3 Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid in Academic Writing

by South University 9 October 2014

Over the course of your studies, there’s no way to avoid writing academic and research papers, but avoiding some of the most common writing pitfalls is easier than you might think. Developing your writing skills as a student is essential, as these skills will allow you to clearly convey your ideas and opinions and will go a long way in helping you throughout your professional career. Here are 3 mistakes you should be sure to avoid, so that you can compose essays that are clear, concise and persuasive.

papers in the trash

1. Ambiguity

Ambiguous writing muddles your argument, making it difficult for your reader to understand what you're trying to say. Ambiguity in writing comes in many forms, but two areas are particularly susceptible to vagueness. First, ambiguous pronouns can make an otherwise clear sentence downright confusing. Using pronouns to represent previously introduced subjects varies your writing and allows you to avoid sounding repetitive. However, pronouns such as it, they, this, and these risk being ambiguous. To avoid being vague, define these pronouns. For example, instead of saying, "This was successful," write, "This study was successful."

Similarly, a modifier, which is a short phrase that describes another word or phrase in a sentence, can be ambiguous when it is improperly placed in the sentence. To avoid ambiguous modifiers, keep them immediately before or after the words they describe.

2. Lack of Credible Sources

Sources can bolster your argument and connect your research to the writers and researchers who came before you. However, while the Internet has simplified the research process, it has also exposed students to many unverifiable sources.

Knowing how to conduct research can help you avoid using questionable sources. For starters, anonymous sources should not be trusted. The credibility of authors can be verified by researching their background to determine whether they are a subject matter expert or simply an opinionated blogger. Questionable sources can further be avoided by searching on reputable websites, especially those that end in .edu, .org or .gov.

We recommend beginning your research through the Online Library, accessible in the Campus Common via the My Academics menu. The Online Library staff also regularly hosts webinars that can help you to enhance your research skills, and staff members are available to assist you at onlinelibrary@southuniversity.edu or 1-866-874-0730. To see our webinar schedule, check our events calendar!

3. Improper Style

Style guides might seem like burdensome rules that frustrate and confuse students, but they also help create cohesive, easy-to-understand papers that are consistent from start to finish. Many students overlook style guide formatting or fail to apply rules consistently, which can result in a paper that is challenging to read. Moreover, failing to follow proper style risks unintentional plagiarism.

Adhering to your program- or course-specific style guide, whether that is APA, MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style, among others, is essential. In addition to ensuring that your academic paper adheres to basic formatting guidelines, you should also ensure you cite sources properly throughout. Whether you use parenthetical citations within the text or footnotes at the bottom of the page, your in-text citations should line up with a complete and correctly formatted works-cited page at the end of your paper.

Don’t forget that South University offers a Writing Center where someone will review your papers and give you feedback prior to final submission. Just select the Tutoring Service link in your classroom on any assignment page!

Don’t miss our upcoming IT webinar series!

by South University 3 October 2014

South University’s Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Chapter is excited to announce our 2014 fall webinar series. ACM membership is not required to attend but students studying information technology or business are encouraged to consider student membership! Learn more about ACM at www.acm.org.

Events Calendar

To register for any or all of these sessions, please visit the Event Calendar in the Campus Common!

Commercial Software Development: Your First Programming or QA Job
Bradley Fordham
South University, Online Programs instructor

Big Data Analytics

Nizar Alsaid
South University, Online Programs instructor

Mobile Games
Bruce Huang
South University, Online Programs instructor

Current Job Disciplines in IT
Cathy White
South University, Online Programs instructor

Benefits of ACM membership & Topic Suggestions
John Lombardi
South University, Online Programs instructor

Not interested in IT? See what other events are on the calendar for October!

South University Faculty Member Shares 5 Facts Every Coffee Drinker Should Know

by South University 29 September 2014

As we celebrate National Coffee Day September 29th, South University faculty member Roseane Santos, Ph.D. is sharing 5 facts you should know about your coffee.

CoffeeSantos is an Associate Professor at South University’s School of Pharmacy and has centered her research on the health benefits of coffee. She is co-author of the 2009 book An Unashamed Defense of Coffee: 101 Reasons to Drink Coffee without Guilt, and will moderate a workshop focused on the impact of coffee on human health at the International Summit on Clinical Pharmacy in San Francisco this December.

1. Turn Off the Tap

Water from the kitchen sink is not ideal for brewing coffee. Santos suggests using bottled or filtered water because the amount of minerals such as chlorine, heavy metals and calcium may alter the flavor of the coffee. Remember, water represents 98% of the cup of coffee.

2. Filter Out Fat

It might be surprising, but coffee contains fat. Santos says using a filter will help trap much of the fat and keep it out of your coffee mug.

3. Medium Roast Is Best

Hard-core coffee drinkers may love a very dark roast, but Santos says mild to medium is the best when you are looking to capitalize on all of the health benefits of coffee. Many of the components in coffee that provide health benefits are broken down by heat. So, a mild or medium roast will yield the most health benefits.

4. The Caffeine Kick

Caffeine is one of the few components in coffee that is not thermo-sensitive, or affected by heat. So, what kind of water you use, and how long the beans were roasted won’t have any effect on the caffeine content of your coffee. If you are caffeine-sensitive, the only solution is decaf.

