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Foundations of Academic Writing

Spring 2017: Tuesday, 4 April, 1500-1630, Ingersoll 122

In this 90-minute general presentation—mandatory for new students, optional for others—students learn the basics of what is expected of their written work, gain survival skills, and receive an overview of the writing process, whether the task is a two-page executive summary or a multi-chapter thesis. The presentation is now available on the NPS Video Portal for distance-learning students (see links below).

The presentation consists of the following three sections, plus an overview of human subjects research. Slides and videos from the present and past terms are available under each presentation description below. (Combined slides from 10 January 2017.)

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This talk introduces the fundamental challenges of working in the knowledge domain and how academic writing is adapted to them. It discusses the need for having a clearly-defined purpose, for consistently placing contextual descriptions ahead of details, for accuracy, and for analyzing evidence as the means to answer a research question. The benefits and liabilities of the Internet as a research tool are explored.

  • Video (Fall 2015, Zachary Shore, 24:50)
  • Video (Winter 2016, John Locke, 26:22)
  • Video (Summer 2016, Zachary Shore, 26:22)
  • Video (Fall 2016, Zachary Shore, 18:46)
  • Video, slides (Winter 2017, John Locke, 29:20)

This presentation offers a step-by-step guide to getting started on writing a paper, overcoming writer's block, and drafting and revising your writing.  Good writing at every level involves discovery, planning, developing ideas, creativity, and revision.  Students will learn a variety of techniques as well as receive sound advice on what to expect, how to cope, and how to excel while writing papers and building toward a successful thesis.

Scholars and students contribute to our understanding of important issues through their original analysis and research. To do so, they must discuss and build upon the work of others. Thus, as a student, it is inevitable that you will need to cite, quote, paraphrase, and summarize a potentially wide range of sources in your own writing. This presentation helps students understand how sources are used to develop better arguments, the norms and rules for using those sources, why those norms exist, and how to maintain academic integrity and avoid plagiarizing.

Students conducting research using the following types of methods may be conducting human subjects research: Surveys, interviews, equipment testing on people, audio/video recording, archived data mining containing PII, and task or work analysis. These types of research are more common in the social science and business fields. Please consult your advisor or professor for more information. Or email Dr. Larry Shattuck.

The website for the Human Research Protection Program is here.