotated bibs don’t require perfect format, so it will be easier for you to simply jot down the author’s name, the source’s title, and where you found it (although if you do end up using this source, you’ll have to cite it eventually!). Write down important information that you would like to remember from this source so you can locate it again. You will be surprised at how much an annotated bibliography can simplify the research process.

2. Know your thesis before you start researching, and find sources that support it.

It’s usually best to mold your research to fit your thesis statement, rather than molding your thesis statement to fit your research. With that being said, if you have absolutely no idea where to start with a thesis-driven paper, it might be helpful to skim some articles on your topic, just to get an idea of the conversation. This can assist you in coming up with your own argument, but once you have it, try to narrow your research down to find relevant sources, rather than choosing the first five articles that pop up and forcing them—like puzzle pieces that do not fit—into your topic. Research takes time, but the effort you put forth will result in better support for your thesis, and, ultimately, a higher grade than might be achieved by using the first sources that you find to fulfill the research requirement. It’s important to note, however, that your thesis could very well change by the end of the writing process. Take a look back after you have finished the paper and adjust your thesis so that it still matches what the essay has turned into.

3. Keep a schedule.

If you have a planner, great. If you don’t, consider getting a small one (or using a desk or wall calendar) to keep track of your writing process. Start on the day that the paper is assigned. First, mark the due date on your calendar. Then, establish weekly (or bi-weekly, or twice weekly) goals for yourself. For instance, after a week, perhaps you’ll have a solid thesis chosen and an outline. At the end of week two, maybe you will have found all of your sources. During week three, you could work on your first full draft. Setting goals of this kind and keeping them will prevent procrastination and allow you to make appointments to the Writing Center. For instance, if you know that, by following your schedule, you’ll have your first draft finished at the end of week three, go ahead and schedule an appointment early so that you can get a time that works for you. (Remember that we are very busy this time of the semester.) Keeping a schedule will also reduce the stress that students can experience when pressured to meet a deadline. Give yourself an equal amount of work each week so that you aren’t rushing to finish (or to get started) a few days before the paper is due.


Congratulations to USF’s Oustanding Writing Center Tutors!

Monday, March 5th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Studio Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Jared White and Trisina Dickerson, two writing consultants from the USF Tampa Writing Center, are the winners of this year’s distinguished Southeastern Writing Center Association’s Professional Tutor of Year Award and Graduate Tutor of the Year Award, respectively. This is an unprecedented accomplishment within the writing center community. The USF Writing Center staff traveled to the SWCA 2012 conference Next-Gen WC: Composing Spaces, Exploring Ideas Conference in Richmond Kentucky to generate ideas for the USF center and to be honored by the SWCA. The USF staff was inspired by the beautiful space and brought innovative ideas about how to energize the USF space home to Tampa.

The conference was housed at Eastern Kentucky University’s award-winning Noel Studio for Academic Creativity. The SWCA was established in 1981, and the region is made up of 7 states. Each year the organization awards writing center tutors in four categories to recognize outstanding academic contributions.

Jared White, USF Writing Center Assistant Coordinator, was awarded this year’s SWCA Professional Tutor of the Year Award. Because of the many smiles, laughter and visible “a-ha” moments in Jared’s sessions, he is well deserving of this distinguished award. Jared worked in the USF Writing Center as a graduate assistant tutor from Spring 2010 until he graduated in Spring 2011 with his MFA. He has worked as a professional tutor at both HCC Tampa and the University of South Florida. In addition to being a superstar tutor, Jared is also an accomplished poet. He has had his work published in the journals Confrontation, Mason Road, and Irreantum. He is currently working on publishing a collection of poems entitled Celestial Bodies. Next year he will begin his PhD in poetry at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Students that work with Jared consistently comment how helpful he has been in regard to increasing confidence, overcoming writer’s block, and easing the overall writing process. Thoughtful, considerate, and clever, every day Jared models the best of what it means to be a tutor to the USF community. He thrives on close interaction with colleagues and students, and most importantly, he is interested in learning how to further hone and develop his tutoring skills every day.

Trisina Dickerson, also a USF Writing Center Assistant Coordinator, was this year’s recipient of the Graduate Tutor of the Year Award. Trisina has been tutoring in the center since 2010, and she is currently developing her MFA thesis project, a poetry manuscript about family and relationships. Trisina’s poem “Maillard Browning,” will be published in the upcoming edition of the Louisville Review.

In her writing consultations, students frequently draw their ideas, use highlighters to reinforce something they’ve been talking about, or simply push the paper away, becoming consumed in an animated conversation about the writing project. More than any other tutor, Trisina is great at listening really carefully to students that feel lost, at smiling and helping them transition through their frustration. Her “regulars” come from across the disciplines – engineering, education, literature – and all rave about how Trisina has helped them clarify their ideas and gain confidence in their own writing. Trisina brings an open mind, a positive outlook, and a sophisticated rhetorical awareness to the USF Writing Center.

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