5. Have a Second Cup, and Third, and a Fourth

Santos says the latest research shows that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is the best amount to help maximize its health benefits.

About South University

Established in 1899, South University (www.southuniversity.edu) is a private academic institution dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of a diverse student population. South University offers over 90 degree programs across its 15 campuses located in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options are subject to change. South University, Tampa 4401 North Himes Avenue, Suite 175 Tampa, FL 33614 ©2014 South University. Our email address is csprogramadmin@edmc.edu.

See suprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important information.

Media Contact:
Betsy Nolen
Communications Director

5 Ways to Become a Better Speaker

by South University 23 September 2014

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once joked that most people would rather be the person in the coffin than the one giving the eulogy. Public speaking, from large, formal presentations to simply sharing your ideas in a team meeting, can be intimidating, but it's also a skill that even the shyest of personalities can learn to master. With reliable delivery techniques and thorough preparation, anyone can address a room full of listeners with confidence and success.

Businessman1. Do Your Homework

"It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech." -- Mark Twain

Researching your topic extensively will make you feel comfortable at your presentation. Nothing is more stress-inducing than winging it, and the audience can usually tell if you're ill-prepared. Familiarize yourself with the topic and allow yourself time to digest the material. Write down any lingering questions or gray areas that need to be researched further, and consider what arguments or concerns audience members may offer.

2. Identify a Theme

“A theme is a memory aid; it helps you through the presentation just as it also provides the thread of continuity for your audience.” -- Dave Carey

In today's world, most speakers rely heavily on PowerPoint presentations for long talks, which are incredibly useful when it comes to staying on track. However, speakers should always come prepared to present without the visual display. Having a running theme, tagline, or basic message in mind as the spine to your outline's skeleton will save the day, should technology fail you.

3. Practice Your Delivery

"All great speakers were bad speakers at first." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Practice makes perfect, and the best way to perfect your delivery is through repetition. Time your presentation, record yourself, and listen to your tone and delivery. You can even leave yourself a voicemail about a work-related topic and see how you sound. (Make sure to count how many times you say "um" or other similar filler words.) Or, ask a trusted co-worker to give you critical, helpful feedback on how you speak in everyday professional situations as well as in front of larger crowds. Practicing not only prepares you for the current speech, but it also provides you with an assessment of your individual strengths and weaknesses. In time, you'll become more comfortable talking with or to anyone.

4. Learn from the Experts

"Good artists copy. Great artists steal." -- Steve Jobs

Think of the most brilliant speakers throughout history -- the ones that inspired great change, led major companies through times of trial and served as catalysts for action. These individuals may have had different styles of delivery or goals in mind, but their influence was similar. Study their words, gestures, advice, and styles. There's no need to reinvent the wheel when the car is sitting there.

5. Take a Breather

"The most precious things in speech are the pauses." -- Sir Ralph Richardson

Most people have experienced running out of air while giving a speech, which is usually a sign of both nerves and speed-talking. Focus on a slower delivery, remembering to breathe between transitions and important points. Build pauses into your presentation's framework through the use of audience questions and interactions. Eventually, those deliberate pauses will feel more organic, thus allowing you to breathe easier -- both figuratively and literally.

A Little Volunteering Could Do a Lot for Your Career

by South University 10 September 2014

Actor Leonard Nimoy once said, "The more we share, the more we have," and no better example of this exists than the act of volunteering. Through donating time and energy, volunteers receive a different type of payout: knowledge and experience. When considering education and career advancement, seek volunteer opportunities that can both enlighten and inspire you while providing real-world exposure to prospective careers. When you try volunteering, you might just find it helps you in all the following ways--and maybe even more!

Career movement image1. Unearth your passion.

The method in which you volunteer provides insight into career paths that may suit your individual interests. By making a list of potential volunteer opportunities and ranking these based on what you'd like most, you're gaining valuable information on what makes you tick.

2. Identify your dislikes.

You might naturally assume that volunteering at the animal shelter is the perfect placement for your crazy cat lady tendencies, but, in reality, you may discover that working with homeless and sick animals is simply too much for you -- and that's okay. Realizing this early on is essential to planning a happier career path, and it may motivate you to set new goals aimed at eradicating what you dislike. Volunteering is a great way to avoid years of college studies aimed at the wrong pursuits.

3. Make connections.

Not only will you gain a list of references through volunteering, but you'll also have the benefit of learning directly from those in the field. Typically, volunteers encounter employees with different job descriptions, from executive directors to front-line workers. These connections are helpful when switching careers or moving into a field you haven't experienced first-hand.

4. Discover new options.

Volunteers get the chance to look beyond stereotypes and job titles to see what happens behind the scenes of different organizations. While you may assume you want the most visible position in the field, you may quickly learn of other occupations that are lesser known (and perhaps a better fit for your individual talents and abilities).

5. Venture beyond your comfort zone.

When a paycheck is on the line, you may find yourself more reserved about taking chances or delving into challenging tasks. With volunteerism, you can feel more comfortable trying on different hats that might otherwise intimidate you. Whether it's public speaking, crunching numbers, or proposing fresh ideas, you retain more control over your potential projects, therefore gaining experience that's tailored to your needs and interests while allowing yourself to take constructive risks.