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Writing the Research Paper: Interview with Amanda Christie

 

This week we interview Amanda Christie, academic writing coach and editor at PFAU Academic Writing, about what it takes to write a solid research paper. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are currently working on their term research papers and feeling a bit overwhelmed. While writing can be stressful and time-consuming, a well-thought out and detailed research, note-taking, and planning process can make writing much easier.

Screenshot 20201129 125306 1 1 e1611451922988 283x300 Writing the Research Paper: Interview with Amanda Christie

 

Amanda comes from a family of teachers and professors, but she also is no slouch herself. She has a BA (Hons) in Global Development and Gender Studies from Queen’s University, and has worked on research projects with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, Newcomer Women’s Services, and Singing Out. She also presented at several conferences throughout Ontario as coordinator for a youth drop-in centre, and has a real passion for the education of young adults – helping them to edit essays, improve assignments, enhance university applications, and polish up English as a second language skills.

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What do you think is the value of feedback from other people on research papers?

No matter how good a paper might be, it is always nice to have a second set of eyes on it to make sure that someone else can understand you. It is really easy to make assumptions about what you mean when you are reading your own work. When you wrote it yourself, you know what you mean, but someone else might not understand your argument. In addition, it is great to have an outside perspective because you might be asked questions that you did not think about and given suggestions on how to expand your argument. Sometimes other people might even have extra resources for you that are helpful for the paper. Generally, it is just great to exchange ideas with others.

 What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing a good quality research paper?

I think the most challenging thing is keeping the paper organized. Often, people have a lot of really great ideas, but they do not always communicate them clearly, which results in the effect being lost. You can have the best argument in the world, but if it is not coming across to your readers, it is ineffective. I think that it is important to remember the flow of your essay and that each paragraph should have strong arguments that related to your main point. You should back those arguments up in a logical way and building upon each new idea. Ideas should not come out of the blue and you should not be jumping back and forth between topics or ideas. It is key to also have transition sentences. The ability to link your ideas into a coherent argument or logic is what takes a paper from a C to an A.

What is the most common error you see when providing feedback on research paper drafts?

I think the most common error is the lack of specificity and evidence, for example, insufficient supporting evidence like statistics and quotations. I find that a lot of people do not always back up or prove their claims, and they just stick them in their papers as assumptions and reality. On the flip side, sometimes people use evidence incorrectly or in a way that is not as impactful. For example, you may be plopping a quotation into an essay without any subsequent analysis. I think that goes back to taking the time to do detailed research notes to help you figure out which evidence you want to use and which is no longer relevant.

What are the top three tips for students who are adjusting to university-level writing?

First of all, I want to remind everyone to not take their grades personally. Your worth is not tied to your grades; it is merely a measure of skill assessment. Second of all, work on developing strong thesis statements. The thesis statement sets up the argument and structure of your paper. Third of all, ensure that your essay structure and flow works to support the argument that you outline in your thesis statement. It is essential to ensure that your ideas connect to and build off of each other, and not just merely floating island on the page.

 

Recommended Books

Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Writing the Research Paper: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 37 panel 1 01 300x296 Writing the Research Paper: Podcast Episode Live!

  We interview Amanda Christie, academic writing coach and editor at PFAU Academic Writing, about what it takes to write a solid research paper. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are currently working on their term research papers and feeling a bit overwhelmed. While writing can be stressful and time-consuming, a well-thought out and detailed research, note-taking, and planning process can make writing much easier.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

High School VS University Writing

The challenges of writing a research paper

Tips for conducting research

Common errors made in a research paper

The top 3 things to include in your research paper

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Writing Online: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 11 panel 2 300x295 Writing Online: Podcast Episode Live!

 We interview Melody Belliveau, a freelance writer and author of the website, TheSocial-Commentary.com, about the journey of becoming a writer, which is part of our Careers in the Liberal Arts series. Most people think of writers as authors of books, but there’s actually probably more writing than ever before with the advent of the internet. Websites, social media, newsletters, and online editorials all are areas where you can become a writer.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Writing for newspapers VS writing for websites online

How to stay motivated as a writer

Tips for marketing yourself and your content

It’s never too late to follow your dreams

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

The Art of Proofreading: Podcast Live!
PFAU 36 panel 4 01 290x300 The Art of Proofreading: Podcast Live!

 We interview Daina Sparling, an editor and proofreader at PFAU Academic Writing, about something students often take for granted – editing! Good writers know that the first draft is never going to be their best work. They need to put aside time to revise, edit, and proofread their work. The best writers have colleagues or professionals to provide them with insights on their work and to fix any issues. Like all art, writing takes multiple drafts to reach a level of greatness.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The Value of Editing

Skills and Knowledge of a Good Editor

The Essay-Editing Process

Common mistakes made in essays and how to avoid them

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Healing through Creative Writing: Interview with Linh Nguyen

 

We interviewed Linh Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Canadian writer and workshop facilitator, about the gifts that writing can provide to your well-being. Writing can be a great emotional relief, healing old wounds, providing unique insights, and enhancing personal growth.

