- Writing Center
- Tips and Techniques
- Writing Portfolio
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
local: (727) 864-8861
toll-free: (800) 456-9009
The Writing Portfolio Categories
- This paper can be a narrative, a descriptive essay, a lab report, an autobiography, an excerpt from a journal, a short story - any paper that represents an attempt to make sense of one's own observations.
- This paper will often be written in first person, but it does not have to be.
- This paper should not be a book report or a summary of someone else's ideas; the writer should write from his or her own experience.
- If the writer is using a lab report, there must be a substantial results, discussion, or conclusion section showcasing the writer trying to "make sense" of the experiment.
The Parts of an Argument (What follows in many ways describes a "typical academic argument." Yours may vary from this prototype. As with any essay, use your judgment.)
- Introduction. Catch your reader's attention and introduce your topic. Include a clear, emphatic claim that the rest of your essay will support.
- Support. Present all the points that support your thesis, using ample reasoning, examples, illustrations, definitions, and evidence to develop your points persuasively.
- Concession/Refutation. Respond to the opposing viewpoints, either in a separate section or as they would occur to the intended audience.
Concession - agree with whatever you can without hurting your position. Qualify your assertions thoughtfully to avoid triggering doubt or disagreement in your readers.
Refutation - diplomatically show what's flawed with opposing arguments.
- Conclusion. Tie your argument together and leave the reader something to think about and remember.
Rhetorical Appeals: The Art of Persuading a Reader. Rhetorical appeals are ways for you, as a writer, to connect with your audience. Using the appeals in combination can help you create a stronger, more persuasive argument. You already use appeals in your writing, though perhaps unconsciously. Being more conscious of them – and of how you use them – can make your writing more persuasive.
Logos: The appeal to reason and logic.
Proof by Example:
Comparing - illustration, analogy
Contrasting - definition, classification
Proof by Authority:
Citing respected experts or authorities (includes statistics)
Proof by Reasoning:
Deduction - reasoning from general to particular
Induction - reasoning from particular to general
Causal - reasoning by means of cause & effect
Ethos: An appeal based on the author's character. As an author, you want to sound:
- Reasonable - don't rant and rave too much or sound rabid. Look fairly at all sides of the issue.
- Knowledgeable - you must sound as though you know what you're talking about or have consulted others who are experts.
- Disinterested - you must sound as though you are arguing for more than personal gain.
Beyond those three characteristics, you should think about what characteristics, values, experiences you have that could help you reach and persuade your readers.
Pathos: An appeal to the reader's emotions. Although our culture tends (ostensibly) to value logos appeals over pathos appeals, an appeal to the reader's emotions, especially in combination with ethos and logos appeals, can be very persuasive. As with all appeals, don't manipulate the reader; all appeals, as all arguments, should be ethically grounded.
Paper Three: Analysis, Evaluation, Criticism, and/or Interpretation that Focuses on the Ideas of Others
This paper will usually be a college-level research paper, as the instructions indicate. But a good research paper is not just a compilation or summary of other people's words and ideas about a topic. The student-writer should analyze, evaluate, interpret, and/or synthesize the information found through research. Source material should be used to support and develop an original, insightful thesis about the topic that the writer has formulated after analyzing the subject.
- The thesis of this paper will often make a claim of some sort, but it won't necessarily be as emphatic a claim as in the argument. In this type of essay, the author should have done enough research, interpretation, evaluation, and/or analysis on the topic to be able to express a personal, well considered view. This type of essay could offer the writer's interpretation of a Shakespearean play, an analysis of an environmental problem, an evaluation of a particular therapeutic approach in counseling, or a critical examination of a theater performance. In other words, the paper must do more than simply present information: It needs to use information.
- The ideas in this paper must be fully developed and clearly presented. Source material should be used to aid development and support. Any quotation or paraphrase should be integrated into the student's prose and connected clearly to the thesis. The writer should fastidiously attribute all source material. See Hacker for integration and documentation.
- The documentation of source material should be meticulous - otherwise, the portfolio will not pass.
Documentation, attribution, and signal phrases are important components of academic writing, and you need to learn how to use both properly to clarify whose ideas are whose and to avoid unintentional plagiarism.
One of the primary functions of documentation is to provide your readers with the information necessary to lead them to the source and the passage you're citing. And, of course, documentation gives credit to the original author. Documentation includes in-text citations (or footnotes) as well as a bibliography/works cited page.
Attribution or signal phrases give more specific credit to the authors by naming them in the text of your essay. Phrases such as "according to Dr. Fred Stanley, director of cancer research at Harvard Medical School" and "Barbara Ladd, noted Faulkner scholar, argues" indicate not only whose idea you are using, but also why that idea merits attention. In other words, signal phrases can be useful persuasive devices in your writing.
Regardless of the style you're using, there are several basic guidelines you need to follow:
- All words and/or ideas (including the results of someone's scientific research, statistics, diagrams or graphs) in your paper that are not your own and are not common knowledge should be given attribution in the text and followed by a citation referring your reader to a bibliography or works cited page.
- When you quote a source directly, reproduce the quotation exactly as it appears in the text, and enclose it in quotation marks. Do not include the citation inside the quotation marks.
- Often, writers introduce a quotation with a signal phrase and follow it with a citation. When you do this, make sure you write a few sentences or even a paragraph explaining how this quotation applies to your topic. Don't just expect your reader to draw the connection between source material and your thesis; explain the connection.
- If you paraphrase someone's ideas, you need a signal phrase and a citation, just as you do with a direct quotation. Moreover, you must substantially change the style, structure, and language of the original. As with a quotation, don't leave it up to your reader to make connections; explain how the paraphrased material relates to your thesis.
Timed writings measure your raw writing ability and your skill at thinking under pressure. They also reflect your ability to recall, synthesize, and analyze detailed material.
- You may turn in any timed essay from any class. If your handwriting is unclear, you may type a copy of the exam, but you must turn it in with the original. Your timed essay submission must have the class number, date, and professor's name.
- You may take a timed writing at the Writing Center. The Writing Center can also help prepare you for timed essays. We offer a handout on how to take a timed writing exam.
- Because clarity of mind is vital, one of the best things you can do to prepare for a timed essay is to get plenty of sleep the night before.
Faculty readers regard the annotations more seriously than you may realize. The reasons that readers weigh the annotations heavily are:
- Annotations showcase your most recent writing.
- Annotations reflect your ability to communicate with a particular audience – in this case, faculty members evaluating your Writing Portfolio for graduation.
- Annotations reveal your intellectual maturity as a critical thinker and literate citizen.
- Annotations highlight your metacognitive skills, that is, your ability to think about your thinking and write about your writing.
- Annotations give your readers enough information to make sense of the papers that follow.
Tips for Writing your Annotations
If you're at a loss as to what to write in an annotation:
- Imagine the professors reading your annotations and your work.
- Ask yourself, "If I were a professor, what would I need or want to know about the creative of this essay or this portfolio?"
- Remember that professors at Eckerd care about more than just mechanics. When surveyed, they have indicated that they care about the following:
- genuine interest in the subject matter.
- honest consideration of alternative theories (healthy skepticism).
- thorough support, evidence, and development.
- intellectual passion; the pleasure of discovery.
- awareness of an audience's needs and perspectives.
- awareness of the conventions of the field.
- clarity, logic, and comprehensibility.