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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

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WriteCast Episode 44: Jeannie's First Residency

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Jeannie Croichy is a writing instructor in the Walden University Writing Center, but she is also a student in the Walden Ed.D program. Like many of our students, Jeannie balances work, life, and her academic program. Also like many of our students, Jeannie attended an in-person residency, which provided her with a different type of academic experience. In this WriteCast episode, Jeannie shares some details from the residency she attended, including what it was like to meet other students in her program and the lessons she learned.

If you have never attended a residency, this episode can help prepare you and highlight the positives of working in-person with peers and Walden staff. If you have residency experience, you may find it nice to hear a fellow student's reflection.

Listen below by pressing the "play" button, or access the podcast transcript here.

A full list of WriteCast episodes and transcripts can be found here.

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The WriteCast Podcast  is produced by the staff of the Walden University Writing Center and delves into a different writing issue in each episode. In line with the mission of the Writing Center, WriteCast provides multi-modal, on demand writing instruction that enhances students' writing skill and ease. We hope you enjoy this episode and comment in the box below.

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Effective Use of Abbreviations In APA-Style Scholarly Writing

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One of the unique but very important choices you will make as a scholarly writer concerns whether you should abbreviate certain terminology in your writing. A general APA guideline (see Section 4.22 of the 6th edition manual) is that use of abbreviations should be limited. The reason is that use of abbreviations may make passages unclear and even undecipherable for readers who do not know how to interpret them.
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However, there is no proscription against using abbreviations in APA. Used appropriately, they may help to improve the flow and clarity of your writing, especially in longer documents such as capstone studies. Today, I want to share some general guidelines for the use of abbreviations in APA. I will share APA’s recommendations for when and when not to abbreviate terminology as well as the organization’s guidelines for how to correctly abbreviate such terminology (please see APA Publication Manual, sixth edition, p. 106-111 for a more extensive discussion).

First, consider the following example from p. 106 of the APA Publication Manual:

  • Sentence with abbreviations: “The advantage of the LH was clear from the RT data, which reflected high FP and FN rates for the RH.” 
  • Sentence without abbreviations: “The advantage of the left hand was clear from the reaction time data, which reflected high false-positive and false-negative rates for the right hand.”

Use of abbreviations definitely saves space and makes this sentence more compact. However, the sheer number of abbreviations makes the sentence harder to interpret. It would be better for readers, then, to avoid use of these abbreviations and, instead, write out the terms in full in this case.

According to APA, abbreviations should only be used when (a) the reader is already familiar with the abbreviation or (b) a writer can save a considerable amount of space or avoid significant repetition (e.g., in the case of inventories or other instruments with long names). Furthermore, a writer should only use an abbreviation if it will be used at least three times in a document after being introduced. If not, the term should be written out the term in full each time it is used. This guideline is particularly important for writers of long documents, including capstone studies, to consider. Will their readers be able to recall an abbreviation that is not familiar to them and is not used extensively in the document?

Provide the full name for a term that you will abbreviate the first time you use it. Follow with the abbreviation in parentheses. (Use brackets instead of parentheses when introducing an abbreviation inside a parenthetical citation, however.) Then, use the abbreviation throughout the rest of your document. Avoid switching back and forth as this defeats the purpose of using abbreviations and because it can be confusing for readers.

A few abbreviations (e.g., HIV, REM, and IQ) do not need to be introduced (see APA 4.24 for a list). Also, see APA 4.26, 4.27, and 4.28 for helpful guidance on use of Latin abbreviations (e.g., e.g., vs., e.g., and etc.); scientific abbreviations; and statistical abbreviations, respectively. APA 4.23, along with APA 5.12 and 5.16, has helpful information on use of abbreviations in tables and figures.

Lastly, note that abbreviations should not be used in headers, study titles, and reference entries.

Tara Kachgal is a dissertation editor in the Walden University Writing Center. She has a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and teaches for the School of Government's online MPA@UNC program. She resides in Chapel Hill and, in her spare time, serves as a mentor for her local running store's training program.

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WriteCast Episode 41: Meet Your Writing Instructor: Kacy Walz

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Kacy WalzNearly a year ago, the Walden University Writing Center welcomed two new writing instructors to our team. If you are a student with us at Walden, you may meet, or have already met, Kacy Walz through paper reviews, the blog, webinars, our newsletter, or the doctoral writing assessment.

Take some time to get to know Kacy better by listening to her interview on our podcast, WriteCast, where she reflects on what she learns as an instructor and shares writing tips that she follows herself.

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The Writing Center employs professional writing instructors and editors to help with all parts of the writing process. We offer paper reviews, a blog, webinars, modules, live chat, and WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast.

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APA How-To: Formatting Dissertations in the References List

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A common question that often comes up from our Walden University student writers is about using dissertations as sources in course papers and capstone studies. While dissertations are not considered peer-reviewed literature, they do have a place in a dissertation. And if they are cited in the narrative, they must be cited in the reference list.

Text over a checklist. Text reads: Formatting Dissertations in the References List

The following list of four citation styles covers the patterns: the basic information, the style for dissertations that were not published, and the styles for two outlets: those published on an institutional database and those published on the web. As you can see from the examples, access to dissertations varies considerably. Hence the variation in citation styles.

These examples were taken from APA Style Guide to Electronic References (2012, p. 23). As part of a 5-year update from the 2007 edition, they favor uniformity and simplicity. But they’re still references and references are extremely fussy about things like the placement of periods, italics, and capitalization.

Basic Information
Author. (Year). Title of dissertation (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

Unpublished Dissertation
Patterson, G.W. (2003). Mathematical modeling and decision analysis for terrorism defense: Assessing chlorine truck attack consequence and countermeasure cost effectiveness (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

*Note from the APA electronic style guide: "Either the name of the database and the accession number or the URL of the dissertation or thesis is acceptable in the retrieval statement" (p. 23). 

From an Institutional Database
Patterson, G.W. (2003). A comparison of multi-year instructional programs (looping) and regular education program utilizing scale scores in reading (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://www.uf.edu/~asb/thesis/

From the Web
Rivers, J.H. (2008). The best dissertation that ever was written: An experimental study of graduate school. (Doctoral dissertation, institution). Retrieved from http://www.uf/edu/~asb/thesis/

Tim McIndoo author picture

Tim McIndoo is a Senior Dissertation Editor in the Walden Writing Center. He came to Walden University in 2007 with over 30 years of editorial experience, including work as translator and photographer. He lives in Minneapolis with four cats.

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November Webinar Preview

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It feels like October passed far too quickly! We hope that November slows down enough for everyone to enjoy the many services that our writing center has to offer. Why not start by registering to attend a webinar?

Webinar update

Here are the November webinars:

Date: Thursday, November 2, 2017
Time (Eastern): 3:00 - 4:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Time (Eastern): 6:00 - 7:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Time (Eastern): 12:00 - 1:00pm
Audience: All students

Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Time (Eastern): 7:00 - 8:00pm
Audience: All students

The full list of November webinars can be found on this page. Should these dates and times not work for you, remember that we record all sessions. The webinar recording archive houses all past webinars. Happy webinar viewing!

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The Walden University Writing Center presents weekly webinars on a range of topics related to scholarly writing, APA style, and the writing process. In addition to webinars, the writing center offers paper reviews, live chat, and a podcast to support writers during all stages of their academic careers.

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