Since You Asked

Tucked away in dozens of archived folders on my computer are literally thousands of works of art or horror stories – all in the form of academic papers.  I have been blessed to teach some of the most extraordinary researchers and writers on the planet.  I have also had that fingernails-on-the-chalkboard experience of reading some really bad stuff.  I thought I would go off the reservation a little today to share with you what I have learned from the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

Regardless of whether you are just starting to college or about to graduate with an advanced degree, you will not succeed in online education (or classroom either, for that matter) beyond your ability to write effectively.  Moreover, there is a massive difference between speaking English and writing it in a formal setting.  If a professor ever tells you that you write like you talk, they aren’t giving you a compliment.  Academic writing is a formal setting.  (This post is not.)  I make my living doing both.  If I spoke the same way I write in formal settings, I’d be stuffy and boring.  If I wrote the same way I talk conversationally or when I preach, I would butcher the King’s English and my paper would be filled with colloquialisms, contractions, sweeping statements that had little or no support, and at times poor grammar.

Here are some specific suggestions for writing success with any academic writing that uses the APA style manual (no, “APA” does not stand for “American Psycho Association,” though sometimes you may wonder).  You may need to adjust this for different formats (or different teachers with different hot buttons). [click to continue…]

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