Writing Resources

Writing is an important part of concise and effective communication, both in academic and clinical settings. For our purposes, you may want or need some help with the particular demands of academic writing. To that end, we have compiled some references and resources to help you hone your writing skills, with a particular focus on three areas: the mechanics of writing, American Psychological Association (APA) citations and references, and English as a Second Language (ESL).

GW Writing Center

The GW Writing Center cultivates skilled, confident writers by facilitating conversations at all stages of the writing process. Working with peer mentors via Zoom, writers develop strategies to write independently in academic and public settings. You can book Writing Center appointments online at https://gwu.mywconline.com/. For more information about the Writing Center, please visit our website. Appointments fill up quickly, so book in advance!

Writing Process

In addition to these resources, Dr. Mayri Leslie prepared "Tips for Writing a Great Paper." 

Brainstorming, Critical Thinking and Organizing

The Walden University Writing Center has some useful suggestions for planning and developing ideas for an assignment. There are several online tools available to help you organize the results of your brainstorming sessions, such as Mind Meister or Bubbl.US.

When brainstorming, it might be helpful to keep in mind that much of academic writing involves critical thinking or critical reading in one form or another. Whether you’re assessing the usefulness of different resources or synthesizing two arguments to support your thesis, critical thinking is crucial to academic writing. Walden University has a helpful reference guide you might find useful.

Once you have your thoughts in order, you might find it helpful to organize your research and outline the structure of your argument. The University of Wisconsin at Madison maintains The Writer’s Handbook, and Walden University has some notes on organizing an argument that might be useful to that end.

Structure and Mechanics

Structure is an important part of academic writing, and knowing how to build an effective and cohesive argument takes some conscious and deliberate effort. The Writer’s Handbook offers guides, explanations and tips for structuring your writing to make effective and cohesive arguments.

Part of structuring your writing is knowing how and when to transition from one idea, argument or paragraph to the next. Using effective transitions between sections will ensure your writing maintains a logical flow and progression, so each thought builds on the previous one.

Grammar and punctuation are also crucial to effective academic writing. The Writer’s Handbook offers some guidance in this area, but keep in mind that APA style may have specific instructions you must follow. Refer to the APA style manual if you have questions about how and when to use certain punctuation.

You might, in the course of writing a research paper, be asked to include supporting material to reinforce your argument. For that, you should know the differences between summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting reference materials, and when each is appropriate.

Scholarly Writing and Voice

Academic writing is generally understood to be more formal and structured than other forms of writing. As such, there are certain conventions you should follow regarding tone, style and format. The University of Edinburgh compiled a short list of issues to keep in mind when writing an academic paper, and Walden University has some helpful quick-reference guides on scholarly writing and scholarly voice to keep in mind before you begin a paper.

Recommended Resources

Academic Writing for Graduate Students, by J.M. Swales and C.B. Feak
A guide to writing for graduate students with explanations and examples of how to become a better academic writer

Rules for Writers With Writing About Literature, by D. Hacker and N. Sommers
A handbook that covers writing, grammar, research and documentation

Academic Writing for Graduate Students, by J.M. Swales and C.B. Feak
A guide to writing for graduate students with explanations and examples of how to become a better academic writer

Rules for Writers With Writing About Literature, by D. Hacker and N. Sommers
A handbook that covers writing, grammar, research and documentation

APA Citations and References

APA Manual from the American Psychological Association
This book is required in almost all courses with a writing component, so we recommend you buy a copy if you don’t already have one. Although there are other online resources for APA, we strongly recommend that you use the style manual as your primary source.

Purdue Owl: APA Formatting and Style Guide
Purdue University maintains a fairly comprehensive guide and examples for writing in APA style, including format, in-text citations, endnotes and footnotes, statistics, and references pages. We recommend you use this resource as an adjunct to the APA Manual. However, students are ultimately responsible for knowing and using the actual APA Manual rules.

Recommended Resources

A Writer’s Reference, by D. Hacker and N. Sommers
Provides recommendation on how to work with sources, revising, citing, grammar and syntax amongst other topics.

The Everyday Writer, by A. Lunsford
This book helps students with their academic writing, such as rhetorical choice and language.

The Elements of Style, by W. Strunk and E.B. White
A classic and great resource book to have in your library on writing, style, grammar and the English language.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL Grammar Help

The University of Illinois maintains the Grammar Handbook, a collection of resources for English language learners that explains and illustrates basic grammatical rules concerning parts of speech, phrases, clauses, sentences and sentence elements, and common problems of usage.

ESL Writing Resources

Purdue University maintains the Online Writing Lab, or OWL for short, which has several pages dedicated to helping ESL students develop their academic writing skills.

They also have online practice exercises you can do to improve your paraphrasing and summary abilities, which are crucial to academic writing.

Recommended Resources
  • English for Learning, Academic Skills, by S.D. Bosher
    This book is designed to prepare non-native speakers of English for the language-related skills and tasks and the cultural content necessary for success in degree nursing programs.
  • The Condensed ESL Writer's Handbook, by J. Carlock, M. Eberhardt, J. Horst and Lionel Menasche
    A reference work for ESL students who are taking college-level courses. The text focuses on English for Academic Purposes, and it provides English language learners with help with broad variety of writing questions students may have when working on school assignments, the text focuses on English for Academic Purposes.
  • They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, by G. Graff and C. Birkenstein
    This book helps students master some key rhetorical moves, such as summarizing what others have said to set up one’s own argument.
  • Refining Composition Skills: Academic Writing and Grammar, by R.L. Smaller, M.K. Ruetten and J. Rishel Kozyrev
    This book combines extensive practice in rhetorical strategies and techniques while integrating instruction with reading, grammar, critical thinking skills, and vocabulary development.
  • Models for Writers, Short Essays for Composition, by A. Rosa and P. Eschholz
    This books offers selections organized to demonstrate rhetorical patterns that students will use in essays and the elements and language that will make those essays effective.
  • Understanding and Using Grammar, by B.S. Azar and S.A. Hagen
    This text is a classic developmental skills text for intermediate to advanced English language learners. The text has many grammar and writing examples and exercises.