Yes! Most definitely, yes.
In the CPB book, I stress the importance of citing papers to avoid any plagiarism issues. For most cases, when information is pulled directly from a source and then presented in a paper, the source should be cited (either within the text or in an in-text citation) and the page number should be included. However, sometimes gray areas appear in which it’s a little unclear as to whether or not a citation is needed, such as for indirect material. To help clear up any confusion, I’ve listed some instances—and guidance—in which it might be unclear as to whether or not an in-text citation is needed.
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While grammarians today are becoming a bit more relaxed on the usage of comprise and compose, they still remain very distinct in style guides; therefore, it’s important to understand each word’s correct usage. As is common with the English language, there are often little quirks and exceptions to writing rules. However, for the sake of clarity, below the overall rule on usage for each word is presented.
Comprise: For the most basic sense of its usage, comprise means “to contain.” It signifies all of the parts that make up an entity. When using this word, it is important to state the entity first, followed by the name of the parts.
Compose: For the most basic sense of its usage, compose means “to make up.” It signifies what parts make up an entity. When using this word, it is important to state the name of the parts, followed by the name of the entity.
Composed of/Comprised of
According to the current guide books, it is OK to use the phrases “composed of,” but it is incorrect to us the phrase “comprised of.” (“The museum is comprised of 50 galleries” could not work as “The museum includes of 50 galleries.”)
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"Should I go with the .com or the .org?"
Since most of us rely on the Internet for retrieving news and other information, it’s important to know what to look for in terms of identifying a site’s usefulness and appropriateness. The first place to start is to look at the web-address extension. Below is a brief breakdown of the main extensions: .com This extension is typically used for U.S. commercial sites, or sites that aim to make a profit. Some .com sites offer great material, while others are biased and aim to either sell or promote something (which usually means the information can be misleading or inaccurate). Use discretion when you choose a .com. .edu This extension denotes a U.S. educational institution. (Your college website most likely has this extension.) Usually the information is from a reliable source. .gov This extension denotes a U.S. government website. Usually the information is from a reliable source. .net This extension was originally designed for network providers. Now, however, it’s used for multiple purposes (including commercial purposes or personal gain). Use discretion when you choose a .net. .org This extension is typically used for not-for-profit organizations, such as social agencies and health associations. Information from this type of site is most likely reliable, but you should use discretion, as these sites can be biased and inaccurate.
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After 5 years of sending out the original CPB newsletter, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. Next Tuesday, February 28, I’ll be launching the brand new CPB newsletter: CPB Digest. This new letter will summarize the important information from the most recent blog posts, and it will provide plenty of helpful links to both the CPB website and other great online resources. While the CPB book focuses on academic research and writing, the CPB newsletter will focus on broader writing and research issues that can benefit all writers—from students to professionals to avid e-mailers and bloggers.
You can click on this link to enter your email address for the distribution list, and you can also send me a direct email (email@example.com). Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments; I love getting feedback. And, most importantly, enjoy the super sleek, sophisticated CPB Digest next week!
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Do Groundhogs Lie?
Politics aside, it’s a pretty crazy time to be a reader of the news. With “fake news,” it might seem close to impossible to find accurate information. What we read in the news might conflict with what we read on social media, and sometimes our reality might not reflect what’s been reported in the news. (Punxsutawney Phil said there would be 6 more weeks of winter—and yet the Midwest saw temps in the 60s this month . . . Who can we trust?)Regardless of whether you swing to the right or left, you’ve probably encountered fake news. Remember: It’s just as easy to spread fake news as it is real news. (Did you read the story about the alien running for president in 2020? There’s a Facebook page dedicated to the campaign, so obviously it’s true . . . )Real-News Detectives
So, are we all doomed? Will real news become a thing of the past? Most likely, no. In fact, there is a good chance that the Fake News Epidemic could inspire the discovery of tools that prevent the spread of fake news in the future. In the meantime, it has made us all more aware that fake news exists—and that we need to become savvy readers.
To become savvy readers, we need to learn how to assess a source’s credibility. Evaluating a source’s credibility is helpful when seeking the truth. The following Tips & Tricks provide (real) information for evaluating a source’s credibility.Tips & Tricks
Research the producer of the website, newspaper, magazine, etc.: Has this person/organization been accused of false reporting? Does the publication or website have any economic or political interests that would sway the reporting of information?For websites, review the URL and what the web-address suffix signifies: Does the website have a “.edu” to signify a school-based site, or does the website have a “.com” to signify a commercial site?Consider the medium of the information: Was the information reported via a nonprofit research or educational site? Or, was the information reported via social media (such as through a series of Tweets)?Analyze the objectivity of the writing: Does the writing provide an objective overview of the information? Does it avoid subjectivity (avoiding opinions and prejudices)?Assess the reliability of the report’s sources:Were reputable people and organizations consulted? Were academic journals or high-standing newspapers cited?Determine if the writing reflects fair and unbiased reporting: Does the article provide information reflecting both sides of an argument? Were representatives from all sides contacted for their opinion?
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If your New Year's resolution is to improve your vocabulary, then this blog post is for you. And, the good news is that you don’t have to be a bibliophile or have a phantasmagorical method for improving vocabulary to learn new words. Spending just a few minutes a day learning a new word (or playing with a thesaurus, as I might have done for the first sentence) can improve your vocabulary.
