Event: Academic Integrity Discussion
The MSW Students' Commitee, in partnership with the Academic Integrity Office, the WLU Student Union, and the WLU Graduate Student Association, will be hosting a discussion on academic integrity. Dr. Lea Caragata, Dr. Boba Samuels, and Fauzia Mazhar will present at the event. See details below:
Poetry at the Writing Centre II
Our tutors have been busy making poetry in between writing appointments.
Read more poetry here.
Are we allergic to originality?
Check out this short animated Op-Doc by Drew Christie. The topic of the video is originality.
via New York Times
The First Sentence: Some Tips to Get You to Sentence #2
Sentence: Some Tips to Get You to Sentence #2
One of the most challenging sentences that you will write in university is the first line of an essay. What makes this sentence difficult is that you, as a writer, have a clear sense of where you are going, but how do you communicate this to your reader without their having any context? This blog post should not be read as a formula for the “perfect” opening sentence (such a thing does not exist), but rather a few useful approaches that you can take, depending on what you are writing and who you are writing for.
What you could do:
-You could begin with a direct, succinct explanation of your research topic and position within it. This is useful because it eliminates unnecessary sentences that do not help you make your argument. Often the most direct approach gives the most clarity, and nobody has ever criticized a writer for being too clear.
-Narrative introductions can be useful to show why your argument is important. By giving a concrete example of your subject, whether it is a historical event, a common problem in the business world, a scientific principle, or any other subject you may be writing about, narrative illustrations can move your argument away from the abstract and into the concrete.
Explain a problem that you are attempting to solve in the essay. This might make the most sense in business or scientific papers, but it has wider relevance if you see something that does not seem to make sense in the humanities (e.g., why an author used a particular theme or why a historical process took place). If you are an astute reader, you will notice that this blog post began with a statement of a problem, namely the challenge of the first sentence in university writing.
-You could start by giving a quote and explaining its relevance to your argument. Remember that if you choose to use a quote, it needs to be directly related to your argument, and the following few sentences should explain the context and significance of what you quoted. In other words, do not use a quote as a way to replace your words with somebody else’s; you are using somebody else’s words to launch into your argument. Often professors will tell you not to begin with a quote because you run this risk, so use this approach with caution.
-Go back to the opening paragraph after you have finished the essay and think about whether your opening line says something important about your argument. If not, look at ways to revise it. If you do, the bullets above might help.
What to avoid:
-You do not want to be overly grandiose in your opening. One of the most common problems in university writing is taking the principle of the “Funnel Paragraph” to its extreme. For example, do not start an essay with a description about something that happens “throughout history” if you are talking about a particular event. Often, when essays begin in this way, around half-way through the first paragraph students get to what they really want to talk about. Remove the ‘fluff’ and get straight to the point.
-Do not begin with a quote but assume that your quote speaks for itself. You are speaking. Use your evidence to help you speak, not to keep you silent.
These ideas should be treated as starting points. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to start your essays. You are trying to present your argument in the most useful way possible. Asking whether your opening is really supporting your argument is usually a good way to decide on how to begin an essay.