Writing in Advance Degree Programs, Finding Your Voice as a Scholar

Please keep in mind that your capstone entails much more work than writing a paper for a course. It also requires on-going dialogue with your advisor. He/she will help you clarify capstone expectations and your emerging ideas and encourage you to remain focused so that you can complete the degree in a timely manner. You will need to make a number of revisions before your capstone receives final approval.

By the time you have finished you should have acquired a great deal of knowledge and expertise in a topic within your field and the ability to articulate this orally and in writing.

These suggestions will help you succeed with your scholarly writing.

  • Be sure that the style is consistent throughout the paper and that all headers and references are in the same, APA format.
  • Shift your sense of audience to write in a scholarly voice. Show your command of academic vocabulary and ability to reflect on concepts and information from multiple perspectives as well as your ability to critically assess the integrity of what you read.
  • Learn to use time saving software. It is well worth your time to learn how to use headers in your word processing program and to install and learn to use a tool such as Endnotes, Zotero, or Mendeley to organize your professional references, cite references and generate bibliographies. Also, learn how to navigate the library’s on-line search systems to locate professional literature.There are many books written about how to write a scholarly paper. It is a good idea to study the style and organization of published studies in leading journals, documents or other published works of professionals in your field.
  • As you write, try to clearly communicate with a reader who may not know about your cohort journey or assignments. Be sure that you include transitions (introduction/summary) that act as road signs to help your reader navigate between the sections of your paper.
  • Make required changes and remember that feedback from your advisor is intended to help you improve the paper, not just food for thought to ignore.
  • Work from an outline and use headings and subheadings to organize your Plan A thesis or Plan B paper/project.

When you are writing your culminating project, please be aware of the following.

  • Many faculty members are on 9-month appointments and are not available in the summer. Thus you should not assume that you can complete your project during the summer. Be sure to check with your advisor well in advance so that you can develop a realistic timetable for completing your project.
  • Faculty members are involved in a variety of projects and are advising a number of graduate students. Do not wait until the last minute to drop off drafts of a paper or project. Always check with your advisor to see when you might expect to get his or her feedback on your draft. Generally faculty members will try to get their feedback to you one to two weeks after you have submitted your copy.
  • There are deadlines for the Plan B oral and submission. Please ask your program advisor or the department secretary for these dates early in the semester you plan to graduate.