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Skills To Be Successful At Studies

Success in Academic Studies

Characteristics Of Graduate Writing

Developing writing skills is an essential component in enabling graduate students to pursue various courses in graduate schools and to accomplish their course work, scholarly. All graduate students are required to master effective writing skills to enable them defend their dissertations, provide concise and accurate answers to questions posed by their tutors, and contribute in adding knowledge in their respective faculties. Although students enrolling in graduate schools have the ability to summarize or paraphrase an article, book or any other written material, they lack critical writing and literacy skills to frame a logical argument, integrate theoretical perspectives, and systematically examine views of different authors. Lack of such important writing and literacy skills, indeed confirms that graduate writing is different from under-graduate writing and other forms of writing because it has certain identifiable characteristics. They include:

Knowledge Of Varied Citation Styles

Unlike in undergraduate level where teachers are lenient on the usage and mastery of citation styles, all graduate students are required to know the various citation styles and use them correctly in their academic writings. The use of correct citation style coupled with coherence of citations enhances author’s credibility and accuracy; a move improves quality and standard of writing (Ruggles, 2012). Additionally, correct use of citation styles helps to avoid plagiarism in scholarly writing.

Incorporation Of Critical Thinking And Creativity

Unlike in undergraduate writing where students summarize or paraphrase ideas of other authors, all graduate students are required to use critical thinking skills to summarize a topic and employ creative approaches to develop insight writing that gives profound or relevant statement about a topic, conclusion or theory. Therefore, mastery and correct use of citation styles and incorporation of creativity and critical thinking skills are some of the main characteristics of graduate writing.

Elements Of Effective Written Communication

Learning is a continuous process that encompasses internalization of learnt concepts, facts and ideas. Although this is the case, effective learning cannot take place unless tutors use effective communication to interact with their students and facilitate the learning process (Cleary, 2003). In essence, learning is a contingency of effective communication because tutors and students are often required to communicate verbally or in written form when expressing their views or conveying information to others. In most cases, graduate students are required to develop their writing skills because written communication is often used in graduate schools and in learning various disciplines. As a result, all graduate students aspiring to achieve high academic credentials after completing their course should develop their academic writing skills and master essential skills and elements needed to enhance their written communication. Unlike other forms of communication, written communication is employed whether one is writing a note or an e-mail to a friend or writing an essay in class, and this indeed confirm that written communication is used in formal and informal communication. Whether written communication is used formally or not, there are three main elements of effective written communication namely; structure, style and content.


In most cases, structure primarily focuses on the manner in which the content is conveyed or laid out to the reader or recipient of the information. It examines flow of ideas, coherence of argument, and purpose of the information, and logical arrangement of the content-(introduction, middle and conclusion). In essence, structure reviews the manner in which one organizes and conveys information to create great effect on the audience.


It mainly focuses on the manner in which the content is presented or laid out to the audience to create the intended impact. It reviews how the information is organized, conveyed and presented in terms of grammar, use of punctuation marks, words, active voice and neatness.


It envisions what one intends to write about in terms of purpose and objectives. In most cases, one should set clear objectives, gather enough information to suit the audience, and research on the topic before conveying the information to others. It is imperative to arrange, organize and presented the content in a simple and concise manner to facilitate the process of communication.

Plagiarism And Ways To Avoid It

Developing effective academic writing skills is an essential component in enabling students in graduate schools to complete their course work professionally and enhance their written communication skills. Developing effective academic writing is not only important in class, but also in helping graduate students to defend their dissertations and build knowledge in varied disciplines. In order to build knowledge in different disciplines and enhance their writing skills, graduate students use ideas, views and information of other scholars, but more often they fail to acknowledge the contribution of other scholars in their academic writing, thus fuelling the ethical challenge of plagiarism. In institutional settings, the term plagiarism connotes the intentional or reckless use of words, language, ideas, thoughts or original material of another person without acknowledging the author or the source(s) of the information. In most learning institutions, plagiarism is considered “cheating” and punitive sanctions are imposed on any student who commits this felony.

Plagiarism remains an ethical problem that raises concerns to tutors who want to develop the academic writing skills of their students and transform graduate students into ethical writers. The issue of plagiarism is on the increase following the introduction of the internet and easy accessibility of unlimited information in the internet and other platforms. As a result, most graduate students are unable to employ ethical principles of writing and tutors have suspected that most graduate students are plagiarizing their academic work. To a large extent, the problem of plagiarism has diverted tutors attention and goal of developing students into scholars and ethical writers; an aspect that has negatively affected the learning process in institutions of high learning. Although plagiarism remains an ethical challenge in most institutions of high learning, graduate students can employ the following steps to avoid plagiarizing their academic work.

Step 1: Use Citations In Your Academic Writing

Most students have a negative attitude towards including and using citations in their academic work; a move that compels them to plagiarize their work. Some feel that the use of many citations make the work complex and unprofessional, but this not true. Using and including citations in your work shows that one has researched the topic extensively and acknowledges ideas, views and thoughts of other scholars. Therefore, one should inculcate positive attitude towards using citations in academic writing.

Step 2: Develop And Enhance Your Note-Taking Skills

It is important to establish bibliography sources that you intend to use in your academic writing and to incorporate them in your notes. However, most students fail to track bibliography sources because they fail to incorporate them in their notes as they lack time to match drafts and notes.

Step 3: Plan Ahead

Most students plagiarize their academic work because they fail to plan ahead. One needs to research extensively about the topic and manage time effectively to know how to employ sources in academic writing. However, most graduate students fail to manage their time effectively and plan in advance; an aspect that make them to plagiarize their work in class. Therefore, it is imperative to employ these steps to avoid plagiarism.

Best Practices For Managing Time And Stress

Graduate students experience time constraints because they are overwhelmed with academic work, family responsibilities, and handling other life challenges. It becomes a challenge for most of them to balance academic work, family responsibilities and other life challenges because of time constraints. As a result, most graduate students experience stress that lowers their productivity and academic performance in class (Lomas, 2000). Although this is the case, there several best practices that graduate students can employ to manage time and stress associated with balancing academic life and family responsibilities. They include:

Set Your Goals And Priorities

One should formulate realistic and achievable goals that can be attained in a given period. In order to achieve this objective, one should list down the most important goals or priorities and take the necessary course of action. Setting goals based on priorities help one to avoid wasting time and enhances productivity.

Avoid Procrastination

One should create a time plan for each task and learn to take the necessary course of action as per the time schedule. Most graduate students fail to meet deadlines; an aspect that compels them to postponed tasks. It is important to avoid procrastination to avoid stress and being overwhelmed by work.

Share Duties With Others And Take Breaks

Sometimes, it is convenient to share responsibilities with others to avoid fatigue and wasting time. Some tasks and responsibilities consume more time when an individual is handling them, as opposed to sharing; a move that fuels stress and depression in students. In order to avoid stress and manage time effectively, it is also important to take breaks when working to recharge and refresh one’s mind. In this regard, all graduate students should employ these practices to manage time and stress associated with balancing academic work and life challenges.



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