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Business & Graduate Studies | Writing Resources

Academic and Professional Writing

Academic writing is unique from literary or creative writing in its goals and use of language.  According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) chapter 3, good academic writing employs the first person voice rather than third person as appropriate and avoids anthropomorphism.  As Social Science writers, we seek to be clear, concise, and precise, without taking a position,or employing bias, hyperbole, and unwarranted (unsubstantiated) claims.  In the written document, we make good use of straight forward logic and rhetoric in developing an argument, exploring the context of the argument (including its critiques).  This requires the academic writer to make more (and judicious) use of summary, paraphrase, citations, and references.  The formatting of the document is just as important in making your argument clear and in facilitating your reader’s understanding of your argument.  The practice of academic writing will strengthen and empower the writer’s voice.  This might cause a writer new to this style to struggle, so practice, be persistent, and seek feedback and support.  After checking the resources attached to your course syllabus, your instructor and the Writing Center should be your next stop.  The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue has a great resource for understanding academic writing.  We recommend starting with the OWL’s section: APA Stylistics: Basics, and the APA Style Blog. No writer should be without the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), and a quick way to pick up good writing tips is to review chapter 3.

The School of Business and Graduate Studies (BGS) recommends the BGS Academic Publishing Style (based on the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (6th ed.), known as APA 6th, for academic papers submitted as assignments in all courses. Your instructors will direct you to the appropriate style to use for your course. The use of a style manual does not exclude the need to use good grammar and proper English in your writing, see the Publication manual of the APA (6th ed.)’s chapters one through four. BGS recommends that you use the appropriate writing guide for your papers also. These guides might include: Strunk & White or Hacker’s Writer’s Reference (Printed versions are available and inexpensive).  Other sources to consider are the writing sections of the Turabian reference or the Chicago Style Manual. Again your instructor or the Writing Center will make recommendations, and remember these guides facilitate good writing in an academic style.

Professional writing might make use of both a more narrative style, expository (explanatory), and academic writing conventions.  Professional writing, like academic writing, should be clear, concise, and precise.  The written document will make good use of straight forward logic and rhetoric in developing an argument, exploring the context of the issue (including critique).  However, the author might take a position, use hyperbole or bias, depending on the nature and purpose of the document.  For example, a grant proposal might employ persuasion and hyperbole, where a report might resemble an academic paper, while both might use footnotes rather than citations.  The School of Business and Graduate Studies (BGS) recommends the BGS Professional Reporting style for all assignments, which comprise reports, with the exception of graduate Strategic Communication and Public Relations courses, which might utilize the Associated Press Style, known as AP Style. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue has a great resource for understanding professional writing.




 BGS Publishing Style

The Trinity Washington University School of Business and Graduate Studies (BGS) has two publishing formats to facilitate student ability to communicate in writing in a variety of contexts and environments.

  1. BGS Academic Publishing Style for research paper format, style, and referencing based on APA 6th style.
  2. BGS Professional Reporting Style to format  grant proposals, case analysis reports, market analysis, strategic plans, and other business or professional reports.  The BGS Professional Style also makes use of the MS Word design headings to facilitate ease of formatting and to automatically populate the table of contents.  The instructions found on this page may easily be adapted to render the BGS Professional Style.
  3. It is common practice for Universities to have a publishing style and most social sciences utilize APA 6th style, While Communication and other professional disciplines concerned with broadcast, media, or business publishing use Associated Press (AP) style in their writing practices.  Differences between the BGS Publishing Style and the APA 6th style are designed to simplify the document formatting process and to produce a published document.
    1. Instructors might require you to use APA 6th ed, or AP style in the writing of your assignments.  Either style is compatible with BGS Publishing Style.
    2. If you would like to learn how to set MS Word up to automatically format your paper using the design headings (which also populate the table of contents) please look for the PC or MAC versions of the documents below, or use the document in the last section of this page, which contains step-by-step directions and screen shots.

