Writing at the Graduate Level
- Personal Statements
- Expectations and Goals of Graduate-Level Writing
- Using Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
- IRB Applications
- Writing Term Papers
- Writing Your Thesis, Prospectus, or Dissertation
10 tips for writing a grad school personal statement (Billie Streufert, USA Today) “While you cannot change your grade point average or entrance exam scores, you have complete control over the contents of your personal statement. There are many applicants and few spots, so work diligently to persuade readers that you fit their program given your qualifications, interests and professional goals. Use the tips below to prepare and refine your essay.”
How to Write a Law School Personal Statement (Ann Levine, U.S. News & World Report) An article that discusses the myths of writing personal statements for law school.
Writing a Personal Statement (Binghamton University, Career Development Center) (PDF) Includes strategies for focusing your essay, prewriting questions, resources, and tips.
Writing the Personal Statement (Purdue OWL) “This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.” It includes rhetorical questions to ask yourself before you begin writing and helpful advice. The following sections are also excellent resources:
- Advice from Admissions Representatives (Purdue OWL) Read about what admissions officers from different colleges say they’re looking for in an admissions essay or statement.
- Examples of Successful Statements (Purdue OWL) Two personal statement examples that can serve as resources for writers composing their own personal statements.
- Personal Statement: Top 10 Rules and Pitfalls (Purdue OWL) As the title suggests, this source lists some “dos” and “don’ts” for writing a personal statement.
Writing Personal Statements (University of Delaware, Career Services Center) An overview of writing personal statements with general tips, a suggested process, self-reflective questions, and a list of “dos” and “don’ts.”
Writing Tips: Personal Statements (Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Center for Writing Studies) Provides tips for writing personal statements including:
Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement (The Princeton Review) A brief list of tips for writing a personal statement when you’re applying to medical school.
EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS OF GRADUATE-LEVEL WRITING
Introduction to Graduate Writing (Dr. Emily Heady, Liberty University Graduate Writing Center) "Some characteristics of good graduate-level writing remain consistent across disciplinary boundaries.This workbook is designed to give students practice in these areas, which include the following:
- Logic and Organization
- Critical Thinking
- Diction and vocabulary
- Research Writing
In addition, this workbook will give students limited practice in discipline-specific skills such as citation."
Graduate Writing Resources (The Portland University Writing Center) Here you’ll learn about the differences between undergraduate and graduate-level writing, research, language use, documentation, and integrating evidence.
Temple University Harrisburg Guide To Graduate Level Writing (Temple University; retrieved from Utica College Resources for Graduate Students) This PowerPoint presentation provides students with a way to approach writing a 10-12-page paper, from finding a topic to making final edits. It also includes information on making sentence-level revision, with emphases on the following topics: clarity, semantics, positive phrases, subordination, parallel structure, and paragraph construction. Finally, the presentation offers a brief overview of APA citations.
What Constitutes Graduate Level Writing? (University of Mary Washington) Here is “a list of features that characterize graduate level writing, each accompanied by a brief explanation.”
USING PRIMARY, SECONDARY, AND TERTIARY SOURCES
How to Read a Primary Source (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences: History, University of Iowa) This source provides a series of critical thinking questions to help you analyze a primary source based on its purpose, argument, presuppositions, epistemology, and relationship to other texts.
Primary and Secondary Sources (Ithaca College Library) This source begins by defining primary and secondary sources, and then discusses what types of sources are considered primary, secondary, and tertiary. It also includes a chart containing examples of primary and secondary sources.
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources (English Department, University of Maryland) Primary, secondary, and tertiary sources are explained with definitions and examples. A comparison chart with examples of source types across various disciplines can help you conceptualize the differences in primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.
A Source’s Role in Your Paper (Harvard Guide to Using Sources, Harvard College Writing Program) “When you begin to draft your paper, you will need to decide what role each of your sources will play in your argument. In other words, you will need to figure out what you're going to do with the source in your paper. As you consider what role each source will play in your paper, you should begin by thinking about the role that source played in your research process.” This source offers “a list of questions to help you decide how you're going to use each of your sources.”
What are Primary Sources? (Yale University) Primary Sources at Yale divides primary sources into the following categories, with detailed explanations and tools for finding sources within each category: Books & Pamphlets, Serials, Government Documents, Manuscript and Archival Material, Maps, Realia/Artifacts, Tablets, Visual Materials, Music, Sound Recordings, Oral History, and Dissertations.
What Are You Supposed To Do With Sources? (Harvard Guide to Using Sources, Harvard College Writing Program) Identifying useful sources is an important part of the research process, but it is equally important to understand how to use these sources effectively in your paper. This source details how to consider your sources in the context of your central research question, discipline, and scope of your paper.
