Adult online learners don’t always have the luxury of in-person peer reviews (though they pop up online a lot!). What do you do when you’ve finished your paper, you need it edited to make sure it’s perfect to submit, but no one’s around to do it? Below are a few tips on how to self-edit your own work.

  1. Make Time! – This is the most important tip on this list. Write well in advance of your assignment deadline in order to give yourself the time to self-edit. You’ll have less stress when it comes time to review your work and turn it in.
  2. Personalize an editing checklist – What bad-writing traps do you fall into? Comma splices? Run-on sentences? Make a list of those and be aware of them when you write.
  3. Read back to front – Focus on the language instead of the content.
  4. Edit in a different spot from where you write – Give yourself a different point of view.
  5. Use a hard copy to edit – Print out your paper and use a pen or pencil to do your editing.
  6. Remove favorite words – Do you find that you use one word an awful lot? Or multiple words? While you’re reading through your work (if you’re reading on a computer), hit CTRL+f on your keyboard and type in a word that you think you might have used a lot. Click “Highlight all” and you’ll be given the number of times you used that word. You might be surprised how often you find one particular noun, verb, or article pop up. Try and weed those out for a better flow.
  7. Set your paper aside for a while and come back to it. This relates back to #1, make time for editing.

Good luck writing those BPS papers!


Tuesday Tech Tip – Digital Composition

Howdy BPSers! Welcome to a tricky Tuesday tech tip!

By this time, you’ve got a few papers under your belt and no doubt you’ve written them all on your computer. There’s also the possibility that you’ve lost a few paragraphs here or there to cyber gremlins like misnaming a file or forgetting to click the save button. Here are a few tips that will help save you time when you’re writing that next paper.

  • Create a separate folder for each class
    • Save your reading notes (if you take notes on your computer)
    • Keep all research for your papers in the folder
    • Keep drafts of your papers in the folder
  • Be consistent when naming files from the same class
    • You might want to follow the pattern of: CourseNumber_LastName_AssignmentTitle. For example if you’re in Mary Hoffman’s class, your first assignment might look like this: PSAS300_Smith_Assignment1
    • Your professor will also appreciate – it helps them organize their grading
  • Keep lots of copies of your files
    • What happens if your hard drive crashes?
    • Save your files to your desktop, your hard drive, and a thumb drive.
    • If any one of the three copies gets corrupted, you’ll have two backups
  • Save every half-hour
    • Especially if you’re writing a large paper
    • Even if you haven’t written anything new
    • This will keep you in the habit of saving your work often

Happy techy Tuesday!

Google Scholar

Doing research on-line can be difficult.  Finding relevant and trustworthy information from reputable Journals can be confusing, but Google Scholar can make it a lot easier.

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.

Features of Google Scholar

  • Search diverse sources from one convenient place
  • Find articles, theses, books, abstracts or court opinions
  • Locate the complete document through your library or on the web
  • Learn about key scholarly literature in any area of research

How are documents ranked?

Google Scholar aims to rank documents the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature.

Tech Tip Tuesday – Online Research

One of the nice things about working on an online degree program is that, well, everything is online, at your fingertips. That includes library resources like journal databases and interlibrary loan materials.

Sometimes online research is trickier than it looks at first blush. However, with a few helpful tips, you’ll be surfing the library databases with ease.

Tip #1: Start broad and narrow down. 

Sometimes you’re not really sure what you’re looking for. By starting with a broad focus, you’ll find a few articles that will give you more search terms to work with. Using the new search terms, you’ll be able to narrow your search and find some articles that really work for your research.

Tip #2: Try Boolean operators. 

Boolean operators work on the logical connections between terms. There are 3 Boolean operators you might use when you’re researching:

AND: If you use AND between two search terms, you’ll get back search results with both of those terms. For example, if you’re searching for “Christmas AND Thanksgiving” you’ll get search results that have both of those terms.

OR: OR will broaden your search and will retrieve any words separated by OR. For example, searching for “Christmas OR Thanksgiving” will get you results on either search term.

NOT: NOT will narrow your search by ignoring the term that follows NOT. For example, a search like “Christmas NOT Thanksgiving” will get you results only on Christmas.

Tip #3: Ask a Librarian

Librarians are trained to do research and trained to help students do research. If you get stuck, call or email your local or college librarian. He or she will do their very best to get you the research help you need.

Happy Searching!

Paper Writing, or How I Learned to Write a Research Paper and Live to Tell the Tale

Happy Tuesday BPSers!

As you’re probably aware, BPS offers a number of courses to help you develop your writing skills. But writing is hard. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers a number of tips and tools that will help you write A papers and give you the confidence you need to succeed on the job market.

Something you might be preparing to write is a research paper based on a specialized topic of your choosing. Where do you start?

Read your assignment prompt. First things first, find out what the professor wants to see in your paper. You’ll want to answer some of the following questions:

  • What’s the general topic?
  • How long does the paper have to be?
  • When is the due date?
  • Are there due dates for draft submissions?
  • What reference style does the instructor want? (APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.) Will you need to use footnotes? Endnotes?
  • How many sources are required? Minimum? Maximum?
  • What kinds of sources? Peer-reviewed journal articles? Newspaper articles? Google searches?

Once you answer some of these questions, you can then start to work on your specialized topic, thesis, and research.

Develop a timeline. Plan ahead so you’re not writing your paper the night before it’s due. If you have three weeks until the due date, give yourself a week for researching, a week for writing, and a week for reviewing. You’ll write a great paper and have a good experience doing it.

Develop your thesis or research question. After you’ve chosen your topic, you can develop a thesis or a research question. Your thesis can change and grow as you’re doing your research, so don’t worry if you end up with a little different theory that what you started with.

Do your research. Start at a library. Yes, Google does have a lot of answers and you will be able to find a lot of articles by searching on Google. But, you might not know where to start with your research. Librarians can help you formulate your research question and find good sources to answer your question.

Do your reading. Once you’re done with your research be sure to read through it carefully, taking notes and highlighting phrases you might want to use in your paper. When you find something you’d like to use in your paper, make a note of the author, article (or book), page number, and publication information. This will make it easier for you to cite that quotation in your paper.

Make an outline. Your outline can be as simple as “Introduction, Body, Conclusion” or you can add as many details as you’d like. An outline will help you stay on course when you’re writing and avoid going off onto tangents.

Start writing. After you have an outline to guide you and all of your research notes in front of you, it’s time to start writing your paper. Not sure where to start? Writing your introduction first is not required, but it can help give you the jump start you need for the rest of the paper.

Review. You’ve written the paper, well done! Now, read through it. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your introduction map out the paper?
  • Does the paper follow that map?
  • Does each paragraph have a topic sentence and follow that topic?
  • Does your conclusion wrap up the paper?

Another tip, have someone else read through the paper to make sure you’ve followed your map. Make notes as you’re reviewing your work so you know what to fix.

Revise. Once you’ve given it a read-through and/or had someone else read your paper. Follow your notes and the notes made by your reviewer.

Read your paper out loud. When you read your paper out loud, you’ll hear whether your sentences flow well together and if something doesn’t sound right. Again, make notes to come back to.

Revise, again. After reading your paper out loud, make those revisions you made notes on.

Read it one more time. There’s no such thing as overkill when you’re reviewing your work.

Remember, if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call. We’re happy to help!