Writing Centers

Forms of Writing-Undergraduate Students

For help with a specific form of writing, select from the list below:

Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography is simply a list of books and other resources, usually those consulted for a research project. An annotated bibliography is one that includes a brief summary and/or critique of each item on the list. An annotated bibliography can be included with a research project, or it can stand alone.

An annotated bibliography is not the same as a reference list at the end of a research paper. A reference list contains only those works cited in the text of the research paper, and the entries provide only retrieval information (author, publication date, title, publisher information).

For an annotated bibliography, provide a full citation for each item, following the format of your assigned style manual. Follow the citation with the information you have been asked to provide.

If you want more help, check out the resources below.

(Back to menu)

Resources for Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliographies – Purdue Online Writing Lab

Example – Purdue Online Writing Lab

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography – Cornell University, Olin & Uris Libraries

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography – University of Louisville Writing Center

Lab Reports

Coming Soon!!!!!

(Back to menu)

Literature Review/Synthesis Paper

A literature review (or synthesis paper) is intended to summarize and synthesize the pertinent research on a topic by professionals in the field. A literature review can stand alone or appear as part of a longer work, such as a research proposal. The quality of the literature review is dependent upon (a) the writer’s clarity of purpose and focus of the research question; (b) the thoroughness of the writer’s search; (c) the quality and reliability of the writer’s sources; (d) the degree to which the writer provides synthesis (i.e., relates research studies to one another and to the paper’s thesis and purpose in meaningful ways); and (e) the objectivity of the writer in selecting, interpreting, organizing, and summarizing the research he or she has reviewed.

Keep in mind that a literature review is not just a summary of studies, but rather a synthesis of information and research methods in those studies. You must make clear how the studies relate to one another and to your thesis or research question and to your purpose. Synthesis requires comparing themes, methods, and conclusions among the authors. One way to keep track of it all is to create a research matrix or table. The resources below will help you get started.

The links below provide information about, and examples of, literature reviews undertaken for a variety of purposes. Links are also provided for creating a literature review matrix. This will help you create synthesis while writing a literature review.

If you want more help, check out the resources below.

(Back to menu)

Resources for Writing a Literature Review

Writing the Literature Review

How to Write a Literature Review – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Writing a Literature Review [a three-part site] – Wesleyan University Library

The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It – Writing Centre, University of Toronto

Creating a Matrix

Literature Review Matrix – Saint Mary’s Twin Cities Writing Center

Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix – North Carolina State Tutorial Services.. Ingram, Hussey, Tigani, Hemmelgarn, & Huneycutt, contributors

Synthesizing Multiple Sources – Indiana University

Create Your Own matrix in MS Word – This blank matrix is ready for you to use for your own research review.

 

Reflective Writing

What Is Reflective Writing?

Reflective writing calls on you to express your own views on an experience, even though you may have “experienced” it only in print or on the screen. Reflective writing takes many forms, including a reaction paper, journal, learning log, and personal essay.

Reflective writing for an academic assignment, regardless of its purpose or setting, can be identified by these characteristics:

Purposeful: Reflective writing does not mean jotting down scraps of thoughts as they pop into your head. That might work for a personal diary, but not for reflective writing with an academic purpose. Like any academic writing, reflective writing should be coherent, with well-supported, unified paragraphs that are linked by effective transitions.

Perceptive: Reflective writing is not merely describing or telling a story. It requires higher order thinking skills. These higher order thinking skills could take the form of analysis (What are the separate and underlying components of the situation, process, or argument you are reflecting on? What are the causes and effects?), synthesis (How do those components relate to or react to one another? How are they different when considered together rather than apart?), and evaluation (What is your attitude towards the subject? How have you been affected? What part will you accept or reject? How might you perceive or act differently in the future?).

Polished: Although you may not use research sources, reflective writing must meet the standards of clarity, conciseness, and correctness that apply to any other styles of formal writing. Plan to write and revise. Do not hand in the first draft.

Citations: Follow an appropriate style in all aspects possible: Use formal punctuation and complete sentences, insert page numbers and headings when appropriate, and maintain margins and paragraph indents.

If you want more help, check out the resources below.

(Back to menu)

Resources for Reflective Writing

How Do I . . . Write a Reflection? – Trent University Academic Skills Centre

Reflective Writing: Guidance Notes for Students – P. Watton, J. Collings, & J. Moon, University of Exeter, UK

Reflective Writing – University of Nottingham.

 

Rhetorical Analysis 

A rhetorical analysis considers all elements of the rhetorical situation–the audience, purpose, genre, and context.

