Organizing & Writing

 

Improving Your Writing

 

Your professionalism as a graduate student is regularly on display throughout your written communications. The material you submit for classes, emails, papers, and dissertation chapters all showcase your organization and writing skills, critical thinking skills, and thoroughness. Polish your communications by using free or low-cost writing assistants available online. Many offer premium upgrades for advanced features. 

 

Writing Improvement Apps

  • OneLook's Thesaurus / Reverse Dictionary: Type in a word or phrase describing what you want to say. This reverse dictionary will offer similar word suggestions. Easy. Free. (Visit OneLook.)

  • Nounplus: Completely free online tool to check grammar, spelling, and sentence improvement. (Visit Nounplus.) 

  • Hemingway: Desktop editor for Mac and Windows. Advanced features. Low-cost, one-time purchase. (Visit Hemingway.) 

  • OnlineCorrection.Com: Completely free online tool for spelling, grammar, and style mistakes. English only, with links to similar correctors in other languages. (Visit OnlineCorrection.com.)

  • GrammarlyPopular grammar and style checker. Free (basic). Advanced features require a premium plan. (Visit Grammarly.)

  • WriteRoom: Clutter-free simple typing site. Excellent first step to any paper. Get your thoughts out of your head and onto a page. No formatting, charts, tables, or even spell-check. Just type. For Mac. (Visit WriteRoom.)

  • Writemonkey: Stripped down site for distraction-free draft writing. Get your words and thoughts onto a page. Does include a few frills such as a word counter, clock, and spellcheck. Click on downloads and select your version, Mac, Windows or Linux. Free. (Visit Writemonkey.)

  • Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty): Grammar tips and explanations at Quick and Dirty Tips. Use your browser. Type your query (e.g., who versus whom) in the search box. Free and fun. A great resource. (Visit Grammar Girl.)

 

Avoiding Plagiarism

You know when your writing is your own. However, there are many ways to inadvertently plagiarize. It’s easy to copy and paste an idea or text directly from the internet into a draft, then forget you did that. It’s easy to lift an author’s ideas or findings from journals in ways that violate Copywrite. It’s easy to misunderstand how to properly cite when you write. 

 

While there is no magic bullet to detect plagiarism, there are many commercial plagiarism detection services on the Internet. Many will check your work for free in limited amounts. Some offer a monthly subscription. 

 

Know the rules for avoiding plagiarism. Visit these excellent online sites to learn more:

Plagiarism Avoidance Apps

 

  • Search Engine Reports.net: Plagiarism Checker: Paste up to 1500 characters into the text box and push the check plagiarism button. Be sure to complete the Captcha first! (Visit Search Engine Reports.net.)

  • Plagiarisma: Plagiarism detector for individual use. Supports multiple languages. Basic free, plus daily, weekly, and longer plans. (Visit Plagiarisma.)

Organizing Notes & Tasks

An important element of any deliberate practice effort is to set goals, then put them in a logical order or priority. Next, identify where you are now compared to the goal, then reflect and problem-solve to move toward the goal. Reward yourself when you achieve the goal. Move to the next goal. 

 

Goal setting to create content is only half the picture. To create content, you need research and writing skills and you need them quickly. Assess what skills you need to complete each chapter.  Learn that skill, practice, and implement it. Follow with a feedback loop to fine-tune the skill. 

 

Keep your dissertation tasks on the front burner by putting them into lists in apps that both track them for you and remind you when they are due.

RECOMMENDED ORGANIZATION APPS

Remember the Milk

Simple to-do list app. Syncs with Evernote. Freemium. Upgrade to add the ability to break down a task into sub-tasks, sort, and add files to tasks. 

Evernote

Keep all your notes in one place. Add notes anytime, anywhere from any device. 

Make to do lists. Edit with tags for due dates and priority. Get reminded via any method you want. Free or upgrade.

Mind Mapping

RECOMMENDED MIND MAPPING APPS

Freeplane

Free open-source software for mind mapping and knowledge management. Notes and nodes, organizing and structure. Get more information and download it here:

Compendium

Larger and more complex, compendium is a free academically driven software program to provide frameworks between information and ideas. Older software with steeper learning curve. Offers collaborative modeling. 

Mind 42

Simple software to create mind maps for yourself or with others. Free to use, including all features. Click on the sitemap at the bottom of the page to learn about the project.