Quality writing is considered a very important aspect of an academic setting, particularly when completing a graduate program. It is necessary to develop writing skills beyond the basic elements of writing that are considered acceptable in an undergraduate program. There are many aspects of writing that have the potential for development. Aside from the quality of writing regarding content and mechanics, it is also important to understand the elements of effective communication. Appropriate use of vocabulary, proper organization of information, and the tone in which the information is presented to the audience are very important aspect of effective written communication. Understanding the proper APA format for citations and references is necessary in order to avoid plagiarism when using outside sources for information. Successfully managing various responsibilities will minimize stress, making it easier to focus on writing and producing a quality assignment. Writing skills can be developed and should be developed academically, in order to prepare for more effective communication in a professional setting. Graduate Writing- Characteristics and Differences
Graduate level writing should have certain characteristics that reflect a more developed writing style. According to Heady (2007), graduate level writing should have proper use of grammar and punctuation, be logical and organized, reflect critical thinking, use appropriate diction and vocabulary, and the information should be thoroughly researched. There are differences between graduate-level writing when it is compared to undergraduate level writing. While it is acceptable for undergraduate writing to be mechanically correct, clear, and concise, graduate writing is expected to be mechanically skillful, as well as nuanced, engaging, and interesting. The audience for graduate writing is also different than the audience for undergraduate writing. The audience for undergraduate writing is typically the teacher/instructor or a general audience, while graduate writing is written more for a professional audience. Elements of Effective Written Communication
Effective written communication is crucial for academic graduate level writing, as well as for written communication in a professional setting. According to Giordano (2012), effective writing happens as a result of preparation, thinking, writing, and revising. For writing to be effective it is necessary to write for the intended audience, the purpose must be clear, and the information must be presented in a concise and organized manner. The proper use of vocabulary and spelling, grammar and punctuation, and the ability to clearly express ideas are essential elements of effective writing. In order for written communication to be effective, it is important to remember that in a graduate level program and in a professional setting, there are proper formatting requirements that are necessary for work that is presented to an audience. There is a great deal of effort that goes into making writing effective, so it is important to develop writing skills for the purpose of getting the point across or to sway the reader’s opinion (if that is the objective of the communication). Plagiarism and How to Avoid It
Plagiarism is the uncredited use of someone else’s ideas or words and is considered a severe offense, both academically and professionally (Stolley, Brizee, & Paiz, 2014). According to Lowe & Dougherty (2014), intentional plagiarism typically stems from fear of failure, poor planning/time management skills, or viewing the course material and the consequences of cheating as unimportant. Unintentional plagiarism is usually caused by a lack of understanding the use of proper citations when attempting to integrate ideas. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to learn the appropriate use of citations and the proper format for references. Understanding the difference between using someone else’s words in a direct quote and paraphrasing is important, as each method requires the information to be cited differently. Aside from learning the appropriate use of citations and references, it is necessary to understand the importance of course materials and the seriousness of the consequences for cheating. Learning proper time management skills will also help students to remain vigilant when citing sources used to support the information being presented. Managing Time and Stress- School and Life Responsibilities
Time mismanagement is possibly the most significant stressor, for both college students and professionals. According to University Health Center (2014), learning time management skills for the purpose of accomplishing short and long term goals is very valuable, particularly when prioritizing important life/work/school responsibilities and meeting deadlines. It is necessary to anticipate, plan, break down tasks, make lists and cross things off, and most importantly, do not procrastinate in order to develop successful time management skills. Using a calendar to organize anticipated responsibilities (deadlines, appointments, social engagements, etc.) will minimize the stress of constantly trying to remember what needs to be done and when it is due.
Planning the amount of time to spend studying or working on an assignment/project will ensure that there is plenty of time and flexibility in the schedule to do what is needed, even if there are unexpected issues or responsibilities to deal with. Breaking down tasks can minimize feeling overwhelmed and allow for more focus and concentration, particularly with assignments. Avoiding procrastination is a major step towards developing time-management skills, because putting things off until the last minute leads to significantly increased stress and poor performance. Time management skills are essential to producing quality work, in a timely manner; whether in an academic or professional environment. Conclusion
Graduate level writing is expected to have more in common with written communication in a professional setting, as opposed to the writing found in undergraduate level programs. The development of effective writing skills is imperative to an individual’s academic and professional careers because many issues can arise from disorganized, unclear, biased communication. A portion of what makes written communication effective is time management because organizing the writing process with notes and outlines can help to organize what is written and presented to the audience. Planning and breaking down tasks help to ensure that there is plenty of time to provide quality communication, as well as to help individuals remain focused on the work and aware of proper writing skills.
Plagiarism, either intentional or unintentional, should be avoided at all costs; so, it is important to be aware of proper formatting requirements for citations and references used to support the information presented. The mechanics of writing are extremely important for any type of written communication to be effective; however, graduate level and professional writing should be much more developed beyond proper mechanics. High quality, effective writing should reflect a developed sense of the audience, the purpose of the communication, and an understanding of the many little things that contribute to written communication being truly effective.
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