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Archive for the ‘USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates’ Category


Writing a Personal Statement

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Whether you’re applying to graduate school, medical school, or that awesome scholarship, chances are you’ll have to develop a personal statement to submit with your application. Personal statements go by many names – statements, letters of intent, statements of research – and is often considered to be one of the most difficult genres of writing. (more…)

Dissertation Library Guide

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Posted in Dissertations & Theses, USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

The 2012 Dissertation Forum was a great success! Thank you to all who joined us. It was a great time for networking, sharing ideas and learning how to make it through the dissertation process. Many of our presenters offered to share their materials with us. If you weren’t able to join us, or would like a refresher on the materials, please check out the Dissertation Workshop Library Guide!

USF Students Improve Skills at the Writing Center

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

From John Strasser, Spring 2012:

“I want to thank you for all that you and the writing center have done for me. As I have stated over and over again to both you and anyone that will listen at USF, the Writing Center is the most important resource on the entire campus; the majority of academic successes that I have experienced have come as a result of the Center’s help.

I am proud to tell you that I was offered admission to The South Asia Institute within The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Columbia University to pursue a master’s degree this past week. I worked on my CV and Statement of Purpose at the Writing Center.

Additionally, on the same day that I received the formal offer of admission from Columbia, I won the Golden Bull Award, one of the highest honors bestowed on a student at USF. Out of a pool of 110 qualified candidates, only 20 students were chosen. This honor, too, is a direct result of the skills I learned and the grades I earned as a result of attending Writing Center appointments.”

Thanks for the feedback, John! We’re so excited for your achievements and look forward to hearing about the great things you’ll continue to do!

Why Cite?

Friday, June 8th, 2012 | Posted in Dissertations & Theses, USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Why do we bother citing someone elses work in our papers? Most people’s initial answer is so they don’t get caught plagiarizing. While that is certainly true, there are other more important reasons we cite that improve what we write.

When we conduct research, we need to cite our work to show where we found information. This gives credit to the original writer of the text you are using to support your points. It also, however, shows your reader that you conducted research and know what information is out there about your topic. Demonstrating this gives you credibility with your reader and he or she will consider you more reliable. Your reader will be more likely to trust your analysis, opinions, and ideas. (more…)

Trying to Avoid Colloquial Language and Slang

Friday, May 18th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | 2 Comments »

“Like, you know, that guy over there told me to say hi.”

“Guys and girls! Everyone look here!”

“I have to take my kid sister to school, then we can hang out.

Slang is everywhere.  When we use it in everyday life to communicate with friends informally, it’s usually fine. In fact, sounding too formal around our friends is kinda weird.  Slang, or colloquial language – to use the formal term – is not appropriate in academic writing and many professional communication situations. (more…)


Thursday, May 17th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | 1 Comment »

Remember learning all those long, complicated words for the SAT? While it’s good to know what these words mean and how they can be used, using them in our own writing isn’t always a good plan. Sometimes brevity is the best way to express an idea.

But why should we bother when we took all that time to learn those long words?

Unnecessary words can make us sound like we lack confidence in our writing. Redundant words, for example, give the same idea twice. Here are some examples: Twelve noon (noon is always at twelve); Summarize briefly (summaries are brief by nature); Exactly the same (the same is the same, right?).

Use your words carefully and purposefully. There’s a reason the cliché “short and sweet” has stuck around for so long!

Here’s a great video on using simple words to express big ideas:  “The Power of Simple Words”

Rhetoric in Action Day at USF!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

We write for a purpose. We write for reasons that go beyond the classroom. We write to make a difference in our community, our society, our world.

Come out and see the amazing work being done by writers at USF at the 2012 Rhetoric in Action Day. Approximately 150 FYC students will be displaying and discussing their projects on Wednesday April 25th in the Marshall Center Atrium from 10:45 am to 2:45 pm. (more…)

Using a Formal Writing Style

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

A lot of assignments we receive in our classes ask for a formal, or academic writing style. What does that mean? Writing Center consultant Haili Vinson helps explain what a formal writing style means and how to do it in your own work.

Making Your Writing More Formal

Some college writing assignments allow for a personal, informal tone. Most, however, require elevated language that demonstrates a student’s ability to join an academic conversation. While your ideas are always the most important part of any essay, here are some tips on how to transform your writing from the personal to professional level. (more…)

Thesis Statements

Friday, April 6th, 2012 | Posted in Uncategorized, USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Thesis statements can be one of the most difficult aspects of writing an essay. Whether you’re working on a rhetorical analysis for your Comp II class, or trying to prepare your masters thesis, a strong thesis statement is a must! Writing Center consultant Jose Aparicio has some great tips below for creating and proofreading the strength of your thesis statement.

Thesis Statements

A thesis controls the paper as the central idea that the whole paper depends.

A thesis answers a question: “What is it I want to say?” (more…)

Three Research Paper Tips

Monday, March 19th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | 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.


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