Writing Tips

The Topic

The Outline

Works Cited

Proof Reading

Common Writing Problems

Glossary of editorial marks

Useful Sites for Research

Useful Terms

Email Etiquette


When Will You Write?

You'll be doing a good amount of writing throughout program and developing the ability to express yourself articulately is the goal of every strong graduate program. (Faculty themselves struggle with writing all the time!) Very often, returning students, especially those with years of work experience, have difficulty making the transition to the kind of expository prose that distinguishes good graduate work. The program makes every effort to address this issue, beginning with the introductory course: LBST 6101 "Interdisciplinary Graduate Study." You can and should always depend on your faculty and on the Director of the Program to help you work through any problems or questions you have about writing.

Some of your professors will ask for one middle-size term paper (eight to twelve pages) at the end, and others will ask for several shorter papers (three to five pages). The final Masters thesis will be long enough to cover the topic adequately. That usually means a minimum of thirty-five pages.

What is "Expository Prose?"

It's the setting forth of ideas in clear and direct prose. This isn't to say that there aren't other, perfectly legitimate forms of writing that you may wish to develop. But at the graduate level, you need to be prepared to write comprehensive and analytical work that both draws on prior evidence (scholarship) and that clearly foregrounds your own ideas.

How Will These Web Pages Help Me?

These pages represent a start, and reflect some of the concerns you may have at the outset. Fortunately, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of excellent books available to help you organize your thinking and get on with the work of writing. We'll develop a brief online bibliography for you in the coming months, and will place the "best" guides on permanent reserve in the Atkins Library. What these pages will provide you is only some insight into what kind of writing you'll be doing for the program.

How to Start?

The MALS faculty has adopted the Modern Language Association conventions as the standard for the program. As implied above, you won't be expected to know them all at once. Instead, in 6101 and 6102, these conventions will be thoroughly reviewed and consistently applied throughout your studies. All MALS students are encouraged to consult The College Writer's Reference and Strategies for Successful Writing.

Good luck!