Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fall 2014 begins...

Welcome to the Fall 2014 semester, RSU students!

 The Writing Center is here to support ALL college-level writers at RSU on all 3 campuses on-ground, online, or over the phone. We also have a website where we describe and explain our services and policies.

There are a few things to remember when you're ready to come talk to us about your writing. For example, we prefer that students make appointments but take walk-ins when we can. Also, it's good to know in advance that we will not provide a full session on the paper due date--though you can ask a few, quick questions, and we'll do our best to answer them. The good news is that you don't have to have a paper draft before coming to see us! We'll work with you at any point during the writing process--from brainstorming and outlining to revising a full draft.

If you can't make it to the Center during our regular 8-5 Monday-Friday hours, consider an over the phone, email, video chat, or instant message (Gchat) appointment. For more information about scheduling writing help over the phone or online, click this link.

Last, I wanted to tell you about our free online writing resources available at this link. We've got information about all kinds of citation styles (including MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, and more) and college writing guidelines.

Need writing help? Just ask!

Happy writing,
Sara Beam, Writing Center Coordinator

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

RSU Writing Center Tip: How To Use Evidence in Body Paragraphs (bonus: learn about Prezi)

Students often ask me how much evidence they should use in a paper in each paragraph. I've created a visual explanation using the free online presentation tool, Prezi, to share my answer with all of you. Have a look at the "How To Use Evidence in Body Paragraphs" Prezi by clicking here. Just click the right and left arrows underneath the slides to move backward or forward through the presentation.

If you're interested in creating your own Prezi, let me know. I'd be glad to walk you through the process of creating your own student account and composing your own presentation with this tool. Their slideshows are more dynamic, in terms of transitions and slide design, than those you can create in Microsoft PowerPoint, I think.

Happy writing,

P.S. Don't forget about the free writing resources available through our website. You can find help with MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and other citation styles, as well as with grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

RSU Writing Center Tip: Help with Resumes and Cover Letters

Technical Communications

Writing for the Professions

Tech Writing

Business Writing

These are the sort of terms we give to writing that is composed for an audience of business-minded folks, people looking to become employed, to hire employees, to manage employees, etc. I'm working on incorporating some of this kind of writing into my Composition courses for two main reasons:

1. It's writing! Those same concepts of writing process, purpose, and audience are just as important to this sort of writing. They translate across boundaries and are valuable in all majors.

2. A great writing exercise to employ (see what I did there?) is the job application materials assignment. It encourages students to think about their future, research potential employers, practice writing for a specific audience, familiarize themselves with the job hunting and hiring processes, generate templates for use during future job searches, and learn about how design can complement document function.

RSU Career Services can help you with your job search and has posted some resources to help you generate documents like resumes and cover letters.

Here's one more resource you could use as you work: the Resumes and Job Application page of the Bedford/St. Martin's Writing that Works textbook, 11th edition. Oh! And, if you have a copy of The Everyday Writer, check out chapter 64 (starts on page 552), "Writing for Business," for more models and advice.

Did you know you can bring job application documents to the Writing Center for help? We can help with any and all college-level writing tasks--including resumes, cover letters, and any other writing required during a job search. Just email for more information!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RSU Writing Center Tip: Evaluating Web Sources

Sources you find through the University's Library are a bit easier to judge than sources that you find out there on the web at large. This is because the sources students and faculty can access through the databases are presented in a standardized manner, and you can find information about the author, article title, journal title, date of publication, etc. in pretty much the same place in every record.

So, what are the best practices for evaluating those sources of information you find out there on the web? Click here to view tips and read a quick demonstration web site evaluation from The Bedford Research Room.

After evaluating a source and finding it fit to use, you may need help citing it in your paper. Click here for help with MLA citation, and click here for help with APA citation.

Good luck on your search,


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflection on Editing Wikipedia for the First Time

I began by creating an account, which was very easy. They asked for a user name, password, and captcha verification that I was not a robot. After that, I thought about what articles I might want to review. What do I know about? First, I looked at the RSU page. It is pretty well looked-after, as you might expect. Then I looked up the Anna Sewell page, since I recently did a project on her and know quite a bit about her life. Her page is in pretty good shape, but I noticed they listed a cause of death and I know her biographers debate what she actually died of. The cause of death was uncited. I googled the causes and found one source that matched; suspiciously, the wording was EXACTLY the same as the Wiki entry… someone was copying someone… at the bottom of the second page there was a note saying the content came straight from Wikipedia. So a dead end there.

I noticed there are Article/Talk tabs on the left side of the page for each entry and Read/Edit/New Section/View History tabs on the right side. You can switch between views to see what’s going on what I’d call “on-stage” or “backstage” for each entry. “Edit” is where it gets complicated—in terms of code and content! “History” shows the history of all edits, who made them, when they were made, etc.

I pulled Sewell’s most recent biography from my shelf and checked to see if the cause of death listed on the Wiki page was there… Found it! The Wiki writers were correct, the cause of death they listed was Sewell’s official cause of death, according to doctors of her time; however, today it’s speculated that Sewell’s death may really have been caused by complications from the SLE form of Lupus. I’m not sure if I’m ready to go into all that and also Wiki policy advices writers stay away from speculation. So, I just decided to add a citation to the cause of death. Sewell’s most recent bio wasn’t mentioned in the entry’s references at all, and it really should be there, anyway.

So, actually adding the reference took a bit of time, but it was fairly easy to add after clicking Help and finding the code to copy-and-paste. Basically, on the Edit page, I changed

Sewell died on 25 April 1878 of [[hepatitis]] or [[Tuberculosis|phthisis]], five months after her book was published, living long enough to see its initial success.

Sewell died on 25 April 1878 of [[hepatitis]] or [[Tuberculosis|phthisis]]<ref name="test">''Dark Horse: The Life of Anna Sewell'' by Adrienne E. Gavin. p. 165. Sutton Publishing (2004). ISBN 0-7509-2838-7.</ref>, five months after her book was published, living long enough to see its initial success.

Image of Article History, including my most recent change

Image of Article as it now reads to viewers after my addition

And that’s it! My first contribution.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Introduction to APA Style: The Basics

Recently, a student told me she was new to APA Style and felt completely lost. For anyone else who's just starting out with APA Style or who never received a formal introduction to APA Style, I HIGHLY recommend this tutorial from APA itself: just click here to access it! The tutorial is 21 minutes long and very thorough. You can pause it at any time to take notes or page through your APA Style Guide to mark the pages it references.

A second useful feature of the tutorial is that it's searchable. Just choose the Search tab on the right side of the screen once you've started the tutorial. Then, enter the term or phrase you want to find information about.

A final useful feature I'll mention here are the sample papers and reference examples that are included with the tutorial. They are mentioned during certain points of the tutorial, but you can access them at any time you have the tutorial open by clicking the tiny paperclip icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the slides.

Got more questions about APA in-text citations, the reference page, or formatting? Just email us at!