Style Templates

The following style templates reflect APA (6th ed) rules for writing, citing, and formatting.  However, they are modified to provide students with a published version for submission as assignments in the School of Business and Graduate Studies.  The exception to this is the APA 6th Style Assignment Blank, which is set to meet the APA’s submission style as found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th. ed) (2009).

After you download and save the template you might begin replacing the test within the template with your own, being careful to merge styles as you paste. Or delete all the text, replace it with your own, and use the Design Headings to edit to the correct format.

Point of View, Voice, and Style

In APA Style, Associated Press (AP), BGS Academic Publishing Style, and BGS Professional Report Style write in first person when discussing yourself, or your team of authors, and use third person when referring to others (see APA 6th ed., chapter 3 section 3.09, pp. 68-70).  This tends to produce written work, which is more engaging and readable.  This has been the expected norm in academic writing for several decades, however, academics change slowly!  It takes some practice to write in first person, especially to avoid subjectivity, however, if you use good written voice practices it will be more engaging and impactful for your reader.  Good voice includes a lack of bias, clear and concise phrases and sentences, maintain parallel construction, avoid hyperbole and overstatement, and use logical word choices you will get your point across more effectively.

A quick and effective way to master good writing is to read and review chapters 3 and 4 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (2009).  These chapters clearly convey the most important elements of good writing. See the following pages for guidance.

Learn about APA Style

First, consider purchasing the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), it will be the best money you spend (about $30 new).  If you are purchasing used, double check that you are purchasing the 6th edition, which has a cover bright blue in color with a green leaf.  Be certain to read chapters 3, 4, and 6.  Review and bookmark Table 6.1 on page 177 (print) to quickly identify basic citations. Then Review chapter 7 as you develop your list of references.  It is best to have the manual open to chapter 7 as you are writing! To Learn about APA Style and how to use it follow the links below for tutorials.

Common Writing and Formatting Issues

There are some common issues students have (and instructors correct too often) in providing a clean BGS and APA style paper.  Many of these are outlined in the document below.  If you still have questions please contact your instructor,  or the Writing Center.

Do you feel like your academic writing is dull and uninspiring?  Then review the verb choices offered in the document below to enliven your writing.  This small effort can make a world of difference.

Strunk and White’s classic guide for writers, The Elements of Style is a great resource.  Do you remember E.B. White’s book Charlotte’s Web?  E.B. White was a well known author of many literary forms and he often cited his instructor, William Strunk, Jr. who developed a simple guide to good writing for his students.  It had been in  private publication since 1918. White edited this little book and it has been in mass market publication since 1958.  Many consider this the best guide for writers of American English.  Below is a free PDF of the text, although you should consider purchasing it since it is relatively inexpensive and is recently updated.

BGS Rubrics

BGS Graduate Writing Rubric

All BGS Graduate level papers will use the General Written Communication  or BGS Graduate Rubric as a guide for all written assignments, with the exception of Research Papers and Capstone Papers, which will use the Capstone Rubric.

INT 601 uses a specially adapted version of the proposal to accommodate both a qualitative research method chapter and a quantitative research method chapter.

Competency Based Rubrics for Students and Faculty

The following rubrics are developed from the AAC&U rubrics and are designed to easily score a student or group’s work.  Students will find these rubrics useful in developing and submitting professional quality assignments.  These rubrics are used in assessment of assignments given by BGS faculty and adjuncts.

Competency Rubrics as Excel Workbooks for Faculty

The following versions of the AACU competency based rubrics are in spreadsheet format for faculty to use in easily determining a grade value when assessing assignments.  The  Team Collaboration rubric was developed by Dr. Kelley Wood (1999).  The Team Collaboration rubric is best used by teams to evaluate their experiences and the collaboration of team members.  Instructors then collate the ratings of each student and offer strengths and opportunities for growth with a total score.

To use the rubrics it is recommended instructors create a grading key worksheet (tab) for each student by copying the grading key into a blank tab for each student.  Name the tab for each student.  Grade the assignments as you would normally.  Then to assign a grade, complete the grading key for the student.  When you complete all students, review the grading for consistency.  Finally, as you complete the grading of the assignment, save the worksheet as a single sheet PDF in the student’s name, which you may upload into the Moodle assignment and forward to the student.  At the end of the semester send the entire MS Excel workbook to your program chair or director.

