Writing good memos can help you practice summarizing and prioritizing information. In a situation in which your intended reader may be flooded daily with memos, spice it up with color or clip art to get the reader’s attention.
The Writing Process
Pre-write: Brainstorm, cluster ideas, narrow focus, form thesis/explore purpose, target audience who will benefit from your information, draft outline.
Write: Rough sections, multiple drafts, (allow “gel” time between drafts).
Revise: Review with mission of altering and improving the entire text, section by section, to meet competencies of professional writing (Slide #26). It helps to have another person read it to spot inconsistencies, confusing terminology, acronyms not spelled out initially, vague or unclear areas.
Edit: Review for audience/style appropriateness, main title, format, headings/subheadings, flow, and grammar.
Proofread: Examine final manuscript to spot errors. Use a spellchecker and grammar checker. It helps to have another person also proofread it!
Prewriting Strategy 1: Get Rid of Writer’s Block!
Use food for brain fuel.
Breathe, stretch, breathe.
Make the commitment (QUIET private place you habitually
use for writing activities and be sure to turn off phone)!
Use brainstorming and prewriting strategies.
Tell a friend your main idea/purpose (in 3 or 4 sentences.)
Start in the middle.
Write a rough draft (write fast) of any section or paragraph.
Create outline(s) or diagrams.
Give yourself gel time (time between drafts).
See Writer’s Block at: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_block.html and
Pick something you are interested in, not something just because there may be lots of information on it.
Use an inquiry process to narrow your search:
What's your initial position on the topic?
What assumptions do you have about the topic?
What aspect of the topic might you be interested in discovering?
Why is topic relevant/interesting/important to nursing?
For whom is the topic most important and why? (audience)
What information will you present that benefits your targeted audience?
Prewriting Strategy 2: Choosing and Narrowing A Focus
"One step nurses can take to close this communication gap and assume a leadership position in health care is to promote English-Spanish bilingualism."
Barcelona de Mendoza, V. (2002). A World View at Home: The Need for Bilingualism in the United States [Electronic version]. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 31, 129.
"The paradigms for the nursing profession are receding, shifting and evolving without commitment from the nurses who are at the bedside."
Van Sell, S.L. (2002, April - June). Nursing: Receding and Evolving Paradigms. ICUs and Nursing Web Journal. Retrieved July 26, 2002, from http://www.nursing.gr/selleditorial.pdf
"If our profession is to survive, we must foster the academic life as a viable career option for nurses and work to better align the goals of expert clinical care with expert teaching and knowledge generation."
Lowe, N.K. (2002). How shall they learn without a teacher [Electronic version]. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 31, 391.
Strategy 4: Targeting An Audience
You will have at least two audiences (or intended readers) for a paper:
the person/group you
want to inform/benefit
Consider the relationship between you, your research focus, and your audience. Are your THESIS and PURPOSE in accord with the needs of your AUDIENCE?
Why/how is your paper relevant, innovative, or important to clinical nursing or nursing research?
It is every writer’s job to be
clear, consistent, and honest with readers.
Clarity: define/describe/explain any areas that would otherwise be confusing, ambiguous, vague, or abrupt.
Consistency: ensure there are no illogical, incoherent, or incompatible elements in your proposal.
Honesty: make it easy for readers to find reference information; acknowledge possible limitations (e.g., small sample size) and present detailed plans to overcome limitations should it be necessary.
Evidence supports aerobic and strength-training exercise programs to improve instrumental activities of daily living in older adults (Powers, Depp, & Longe, 2001; Smythe, 2003; Thompson & Burgess, 2006; Williams et al., 2000).
Problems with Flow
hard to read
lack of adequate transitions between and within sections to provide readers with visual cues for understanding relationships of ideas to each other
Sections are well delineated with descriptive headings and subheadings.
Paragraphs have topic sentences, and all material within is relevant to topic sentence.
Transitions are used to move reader along logically to the next section or next point.
Relationships among ideas are made clear through use of adverbial or transitional “cues” that let reader know how ideas are connected.