000026030021 1 214x300 Healing through Creative Writing: Interview with Linh Nguyen

 

 Linh is passionate about #OwnVoices storytelling and creating space for underrepresented artists in mainstream media. She holds an H.B.A. in English from the University of Toronto and specializes in writing creative non-fiction and children’s literature. Her current project is a middle-grade children’s portal fantasy manuscript, which she is currently being submitted to several publishers. Linh is also one of our creative writing instructors at PFAU, with some really inspiring upcoming courses.

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What drew you to creative writing?

For me, I think what drew me to stories in the first place was that I’ve always been a big reader. I did not start writing by myself until Grade 6, which was the year that my father and I immigrated to Canada. It was a pretty challenging year for a number of reasons financially, personally, my mom and my baby brother stayed behind in Hanoi that year. So it was a challenging time for the family, and we had a lot to adjust to, facing a new culture and country. I wanted to escape a lot of that, so I turned to stories. That year I think over 200 books.

My favorite genre was were portal fantasies, which is the type of fantasy when the main character starts in our regular worlds and then finds himself in a different world through some series of circumstances. For example, the Witch in the wardrobe, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland. Those stories were always my favorite. Also, that was the year I discovered Harry Potter. I guess fiction provided me with the escape that I wanted, and the portal fantasy and print title there. The portal fantasy was like a metaphor for the immigrant experience. About partway through the year, I started writing some of my own stories to reshape my own experiences and have continued ever since.

I know that you’re passionate about unrepresented artists. Where did this come from?

Honestly, I only started paying attention to this over past three years. Before that, I think I was still writing with a very white gaze. In the first draft of my novel, all my characters were white. It wasn’t until I finished that I realized this and thought – “But, that’s not my experience.”

Afterwards, I listened to a TED Talk by Chimamda Ngozi Adichie called “The Danger of a Single Story.” She talks about an experience she had writing in Nigeria, as a kid, and how she was writing about snow, even though she’s never seen snow before. That was very relatable to my experience because all I had consumed were stories about white characters, so I ended up writing about white characters even though that wasn’t reflective of my lived experiences. It took a very intentional reflection for me to actually start bringing my identity and voices of Vietnamese immigrants into my work.

I think community has played a really big part in this as well, such as being involved with Project 40 Collective, which is about uplifting, underrepresented voices. They’ve all been teaching me how to foreground identity in my work. This is totally new to me because my background is in English literature in university, where the majority of authors are white men. It took me so long after graduating to realize that Hemingway is not the be all and end all of good writing. It’s really important to see stories of people who look and sound like you when you’re growing up. Otherwise, you end up adopting the dominant gaze, which is what I did and I had to push myself out of it in a lot of ways.

In what ways can students use writing as a form of self-care in their daily lives?

I think the biggest difference between essay writing and writing for self-care is the intention. In my workshops, I don’t focus on technique as much as I focus on developing voice. The object is drawing out feelings and making space for feelings. It’s not so important to have nicely written words, but to be real and raw. The goal is to come out feeling proud of how you tuned into yourself and feel more grounded in yourself.

Recommended Books and Resources

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

Linh Nguyen

Thank you, Linh, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Please visit our calendar to register for our research essay or creative writing courses.

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Healing through Creative Writing: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 35 panel 3 01 296x300 Healing through Creative Writing: Podcast Episode Live!

For this week’s episode, we interview Linh Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Canadian writer and workshop facilitator, about the gifts that writing can provide to your daily life. Writing can be a great emotional relief, healing old wounds, providing unique insights, and enhancing personal growth.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

The relationship between writing and well-being

The creative writing process

Self-care writing practices

The importance of writing as a self-reflection tool

 

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Please visit our calendar to register for our research essay or creative writing courses.

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Academic Integrity: Interview with Lisa Pfau

 

We interviewed Lisa Pfau, the founder and CEO of Pfau Academic Writing, about her own experiences coaching students through academic integrity issues. For students, especially from other countries with different expectations, the expectations around academic integrity may take time to adjust to. Academic misconduct can lead to serious consequences from verbal reprimand to notation on the transcript or even suspension from school. During COVID-19, the issue of academic misconduct has heightened since schools can no longer use exam centres and classrooms, making them more concerned about cheating. This additional pressure has led to some misunderstandings and false accusations.

Lisa scaled e1612409991281 300x250 Academic Integrity: Interview with Lisa Pfau

 

After graduating in 2007, Lisa Pfau worked in public policy and research, including: as a political intern at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and a Research Coordinator at the University of Toronto. These experiences provided Lisa with the knowledge and networks to help her clients transition from academic to professional life.

She currently enjoys teaching specialized Creative Writing and Research Essay Writing courses and workshops at PFAU: Academic Writing, and other educational institutions, such as the University of Toronto and University of Alberta.

Over the past 20 years, she has mentored hundreds of clients in reading/writing fundamentals, critical thinking, research proficiency, organizational skills, and academic/career goal setting, as well as, research papers, scholarship proposals, and grad/professional school applications.

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What is the difference between positive collaboration with classmates and academic dishonesty?