(Back to menu)

Resources for Rhetorical Analysis

 

Summary and Critique

Summary and critique are terms that describe rhetorical modes (ways of organizing and developing ideas) as well as individual “pieces” of writing. Summary and critique are foundations for many forms of academic and professional writing, such as book reports and literature reviews.

Summary: A condensed version of an original presentation that

  • identifies the original author by name,
  • identifies the context for the original presentation, and
  • states the original author’s main idea and major points.

Response: Describes and explains your intellectual response to the original author’s presentation. The response may include one or more of the following:

  • how the original author’s ideas compare to the ideas of other experts.
  • whether or not the original presentation contained logical flaws or misinformation.
  • whether or not the author responded to other points of view on the subject.
  • how the author’s ideas might be applied or how they might change a situation if they were (or were not) applied.

Critique: A combination of summary and response. Summary precedes response in a critique.

If you want more help, check out the resources below.

(Back to menu)

Resources for Writing a Summary and Critique

The Book Review or Article Critique – University of Toronto

Tips for Writing Good Summaries

 

Tips For Writing Good Summaries

  • Put aside your own opinions when you begin to read the original, and do not let yourself mentally argue with the author as you read. Remain objective in order to “hear” what the author is saying.
  • Start your reading with these questions, in this order:
    • What is the topic?
    • What opinion does the author most want readers to keep in mind about this topic?
    • What arguments or information does the author use to convince (or try to convince) readers?
  • Summarize as you read. Write a sentence in your own words at the end of each paragraph. Draw from these sentences for your final summary. Put the text out of view to ensure that you are summarizing in your own words. Check yourself.
  • Never insert your own ideas into a summary. A summary contains only the ideas of the original author. Period. Your opinions are appropriate for the response or critique.
  • Formatting can give you hints about main ideas and supporting points.
    • The title can suggest a question and answer about the topic.
    • Headings and section breaks can give a clue to main topics.
    • Italics or boldface type usually indicate an important point.
    • Paragraph or sentence numbering can indicate important points.
    • The main idea of a paragraph is often (though not always) expressed in the first two or last two sentences of the paragraph.
    • The first paragraph often provides an overview of the entire article.
    • The last paragraph often provides a very brief summary.
  • Examples, illustrations, and anecdotes (little stories) are almost never main points. When you run across an example, ask yourself: Ok, what is this an example of?
  • Use the original author’s ideas, but not his or her words. Instead, paraphrase the author. Paraphrase means that you read the author’s words, and, without referring to the text, write down the author’s idea in your own words.
  • Make sure you understand what you’re reading. If you don’t, talk to someone— instructor, classmate, Writing Center consultant—until you are sure you do. You can’t summarize what you don’t understand. Get help: it’s not only allowed, it’s encouraged.

Tips For Writing Good Responses

  • In academic or scholarly writing,
    • responses are based on facts that you can support (facts from experts, class discussions, assigned reading in your text, and the like), not on hearsay or emotions
    • responses are based on the original author’s purpose and audience.
    • you must provide support for the opinions you express in your response.
    • your opinions and interpretations appear only in your response, not in your summary of the author’s work.
  • Sometimes an instructor will ask you for a gut reaction or a reaction based on your own experience. In that case, and only in that case, you may stray from Point 4 above. Still, you should try to analyze your reaction so that you can state why you responded as you did.

Tips For Writing Good Critiques

The most frequent mistake students make when asked to critique an article is to tell the instructor only what the article is about. A critique requires that you articulate your opinions about the article. If your instructor does not provide guidelines for writing a critique, follow these:

  • Identify the author, his or her affiliation, and the context for the article or presentation.
  • In one to three paragraphs, summarize the article: Describe the focus and identify the major points of the article. Do not insert your opinions in this part.
  • If the work being critiqued is a research study, describe the type of research, including purpose and methodology.
  • Comment on the author’s assumptions, methods, and conclusions. What was the author trying to accomplish? Did the author acknowledge and respond to other points of view? How objective was he or she? What new ideas were presented? How do the author’s ideas compare with prevailing views on the topic? What strengths or weaknesses did you notice in the author’s methods and reporting?

Comment on the author’s work in terms of your own knowledge and experiences with the topic. If you came away with new insights, explain them. If you disagree with the author, say why and explain your views as they derive from knowledge and objective experience, not from feelings or intuition.

 

Location

Twin Cities

128 LaSalle Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612.728.5154
write@smumn.edu

Winona

22 Saint Mary's Hall 
700 Terrace Heights, #1432
612.728.5154
write@smumn.edu

Hours

Twin Cities

By Appointment 

Winona

By Appointment

Search the Writing Center