Dean’s Corner: Gain a Competitive Edge through Enhancing Your Writing Skills!

Dr. Denis Medeiros

Dr. Denis Medeiros

Many of you have received information from me about UMKC’s Graduate Student Writing Initiative.  Some of you may be thinking, “There he goes again.”  But stay with me, because the simple fact of the matter is that employers continue to rank writing and oral communication skills as often lacking in today’s graduates.  I urge graduate students to access avenues of both oral and written communication excellence through our writing initiative.  I recently learned that UMKC is one of the few higher education institutions that offers such diverse writing resources to graduate students. Conducting your research or learning more about your discipline is of limited value if you cannot communicate information to others, both within your field and with outside audiences. Thus, this issue of the Spotlight is a theme issue focusing on the Graduate Student Writing Initiative.  In this issue you will read perspectives from alumni, students, librarian, writing specialist and the Director of the Writing Center.

As we engage in our second year of operation of the Graduate Student Writing Initiative, we have already seen a large number of successes with graduate students who have accessed our resources.  We now have a half-time graduate writing specialist devoted just for you.  Some of you may have noted that we have offered writing workshops focused on special topics such as grant writing or writing for the sciences.  However, there are other opportunities to enhance your writing skills.  Recently we had a packed “Write-In” at the Diastole Center on Hospital Hill where students spent an entire Saturday engaged in writing.  Students brought in an assignment or project (e.g. thesis or dissertation section) and spent the day working with each other and the writing specialist sharing their writings and obtaining immediate feedback. During the Spring 2017 semester there will be more Write-Ins held at both the Volker and Hospital Hill campuses. Also equally successful have been writing groups where students continue to meet throughout the semester or year to write together and exchange ideas and feedback.  Sharing your writing with fellow students is important as it is an opportunity to learn whether you have clearly communicated and followed writing conventions in your discipline.

Another resource we have are faculty mentors from the Emeritus College who, with their years of experience, will teach a student how to edit and proofread their work and make your paper better.  Through a one-on-one mentoring process initiated by the student, you will learn how to organize and express your ideas to complete a writing project such as an article submitted for publication or a grant application.

In my career, a common mistake that graduate students make is underestimating the time it takes to write an effective paper.  This is especially true for those who are doing a thesis or dissertation.  A term paper or literature review is especially time consuming and here many students fall short in time estimation.  However, learning how to write effectively can shorten the time it takes, result in fewer drafts and likely earn you a better grade.  We will continue to offer writing workshop sessions on writing a literature review, thesis and dissertation formatting, and citation managers such as Zotero, in addition to proofreading tips and techniques.

If you don’t attend any of our sessions, remember that you can access many materials on how to write effectively through our Blackboard organization site.  Video tutorials are also available.

Effective writing in your discipline not only makes you more competitive in the subject matter; but you will learn eventually that even your letter of application for employment will improve as well.  The best part of this service is that there is no charge for you. Take advantage of the Graduate Student Writing Initiative this semester!

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Important Dates to Remember

Tuesday, January 17                     First day of Spring classes

Wednesday, January 25              Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Workshop                                                                                        5:30-6:30, Plaza Room

Thursday, January 26                   Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Workshop                                                                                       3:30-4:30, Plaza Room

Wednesday, Feb.8                          Interdisciplinary Student Conference – includes a workshop, various poster, podium, & panel presentations – Student Union – 4th floor

  • 9am – Academic writing workshop
  • 12pm – lunch & conference closing
  • Posters, podium, & panel presentations will be held Feb 9th at the Community of Scholars reception & award ceremony

Thursday, Feb. 9                            Community of Scholars & 3 Minute Thesis                                                                                        Student Union – 4th floor

  • 10am-12pm – Poster presentations on display for viewing & judging – SU rm#401
  • 1-2pm – 3MT round 1 – SU rm#s 401A, 401B, 401C, 401D, 402, 419, 301, & 302
  • 3:15-4pm – 3MT round 2 – SU rm#402
  • 5pm – Community of Scholars Reception & Awards Ceremony – SU rm# 401

Friday, Feb. 13                               Last day to file for May graduation

Tuesday, Feb. 21                          Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Workshop 3:30-4:30,                                                                    Hospital Hill, HSB 4306

Monday, April 3                           Deadline to submit thesis/dissertation to the School of                                                                  Graduate Studies for format review

Friday, May 12                              Deadline for completing defense of thesis/dissertation

Wednesday, May 24                   Deadline for submitting thesis/dissertation to ProQuest

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Writing Initiative Spring 2017 Calendar

WORKSHOPS Date Time Topic Presenter Location January 18 1-2 pm GWI Info Session Kara Kynion (Bollinger) Atterbury Student Success Center 237 January 18 Writing Wednesdays Begin 9 am-12 pm Writing Accountability Group Kara Kynion (Bollinger) Atterbury Student Success Center 205 … Continue reading

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Graduate Writers Have a Home at UMKC Libraries

Graduate students are some of the most avid users of the UMKC Libraries’ spaces. Graduate writers can find a space in any of the university’s libraries to spread out with their laptops and get down to business: The newly-furnished, expansive … Continue reading

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Thomas Ferrel – Director of the Writing Studio

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Thomas Ferrel is the Director of the Writing Studio at UMKC and is heavily involved with the Graduate Writing Initiative. “I collaborate with our Graduate Writing Specialist, Kara Kynion, to develop goals, long- and short-term plans, events, and resources to … Continue reading

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Dr. Jakob Waterborg – Emeritus College Member & Mentor for the Graduate Writing Initiative

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Dr. Jakob Waterborg is an Emeritus College member and mentor for the Graduate Writing Initiative. “My role has been the coordinator on the Emeritus College Board to bring students with mentorship requests in contact with appropriate emeriti as mentors,” he … Continue reading

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Dr. Hessam Sarooghi – UMKC Alum & Current Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation

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Dr. Hessamoddin Sarooghi earned his Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC in Spring 2016. He is now an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Butler University. “I was a graduate student representative in the UMKC Graduate Writing Initiative … Continue reading

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Michelle Paquette – Assistant Research Professor & Graduate Writing Advisory Committee Member

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Dr. Michelle Paquette is an Assistant Research Professor in Physics and Astronomy and a Graduate Writing Advisory Committee member. “As a core member of the GWAC, my role is to brainstorm, help implement, and evaluate initiatives to support graduate student … Continue reading

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Angela Nelson – Master’s Student & Graduate Writing Advisory Committee Membder

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Angela Nelson is a master’s student in the Sociology program. She is also a Graduate Writing Advisory Committee member, whose role is to provide input and feedback from the graduate student perspective. “I learned about the Graduate Writing Initiative from … Continue reading

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Regina Williamson – Undergrad & Work Study for the Graduate Writing Initiative

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Regina Williamson is an undergraduate student in Health Sciences and a Work Study for the Graduate Writing Initiative, specifically within the Writing Studio. “I assist Kara in setting up different events and programs set up for the graduate students,” she … Continue reading

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