All sections demonstrate relevance to thesis/focus.
Organization is coherent throughout and look is professional.
Each point of thesis is clearly and adequately developed with a variety of rhetorical strategies: facts, definitions, statistics, examples, relevant descriptive details, comparison/contrast, classification, analysis, analogy, synthesis.
There is appropriate use of sources (relevant, recent, high quality), and vocabulary, quotes, and other supportive material that demonstrates evidence of professional writing.
Thesis/Purpose: Thesis or research focus is clearly stated, purpose is clear or obvious, and argument or goals are achieved overall.
Organization: Sections are well delineated with descriptive headings, paragraphs have topic sentences, and all material within is relevant to topic sentence; transitions are used to move reader along logically to the next section or next point; relationships among ideas are made clear through use of adverbial or transitional “cues” that let reader know how ideas are connected; all sections demonstrate relevance to thesis/focus; and look is professional.
Development: Each point of thesis is clearly and adequately developed with a variety of rhetorical strategies: facts, definitions, statistics, examples, relevant descriptive details, comparison/contrast, classification, analysis, analogy, synthesis etc. There is appropriate use of sources (relevant, recent, high quality), and vocabulary, quotes, and other supportive material demonstrates evidence of professional writing.
Voice and Readability: Targeted audience can understand and follow ideas, and writer’s voice and tone indicate consideration for and appropriate appeal to the targeted audience.
Mechanics and Grammar: Writer uses correct punctuation, usage, and grammar. Sophistication is demonstrated by variety in sentence structure/length, a marked lack of repetition, and titles, headings, and subheadings that accurately portray section contents. Unless requested, exposition is devoid of personal intrusion (e.g., first person “I,” second person “you”) and maintains professional tone throughout.
Critical Thinking: Writer demonstrates strong evidence of critical analysis, synthesis across multiple sources, meaningful reflection, and appropriate ethical standards.
Strategy 7: Avoiding Writing in 2nd and 3rd Person
Increasing one's [3rd person] workload is taxing on both your [2nd person] physical and mental health. Unless someone [3rd person] is in a physically-intensive profession, your [2nd person] body is wasting away while you [2nd person] are working.
Additionally, your [2nd person] diet also suffers as you [2nd person] spend more time at work. No longer do you [2nd person] have the time to prepare healthy meals at home or even worse, we [3rd person] may not have time to eat at all.
Excerpt from student paper, 2007
The combination of sedentary jobs and increased workloads tax both physical and mental health among employees. Except for those working in physically-intensive professions, human bodies waste away with inactivity. Nutrition also suffers while more time is spent at work, since people do not have time to prepare healthy meals or worse, may not have time to eat at all.
Note: This student writer introduced the aspect of “mental health” but did not write anything about it.
Strategy 8:Organization & Development
There are only a few studies that have examined the effects of exercise in persons with schizophrenia.
Most studies used small sample sizes and lacked randomization. Only one offered exercise for a minimum of 16 weeks that is required to show significant progress in previously sedentary adults (Smith et al., 2000). A common problem was difficulty motivating participants to adhere.
Dropout rates were high in four out of the six studies. All studies examining psychiatric outcomes found significant reductions in depression and anxiety. Vreeland, et al. found statistically significant mean weight loss and body mass index (BMI) reductions in an exercise group compared to the control group, but Ball noted no significant weight or BMI changes between exercisers and non-exercisers after 10 weeks (Vreeland et al., 2006; Ball et al., 2004).
All but one study found exercise associated with significant physical or psychological improvements.
Excerpt from student paper, 2004
Effects of Exercise in Persons with Schizophrenia: A Literature Review (added title)
A scant number of studies have examined the effects of exercise in persons with schizophrenia: three focusing on psychiatric outcomes and two on physical (Bell, 2007; Jones & Yi, 1990; Smith et al., 1979; Smith, 2000a; Vreeland, 2006).
