- Student Services
- Writing for Publication
- Capstone Studies
- Learning Agreement (LA)
- Knowledge Area Module (KAM)
Writing at the doctoral level can appear to be confusing and intimidating. It can be difficult to determine exactly what the scholarly voice is and how to transition to graduate-level writing. But, there are some elements of writing to consider when writing to a scholarly audience: word choice, tone, and evidence usage. If you understand and employ scholarly voice rules, you will master writing at the doctoral level.
Word Choice: When writing for faculty and your peers at Walden, you will be addressing a formal audience and you will want to use scholarly language. This means you should use simple and concise language, and eliminate unnecessary information. According to APA (2010), "Say only what needs to be said" (p. 67).
- Avoid casual language. Eliminate contractions (can't, won't), metaphors or figures of speech (her writing was as clear as mud), slang expressions or cliché phrases (she'll get over it), and adjectives and qualifiers (very, major).
- Use personal pronouns carefully (you, we, us, our). Generally, you also want to avoid using the personal I in an academic paper unless you are writing a reflection paper or are referring to research that you have conducted.
- Use shorter sentences. Do not use big words for the sake of sounding scholarly (i.e. The individuals utilized their writing utensils in order to complete the learning tools in the learning institution). It would be easier to instead write, "The students used pencils to fill out the answers on the test at school."
- Be consistent with your labels. Call people what they want to be called. Use gender inclusive language (police officer). Avoid placing gender identifiers in front of nouns (male nurse, female doctor).
Tone: You should speak as an objective social scientist. This means that everything you say must be unbiased, scholarly, and supported by evidence. According to APA (2010), "arguments should be presented in a noncombative manner" (p. 66).
- Avoid making broad generalizations (always and never).
- Avoid using over-sweeping adjectives (outstanding, obvious).
- Avoid using adverbs (really, clearly).
- Avoid qualifiers (a little, definitely).
- Avoid emotional language (It is heartbreaking that so many are starving).
- Avoid inflammatory language (Smith's study was terrible, sickening, sad).
Use of evidence: Everything you say must be supported by evidence. When you make an assertion, a citation should be nearby to help prove your assertion.
- Avoid using block quotations and direct quotations in your paper as much as possible. You should paraphrase instead. If you do use a direct quotation, you should provide analysis before and after the quotation. Do not begin or end a paragraph with a direct quotation.
- Paraphrase whenever possible. Paraphrasing demonstrates your critical engagement with the text and strengthens your academic argument.
- Evidence should be from peer-reviewed journals, books, and scholarly websites.
Before you write something, ask yourself the following:
- Is this objective?
- Am I speaking as a social scientist? Am I using the literature to support my assertions?
- Could this be offensive to someone?
- Could this limit my readership?
Employing these rules when writing will help ensure that you are speaking as a social scientist. Your writing will be clear and concise, and this approach will allow your content to shine through.