Effective and Ethical Research

Students understand that the act of writing can be a lonely one (e.g., sitting alone at their desk in the middle of the night, your roommate fast asleep), but we want them to realize how scholars are in fact doubly connected to other people—through the sources they draw on and the writing support they receive. In their Writing Seminar, students are taught not only how to exchange constructive feedback in a way that preserves their academic integrity, but also how to locate and use—and properly cite—sources in their writing.

Because we teach writing as thinking, the work in Writing Seminar is the work of research–from brainstorming and exploration of evidence, to note taking, developing and following a method, analyzing and drafting, and finally revising. It is important to us that students gain hands-on experience using the University Library and collections, and to that end every seminar is paired with a specialist research librarian who co-teaches two more classes that center on using library search tools, databases, and strategies like citation tracking and the CRAAP test for evaluating sources. Most importantly, through this collaboration, students have the opportunity to become more confident in using the library and seeking support from our partner librarians. 

In addition to the feedback they receive from faculty and guidance from University librarians, all students in the Writing Seminars participate in two academic integrity workshops that focus on source use and citation practices. These workshops are designed to teach good citation practices as a matter of analysis, rather than simply conventions of academic writing. For example, students are introduced to scholarly writing as a conversation, with emphasis on the importance of making it very clear who is saying what in that conversation. Citation then becomes a way of keeping the voices straight so that students and their readers can understand what’s going on in a source–it’s about analysis and establishing critical authority–so it remains clear ultimately what their contribution is to the conversation. Specifically, students practice both inline citation (MLA or APA styles) and footnotes/endnotes (Chicago style), and they receive deep practice integrating sources using direct quotations, paraphrase, and summary. Students practice in class and their practice is reinforced in feedback received on their writing. We teach students that effective and ethical source use is not only about mastering the mechanics of citation, but even more so about developing an original angle or take on a topic or idea. 

Acknowledgment of Feedback and Support

In keeping with common scholarly practice, students are expected to express their indebtedness in an Acknowledgments section or footnote to anyone who gave them feedback on drafts or contributed informally to their thinking on your topic—for example, their classmates, roommates, and family members.

Exceptions are their instructor and Writing Center Fellows (because using Writing Center is a confidential matter).

Learning More about Academic Integrity

Students are encouraged to bring their questions about source use and citation practice to their professors or instructors. Writing Center Fellows are also happy to talk with them about academic integrity and strategies for ethical, effective analysis and collaboration.

In the Spotlight: The Writing Center