Category Archives: Resources

Come see us!

by Jessica Barker

When you hear the words “writing tutor,” what is your first thought? If your answer is “editing,” you are not alone.

Recently, in an effort to raise awareness about writing tutors and the services we provide, I asked a few friends whether or not they had ever gone to the writing tutors, and if they had, I asked what their experience was like. Those who had gone to the writing tutors had overwhelmingly positive responses. One of my friends shared that she has only gone to the tutors twice during her college career, but that the tutors were very helpful both times. She then went on to say that during her two visits they worked on brainstorming, citations, and organization.

Many students have the misconception that tutors work as editors for poor writers. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Writing tutors serve all students regardless of their writing ability. In fact, some of the best writers on campus go to the writing tutors. But they don’t go to the tutors for editing, because we, as tutors, can’t actually edit papers for other students. What we can do is help students proofread their own papers! So editing does happen, but it’s a collaborative process involving both the student and the tutor.

In addition to proofreading, we can help with citations, brainstorming, organization/structure, annotated bibliographies, integrating evidence, grammar/punctuation, etc. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the scope of our work, so some students may never go to the writing tutors, even if they are struggling with something or would like feedback from a peer. That being said, I encourage students to come to the tutors with any and all writing questions!

Another friend told me that she has gone to the writing tutors a few times, but most recently she went to a tutor for help with a creative writing assignment. She explained that she went because she wanted to make sure that her message was clear and understandable to a reader. A few of my other friends admitted that they had not gone to a tutor in recent years, but when they did go, the tutors were helpful, friendly, and kind.

These testimonies, although simple, are representative of what we, as writing tutors, strive for. We work to create a welcoming environment, and we are always willing to help any students no matter where they are in their writing process. Keeping that in mind, I hope that you will consider visiting a writing tutor during these final weeks of the semester!

 

Jessica is a senior from Massachusetts who is studying theatre and sociology/anthropology. After she graduates this spring, she intends to earn her M.A. in theatre education.

How to mine for resources

How to mine for resources

by Zoë Mahler

 

It’s Week 3, which means all our first papers are starting to pop up. The first step of every great paper is knowing you have the resources to back up your claims. But the first step may also be the most difficult one as well.

Finding good information from reputable sources can be tricky. We’ve all been in a situation where we find that one really good source. It’s easy to think, “This is really all I need.”

Well … not quite.

There’s been a pattern for me: Each paper I write is usually going to need at least five or so sources. But what do you do when you find that One Great Source and don’t want to look anywhere else? Bibliography mining might be your best bet.

Something I often forget when reading through the articles and books I’ve found is that the information I’m finding has already been compiled from multiple sources. At the end of every scholarly source – article, book, book review – you’ll find the bibliography of sources from which the author of your source already did his/her research.

So why not just take a peek there?

When I’m in a pinch to find more resources, I’ve become accustomed to finding the footnotes or in-text citations from the areas of an article that I’ve used the most, and then flipping to the bibliography to see where that information is originally from. Within that bibliography, it’s much easier for me to narrow down what articles and books I can use to continue to acquire the number of sources needed for each paper.

It’s only Week 3, so hopefully, with these tips and tricks on how to find reputable resources with the information you’re looking for, you can use this method of bibliography mining to ace the rest of your papers through the rest of the spring semester. Happy mining!

 

Zoë Mahler is a senior with a double major in art history and mass communication and minors in religion and sociology. This past summer she traveled abroad in the Wales and Malta program studying archaeology.

Space: Why the environment you work in matters

Do you have a favorite place to get homework done? Is the place you study the same place you go to hang out with friends? Let’s face it. We’ve all had nights where we want to sit and socialize, but also have mounds of work to get done–and getting together with friends tends to check the socialize box while completely derailing the homework train. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in college, it’s to separate where I work from where I play. Otherwise, I’m risking getting distracted and severely minimizing my productivity. But guess what?! There’s a way to have a productive space, while also creating a fun, comfortable environment. It’s called a WISE workshop.

WISE stands for Write-In SEries. It’s a place created to help students through the writing process, whether you’re in the brainstorming phase of your FYE paper or polishing up your senior capstone. WISE workshops happen throughout the semester in the third-floor library classroom.

When you come to WISE, you’ll find one fantastic research librarian, one stellar Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) faculty, and one trained peer writing tutor. You can ask for help, but you don’t have to. There’s ZERO pressure! There’s no requirement for silence (and it rarely is completely quiet), but there are options for silent study/writing if you need. You can get help with any writing assignment you can imagine, or you can just sit and work solo. You can even work on other projects (like art, or math, or anything you need).