What is Primary Research and How Do I Get Started? (Dana Lynn Driscoll and Allen Brizee, Purdue OWL) “Primary research involves collecting data about a given subject directly from the real world. This section includes information on what primary research is, how to get started, ethics involved with primary research and different types of research you can do. It includes details about interviews, surveys, observations, and analysis.”
Writing about Literature: Types and Functions of Secondary Sources (Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays, LitWeb, W.W. Norton & Company) Here you’ll find tips for considering and integrating secondary sources into a literature paper. Sources of opinion, information, and concept are discussed as ways to support your claim. If you click to the next page, you’ll see a description of source-related motives.
Common Problems with IRB Applications (Montclair State University, IRB) The Montclair State University IRB has compiled a list of common issues with applications they review. Here is a list of these issues and a description of the measures you can take when completing your application to avoid them.
How do I improve my consent’s “readability,” or lower its “reading level”? (Montclair State University, IRB) (PDF) This document explains how to test your document’s readability according to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and the steps you can take to improve its readability.
“Identifying and Avoiding Bias in Research” (Christopher J. Pannucci and Edwin G. Wilkins, National Institutes of Health) In the second section of this article, “Pre-trial bias,” you can learn about “the importance of clearly defining both risk and outcome, the necessity of standardized protocols for data collection, and the concepts of selection and channeling bias.” Clearly defining, acknowledging, and/or avoiding non-intentional bias in your research design will help you submit a well-planned and thorough IRB application.
Montclair State University: Institutional Review Board (Montclair State University, IRB) “The purpose of this website is to provide investigators and the research community at MSU with the information and materials that are needed to obtain IRB approval of research that involves human participants.”
Readability-Score.com (Added Bytes) Copy and paste your text into the blank field, and this site will instantly generate its Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level, Gunning-Fog Score, Coleman-Liau Index, SMOG Index, and Automated Readability Index. It will produce an average grade level based on these scores. Text statistics, such as character and word counts, are calculated as well.
Tips to Reduce IRB Application Turnaround Time (The University of Mississippi, IRB) These tips from the University of Mississippi include some best practices for all researchers submitting IRB applications.
WRITING TERM PAPERS
Examples of Take-Home Essay Exams and Papers For Graduate-Level Educational Psychology Courses (Educational Psychology Interactive) This site contains a collection of take-home essay exams, 10-page papers, and 25-page papers that were written by graduate students.
Graduate School Papers and You (Tara Kuther, About Education) Kuther explains the importance of recognizing short papers in graduate school as furthering scholarly exploration, creating opportunities for constructive feedback, improving writing skills, and preparing for a thesis or dissertation.
Writing Tips for Ph. D. Students (John H. Cochrane, University of Chicago) (PDF) Cochrane offers tips for Ph.D. students who are organizing, writing, and presenting seminar papers. Although he focuses mostly on business writing, much of his advice can be useful for all postgraduate writers.
WRITING YOUR THESIS, PROSPECTUS, OR DISSERTATION
Example Prospectus (University of Southern Mississippi, Honors College) This site includes links to 10 prospectus examples from different disciplines. When you click on an example, it will open in a new window as a PDF.
How Theses Get Written: Some Cool Tips (Steve Easterbrook, University of Toronto) (PDF) These presentation slides offer tips for writing your thesis and insights into how your examiner/advisor might review or comment on your work.
How to Organize your Thesis (John W. Chinneck, Carleton University) This page highlights the importance of graduate research, offers a generic thesis structure, and provides some suggestions for writing your thesis.
Thirty Tips For Dissertation Writing (Steve Tjoa, Stanford University) In this post, Tjoa presents 30 tips for writing a dissertation from Dr. Rachna Jain, a dissertation coach.
Time Management Tips for Dissertation Writing (Elizabeth Gritter, UNC Chapel Hill; Retrieved from The Southern Associated for Women Historians) (PDF) In this handout, Gritter presents time management strategies for people who are writing their dissertations.
Writing a Prospectus (University of Florida) This page includes general tips for writing a prospectus, along with questions to get you started and a generic structure template.
Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation (Joseph Levine, Michigan State University) “Instead of examining such aspects as identifying appropriate sample size, field testing the instrument and selecting appropriate statistical tests, this guide looks at many of the quasi-political aspects of the process. Such topics as how to select a supportive committee, making a compelling presentation of your research outcomes and strategies for actually getting the paper written are discussed.”
Writing the Thesis (Mark C. Griffin, San Francisco State University) (PDF) “This guide is designed to give you a procedural outline for working on your thesis. Every thesis project will have special considerations that are not covered here. You should consult with your committee early and frequently to resolve how to handle these special considerations.” The format and documentation of your project will vary based upon your school and discipline.