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By The Walden University Writing Center Staff. Importance of Opening and Closing Paragraphs. Opening & Closing: Why Do They Matter?. It’s the research that counts, right?.

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By the walden university writing center staff l.jpg

By

The Walden University

Writing Center Staff

Importance of Opening and Closing Paragraphs


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Opening & Closing:Why Do They Matter?

It’s the research that counts, right?

“They are significant and form a general impression upon your essay, they can even show your reader what kind of person you are…it [the introduction] is said to be to most read section of any paper or a document….it determines your reader’s attitude towards the whole work... a conclusion should be the best part of your essay because this what your reader reads and remembers last” (“The Importance of the Introduction and Conclusion,” 2007, para. 1-4).

Your introduction and conclusion form the frame around the body of your paper – all the hard work you have done reading and conducting research – and are your chance to establish how the reader views your work.


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This is Why They Matter

The Introduction

The Conclusion

Establishes your voice

Establishes your credibility as a researcher

Establishes your expertise

Engages the reader in your writing

Draws the reader in and makes the reader care about your topic

Summarizes your point of view

Reminds the reader you are a credible researcher

Reminds the reader you are an expert

Reengages the reader with the importance of your topic

Reminds the reader to care about your topic


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The Introduction

Simple, right?

It seems simple enough, but all to often we see something like this:


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The Introduction

Here within the pages of the study the researcher endeavors to elucidate the quandary between what has been perceived by the esteemed researchers within this outstanding field to be not an increase, but a decrease, in the interest of a younger generation of aspiring professionals in the field nursing.

STOP TRYING!!!


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Don’t Let it Happen to You!

Credibility Through

Prose


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Economy of Expression

According to APA (2001, 2010), “the author who is frugal with words not only writes a more readable manuscript but also increases the chances that the manuscript will be accepted for publication…You can tighten long papers by eliminating redundancy, wordiness, jargon, evasiveness, overuse of the passive voice, circumlocution, and clumsy prose.”

How to Start Off Right

In other words, write in clear, concise statements and aim for logical communication. The simpler the better.


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How to Start Off Right

Smoothness of Expression

According to APA(2001, 2010), “Devices that are often found in creative writing – for example: setting up ambiguity, inserting the unexpected, omitting the expected, and suddenly shifting the topic, tense, or person – can confuse or disturb readers of scientific prose…”

In other words, do not dress up your writing. Be straightforward and stick to the point; organize your content in a logical manner; and make sure the reader can follow your train of thought.


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How to Start Off Right

  • Avoid wordiness

  • Avoid repeating words

  • Use pronouns discretely

  • Use transitional words and phrases

  • Make sure your verb tenses agree

  • Don’t switch back and forth from first to third person

  • Avoid clichés and colloquialisms

  • Avoid adverbs (very, really) and unnecessary adjectives (descriptive language such as pretty, great, wonderful)

  • Don’t embellish, but do be specific

  • Do not use epigraphs no matter how brilliant, insightful, or emotive


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Avoid Wordiness

Use this: Not this:

Because Based on the fact that

Now At the present time

For For the purposes of

This study The present study


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Avoid Redundancy

Use this: Not this:

They were alike They were both alike

The same one and the same

68 participants a total of 68 participants

In proximity in close proximity

Four groups four different groups

Has been found has been previously found


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But, use Pronouns Discretely

Although you do not want to have to repeat words or phrases over and over, you also do not want so many pronouns that your reader is not able follow to whom or to what you are referring.

The reader should not have to search previous sentences or paragraphs to figure out what you are talking about


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Use Transitions

Connect your ideas:

“Readers will better understand you if you aim for continuity in words, concepts, and thematic development from the opening statement to the conclusion” (APA, 2010, p. 65).

This applies to each sentence, paragraph, section, and the overall paper.


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Transitions

  • Time links:

    then, next, after, while, since

  • Cause-effect links:

    therefore, consequently, as a result

  • Addition links:

    in addition, moreover, furthermore, similarly

  • Contrast links:

    but, conversely, nevertheless, however, although


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Pay Attention to Verb tense

  • Past tense: when things occurred at a specific, definite time in the past

    • The researchers studied 15 subjects in 1999.

  • Present perfect tense: when things did not occur at specific, definite time OR occurred in the past and are still happening

    • The researchers have been studying 15 subjects since 1999.


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Use Consistent Point of View

First Person

I completed a meta-analysis of infectious disease trends in Thailand. I found…

Third Person

The researchers discussed the outcomes of their study

Do NOT combine

The researchers discussed the outcomes of the study. We concluded that…

APA says: “To avoid ambiguity, use a personal pronoun rather than the third person when describing steps taken in your experiment” (APA, 2010, p. 69).


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Syntax: the rules that govern sentence structure in any given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

Mix it up!

Make Your Writing Interesting


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Vary Syntax given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

The subjects had 15 minutes to take the test. The subjects then had to seal the test in an envelope. The subjects did this to protect their anonymity. The subjects then handed the envelope to the moderator.