The rubrics below are in MS Excel workbook formatted as spreadsheets and contain formulas to assist with calculating the score and the graded percentage.  Be careful not to change the formula unless you need to correct the math.  Dr. Kelley Wood is available to assist you in this process. Updated August 30, 2016.

Assignments for Academic Competencies

Assignments for Professional – Interpersonal Competencies

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summation

The following resources are helpful to students and instructors in determining how to avoid plagiarism by introducing them to the art of paraphrasing and summation, the use and placement of citations, and the formatting of references.

Find Writing Assistance

Check the resources on your syllabus, then ask your instructor.  Keep in mind that your instructor for courses in BGS might not be trained in general writing, so where is the next stop? The Writing Center!

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the practice of questioning the elements of phenomena or experiences to determine the factors and elements they are made of to better understand their influence or meaning.  Scholars and practitioners prize critical thinking in its many applications, from understanding the purpose of an assignment, the intent of an actor, the needs of an audience, and the logic of an argument.

The Critical Thinking Institute has a brief guide to the elements of critical thought.  This includes the elements of thought, questions for the elements of thought,  intellectual standards, a template for analyzing articles and texts, and more.  Look for Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2009). The miniature guide to critical thinking. Dillon Beach, CA: The Critical Thinking Institute.  It is likely the best $8.00 you can spend.

The texts offered here as resources often change editions.  Much of the time a used, older edition will meet your needs.  However, new editions will contain new practices, information, and resources.

Using MS Word to Auto Format Your Papers

Formatting will, at first, appear difficult and daunting, however, with a small amount of effort you will quickly become a master of a skill that sets good writers and successful students apart.  Once a document’s formatting is established, the writer is more free to write and edit without affecting the format of the entire of the paper.  The bonus is that your final document will be easy to read and understand, and you will stand out among your classmates and colleagues at work.

  • Keyboard Shortcuts for accent marks, tildès, international characters, and other symbols
  • Formatting MS Word in BGS – APA 6th – PC Version– this is a draft of the quick PC version.  Although this document was created in an earlier version of MS Word, the design heading functions are the same.
  • Formatting MS Word in BGS – APA 6th – MAC Version– this is a draft of the quick MAC/Apple version.   Although this document was created in an earlier version of MS Word, the design heading functions are the same.
  • Using MS Word to Auto Format in BGS Publishing Style
    • This document was developed by BGS to assist you in formatting your research papers, Thesis papers, and Capstone papers in either BGS publishing style or APA 6th ed. publishing style.  The document contains narratives and bulleted instructions with screen captures to instruct you in the step by step formatting of your papers.  Although this document was created in an earlier version of MS Word, the design heading functions are the same.
  • APA formatting Microsoft Word 2007
    • This video from IACLibrary2000 quickly explains how to set MS Word 2007 to auto format your paper in APA formatting style.  You can easily adapt these directions to the SPS Publishing style or even MLA style
  • How to Work with Styles in a Word 2007 Document For Dummies
    • This video from the For Dummies series quickly explains how to use the style headings in MS Word 2007 to auto format your papers.
    • *You can easily edit each heading style to match BGS Publishing, APA style, or MLA style by highlighting the text, formatting it as you wish it to appear.  Then right click on the style button for your heading level.  Choose Update (heading level title) to Match Selection.  Now all headings at that level will update to your correct heading style.
  • How to Create a Table of Contents in Word 2007 For Dummies
    • This video from the For Dummies series quickly explains how to use the style headings in MS Word 2007 to establish a Table of Contents in your paper. You can easily adapt this to meet the criteria of the BGS Publishing style (management report or academic journal), APA style, or MLA style.
  • How to create a List of Tables and A List of Figures in MS Word 2007
    • This video from the Institute of International Management explains how to add a list of Tables and a List of Figures in a MS Word document, which will be appropriate for your papers in BGS Publishing style, APA style, or MLA style.

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