Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What is Graduate Level Writing?

If you are in graduate school, then you should be functioning at a graduate level. An article from the Royal Roads University website attempts to define graduate-level reading, thinking, and writing for their program.

Since my writing topics tend to be self-reflective, rather than scholarly, the article goes beyond my immediate purposes. However, there is one thing I know for sure:  If you dictate an assignment into a mobile phone, convert it to text, and send it to me unedited (as one of my students once did), then it is probably not graduate-level writing.

Here are some style ideas for graduate-level writing in my classes:
  1. You edit and proofread before submitting a work.
  2. You are familiar with all punctuation marks and know how to use them without overusing them.
  3. You understand the semi-colon, but use it sparingly.
  4. You limit the words in your sentences to around 25, but will vary sentence length for readability.
  5. You understand what a paragraph is.  You end a paragraph when your thoughts take a new direction.  You will have two or more paragraphs per page.
  6. You use pronouns correctly.  (English pronouns like "in," "on," and "of" can be quite difficult for language learners.  Keep a list of the pronoun expressions that you use.)
  7. You look up words that you cannot spell.  For my classes, you use the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.  If I indicate a spelling error, you do not change the word to one you can spell.  You look up the word and add it to your “Words I Can’t Spell” list.
  8. You think about your reader's level and area of expertise.
  9. You know how to introduce and punctuate quotations.
  10. You get rid of extra unnecessary redundant words, such as two of the words in this sentence.
Content is reflective and self-reflective.  If content is inspiring, creative, original, and funny a lot of style errors will be forgiven.  You will still have to correct them, but only so your content will be more inspiring. 

You understand that the more you perfect the style, the more you perfect the content.

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