writing

How to Focus Your Academic Research Questions

Good research and analysis begins with crafting a strong research question. A well-focused research question will hone in on your audience, be relevant and timely, and demonstrate that you are a subject matter expert. Whether you’re writing for a big-time academic publication or working in the smaller scale, keep these tips in mind for your next research assignment.

Focus your research question

According to authors Campbell, Schultz Huxman, and Burkholder in their book The Rhetorical Act: Thinking, Speaking and Writing Critically, 5th Edition, it’s a good idea to consider your audience and current affairs as you begin to focus your research questions. Three questions will help you Read More…


Tips for Students: How to Write a Strong Thesis

A thesis is the backbone to a compelling research paper, yet some college students either struggle with writing one or neglect to include one entirely. It’s important to remember that high school writing courses vary from school to school and while some college students may simply need a quick refresher, others may be starting from scratch. Share these tips with your students for crafting a strong thesis this semester.

Research paper thesis

A good thesis statement expresses your main idea, perspective or position based on your research. It should not be comprised of an extremely well-known fact. In the early stages of research, Read More…


Overcoming Writer’s Block: Tips for Getting Yourself Started

Because of fatigue, indecision, uncertainty about your project, or some other reason, you may occasionally experience the feeling commonly known as “writer’s block.” You’re stuck in one spot, and don’t know how to proceed. When you feel stale or listless, a fresh perspective can often help you begin anew, with creative ideas that propel your project forward. If you’re looking for a few ideas that can get you moving, we have a few to share. Ready to get “unblocked”? Let’s get started!

Four helpful strategies for overcoming writer’s block

In their book Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction, Second Read More…


Tips for Students: How to Narrow Down Your Research Topic

Part of the research paper writing process involves finding an angle or an approach that is interesting to both you and your readers. Students often have a hard time assessing just how manageable a subject is until they’ve already wasted considerable time. Share these tips with your students for choosing a concise research topic that they can discuss thoroughly.

Choosing a topic

According to authors Campbell, Schultz Huxman, and Burkholder in their book The Rhetorical Act: Thinking, Speaking and Writing Critically, 5th Edition, it’s a good idea to choose a topic that you can relate to. “Equally important for invention is your storehouse of knowledge Read More…


Students’ Top Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

As we noted in an earlier post, most college students are, to a certain degree, concerned about the problem of plagiarism; 25% of respondents to our survey said their peers are “very concerned,” and an additional 20% say they’re “somewhat concerned.”

Concern is one thing; action is another. So, how do they go about ensuring their work is, indeed, original and free of plagiarism?

In our Spring 2015 Student Engagement Insights survey, we also asked: “What steps do you take to make sure that your work is plagiarism-free?” The chart below shows students’ responses.

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Are College Students Concerned About Plagiarism?

Without a doubt: as an instructor, you’re concerned about plagiarism among your students. It’s an academic offense that could leave a serious mark on their records. Furthermore, when students plagiarize, they’re also taking shortcuts around the the critical thinking and analysis you want your them to engage in.

But to what degree are students themselves concerned about the problems associated with plagiarism? We wanted to better understand students’ attitudes; so, in our Spring 2015 Student Engagement Insights survey, we asked a number of questions surrounding this critical topic.

We heard from nearly three thousand students who all answered the question: “How concerned are your peers about plagiarism?” Will you find their responses surprising, or will they confirm your existing assumptions?

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College Students’ Research Confidence (and Competence)

How confident are college students in their research skills? And do their instructors perceive their skills in the same manner? In our recent Engagement Insights survey of nearly 3,000 college students, we asked: “How good are your research skills?” Our results indicate that college students are quite confident. When asked, 52% rated their research skills as “Good,” and another 25% stated that their skills are “very good.” Another 22% ranked their skills as “fair.” Only 1% of our surveyed students considered their research skills to be “poor.” However, when instructors were asked about their own confidence in students’ research skills, they told Read More…


Top Four Reasons Students Use Their College Library

The college library is an important hub of campus life. There, you can check out books, conduct your research, find a quiet place to study, and maybe even flip through a magazine. What’s more, today’s college libraries extend their reach out into the Internet, making many services and resources accessible right from their websites. But how are students using this great wealth of resources? To better understand college students’ study habits, we wanted to explore how, and why, they use their school’s library. So, in our Spring 2015 Student Engagement Insights survey, we asked: What do you do when you’re at your college library? Nearly 3,000 students Read More…


Cengage Learning Launches New Browser Extension Tool Allowing for Research Simplicity

This week, our team at Questia, the online research and writing tool for college students and valued part of Cengage Learning, announced the launch of a browser extension aimed to streamline your students’ research process. The extension, called “Questia Research Tools” in the Chrome Web Store, is a capture tool that allows members to save and cite research from the Questia library of over 83,000 books and 10 million articles as well as from any book or article, online or in print.

Student research made easy

The extension integrates Questia’s helpful project folders and citation and note-taking tools, Read More…


Improving Students’ Business Writing: A Quick and Easy Method

This paper provides a proven method for improving the quality of students’ business writing with limited effort by the instructor and minimal use of classroom time. The paper includes two handouts developed over several years by the author which highlight common errors students make in their business writing. Students receive the handouts with every writing assignment and the instructor explains how to use the handouts. The paper also provides a checklist which students complete and submit to the instructor with their writing assignments. The checklist requires students to verify whether they reviewed and corrected their writing for the business writing structure and common errors described in the handouts.

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