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Tips for Academic Writing


Pacific Oaks requires a lot of writing. Even though each paper will be unique in content there are some general rules of academic writing that can be applied to almost any assignment. The following tips are recommended for students writing papers at Pacific Oaks College. The writing recommendations in this handout are not meant to apply to the writing of a thesis. Margins The margins should be one inch on all sides of the paper. It is suggested that the margins be set before any writing is done. To set the margins in Microsoft Word click on Page Setup which is in the File menu and enter 1 in the margin boxes. Do not enter anything in the boxes that say Gutter. Press OK and the margins will be set for the rest of the paper. Other word processing programs work in a similar way.

Double Spacing Double spacing is a standard of academic writing. With a few exceptions all text should be double spaced and printed on only one side of the page. To set the line spacing go to the Format menu and click on Paragraph. Set the line spacing to Double and the Before and After settings to 0.

Complied by Keith Brown Ed.D.

8/25/09

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Font The most common fonts for academic writing are Times, Times New Roman, or Courier. with the size set to 12. Larger or smaller font sizes are not recommended. What is most important is to choose a font that is simple and easy to read. Justification The left side of the document is flush, that means all of the words on the left side line up to make a smooth edge. The right side is ragged meaning the words do not make a smooth edge. Title Page If a title page is to be included, place the title of the paper approximately one third of the way down the page. There are two basic styles to choose from. Center the title. In the lower right corner of the page put your name, course number and name, and the instructors name. Center the title, your name, the course number and name, and the instructors name.

Reference Citations Whenever the ideas, concepts, or words of someone else are used the source must be mentioned. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism and that can have serious consequences. To avoid plagiarism it is best to paraphrase and cite the source. Basic paraphrasing is rewriting the original in your own words. It is not replacing a few words, or rearranging the original construction of a sentence. It is writing something that conveys the same message, but does not resemble the original writing.

Complied by Keith Brown Ed.D.

8/25/09

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To include a reference citation place the authors last name and the year of publication in parentheses immediately after the idea. Examples: Other people may have some influence, but for the most part, the classroom is the teachers castle (Bush, 1971). Discipline is a concept that can be hard to define (Ur, 1996). An alternative to the above method is to mention the authors name directly in the sentence and place only the year of publication in parentheses after the name. Examples: Long (2000) discovered that . . . Wadden and McGovern (1993), devoted . . . When several authors agree on the same topic list all their names and the respective years. Separate each citation that is within parentheses with a semi-colon. Examples: . . . a teacher may have to face in a nonnative English-speaking country (Liu, 1998; Toledo, 2001). Dixson (1975) and Nunan (1989) had no references to . . . Quotes When you use a quote enclose the words of the quote in quotation marks and cite the quote in the same manner as for a citation of an idea, except after the year include the page number of the source that the quote is taken from. Examples: . . . is the result of carefully designed treatment of classroom disruptions" (Mattheoudaki, 2001, p. 45) Bush (1971) reflected that the, teacher is taught to, and tends to believe, that he should do the whole job by himself (p. 144). Notice that the year always follows the name, and the page number always follows the quote. Long Quotes When using a quote that is 40 words or longer format it into a block quote. The entire quote is indented five spaces and is single spaced. The citation comes after the quote and no quotation marks are used to surround the quote.

Complied by Keith Brown Ed.D.

8/25/09

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Example: participate in the class activities (Williams & Burden, 1997). What we need to know is what external influences are more likely to arouse people's thoughts and emotions, and how they make their own sense of these, or internalise them, in ways that lead them to decide to achieve certain goals. (Williams & Burden, 1997, p. 121)

Secondary Sources It is best to not use a secondary source, but if the original source cannot be obtained then a secondary source can be used. In the text cite the secondary source, but word the sentence to indicate information comes from a secondary source. Enter only the secondary source in the reference list. Examples (Smith is the secondary source): McGurty and Jenkins (as cited in Smith, 2006) discovered . . . Smith (2006) using data from McGurty and Jenkins . . . . . . the result being the destruction of the environment (McGurty & Jenkins as cited in Smith, 2006) The reference list entry would be: Smith. (2006). The secret life of pandas. Panda Lovers Review, 25, 96-105 Reference List If works are cited in the text include a reference list at the back of the paper. Only include sources that are cited in the text of the paper. Follow the APA guidelines when creating the list. Examples: Harmer, J. (2001). The practice of English language teaching (3rd ed.). New York: Longman. Hughes, R. E., & Tomkiewcz, J. M. (1994). The academic organization's definition and assumptions: A basis for developing reasonable access to discipline actions. International Journal of Educational Management, 8(6), 4-8.

Contact the CARE Office For additional tips or assistance with writing your papers feel free to contact the CARE Office.

Complied by Keith Brown Ed.D.

8/25/09