Reading a book—and looking up unfamiliar words—is definitely a helpful way to improve your vocabulary. But you can also practice the following activities that will help you learn new words in a timesaving manner. Incorporating just one activity into your daily routine will enhance your personal vocab database over time. Good luck, and enjoy learning some new words!
Start a “Word of the Day” E-mail: Pick a random word from the dictionary each day and write its definition and an example sentence into an email for friends or family. Everyone can learn new words together and have fun incorporating them into reply emails.
Practice Incidental Reading: Take advantage of any opportunity to read something. Read news stories, read flyers, read the back of your shampoo bottle—just read! Reading improves vocabulary, especially if you look up the words that you aren’t already familiar with.
Play Scrabble or Words with Friends: Word games are not only fun but also an easy way to learn a few new words. Apps like Words with Friends make it super easy to exercise the mind and increase one’s vocabulary. They're like an educational way to pass the time on the bus or train going to school or work.
Create a Vocabulary List: Pick random words from a dictionary or thesaurus each day and type them into a Word document along with their definitions. Study the words each day and then quiz yourself at the end of the week.
Sign up for WOD Emails: Add your email address to a word-of-the-day distribution list, such as Merriam Webster’s, and study the word that arrives in your inbox each day and try incorporating it into your conversations and correspondences throughout the day.
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Throughout the College PaperBuddy e-book, I offer hints and tips for going above and beyond when writing research papers in college. I refer to these suggestions as “gold stars,” as they are ways to impress your instructor and possibly earn a few extra points. Remember how you cherished those gold star stickers your teachers gave you in elementary school? Remember that warm, fuzzy feeling you got when your paper received one of these shiny emblems of perfection? Well, you can think of the following tips as ways to earn a “gold star” in class. In college, as well as in life, it sometimes helps to go above and beyond what is expected of you—the reward, whether an improvement in grades or a personal sense of satisfaction, will be worth it. Below are a few gold star suggestions for college. • Participate in class • Ask your instructor questions • (If appropriate) create a title page for your paper • Arrive ten minutes early to class • Use more sources than what is required for the paper • Write neatly • Relate class discussions to class materials • Sit in the front half of the class or lecture hall • Take notes • Sit up straight in your seat and focus on the instructor • Dress appropriately for class • Turn off your cell phone before entering the classroom • Proofread your papers • Smile • Have fun and make the best of the academic situation
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It’s December and whether you are wrapping up school finals, work reports, or holiday newsletters, it can be a busy time for meeting writing deadlines. To add a polished touch to your writing this holiday season, I’ve written a new installment of "Grammar Tips," which describes the usage of two words that are often incorrectly interchanged: comprise and compose. Knowing the correct usage for each word can impress all readers, regardless of the type of writing!
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In the words of Jack Kerouac, "It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” To improve our writing, we need to improve the way we write. One way to improve the way we write is to assess our writing process and to identify where we can make improvements. Those improvements will positively affect the way we write—how we transfer our thoughts and ideas onto paper. Whether you're a novice writer or a seasoned professional, there is always room for improvement.
To assess our overall writing process, we have to look beyond the act of sitting in front of a keyboard and typing. We need to analyze each component of the writing process and honestly assess if we are exhibiting successful behaviors. For example, when thinking about the research component, do you spend enough time gathering sources? Or, do you frantically look for a couple of articles right before it's time to begin writing? When thinking about the revising component, do you save time for revising your work? Or, do you run out the door the second the final period is typed?
If you’ve determined that you could spend more time on your own writing process, then check out the following links for some helpful information. Each one offers tips for a specific component of the writing process that is often an obstacle for writers. Happy writing improvements!
• Carefully review the assignment sheet to determine the writing requirements
• Avoid the "Sit and Stare" method of writing papers; practice prewriting activities
• Review the tips for overcoming writing obstacles
• Take time to perform the "Macro and Micro" method of revising papers
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The Chicago Cubs are World Series champs! After 108 years, the North Side finally brought home the coveted baseball trophy. For many Cubs fans, this win means that the "Curse of the Billy Goat" is finally over.
The Cubs' World Series win signifies a big improvement from previous seasons. A reason for this is Theo Epstein's restructuring of the organization. The Boston Red Sox championship-making guru analyzed the Cubs team, identified weaknesses, and made changes to improve the team. These gradual improvements indicate that there may not have been a curse after all!
Much like a curse involving our favorite sports team, we might think our writing is cursed. We may hold onto a belief that our writing has always been cursed, as if some cruel elementary school teacher cast a comma-splicing spell on us. However, in reality, this probably isn't true. We are all capable of writing well.
To begin writing well, we first need to analyze our overall writing process and identify our weaknesses in order to make improvements. In the same manner that Theo assessed the Cubs' organization by analyzing each department (from the management side to the farm system), we need to objectively—and honestly—analyze each component of our writing process. Improving the weak areas will benefit our overall process.
Below are some sample questions to ask yourself when analyzing each major component of your writing process. With a little work, you’ll be winning in the classroom. Good luck!
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