Category Archives: Improve your writing
I recently came across this article that explains in 15 steps how to use Citavi (resource storage software) with Scrivener (writing software for a MAC) to format your in-text citations and produce a bibliography.
Alternatively, you could:
- Store your resources in ComWriter [or find them in our Public library]
- Write using ComWriter
- Write-and-cite as you go
- Add a Smart List/Bibliography
- Click export
EndNote has published an infographic to help students avoid the pitfalls of formatting to APA. So, we took a look and found that ComWriter can automatically overcome 50% of these problems.
The most common APA errors [ComWriter’s style automates more than 50%]
- No running head / incorrectly formatted head (86.3%)
- the running head has been placed in the template [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- save style as new to customize the running head
- the running head is a short title
- add the running head in capitals
- Errors with in-text citations (84%)
- multiple citations of the same author are managed automatically [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- make sure to order multiple citations with different Author names alphabetically (as they would appear in the bibliography)
- incorrect use of ‘et al’ [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- incorrect use of commas and ampersands (&) [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- incorrect use of double-spacing between lines [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- Did not have page numbers / page numbers weren’t properly formatted (75%) [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- page numbering has been added to the ComWriter APA style, so they will be accurate
- Abstract was missing or heading wasn’t properly formatted (72.7%)
- add your abstract to the Preliminaries, and it will be formatted properly
- add a Heading 1, and it will be formatted properly [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- make sure your abstract is no more then 120 words
- Did not include keywords (61.3%)
- add keywords in a Long quote (to ensure it is indented and block) in the Preliminaries
- italicize the word Keywords, but do not bold
- Incorrect margin format (52.2%) [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- The margin is formatted automatically to 1 inch
- Incorrect quotations (50%)
- short quotes should be added in-text with quotation marks at either end “…”
- quotations of 40 or more words should be placed in a ‘Long Quote’, with no quotation marks at either end
- First line of paragraphs not indented (43.1%) [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- APA (6th edition) stipulates that all paragraphs should be indented (APA 2010, p.229)
- More than 120 words in the abstract (34%)
- this is a manual task
APA’s 10 Commandments: [ComWriter’s style automates 50%]
According to the blog, the APA has ten commandments. The following explains how ComWriter can automatically mange these issues.
- Font: 12 point font for all text, except tables and figures, which can use 8 point type [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- Spacing: doouble line space all text [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- Margins: set to one inch [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- Page numbers: appears in upper right-hand corner [included in the ComWriter’s style]
- Running Head: appears in the upper left-hand corner in capitals [included in the ComWriter’s style, but customize the style to add your short title]
- Boldface and Underlines: do not use underline, bold or italics (except for headings)
- Punctuation: add a comma (,) at the end of each item in a list that contains three or more items (shorter lists should be added in-text)
- Capitalization: Job titles are not capitalized, nor are names of theories, diseases, models or conditions
- Numbers: nine and lower are written in full, others are presented as numerals (unless they begin a sentence)
- Percentages: always appear as numbers (unless they begin a sentence)
Academic writing is generally associated with researching something. When we conduct research, we must first identify what the focus of our research might be. This is achieved with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a proposition (proposal), a theory about how something works; e.g., Gravity makes Apples fall down to Earth, the Earth rotates around an axis.
- thesis: cause followed by effect
- cause: gravity
- effect: objects, such as apples, fall down to Earth
In the case of Newton, he observed apples falling from trees, and wondered why this happened. He then developed a theory about what he observed: “Gravity makes Apples fall down to Earth.”
The difference between a proposition and a hypothesis, is that a proposition is generally untested; whereas a thesis statement is part of a research program that you are setting out to test. Data are collected to verify/refute the thesis. For example:
- Thesis statement: “Students leave assignments until the night before they are due.” This is my theory about student behaviour.
- The problem with a thesis statement is that it makes an assertion about fact: ‘the night before’. Someone else might have another theory that they start assignments 2 days before. Different hypotheses (theories) make a thesis contentious. If something is contentious, then it needs to be investigated to find out which theory is correct.
- The research question associated with either thesis statement is: “How many days before an assignment is due, do students start their assignments?” Your research is going to set out to find the answer to this question, thereby testing the thesis.
- Data to verify: We can survey a bunch of students and ask them: “How many days before an assignment is due, do you generally start?” This is a survey question to collate data for finding out the answer to the research question, thereby testing which theory is correct.
- Results: Some students might say “10 days”, some might say “1 day”, when we average the results, we have a conclusion: “On average, students start assignments 2.7 days before it is due.” This represents the findings from our research (asking students about their behaviour with regards assignments).
Thesis satements that have been tested, data collected and analysed, are also subject to bias. For example, if you only asked one student, then this data would be insufficient to reach a conclusion. If you asked 100 students in a specific Faculty, on a specific Campus, then this data would be more reliable. Generally speaking, the more answers you receive for your research question, the more reliable your findings are going to be.