All studies examining psychiatric outcomes found significant reductions in depression and anxiety. Vreeland, et al. (2006) found statistically significant mean weight loss and body mass index (BMI) reductions in an exercise group compared to non-exercising matched controls. Bell and colleagues (2007), however, noted no significant weight or BMI changes between exercisers and non-exercisers after 10 weeks.
Most studies in this modest body of literature used small sample sizes and lacked randomization. Only one offered exercise for the minimum 16 weeks required to demonstrate significant gains in previously sedentary adults (Smith, 2000a). Despite this, exercise was associated with significant increases in physical or psychological health in all but one study (Jones & Yi, 1990).
A common problem was difficulty motivating participants to adhere. Dropout rates…
Strategy 9: Titles and Headings for Unity
Using the title as a unifying strategy:
One trick professional writers use to unify a work is extracting a title from an essential piece in the paper’s final summary/conclusion or a main section. Look for a phrase in these areas that really captures the paper’s main idea or argument (thesis) and turn it into a title.
(If submitting a paper for publication, be sure to check the journal’s Author Guidelines in terms of title, abstract, and article length.)
Using headingsto provide visual “cues” for readers:
Write the content of the section first. Then extract the essential argument/message/topic from it and use it as a heading.
(Remember, drafting is a recursive process—crafting your headings like this can help you go back and re-do your outline to see how well the pieces are coming together.)
Strategy 10: Writing an Abstract
Components of An Abstract
In a paragraph of approximately 100 to 200 words, an abstract may convey some or all of the following:
For a review of the Scientific Method, see http://bemyers.ifas.ufl.edu/Courses/AEE5301/Lesson%20Plan%20Library/Heather%20Carr/Scientific%20Method%20PP.ppt
Strategy 11: Literature Review (as part of a study or project) Retrieved August 25, 2007, from: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1466-2435.2004.00231.x See Also: Fink, A. conducting research literature reviews: from the Internet to paper. Access at: http://uf.catalog.fcla.edu/uf.jsp?Ntt=conducting+a+literature+review&I=0&N=20&S=DL2T33C7FJR69FH65UXXV8L65SDDXQ3AIGR6V47E7E9X99AVC2&Ntk=Keyword&V=D&Nty=1#top
Are relevant previous studies described?
Are references current (or seminal studies included)?
Is the literature review organized to demonstrate the progressive development of ideas through previous research?
Is a theoretical knowledge base developed for the problem and purpose?
Does the literature review provide rationale and direction for the study?
Is a clear, concise summary presented of the current empirical knowledge (data produced by experiment or observation) in the area of the study?
Is a clear concise summary presented of the current theoretical knowledge in the area of study?
Literature Review (as a type of paper) Retrieved (and adapted) August 27, 2007, from http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/nursing/literature.html
Before you start
Have you broken down your research question into specific subject keywords?
What category are you searching (Nursing > Public Health > Breastfeeding)?
What aspect of the subject do you want to cover (Skin-to-skin contact for breastfeeding difficulties postbirth)?
Searching the sources
Have you found and searched the most relevant databases? CINAHL? Evidence-based and Cochrane?
Have you looked for books and book chapters about your research question? Have you checked Google Scholar?
Analyzing your results
Has your search been wide enough to find all the relevant material? Have you limited your search to exclude all the irrelevant items? Have you identified the key references among the material you have found? Have you included articles that support your perspective? Have you included articles contrary to your perspective? Have you worked out the strengths and weaknesses of each item in your literature review?
Case Studies In Nursing Ethics By Sara T. Fry, Robert M. Veatch: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BotJKlc24MkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=%22Fry%22+%22Case+Studies+in+Nursing+Ethics%22+&ots=lxn6_AbVTY&sig=GIKE9lU5h5CZ7AEPiZsoz-b1k5w#PPA7,M1
For a free subscription to our publication: Nursing & Healthcare Directories on: The Nurse Friendly Clinical Nursing Case Studies, please send a blank e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Links to Writing a Logical Argument
The following sites provide everything from info on writing experimental reports, lit reviews and APA style to detailed instructions about how to write an argument and support your “proofs” or hypotheses logically: