Planning & organizing resources

  • Academic voice

    Writing assignments at the university level often require an academic voice. There are certain aspects of academic voice that are more formal than every day, conversational speech. Typically, academic voice avoids informal language and utilizes an authoritative tone.

    Academic voice

  • Applying the rhetorical situation to images

    If you’re in college, chances are you have written a rhetorical analysis of a piece writing before. Analyzing the tools authors use to influence their audience is a common assignment in most English or literature classes. Recently, applying such analysis to images is becoming a common task as well. Similar to analyzing writing, we can use ethos, pathos, and logos to analyze images.

    Applying the rhetorical situation to images

  • Argumentation resources

    Students are often asked to write arguments beginning in their English classes, but don’t realize that argumentation strategies can be used in many different disciplines, such as defending research, creating proposals, writing cover letters, or telling a convincing narrative.

    Argumentation resources

  • Audience

    When making a demand, what is the first thing that you consider? The best logic to make the argument convincing? The right words to say? The appropriate tone to use? All of these factors can play an important role in the writing process, but they are all quite meaningless if the individual does not take into account one very important detail: the audience.


  • Basic data and statistical analysis

    Usually when it comes to writing, mathematics and statistics probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. However, quite the number of us have had to face an instance where a source based on research must be used in our writing. Whether it be for a literature review or research paper or anything in between, being unfamiliar with how to utilize data can be a nerve-wracking experience. Knowing how to use data to our advantage can even strengthen our papers and help us to explain the things that in some cases, words alone cannot.

    Basic data and statistical analysis

  • Common pitfalls of discussion board responses

    Some courses will ask you to post in an online discussion board, and discussion boards are the primary way many web-based courses facilitate class discussions. The idea is to give an insightful, in-depth response to the prompt (something you would raise your hand and say in a face-to-face classroom). Use this resource as a guide to making effective, thorough discussion board responses that add to the conversation.

    Common pitfalls of discussion board responses

  • Counterarguments

    A counterargument involves acknowledging standpoints that go against your argument and then re-affirming your argument. This is typically done by stating the opposing side’s argument, and then ultimately presenting your argument as the most logical solution. The counterargument is a standard academic move that is used in argumentative essays because it shows the reader that you are capable of understanding and respecting multiple sides of an argument.


  • Crafting a successful thesis statement

    A thesis must always demonstrate an argument. If you are not trying to prove something and persuade your audience to accept your point of view, you are not writing an academic paper.

    Your thesis is the most concise way of indicating to your audience the intention of your paper.

    For most undergraduate writing, it is sufficient to have a one sentence thesis statement. Your introductory paragraph should build up to your thesis statement and provide your reader with the necessary context.

    Crafting a successful thesis statement

  • Different types of arguments

    As a teaching tool, these arguments are often about students learning to support claims with evidence.

    Different types of arguments

  • Drafting an argument essay

    An argument paper is one in which the author takes a specific stance on a topic and attempts to sway the reader. Argument papers are not always assigned as such and may include certain types of research assignments or topic specific prompts.

    Drafting an argument essay

  • Drafting an effective conclusion

    When drafting an effective research paper, how the paper ends is often just as important as how the paper opens. Since an introduction serves to set the stage for a paper and provide readers with a “roadmap” of what to expect in the paper and the overall thesis or research question, an effective conclusion provides resolution to your paper. Though there is no one definitive way to approach a conclusion, several tips are presented below may help you effectively close your paper.

    Drafting an effective conclusion

  • Drafting an effective introduction

    Generally, most introductions in academic writing aim to invite readers into a discussion by presenting the necessary context. Additionally, introductions serve to frame the larger conversation/topic of the paper for the reader and to present a “road map” of important points. The strength of an introduction can determine whether your target audience will want to continue reading or if they will set your paper aside in favor of more engaging material and analysis.

    Drafting an effective introduction


  • Drafting an exploratory essay

    Exploratory papers are NOT argument papers. An exploratory assignment is usually given so that students find ways to branch out in a specific topic without taking a stance. Exploratory papers can range from a full research paper to a short essay.