Academic research is a tricky business, but finding out how the world works has been the subject of academe for centuries. Today we know a great deal about how our world and its inhabitants work. All from researching and finding reliable answers to our theories!
ComWriter is an integrated word processor and bibliographic tool; and it keeps your work in the cloud. ComWriter allows you to:
- store your research library
- select a pre-defined style (e.g., APA, Harvard, and more)
- use writing templates (coming soon)
- write your academic paper or essay using modern tools (smart lists, drop-n-drag), cite your references, add a bibliography, automated numbering
- export your project formatted professionally based on your pre-defined style (text and references)
The referencing in ComWriter is more accurate than any other bibliographic tool! Try it for FREE.
University writing is quite a science, and catches many students and seasoned academics out. The rules are complex, and the range of material that can be referenced makes the task a changing target. Academics that set assignments for their students, often assign up to 20% of the final mark to referencing!
A journal article, for example, is a common reference item, yet referencing depends on:
- academic style (Harvard, APA, etc)
- the type of journal material: full article, editorial, supplemental material, abstract, letter, and more
- the way the journal is indexed: volume number only, volume and issue number, volume as a year, issue as a season
- whether the item was found online, in a database, or is a hardcopy
If you use Endnote, Zotero, Mendeley or any other bibliographic software, you can’t be guaranteed that the reference for a journal article will be correct, because they have limited types available and they can’t figure out if you have the season, or volume stuff sorted. These software products all work much the same way, so we haven’t had a tool (until now) that outputs accurate references!
ComWriter is a new breed of academic tool that has re-engineered the referencing process…
ComWriter is a new breed of academic tool that has re-engineered the referencing process, from the perspective of the desired output!
- Pre-defined styles: APA, Harvard, MLA, MHRA, and more (references and text is auto-formatted)
- A range of reference types that mean you can change a ‘journal article’ to be an editorial, or a book review, or one of the other kinds of journal material
- simply identify the source: hardcopy, online, database and the details are taken care of
- whether you have volume, issue, year or season data, it is interrogated to produce the correct output
Here is a sample of APA journal references exported from ComWriter:
Author1, A., Author2, B. & Author3, C. (2013). Abstract only in journal [Abstract]. Journal Title, 6(7), 1-20. doi:12345
Author16, M., Author17, N. & Author18, P. (2013). Editorial in journal [Editorial]. Journal Title, 6(7), 1-20. Retrieved from http://www.comwriter.com.
Author22, R., Author23, S. & J., & Author24, T. (2013). Journal article: With volume only. Journal Title, 6, 1-20. doi:12345
Author34, W., Author35, L. & Author36, M. (2013). Letter in journal [Letter to editor]. Journal Title, 6(7), 1-20. doi:12345
Author40, X., Author41, M. & Author42, J. (2013). Monograph in journal [Monograph]. Journal Title, 6(7), 1-20. doi:12345
Author59, Z., Author60, M. & Author61, L. (2013). Supplemental journal material [Supplemental material]. Journal Title, 6(7), pp. S1-S20.
Author65, R., Author66, S. & Author67, T. (2013). Journal article: with volume and season. Journal Title, 30(Spring), 1-20. doi:12345
Author71, A…. Author80, K. (2014). Journal article: with volume and issue. Journal Title, 7(3), 1-20. doi:12345
AuthorA, A., AuthorB, A. & JournalC, C. (2014). Journal article: with issue only. Journal Title, (23).
AuthorE, E., AuthorF, F. & AuthorG, G. (2014). Journal article: With season only. Journal Title, (January-February), 1-20. doi:12345
Journal-Editor47, D., Journal-Editor48, E. & Journal-Editor49, F. (Eds.). (2013). Section in special issue of journal [Special section]. Journal Title, 6(7), 1-20. doi:12345
Journal-Reviewer10, A., Journal-Reviewer11, B. & Journal-Reviewer12, C. (2013). Book review in journal [Review of Book Title, by D. Journal7, K. Journal8 & L. Journal9]. Journal Title, 6(7), 1-20. doi:12345
Great looking references eh!
(ps., ComWriter will do a hanging indent)
ComWriter makes writing to academic standards easy with these 5 steps:
- If your favourite reference style isn’t Harvard (ComWriter includes Harvard as the default), then you can find your favourite Style and add it to My Styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian).
- Add a few resources you already have (e.g., an authored book or journal article) using the Research tab.
- To get writing: Go to the Write tab an click Start a new project & fill out the form (remember to select your style), then click Start and the writing editor will open. In the writing editor add some existing writing (you can use cut-and-paste from Word) to see how the writing editor works (maybe grab some text from your last essay). Follow these steps:
– Add writing objects (e.g., a paragraph, a heading, a list)
– Enter text into writing objects
– Highlight some text to see the formatting menu
- Insert an in-text reference citation or add a reference into a footnote using the resource/s you added.
- After you create your first project return to the Write dashboard, and click the PDF export button and your project will be automatically formatted using the style you chose. The file will go into your downloads.