What makes this work? You’re in a stress-free environment where people are casually chatting and enjoying their time, but they’re all getting work done–even the faculty! It’s more fun than studying alone, but far more productive than getting together to “do homework” with friends.

So, come to WISE! Work on anything you desire and know that there’s help (and cookies!) at the ready. See you there!

Brooke Engel is a senior. Last time she wrote a blog she had two majors and one minor. Now she only has one major–art. People change. She still loves dogs.

Making quotations work for you

by Samuel Sugarman

Quotation integration sounds wordy and abstract but, put simply, this procedure is how you make a quotation work for you. Quotations are fantastic literary tools that, when used correctly, can greatly improve the clarity and strength of your paper. I’m sure that you have run into a situation where you were writing a paper and found a great, supporting quotation, but didn’t know how to fit it in your paper. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, it happens to everyone. There are some great ways to make your quote fit into your paper seamlessly, and you have probably already used them without knowing it.

There are three main ways I like to integrate quotes:

  1. In the first style, introduce your quote with a complete sentence ending with a colon. Then boom, you insert your quote. I’m a visual guy, and I’m not good at picturing literary styles, so let’s try it with an example. Let’s say I’m quoting Chuck Norris when he says, “Violence is my last option.” If I use this first style, I will start with a sentence ending in a colon and then insert my quote. So here we go. When asked about his martial arts, Chuck Norris always said the same thing: “Violence is my last option.”

 

  1. But wait there’s more, and it’s an elegant trick. You can introduce your quote with an introductory phrase followed by a comma, and then your quote. It looks like this. The wise Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

 

  1. Now check this out. I can use this same quote and integrate it into my sentence without using punctuation. All I must do is replace the comma with the word “that” and it works perfectly. The wise Benjamin Franklin once said that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” No punctuation and it fits right in.

If you use these tricks, you can seamlessly place quotes into your paper to strengthen it.

Note: This does not include proper citation of quotations. Remember to check your citation style for how to properly attribute your quotation to its respective source!

Sugarman is a sophomore who has recently developed a love for writing. A business major, Sugarman hopes to make the writing center more welcoming to all students, no matter their field of study.

Making quotations work for you

by Samuel Sugarman

Quotation integration sounds wordy and abstract but, put simply, this procedure is how you make a quotation work for you. Quotations are fantastic literary tools that, when used correctly, can greatly improve the clarity and strength of your paper. I’m sure that you have run into a situation where you were writing a paper and found a great, supporting quotation, but didn’t know how to fit it in your paper. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, it happens to everyone. There are some great ways to make your quote fit into your paper seamlessly, and you have probably already used them without knowing it.

There are three main ways I like to integrate quotes:

  1. In the first style, introduce your quote with a complete sentence ending with a colon. Then boom, you insert your quote. I’m a visual guy, and I’m not good at picturing literary styles, so let’s try it with an example. Let’s say I’m quoting Chuck Norris when he says, “Violence is my last option.” If I use this first style, I will start with a sentence ending in a colon and then insert my quote. So here we go. When asked about his martial arts, Chuck Norris always said the same thing: “Violence is my last option.”
  2. But wait there’s more, and it’s an elegant trick. You can introduce your quote with an introductory phrase followed by a comma, and then your quote. It looks like this. The wise Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
  3. Now check this out. I can use this same quote and integrate it into my sentence without using punctuation. All I must do is replace the comma with the word “that” and it works perfectly. The wise Benjamin Franklin once said that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” No punctuation and it fits right in.

If you use these tricks, you can seamlessly place quotes into your paper to strengthen it.

 

Note: This does not include proper citation of quotations. Remember to check your citation style for how to properly attribute your quotation to its respective source!

 

Sugarman is a sophomore who has recently developed a love for writing. A business major, Sugarman hopes to make the writing center more welcoming to all students no matter their field of study.

 

Using resources to find your voice

by Zoë Mahler

So it’s Week 4 and your first paper is coming up. You’ve gone to the Library Session and learned about the resources you’ll need to make your paper amazing. You went on JSTOR and found an article, and you’re feeling good! You’re reading this article with a highlighter in hand thinking, “How could someone write something so perfectly for me?! This is exactly what I needed!”