    Drafting an exploratory essay

  • Drafting a summary table

    A summary table allows you to compare common research methods, findings, limitations, etc. You can order the entries in any way that you find useful; consider ordering your research alphabetically, by timeliness, or even by grouping similar study aims, models, or results.

    Drafting a summary table

  • Editing & proofreading techniques

    Editing begins while you are still working on your first draft. It has to do more with revising the logistics of the paper than grammar and surface-level errors.

    Proofreading takes place when editing is finished. Focuses on surface-level errors like misspelling and grammar errors.

    Editing & proofreading techniques

  • Email etiquette for students

    Email etiquette is how we maintain a respectful, appropriate, and professional tone in the context of an email. This includes but is not limited to using correct spelling and grammar, addressing the reader with correct titles, and identifying oneself and one’s needs clearly. Email etiquette is especially relevant for students communicating with professors.

    Email etiquette for students

  • Got syllabi?

    You’ve survived your first week of college classes and have been inundated with what seems like a million different rules and requirements. You have four, five, maybe six or seven syllabi sitting in front of you. Now what?

    Got syllabi?

  • HOC and LOC in revising

    Higher order concerns (HOC) should be the priority during revision because they have the greatest impact on successful communication.

    Lower order concerns (LOC) are focused on sentence and word-level concerns.

    HOC and LOC topic descriptions

  • How to use a concept matrix

    For research papers, literature reviews, or longer essays, a concept matrix can be an effective resource in organizing research. A concept matrix is an organizational tool that presents connections between available research articles and specific aspects of a chosen topic by having articles on one side and the specific parts of a topic on the other side. Each cell in the matrix is a visual representation of potential intersections between different parts of the larger topic.

    How to use a concept matrix

  • Integrating sources

    When writing a college-level paper, you will often be required to reference sources in order to support the main point/purpose of a paper. In order for sources to effectively provide support, you will need to contextualize every textual reference you use and explain why they’re relevant to your paper’s overarching purpose. This might look different depending on whether you’re paraphrasing or directly quoting a source, but you will need to explain the purpose of every reference you make.

    Integrating sources

  • Introductions & conclusions

    As a speaker you are teaching or informing the audience about your topic. Being clear and concise allows the audience to follow along with the information you are presenting. If the topic is difficult or unfamiliar to the audience, you may need to repeat your purpose throughout your speech, ensuring they are keeping up with the evidence you are presenting.

      Introductions & conclusions

    • Logical fallacies

      When considering your argument or the arguments of others, writers and readers need to be aware of logical fallacies. Logical fallacies are found in many places—ads, politics, movies.

      Logical fallacies make an argument weak by using mistaken beliefs/ideas, invalid arguments, illogical arguments, and/or deceptiveness. If you are arguing, avoid fallacies of thought because they create weaknesses in an argument. Here are some of the most common fallacies to be aware of. . .

      Logical fallacies

    • Making peer review productive

      There are plenty of reasons why instructors encourage peer review, but here are a few that are relevant to you as a writer.

      • It gives you an authentic response from a reader—without judgment.
      • It allows you to “test out” your ideas and ask questions of peers.
      • It allows you to analyze your own writing by looking closely at what others are doing. If you see something that’s working well (or not working at all) in your peer’s paper, look for that same thing in your own and revise accordingly.

      Making peer review productive

    • Mapping a synthesis essay

      When asked to write a synthesis essay, many students question the word “synthesis.” What does it mean to synthesize? Well, the dictionary tells us that synthesis is the combination of ideas to form a theory; the thesaurus provides synonyms such as fusion, blend, and creation. So ultimately, you are creating a combination of what your sources are conversing about (subject X) and how you have rearranged what is being said to create a new direction for that subject. This quick outline should get you well on your way to synthesizing.

      Mapping a synthesis essay

    • Multimodal approaches

      Multimodalism is primarily used for genre awareness studies and for flexible teaching methods. Knowing what types of learners there are will help you to understand what types of multimodal text practices you may be able to suggest to your peers.

      Multimodal approaches

    • Multimodal Writing

      Much like the word multimedia or multicultural, multimodal implies the use of multiple genres and/or mediums to create a more diverse way of understanding message. It is a form of communication that can appear in any form that appeals to the five senses, also known as a medium.

