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Writing in General

Writing in general (see APA Manual, Chapter 2: Expressing Ideas and Reducing Bias in Language, p. 31-40)

The idea of writing is to clearly communicate ideas and information to readers. Scientific or scholarly writing may be different that what you have done in "reflective" writing in other courses. In creative writing, it is common to use many words, to express opinions, feelings, and beliefs, and to use first person. The goal of scientific writing is usually to clearly, concisely, and accurately communicate information or data. Thus, your goal should be to organize your thoughts in a manner that is understandable to the reader with an economy of words. Scientific writing does not usually involve sharing ones opinions or beliefs without support from resources or experts.


In scholarly writing, it is important to prevent bias against groups "based on gender, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic group, disability or age and should be avoided" (APA manual, page 61). It is recommended that students review Table 2.1 in the APA manual (pages 70-76) for examples of reducing bias in writing.

Active/Passive Voice

The voice of a verb simply means that the subject of the sentence either performs or receives the action of that verb. In most scholarly writing, the active voice is most commonly used, but there are no steadfast rules as to the use of either passive or active voice.

Here is an example of a sentence in this document that is written in both active and passive voice.

Passive Voice: It is recommended that students review Table 2.1 in the APA manual (pages 70-76) for examples of reducing bias in writing.

Active Voice: The faculty recommends that students review Table 2.1 in the APA manual (pages 70-76) for examples of reducing bias in writing.

The link below has several excellent examples of active and passive voice.

Active/Passive Voice

Use of Quotes

It is common for students to use quotes in their scholarly papers because they fear they will be accused of plagiarism. Students are expected to synthesize information they glean from their research and rephrase the material. Of course, proper credit must be given to the source via correct citations within the text, but rephrasing and reframing concepts is an important and necessarily skill in scholarly writing.

When the material that is being paraphrased is extensive, or if there is a question that the concepts contained in the material might be misinterpreted, it is appropriate to directly quote your source. Pages 117 -122 of the APA manual gives examples of the correct use of quotations. The link below also contains valuable information on the use of quotations in scholarly writing.

Use of Quotes in Scholarly Writing


When writing scholarly papers, it is important to link your concepts in a logical and smooth fashion. The paper should flow logically from section to section and tie concepts or topics together. One helpful way to organize your paper is to write an outline of the content in the paper. This framework is an excellent way to "build" your paper in a logical and sequential manner. The link below is a valuable resource to assist you in becoming familiar with and competent in organizing your material.

Transition and Organization in Scholarly Writing