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MPS Writing & Research

MPS Writing Tutorial

This tutorial is designed to help you improve your academic writing skills.

In the tutorial, you will watch video presentations and then answer questions to assess your knowledge.

You can submit your responses to receive a Certificate of Completion. 

In order to receive the certificate, complete the questions and submit your responses in one session.

Begin the Tutorial


Stand-alone Videos and PDFs of the presentations from the tutorial are available in the sidebar of this guide.

Tips & Techniques to accompany the MPS Writing Tutorial

The writing process is non-linear and recursive. Read, Write, Revise, Repeat

Your writing should include your ideas, in a formal tone, with scholarly research that supports your argument. 

The main goals are to engage meaningfully with your topic, demonstrate your knowledge, and educate your audience. 

The final paper is a combination of your position on the topic (knowledge and stance) with evidence and analysis from experts (formal research).  

Your position + expert ideas = academic essay

Research for Writing

Support your assertions using authoritative source material to give credibility to your claims. Identify the reliable sources in your area of study.

Using Library Resources

Reading for Writing

Meet with the Reference Librarian for assistance:

Planning the steps of an assignment breaks it down into manageable pieces and helps overcome writer’s block.  This phase is the opportunity to generate ideas in a relaxed and non-restrictive way - writing without criticizing.

Prewriting Strategies

  • Brainstorm - free association to stimulate ideas
  • Exploratory Research - “pre-search” that can help generate ideas on the topic
  • Make Lists to collect and organize your ideas
  • Keep a Journal
  • Create a Visual Idea Map or Diagram
  • Ask Defining Questions
  • Note Pros and Cons
  • Freewriting - Write what you are thinking, get your ideas flowing and induce deep thinking.  Write without worry and without stopping; resist the urge to edit as you go.

Ask yourself...  Can I state my thesis definitively and summarize the one main idea to discuss?

The thesis statement is your main point and argument stance. It states the purpose and topic of your writing.

Your thesis is one statement at the end of your introduction and should be clear, concise, and arguable.

Early in the writing process, your thesis statement is a “working thesis” that you use to begin thinking about your topic.

You may revise this thesis many times before you are finished thinking and ready to write your final draft.

Document your thoughts while you read. 

Assess your progress and review - is anything missing? Do you need to do more research?

Note-taking Strategies

  • Organize your notes into ideas, themes, and topics, tag with keywords.
  • Connect each note to sources and page numbers so you can cite them.
  • Mark important ideas.
  • Prepare direct quotations, paraphrases, and summaries from the texts.
  • If a sentence or phrase occurs to you while taking notes, write it down immediately.
  • Web tools: EvernoteSimplenote

Creating an outline is a crucial step in pre-writing. 

Establish the structure of the paper in short form and organize information in preparation for the written assignment.

Creating an Outline

  • Arrange ideas and themes to lay out your argument.
  • Use the topic notes and keywords to create sections in your outline.
  • Move the important ideas into your outline.
  • Write brief words or phrases, or detailed sentences; put ideas in your own words.
  • Include page numbers from the sources.
  • Web tools:  UVOutlinerOverleafWorkFlowy

Your first draft is your practice paper. It is your initial attempt to organize your thoughts in prose writing.

It is more complete than an outline and elaborates on your ideas in complete sentences and paragraphs.

Writing a Draft

  • Expand your outline and notes into writing.
  • Summarize your ideas - briefly describe what you want to accomplish and prepare yourself for a specific direction or focus.
  • You can start in any order; begin with the clearest or most important points.
  • Draft sentences and paragraphs can be moved around during this process.
  • Take breaks to pause and reflect on your progress.

The purpose of an introductory paragraph is to engage your readers and set the tone of your essay.

Writing the Introduction

  • Start with broad information about the topic, an “attention-grabber”, elaborate on its meaning, and narrow into your thesis statement, the main point of your essay. 
  • Present relevant context and background.
  • Define terms or concepts when necessary.
  • Explain the focus of the paper and your specific purpose.
  • Describe your plan of organization.
  • Present your thesis statement or main argument.

The main body of your essay is where you present your argument. It consists of well structured paragraphs.

Writing the Main Body of the Essay

  • Use your outline and notes as flexible guides.
  • Build your essay around the points you want to make.
  • Integrate your sources into your discussion, add context and analysis of why the source is important.
  • Summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it.
  • Move up and down the “ladder of abstraction” from generalization to varying levels of detail back to generalization.

Each paragraph is an individual argument and when put together they should form a clear narrative that leads the reader to your conclusion.

Writing Paragraphs

  • A paragraph focuses on one topic which supports one part of your thesis statement.
  • Topic Sentence - mini-thesis statements that begin single paragraphs or groups of paragraphs.
  • Explanation - a sentence or two that provides background on the topic and makes points which support your argument.
  • Present the Research – quote, paraphrase, or summarize and use in-text citations.
  • Interpret the Research – discuss the meaning and relevance of the evidence to your thesis.
  • Use transition words to begin new paragraphs that support the main topic sentence. Gives a smooth flow to your writing and makes it more cohesive.
  • Conclude the topic: reiterate the particular support of the topic to your thesis and move forward to the next body paragraph with a new topic.

The conclusion is the whole point of an essay. 

It can be a good idea to plan ahead and write a draft conclusion before you write your main body.

Your conclusion is the last thing your audience will read. Be sure that you have answered the question in your thesis.

Writing the Conclusion

  • Summarize the argument and main points.
  • Explain the value and contribution of your work shared in the written paper.
  • Suggest a course of action or further research.
  • Connect to the larger theme or context presented in your introduction and link your thesis statement to a broader perspective.

Citing Sources

It is important to provide sufficient and accurate bibliographic information for your audience so they can locate and read your cited sources, if they chose to.

Academic Integrity requires writers to document accurately the ideas of other people used in the creation of original work. 

Academic Integrity means your academic work is always authentic and honest.

Avoid plagiarism by properly citing your sources.

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas without giving proper credit. 
  • Most cases of plagiarism are unintentional and due to mistakes or misunderstandings.
  • The fundamental purpose of citations is to give credit to people for their work.
  • It is imperative to make clear which components are your original words & ideas and which derive from other sources. This includes published and unpublished sources, such as personal communication and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.
  • If you didn't write it, you have to cite it.
  • Web tools:

Writing is re-writing.

Revisiting your writing often and on different days offers a fresh perspective each time and is worth the effort.

Proofread to examine your text carefully to find and correct typographical errors and mistakes in spelling and grammar.

  • Editing requires that you perform a complex check of your work, requiring analysis and judgment, to evaluate its content, organization, and style
  • Check overall organization: logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion. Are the introduction and conclusion clear and related?
  • Paragraph level concerns: topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.
  • Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling.
  • Documentation: consistent use of one style, in-text citation of all material not considered common knowledge, accuracy of list of works cited.
  • Web tool: Grammarly

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