But then you sit down to actually write the paper. The article you read was so amazing and had everything you needed but… now you have to write something of your own. No matter how experienced you are as a writer, you know we’ve all been here at some point. Sometimes we just feel we could quote an entire article because it’s never going to be any better than that, right?

This, my friend, is why we go back to the databases and dig a little deeper. Though you may feel that the first article you found was a gold mine of information and you agree with everything that’s been written, maybe now it’s time to find an article that has a different perspective or words the subject a bit differently. When you’re reading multiple resources from multiple authors and publications, it’s easier to compile data in your own unique way. How do the articles coincide with one another? How do they not? Is there room for some comparing and contrasting?

This leads me to my takeaway message: The more sources you find, the more you actually find your own voice. Learning how to establish your voice by researching articles early on in the year will help you in the long run as you will be more and more practiced at finding your voice, as well as using databases as a resource! If you need any help finding more resources on your topic, or if you need a more in-depth lesson on how to use the databases, your tutors and librarians are here to help you! 

 

Zoë Mahler is a senior double majoring in art history and mass communication with a minor in religion. She is from Faribault, Minnesota, and plays on the beach volleyball team in the spring.

No shame in not knowing

by Brooke Engel

Before last semester I had never learned anything about grammar.

No, really. I’m a college sophomore and I had never learned the definition of a verb or a noun. So imagine being me and being tasked with mastering sentence structure, which is essentially every aspect of a grammar lesson tied together with a bow.

Overwhelming? Just a little. After taking a minute to stop and breathe, I realized there was a simple fix for my situation—to actually use the resources that all those professors have been raving about. It was an absurdly simple, but profound realization. Just use the resources!

Something I have continually refused to do is use the plethora of resources that are afforded me. I know I’m not alone in this! Many of us feel that asking for help, whether through a writing tutor, or an online resource like OWL at Purdue and Writer’s Help, is admitting that we are incompetent. If we can’t figure it out on our own, we must have failed, right?

WRONG! There is no shame in asking for help. Rather, it’s a sign that you want to produce high-quality work. Whether it’s through learning foundational concepts or in-depth research strategies, asking for help from the myriad of resources available will set you on the path to success.

From thousands of book titles, to writing tutors, and even online database subscriptions, information is ready and waiting for students to access. I discovered that the key component to success was my willingness to take initiative and turn to my resources. In doing so, I was able to reap the vast benefits that they provide, including help not just with basic grammar components, but with presentation tips and citation guides as well. Not only did my presentation go well, but I also gained a stronger understanding of grammar conventions and how to seek out help.

To take your education into your own hands is to express humility and accountability and demonstrates a real drive to further your abilities. Enjoy exploring the knowledge that the world has to offer through utilizing your resources and asking for help!

 

Brooke is a sophomore art major and mass communication minor.

Annotated bibliographies: assets to the writing process

by Bailey Bischoff

Writing annotated bibliographies can seem like busywork. After all, if you found the article or data from a reputable source, why do you need to talk about its validity? However, annotated bibliographies can be used for much more than just proving a source is valid and relevant. Annotated bibliographies are one of the best ways to getting a jumpstart on writing a paper.

What is an annotated bibliography, and why is it so useful? Let’s break it down. Each annotation should include a summary of the source, an evaluation of the validity of the source, and the relevance to your eventual paper.

1) Summary: The summary should detail the content of the source, as well as the purpose and intended audience. Through describing the source and intended audience, you will start to get a better idea of how the source will fit into your paper. The more you know about your sources, the more you will be able to easily incorporate them into your paper!

2) Validity: Evaluating the validity of the source is essentially an argument that your paper will be supported with the right kind of information and can help you identify whether or not you have a good variety and number of sources needed to write a thoroughly researched paper. This section includes gauging the author’s bias and authority, which means you might have to do some background research on the author. Also, take into consideration when the source was written and whether that affects relevancy to your topic.  Understanding the scope of your research (and identifying any holes) can save you from doing last-minute research after writing your paper, only to find that it your paper wasn’t as well-researched as you had intended.

3) Relevance: Establishing the relevance of the source is really just summarizing the value of the source to your specific project or purpose. Writing on the relevance of the source forces you to think about how the information it provides fits into your paper. Touching on the relevance in an annotation can get you thinking about the organization of your paper, an important pre-writing step which will help your paper flow together better.

