Academic and Professional Writing

Academic writing is unique from literary or creative writing in its goals and use of language.  Good academic writing employs the first-person voice rather than the third person as appropriate and avoids anthropomorphism.  As 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 straightforward logic and rhetoric in developing an argument, exploring the context of the argument (including its critiques).  This requires the academic writer to make more use of summary, paraphrase, citations, and references.

Formatting 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.

The School of Business and Graduate Studies (BGS) recommends the APA (American Psychological Association) Publication Manual (6th ed. for all assignments of academic papers and submissions in all courses.  we recommend starting with the OWL’s section on the APA Style.  No scholarly writer should be without the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

Professional writing makes 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 straightforward logic and rhetoric in developing an argument, exploring the context of the issue (including critique).  However, the author might take a position, the use of hyperbole or bias, depends 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 Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue has a great resource for understanding professional writing.

The School of Business and Graduate Studies (BGS) recommends either the APA Publication Manual (7th ed.) or the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), for professional papers and reports submitted as assignments in all courses. Your instructors will direct you to the appropriate style to use for your course.  We recommend starting with the OWL’s section on the APA Publication Manual or the Chicago Manual of Style.  No writer should be without the Chicago Manual of Style or the Turabian’s Manual for Writers, they are a quick way to pick up good writing tips.  Turabian has a bonus section on how to write a research paper, and the tips work for all projects!

The use of a style manual does not preclude the need to use good grammar and proper English in your writing. BGS recommends that you use the appropriate writing guide for your papers also. These guides might include, Turabian, Strunk & White, or Hacker’s Writer’s Reference (Printed versions are available and inexpensive), or the OWL at Purdue section on 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.

 Style Templates

The following style templates reflect the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines 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.

After you download and save the template you might begin replacing the text 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.

Use of the First Person

Write in the first person when discussing yourself, or your team of authors, and use the 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 the 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).  Or consider Turabian’s, A Manual for Writers, 8th edition, which includes a style guide, a guide to writing research papers, and a guide to both Author-date and Notes-Bibliography style in Chicago 16th. These chapters clearly convey the most important elements of good writing. See the following pages for guidance.

The University of Melbourne has many great resources (mainly in Adobe PDF) to get you started in graduate-level academic writing.  For example, By assignment type, writing skills, study skills, citing and referencing, and research.

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summary

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!

BGS Rubrics

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 Participation Rubric (2015) was developed by Dr. Kelley Wood using a rubric from Javier Lopez, MSA.  The participation Rubric informs students of the objective behaviors that express full engagement and participation while promoting inclusion and appreciation. The Team Collaboration Rubric (1999) was developed by Dr. Kelley Wood.  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 upload into the Moodle assignment and forward it to the student.   Tip: Ensure the page layout is set to “fit-to-page” before you save to PDF.   At the end of the semester send the entire MS Excel workbook to your program chair or director.  They make for easy program assessment!

Competency Rubrics as Excel Workbooks

The rubrics below are in MS Excel workbook formatted as spreadsheets and contain formulas to assist in calculating the score and the grade 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 12, 2017.

Assignments for Academic Competencies

Assignments for Professional – Interpersonal Competencies

The MSA Program Planner (Logic Model)

The following Excel workbook includes a logic model where a student (or practitioner) can track the elements of a program, grant, or strategic plan from the population, to needs assessment, objectives, outcomes, and elements of the program design and organization, implementation, and assessment and evaluation.

Updated to Version 3: Includes two tabs with budget forms, and two tabs with Gantt charts for your use.

Using MS Word to AutoFormat 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 freer to write and edit without affecting the format of the entire 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.

  • 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 publishing style of your choice.   Although this video was created in an earlier version of MS Word, the design heading functions are the same.
  • 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.   Although this video was created in an earlier version of MS Word, the design heading functions are the same.
    • *You can easily edit each heading style to match the APA, Chicago, 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, Chicago, or MLA style.   Although this video was created in an earlier version of MS Word, the design heading functions are the same.
  • 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 an MS Word document, which will be appropriate for your papers in BGS Publishing style, APA, Chicago, or MLA style.