Researching and Writing Scholarly Journals (APA) - Keiser University
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APA Resources

Outlining Your Ideas Before Writing

A writing assignment has three stages: planning, writing a draft, and editing the draft. There are many ways to plan. Outlining is a common strategy. Outlining allows you to organize your ideas and ensures you have satisfied assignment requirements. Writing with an outline simplifies the writing process and helps you succeed. You are probably familiar with outlines that use Roman numerals, letters (capital and lowercase), and Arabic numerals to show an order from most general information to most specific information. Note how the following task is organized in outline form:

Preparing to Drive a Car

I. Entering the Car

A. Insert the key in the door lock and turn it counterclockwise

B. Open the door

1. Disengage the latch

2. Pull door open

a. Crouch slightly to clear the roof of the car

b. Slide onto the driver’s seat

C. Sit behind the wheel

II. Starting the Car

A. Place right foot on brake

B. Insert key in steering wheel lock

C. Turn the key clockwise to start the engine

1. Release the key when the engine starts

2. Place both hands on wheel

When you are planning how to address an academic writing assignment, it is usually best to start by organizing your thoughts:

  • What is the task your instructor assigned?
  • What parts must be included to satisfy the requirements?
  • What is your purpose for writing the document?
  • What background information will you need to supply to the reader?
  • Are there terms or concepts you will need to explain?
  • What peer-reviewed sources will support your claims in the document?

Once you have answered these questions, you can begin creating an outline. The Roman numerals will be followed by headings representing the major assignment requirements.  The capital letters will be followed by subheadings representing main themes for those requirements and so on. Once you have completed the basic outline, you can begin filling in the details like the specific assertions you want to make about your chosen topic and which peer-reviewed sources will support those assertions.

Writing a Literature Review

Consider this advice about a literature review and check your review to ensure it satisfies these requirements. A literature review contains critical evaluations of published material. Your job in your literature review is to organize, integrate, and evaluate previously published material on your topic and discuss the progress that these authors and researchers have made toward clarifying the problem. According to APA, your literature review should (1) define and clarify the problem, (2) summarize previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of research, (3) identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature, and (4) suggest the next step or steps in solving the problem. Please consult your APA Manual or contact us if you need further assistance.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when you use someone else’s words or ideas without crediting the original author with a citation.  Whether the plagiarism is intentional or not, it is still a serious issue. The consequences for violating Keiser University’s plagiarism policy are listed in your Keiser University Student Handbook.

In addition to acknowledging the original author’s words or ideas with a citation, you must decide whether to use quotation marks around the author’s exact words, paraphrase, or summarize those words.  Paraphrasing is more than changing a few words. You must change the sentence structure and phrasing while retaining the author’s original meaning.  Often, it is simpler to summarize the key information that the original document conveyed.  You must cite the author(s) who originated the words or ideas whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize.

Avoiding plagiarism is not difficult:

  • Maintain good notes on the sources from which you obtained information.
  • Make hard copies of your sources that will contain the authors’ names and the publishing information connected to the source so that the information is always available as you compose your document.
  • Submit your documents through plagiarism detection software so that you can be alerted to any potential plagiarism issues.

Research and Scholarly Writing

Academic writing has qualities that distinguish it from other forms of writing and requires students to develop specific writing skills. To develop those skills, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Academic writing always uses formal language and tone; it is not conversational.
  • It is written for an educated audience who are not experts in your subject matter.
  • It uses a specific format (APA) that regulates page composition, heading structure, and how sources of information are documented.
  • It has the purpose of advancing knowledge about academically interesting subjects.
  • It is expected to be accurate, informative, and well edited in terms of writing mechanics (grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, appropriate vocabulary, etc.).
  • It is based on information relevant to your topic that you have found in peer-reviewed sources.

Finding Scholarly Sources to Support Your Academic Writing

The best resource for finding scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles is the EBSCO host databases. Once you select a database related to your particular field of study, you can enter search terms to find articles on specific topics. To ensure you have scholarly articles, make sure you check the scholarly, peer-reviewed box. Check the full-text box if you would like to see the entire article rather than just the abstract.

If you need assistance finding specific information related to your assignments and research, please contact the Keiser University librarian Mr. Nicholas Blaga at nblaga@keiseruniversity.edu. The Keiser University online library’s address is www.keiserlibrary.com.

You will need certain information from your sources to document the origin of your information:

  • Names of authors
  • Year/date of publication
  • Title of the document
  • Title of the publication the document appeared in
  • Other publishing information or a path to the original document

The information you will need for your citations of the source and for its listing on your References pages will vary by the type of source. The APA Manual contains the information you will need to document your sources of information correctly.

Citations and References

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Comma Rules

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PowerPoint Tips

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Supplementary Resources for ESL Students

All non-native English speakers should have a learner’s dictionary.  These dictionaries present English word definitions using a very basic vocabulary so that non-native speakers will find it easier to understand the explanation of each word and its appropriate usage.  The following are the most used and respected:

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English:

https://elt.oup.com/catalogue/items/global/dictionaries/9780194333504?cc=us&selLanguage=en

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary:

http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/

Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary:

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/

Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary:

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/

The following link to an article about dictionary usage is also very useful.

Article “Top tips every EFL student should know when using an English learner’s dictionary

http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2014/10/16/top-tips-every-efl-student-should-know-when-using-an-english-learners-dictionary/

The following is a very interesting resource available for Apple iPads and iPhones.  It operates like a visual thesaurus.  Like any thesaurus it should be used only with a dictionary to confirm a found word has the correct denotation and connotations:

Wordflex description:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordflex-touch-dictionary/id488540344?mt=8

Official site: http://wordflex.com/

The following is a useful resource for ESL help, particularly with grammar:

Dave’s ESL Café: eslcafe.com

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