Summarizing and evaluating the relevance and usefulness of each source gets you to think about how each source will fit into your paper. After writing an annotated bibliography, you should be ready to write an outline and identify where more research is needed. Instead of being an unnecessary, meaningless task, writing an annotated bibliography is a great way to start writing a well-rounded, thoroughly researched paper!

 

Bailey Bischoff is a political science major in her senior year of college.

The other side of tutoring

by Ariana Dale

When I was a student I never took the time to go to a tutor, or any academic workshop offered on campus. Now that I am no longer a student and am working in an office that hosts workshops and works with writing tutors, I am beginning to realize how much I actually missed out on.

Like many college students, I found tons of reasons why not to go to the workshops or writing tutors. These excuses ranged anywhere from “My paper isn’t due for another two weeks” to “I have way too much going on” or “I don’t need the help and work better on my own.” These all boiled down to my lack of awareness and inefficient use of time, or simply a lack of willingness to ask for help when I really could have used it.

I think this idea of thinking we don’t need help is one of the biggest pitfalls in the writing community. Everyone can use a little help with their writing. (Professors too!) Revision is a process that requires multiple read-throughs, and having an extra pair of eyes makes each additional read-through that much more beneficial. I always did OK when I turned in papers: I never got an “A++, you’re great! 100%,” but I never completely tanked (a.k.a. F–) on an assignment either, so I didn’t think getting help with my work would matter much in the end. I was blind to the fact that everyone asks for help, especially good writers. I found that many of the students getting the A’s in class were the students who were asking their peers or writing tutors to look over their paper with them.

This year it dawned on me:

If you want a better grade, be willing to ask for help.

Now that I’m on the other side of tutoring, where people are asking for me for help, I see just how valuable this collaborative resource is. Not only are tutors helpful in finding and addressing different issues or patterns within your work, they’re also great to bounce ideas off of so that you can further develop your ideas and master the concepts in your paper. An added perk to this is that you’ll get better and better at writing and editing your papers the more you ask for help. If a tutor helps you better understand commas this week, maybe next week you can dive deeper into more complex sentence structure and word choice to make your paper stronger and clearer.

So, when in doubt, ask a tutor!

Ariana is the Post-Graduate Teaching Intern (PGTI) for the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). She graduated in the spring of 2016 with a B.S. in biology and a creative writing minor.

Bet you haven’t heard of THIS library resource!

by Maddi Demaree

Many of you have probably been to a session with one of our dedicated librarians before, going over databases, citing, or maybe even plagiarism. But there are SO many excellent resources that our library subscribes to, I’m sure you didn’t get to all of them in your library session. Here is a glimpse of some unique resources that you probably haven’t heard of, but might be just the thing to meet YOUR academic research needs!

Just a reminder, all of the library’s resources can be found here: http://library.principiacollege.edu/AtoZ

Lexis Nexis

If someone broke up with Google, and wanted to get a sleeker, more mature version of their ex, they would date Lexis Nexis. Lexis Nexis is like Google—except more focused, more reputable, and more efficient. Everything Google can do, it can do better.

lexisnexis

Lexis Nexis is especially helpful for finding reputable news sources, legal cases, and business information. In the search bar, you can look for recent topics in the news—like the ones listed in the “hot topics” section—but you can also narrow your search by clicking on the “legal case” search or “company info.”

Merriam Webster

Did you know that Principia subscribes to Merriam-Webster unabridged? Say goodbye to all those pesky dictionary.com searches that don’t give you all the definitions you might need, and say hello to Merriam-Webster unabridged! Here you’ll find that you can search in the unabridged or collegiate dictionary, in the thesaurus, in a concise encyclopedia, and more. You can also search for the etymology of a word or examples of how it is used.

webster

Music Online

Music Online is an incredible resource for anyone in a class in the arts—here you have access to all those videos that get taken down from YouTube for copyright restrictions! You can search by title, subject, composer, performer, choreographer and more.

music-arts

Access Science

Access Science provides resources for all of the sciences. It is helpful to everyone from the person taking astronomy to eke out their lab credit (you know who you are!) to the seasoned Bio Block TA.

access-science

In Access Science, you can search by topic, by discipline, and by type of resource.

 

These resources are just a few among the many excellent resources we receive free of additional charge from our library! If you need help accessing or navigating databases, remember that your Principia College Writing Tutors are available Monday-Thursday from 9-11 in the library café. Members of the Center for Teaching and Learning and our dedicated librarians are always available by appointment.

Maddi Demaree is a junior majoring in education. Last spring she traveled on the Finland Abroad.