Pros:

No question about what the subjects did

Cons:

BORING!!

Not simple; simplistic.


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Vary Syntax given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

The subjects had 15 minutes to take the test. Once completed, the subjects sealed their test in an envelope to protect their anonymity and then handed the envelope to the moderator.

It’s all about the variation:

Avoid several consecutive sentences that are about the same length and structured in the same way.


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Love Your Verbs given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

This is your verb:

This is your verb on drugs:

This is your verb on drugs on Halloween:


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Love Your Verbs given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

A verb is active, vibrant, and full of meaning

Do not give your verb anything it does not need. Do not make it a noun. Do not hedge.

This: Does not have to be this:

The authors investigated The authors conducted an investigation

It appears It would appear

Do not dress up your verb.

This: Does not have to be this:

The model includes The model does a well rounded job of including

The authors studied The authors thoroughly studied


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Active Voice given language; the way words are put together to form a sentence

According to APA (2010), “use the active rather than the passive voice” (p. 77).

The passive voice is when you emphasize the object, rather than the subject, of your sentence. Putting the emphasis on the object is beneficial at times (like in your Methods section) but too much use of the passive voice can weaken your scholarly voice.

Love Your Verbs


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Use lively, active sentences where the subject initiates an action that affects the direct object. In other words, put the subject of the sentence at the beginning, immediately followed by an action verb.

Use the Active Voice

Flip your sentences around.

Avoid linking verbs (“to be” verbs)

Active Voice:

William Tell despised the apple.

Active Voice:

The researchers conducted the survey after school.

Passive Voice:

The apple was despised by William Tell.

Passive Voice:

The survey was conducted after school.


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Circumlocution is basically a roundabout way of saying what you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

Instead of saying it like this:

“The participants in the study were 6 young people who have completed three years of elementary education and are not living in an urban area.”

Say it like this:

“The study will include 6 fourth grade students from a rural elementary school.”

Keep it Simple


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The Introduction you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • Quick technical point:

    “Because the introduction is clearly identified by its position in the manuscript, it does not carry a heading labeling it the introduction” (APA, 2010, p. 27).


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The Introduction you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • The introduction DOES NOT have to be the first thing you write.

  • BUT, before you write it, know the answers to the following:

    • Why is your problem important?

    • How does your research differ from what has already been studied on your topic?

    • What are the practical implications of your research?

    • What are the theoretical implications of your research?


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The First Paragraph you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • Unless writing a short course paper, your introduction will most likely be more than one page.

  • So what should come first?


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The First Paragraph you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • We can’t use clichés and expressions

  • We can’t use metaphors and analogies

  • We can’t use adverbs and embellishment

  • We need to be concise

  • We need to be straightforward

    How the heck are we supposed to write anything worth reading?!


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The First Paragraph you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

“Although scientific writing differs in form from literary writing, it need not lack style or be dull” (APA, 2010, p. 66).

Aim for interesting and compelling style

Aim for a tone that reflects your connection to the social problem


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As Your Reader you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • I want to care about what you wrote

  • I want to think you are smart

  • I want to enjoy reading what you wrote

  • I want to understand you

  • I want to agree with you


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Who is Your Muse? you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

How do you satisfy all the picky demands of a scientific reader?

Know Your Audience!

Be it your chair, your Form and Style Editor, your peers, your grandmother, your pet cat Smoky…


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Who is Your Muse? you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • Pick someone for whom you write:

    • Visualize talking to that person about your research and really wanting to impress him or her

    • Visualize that person reading your paper

    • Write to impress


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Let’s Look at Some Examples you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • Is it working for you? Why or why not?

  • Does the writing establish credibility? Why or why not?

  • Are you interested in the topic?

  • Do you care about the topic?

  • Do you even know what the topic is?


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The Conclusion you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

Follow the same guidelines we established for writing a strong introduction.

AND

Remember your frame.


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The Introduction you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

Here within the pages of the study the researcher endeavored to elucidate the quandary between what has been perceived by the esteemed researchers within this outstanding field to be not an increase, but a decrease, in the interest of a younger generation of aspiring professionals in the field nursing.

STOP Summarizing!!!


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You Have the Final Say you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • Your paper is meant to persuade the reader of your point of view on your topic

    • You have the final say

    • You get to make the connections and expand your reader’s view on the research


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You Have the Final Say you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

  • After every assertion that you make in your conclusion, ask the “So What?” question.

  • Synthesize; do not summarize

  • Bring the reader back to the introduction, but don’t re-state what you already said

  • Indicate where the reader –and research– should go from here


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Helpful Resources you want to say; using several words to say something simple.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition). Washington, DC: Author.

Purdue University. (2009). Introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions for argument papers. Retrieved November 10, 2009, from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/724/01/

The importance of the introduction and conclusion. (2007). Retrieved November 10, 2009, from http://www.articlesbase.com/coaching-articles/the-importance-of-the-introduction-and-the-conclusion-130921.html

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2007). Conclusions. Retrieved November 10, 2009, from http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/conclusions.html


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