I think the key is to give someone else credit if you are using their ideas. I would say that positive collaboration is when working together on an assignment, it is clear who did what, whose idea it was, or where all these thoughts coming from. You are not just “stealing someone’s idea.” I think academic misconduct is when you knowingly take an idea or information from somewhere else and you pass it off as your own information with the expectation that you will be rewarded.

This actually happened to me in grad school before. When I was in grad school, we had a shared office space in the basement of the Munk Center at the University of Toronto. Those of us who took the same class would be in the office before class discussing the reading. I would say discussing the readings and bouncing ideas off each other is collaboration. However, what happened is when went to the class, the professor called on us for the class discussion, and my classmate verbatim repeated what I said in the basement office about what I thought about the reading. She passed it off as her own thought even thought it was almost like a direct quote. That would be an example of academic misconduct. I think the key is respecting other people’s thoughts and ideas, and giving credit when using them.

How to avoid violating academic integrity?

For assignments, I always say it is better to over-cite than to under-cite resources, especially in high school and post-secondary essays. Make sure you let the markers know where your information came from, and make it really clear that the analysis is your own ideas and interpretations of the data.

When it comes to exams. I would check with the TA, or the professor, in advance of the exam if the syllabus is not completely clear on exam protocols. Being clear on expectations is really important now that students are taking exams at home. I think something you can do to protect yourself during at home exams is to shut all the windows and everything on your computer. Then, restart your computer so that it comes up totally clean and nothing is open. If you are just studying for the exam, you might forget that a window relevant to the course material is open, and later that may appear on the course software and put your academic integrity into question. Another reason to restart your computer prior to exams is if using your computer and the exam is timed, you do not want the computer to shut down in the middle of the exam and make you lose all your information or cause a time delay. I think that is probably the best thing you can do to make sure that there is no misunderstanding or opportunity for suspicion.

What can students do when they are accused of academic misconduct?

Definitely go to your school counselor and your registrar’s office; they tend to have specialists handling these types of situations because a lot of students get in trouble with these kinds of issues every year. A lot of student are in the same stressful situation. So, the school counselor is a great resource to talk to regarding the issue, the next steps, and understand what the instructor accused you of and potential penalties. Sometimes when you are really scared it’s hard to take it in right away, so it’s good to consult other school resources to help you to fully understand the situation and what you can do to resolve it.

In universities with a law school, part of your tuition often goes to pay for the law students to gain practical experience through dealing with simple cases, such as academic misconduct. So if you are at a big university that has a law school, you can reach out to them and find out what kind of support they have for students in this situation. Getting legal support, especially for the more serious cases, can help you to understand the situation and feel more secure having a representative on your side.

Recommended Books and Resources

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger, Christine A. Padesky

Check with your school academic counselor

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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_

Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Protect your Academic Integrity: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 4 panel 3 287x300 Protect your Academic Integrity: Podcast Episode Live!

This week we will be interviewing Lisa Pfau, the founder and CEO of Pfau Academic Writing, about her own experiences coaching students through academic integrity issues. For students, especially international students from other countries with different expectations, it takes time to adjust to different standards of academic integrity, and failure to do so can be disastrous for some students. Academic misconduct can lead to serious consequences from verbal reprimand to notation on the transcript or even suspension from school. During COVID-19, the issue of academic misconduct has heightened since schools can no longer use exam centres and classrooms, making them more concerned about cheating, so it is even more important to do what you can to protect your own academic integrity.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

What is academic integrity?

Positive Collaboration vs Academic Misconduct

Consequences of Academic Misconduct

How to Avoid Academic Misconduct

What can you do if you have been accused of academic misconduct?

 

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

University Applications 101: Podcast Episode Live!
University Application 1 300x295 University Applications 101: Podcast Episode Live!

 We interview Lisa Pfau, founder and CEO of Pfau Academic Writing about applying for university or college from high school, a critical step in many students’ lives. It is important to be fully prepared by exploring the programs and/or schools of interests, admission requirements, and application processes as there are different requirements. Extensive research and a solid plan are necessary to succeed in the application process.  

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

How to start the application process

Suggestions for picking a school or program

What to do after receiving the letter of acceptance

Advice for the transition from high school to post-secondary studies

Advice for International Students

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Life Insurance & Financial Planning for students: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 35 panel 4 01 294x300 Life Insurance & Financial Planning for students: Podcast Episode Live!

 We interview Mario Schwarzenberg is the owner/broker of MSI – Mario Schwarzenberg Insurance Services Inc., an insurance brokerage, has been offering its customers competitive insurance rates since the early 1990s. This week’s episode is about something we don’t like to talk about, death and critical illness. When we are young we often think we are invincible, but this is not always the case. We are all fragile human beings, and at some point our lives will end. It is important to think of these eventualities sooner rather than later as it can save you a lot of additional hassle, stress, and even money.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The importance of life insurance in estate & financial planning

 The different types of life insurance: permanent vs. term

How to decide what kind of life insurance is right for you

Advice for young people about planning for their financial future

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.