      Multimodal writing

    • Narrowing your research topic

      Narrowing a research topic is moving from a general topic, like global warming, to a tighter research focus, such as helping the environment by improving travel modes (example below). However, you can’t just forget about the big picture—how your argument/claim fits into the bigger discussion including connections to other viewpoints on your topic.

      Narrowing your research topic

    • Organic chemistry outline

      When you’re trying to figure out ideas for your core classes, but your brain seems to just be focused on compounds and bonding, what might help? While a natural link doesn’t seem obvious between chemistry and writing, you can use some of the things you’re learning in those intense chemistry courses as a guide for your writing. In fact, doing so might even lead to a more organized paper.

      Organic chemistry outline

    • Outline creation

      Outlining helps to organize thoughts and create a sense of refined structure to written texts. By following these simple steps, you can clearly define your main ideas and figure out how to support your claims.

      Outline creation

    • Paper organization

      When writing an essay, it’s important to think about which aspects you would like to include in your paper. For example, are there definitions or background information that you’d like to explain first before getting into the bulk of your paper?

      Paper organization

    • Prewriting strategies

      Prewriting can be a useful way to organize thoughts, ideas, and questions to prepare for a writing task. Often used as the first step of the writing process, the prewriting stage allows the writer to jot down ideas about a topic rather than committing too much time to one topic and finding out three pages in that the topic isn’t a good fit. Because prewriting encourages creativity, there are many different strategies to choose from.

      Prewriting strategies

    • Reverse Outlines

      During the revision process, it is often necessary to check for understanding within your paper to ensure that your ideas are strongly developed and well-organized. However, it can sometimes be hard to read through your draft and reorganize blocks of text and efficiently manage your revisions. When revising, it is helpful to locate your ideas within paragraphs and distill the main topics that link your claims, reasons, and analysis together.

      Reverse outlines

    • Revising with higher order concerns

      Revision implies a “re-seeing” of your text, not just a quick clean up. To effectively revise, or re-see, writers should focus on rhetorical concerns that have significant impact on the text. For example, focusing on purpose and organization will have more impact than smaller concerns such as commas. Additionally, editing is best saved for the end of your process because any changes you make to higher order concerns will create a need to edit later.

      Revising with higher order concerns

    • Time management

      An essay should express continued thought and/or research on a particular subject. It is harder to collect and research information when it is all done at the last minute. Time management is integral to academic writing, especially with longer essays. Utilize these tips to make the writing process as smooth as possible.

      Time management

    • Time management remote strategies

      These strategies can apply no matter why you're working remotely—whether your class is partly or fully online, you have to work from home, or you just prefer to work in your own space, working remotely has its own specific challenges. Here are some strategies for managing your time while working from home.

      Time management remote strategies

    • What is an annotated bibliography?

      An annotated bibliography, in its purest form, is simply a list of sources and a description of each source. Aside from being an often required homework assignment in beginning college English courses, the annotated bibliography has a practical use as well. The idea of an annotated bibliography is that it gives you a springboard to write your essay.

      What is an annotated bibliography?

    • Writing assets: Multimodality in academia

      With increasingly different types of communication used today, we must meet the demand of our society’s diverse communication styles. Now that society is moving away from factory-based jobs, creative jobs that require a different type of education are in higher demand. Multimodal composition has been designed to accommodate the creative ways of thinking needed in education today. Multimodal communication ranges from visual movement to audio recordings (Mehu, 2014).

      Writing assets: Multimodality in academia

    • Writing effective descriptions

      “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

      - Stephen King

      Descriptive writing is a powerful tool that adds life and depth to your writing. Effective descriptions breathe life into your ideas and put the reader in the scene where those ideas live.

      Writing effective descriptions

    • Writing a successful discussion board post

      A discussion board is a “space” where students can further delve into classroom content. It can promote collaboration, and offer individuals room to explore topics, issues, and/or questions. The discussion board is an excellent tool for students who may feel more comfortable expressing their understanding of course content in a written format, as opposed to verbally.

      Writing a successful discussion board post