You know how to make an argument, right? You say some persuasive things, you make some good points, and the audience nods and puts a finger to their chin. Hmm, that’s interesting, they say. Good point, jolly good, they say. But making persuasive points out of your own argument, simply stating your OWN case, well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to argumentative practice. What if you could use the counterarguments to make your own stronger? What if you could both use and discount other thoughts within a discussion to make your own points seem more valid, more attractive? That’s precisely what you can (and should) do!

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by Stewart Matzek

More often than I’d like to admit, I see theses that look something like this: “In society today, a lot has changed.” The student then turns to me and asks if their thesis is okay, and I have to look them in the eye and tell them I honestly didn’t know they had a thesis. This is a tough conversation to have—after all, a thesis is an extremely important part of any scholarly essay, but it is an easy issue to solve, and I find myself drawing upon a specific comparison to describe a thesis in essay writing.

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by Logan Miller

One of the larger impacts on our writing as students is how we go about reading the texts we’re assigned in classes. It is simple to suggest that actually doing our assigned reading is critical; however, effective, careful reading is a bit more involved than that, and it is this reading that is crucial to our writing process. For instance, I have a problem reading while lying down because I risk dozing off when I do. My solution has been to avoid this behavior, but in recognizing and remedying that problem, I have only taken one step in the long process of developing useful reading strategies.

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by Jonathan Vivet

What is prewriting? More importantly, why should you spend time on an “extra” step when you could get to the business of actually putting substance down on your paper? Prewriting includes everything a writer does before putting words to a draft.

Imagine you’re building a house. You wouldn’t just start driving nails through two by fours hoping you can create a pleasing, structurally sound home, would you? Of course not. You would have a blueprint: a plan to guide the placement of your beams and the hit of every nail, in order to efficiently achieve your goal. The prewriting process is the creation of that blueprint.  It develops a plan that drives the purpose and organization for a paper, generally eliminating a huge chunk of time spent trying to overcome writer’s block as result.

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by Brittney Osborn

I often find myself working with students who are frustrated by the formatting of scientific writing assignments. The idea of using past tense and passive voice can be a challenge, as can adhering to CSE or APA formatting requirements. The keys to overcoming the challenge of tackling a paper in a new formatting style are planning ahead, becoming familiar with the formatting style, and reviewing other scientific papers in order to gain an understanding of the use of past tense and passive voice.

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by Brianna Soloski

Editing is quite possibly one of the most important aspects of writing. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing; odds are it will need editing. From personal statements to Core Humanities papers, to business proposals and everything in between, having someone else look over your paper is always a good idea.

There are a few ways to approach editing, depending on where you are in the writing process. Although there are hundreds of people you can pay to edit for you, the University Writing Center at UNR is a great option for students because it’s free and the writing center structure helps you become a better editor of your own work.

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by Logan Miller

Writing an academic essay can be onerous or enjoyable, but regardless of how you feel about them, essays require specific formatting. Specifically, they need introductions, bodies, and conclusions, and these sections have their own unique formatting. It is the middle section, the daunting essay body, that I want to discuss today.

Those of us who have recently taken a core English class will probably be familiar with the PIE paragraph format. PIE stands for point, information, and explanation, and this format is a useful rubric for organizing body paragraphs. Using this rubric, a paragraph begins with a sentence that makes a point connected to the greater argument. We can also call this point the topic sentence, the claim, etc. Whatever the name, this is a statement of opinion that a writer will explain the veracity of. From this point, the paragraph transitions to providing some information related to the point. That information may be a direct quote from some primary text or a paraphrase of similar material. In each case, this information is the verifiable data a writer uses to support a claim. This information is finally explained, analyzed, and related back to the larger point of the paper, or its thesis.

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by Brian H. McLelland

As one develops advanced critical reading skills over a period of time with practice, critical reading can be a lot more accessible than you might realize. Text analysis shouldn’t cause you to feel perplexed or intimidated. At its essence, critical reading is simply about analyzing text for meanings that go beyond just the words on the page; more importantly, it allows one to expand the meaning and obtain a better understanding of the literature. WorldWarZ-Poster

For example, let’s critically examine a movie poster for the recent film, World War Z.  What you should do first is to pose the the following question: What do I see? Personally, my response is “Zombies are trying to reach a helicopter.” That’s a good start, but let’s go further. You, as the viewer, do not know they’re zombies. You may know they are zombies because of the film itself or the film trailer, but those are outside sources. If we consider that they may not be zombies, we have to consider what else they could be. They’re quite obviously people, but what kind of people are they? These questions are the first step to critically reading and analyzing a text, in this case a poster, beyond its superficial components. (In the Liberal Arts disciplines, we call these methods of reading “lenses.” To read a text differently, you might change lenses, which results in the themes, motifs, and meaning of the text being changed  or varying unexpectedly.)

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by Matt Bieker

When writing your papers, it is important to transition between paragraphs accordingly.  Think of transitions as the tour guides of your paper. They guide your audience from one interesting point to the next, keeping them engaged and informed as they read, to ensure that the reader doesn’t get lost along the way. Poor transitions will confuse your audience, and instead of focusing on your analysis, they’ll be trying to figure out where they are and how they got there. Transitioning between key points in a paper is a subtle skill, but understanding the nature of how a paper evolves can give you some strategies that will apply in almost every circumstance.

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By Benjamin Loar

The concept of organization and outlining seems to be a lost art among early college-level writers.  Good organization practices can be utilized by students in order to avoid the chaotic and sloppy writing that tends to occur when writers are in too much of a hurry and do not take the necessary time to figure out a game-plan for their paper, essay, or project.

Because I’m so familiar with this chaotic writing, I’d like to explain my personal method for organized outlining.  Following some basic steps of outlining can allow the writer to see ways to structure their writing in a manner that is logical, ordered, flows smoothly and is easy to understand by whoever the intended audience may be.

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