Posts tagged in-text citations

Mr. Controlling Idea MEET Ms. In-Text Citation

This academic writing experience we expect of our students is as subject to crash and burn as any potential romantic relationship on our university campus.  However, in this case at our university it is inexperienced hayseed cowboy who MEETS sophisticated debutante.  The following is from my own long held convictions that topic sentences, who are first cousins to controlling ideas and supporting ideas, should remain in remedial courses for beginner students.  

 

Let me introduce Mr. Controlling Idea, he has many virtues.  His main job is to catch the reader’s imagination in the topic sentence with his singular purpose to entice them to read on. He wears a cowboy hat with complimentary boots, everything is in neutral colored rawhide.  He wears a red kerchief around his neck, he has that “devil may care” look about him because he is invincible and young.   However, if there are too many guys like him, too many Controlling Ideas, the paragraph falls apart.  

 

He may have two or three brothers, depending on the paragraph formally named as Mr. Supporting Idea I and II.  They help the reader to understand there is logical support or evidence for the control he maintains in his set paragraph or the corral.  He rides on Transition Markers, good thoroughbred horses, to alert his reader which direction he is going.  These horses names are called: Moreover, Nevertheless, In Fact, For Example, First and In Conclusion, just for example.  Mr. Controlling Idea rarely backs up his horse but likes to go full speed ahead while letting his reading audience know there may be a gallop or a simple trot in the next paragraph or two.

 

One nemesis of Mr. Controlling Idea are the occasional encounters with Mr. Logical Fallacy.  Actually, he and his cronies lurk everywhere and have no regard for the words they are surrounded by. Legions of Logical Fallacies abound and they care nothing for their dear readers, their sole mission is to lead astray. Cleverly concealed lies are their content but Mr. Controlling Idea and his brothers are able to discern who these negative forces of the essay paper are.  Logical fallacy is NO match for a truthful controlling idea who maintains law and order.

 

That’s where Ms. In-text Citation makes her appearance.  Even though she actually is a city slicker and can be quite provocative at times, she has some attraction for the man of the rodeo, Mr. Controlling Idea. Her expensive clothes are not practical and can show spots on them very easily.  If she is of the APA formatting style, Ms. Citation doesn’t really want anyone to know whether she is a female or not, she prefers last name only.  However, she DOES want everyone to know that she is wearing the latest fashion by having the most up-to-date publication.  When she looks at the tired out Chicago style, she appears uppity.  Also, she sees that footnotes of the Turabian devotees are so untidy. Ms. Citation doesn’t even try on MLA clothes, there is something so twentieth century about them.  No, Ms. Citation comes from very highbrow types, just look at her parents in the “Works Cited” page.

 

Actually, her grandparents are called “Working Bibliography” who were from the farm and never take on their granddaughter’s airs, they work quietly minding their own business.  The only way her Grandparents got to the top was a LOT of spade work, meaning they knew how to use Keywords to get their source material from the electronic research databases.  Yes, Keywords are good family friends with the Bibliographies and Citation families.  What Ms. In-text Citation doesn’t appreciate is that to make it into the essay in the first place, she has to be wanted by Mr. Controlling Idea.  His Supporting Idea brothers have to want her in the family of their sentence as well.  

 

So, what do we have in our university’s classroom with young, impressionable Kazakh students?  We have those who do not know the basics of how to write in English, they’ve been grilled in high school on how to use correct GRAMMAR. This haranguing was probably done in steady Russian. 

 

These beleagured students do not grasp the importance of what topic sentences with controlling and supporting ideas are all about.  Unfortunately, these students are expected, according to the syllabus for their one and only writing and reading course, to know how to use the sophisticated reference work of APA formatting style to help buttress their arguments in any given essay. We only teach them two in the space of 16 weeks, discursive and problem and solution essays.

Some of our students are capable of this budding relationship between the simple mechanics of essay writing and using in-text citations.  A happy marriage happens with good results if they have the grounding in Intensive or Provisional classes and in our Academic Reading and Writing courses are to fine-tune the referencing and researching fun.

 

Unfortunately, the two are not meeting each other, poor Mr. Controlling Idea and Ms. In-text Citation.  This relationship takes time, writing takes time, writing requires re-writes.  Alas, I didn’t even bring up the King of the Rodeo and that is His Honorable Thesis Statement. Stayed tuned for Part II.

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My Kazakhstani Students’ Difficulties in Writing Academic Essays

Question:  What are the most difficult parts of writing an academic paper for this class?  Why?

 

The hardest part, as always, is the start, the first step.  It is very important to come up with a good thesis statement that is why it is so hard.  But after you’ve done this, the writing of the article itself is not that difficult.  Because by thesis statement, you’ve already structured your essay.  You just need to explain your arguments.

The next difficult step is to find articles which would support your opinion and choose quotes from them in order to make in-text citations.  That’s because you need to look through so many articles, decide what words to use and how to put everything together.

Also, the conclusion part is very important, so you need to spend time on it.  In order to make the final sentences sound convincing.

 

I like writing and compositions, but here we need to write academic writing.  So we must look up for academic articles from research databases; sometimes it tends to be problem with keywords.  Then if you find them, you need to read all of them.  You face new words or terms that you’ve never seen or heard before and need to work on them.

And other details like “in-text citations” and APA style, etc.

Anyway, I learn, practice and do my best.

 

APA style, because for small mistakes you lose points ;-(  APA style is very difficult!

To find article, because we sometimes use wrong keywords.  To begin writing essay, I always have this problem because sometimes it is difficult to write thesis statement without Thesis Statement Builder.

 

It was somehow difficult to understand how to write essay (where to put in-text citations, how to put them)  Also, I was confused when dealing with discursive essay before you sent an e-mail with an example.  All in all, the difficulties were with organizing the paper.  But now I think I get it!

 

First, finding articles.  It takes a lot of time to find a proper article with information you need, you are looking for.

Second, reading and combining the information.  You have to work a lot to understand those articles, make an outline and combining the information.  You have to change the author’s words by using synonyms.  Sometimes difficult to find articles that support your ideas.

But in general, if you have time, and you know how to organize the essay, it is not so difficult to write it.

 

The thesis statement is the most difficult part.  But using the “Thesis Statement Builder” it is much better and easier.  Sometimes there are topics like “smoking” or “using computers” which have more cons than pros.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to find the appropriate article…sometimes the articles are too long and there are other graphs and tables which confuse the reader.  But on the whole, it’s not so difficult.  The most important is to know what you are writing about and to clarify all pros and cons to make your essay clear and easy to understand.

 

From the research sites like Ebscohost, we can find a lot of different types of information with different size and volume.  So, sometimes when we want exact information for our topic, I feel confused because most of the articles go in the wrong way. (i.e. you start looking at articles for early human development but the research site gives you so many articles that at the end you choice one of them.  But this article will be about today’s techno world affect on a person’s life!  Where is the word for “early human development?”

 

The most difficult part for me is that we have too much assignments for such a short time.  Doing this type of assignments really takes a lot of time, I mean: searching for an article, finding which you really like, writing review.  It would be much easier if we had more time to do this.

Also, I think that it would be much better if we had an opportunity to choose topics ourselves, I know that is almost impossible, but still it will involve students, because they will choose what they are interested in.  Or maybe it is possible to give us a list of topics, so we can choose one of them.

 

 

 

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