Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where EIU Writes (A Thesis)

Mixing up our usual posts in the Where EIU Writes series, we have an interview with an anonymous EIU alumnus on the daunting task of writing a thesis.

As always in this series, we get another look at where some EIU writers find the best atmosphere to do their writing--even if the task takes two years.

If you’re an EIU graduate student about to start work on a thesis, then be sure to take note. Tips and insights follow.


Q: I’ve always been interested in where people write, especially when working on big projects like a thesis. For me, the bigger the project, the more I write at home. Is that how it was for you?

A: The majority of my time spent writing my thesis was at the library. It was a quiet place to focus.

Q: Is writing a thesis similar to other assignments you've done?

A: My thesis felt like an entirely new kind of project. It was a continuous project for over two years that I really focused on during the research collection phase. I've never had an assignment that lasted two years until my thesis.

Q: Did anything surprise you during the writing process?

A: A few of the surprises that I encountered while working on my thesis were how quickly the last few chapters were brought together, how much time it would take in sending drafts back and forth between the adviser, the committee, and myself, and also how specific the proposal must be to submit to the IRB. [Editor’s Note: an Institutional Review Board reviews research activities in order to protect research participants.]

Q: What advice might you give another graduate student on picking a topic, researching, or working with a thesis committee?

A: General tips on picking a topic would definitely be to choose something you're passionate about and enjoy. At the end or even in the middle, you will likely be very sick of this topic, so you don't want it to just be something that you did not give much thought. Also, finding a thesis committee that is prompt with their responses is very important. Otherwise you will be left waiting and wasting time when you could be completing your thesis. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chicago on the Go: Handy Dandy Information

For those new to the Humanities, and those who have an interest in citation styles, this blog is for you.

The Chicago Manual of Style (which may be converted to CMS for short) does not have to give you PTSD. I know it can be terrifying. I too have grown anxious when contemplating if I should be using the Notes-Bibliography System (NB) for documentation or the Author-Date System (which does not have an accepted acronym, although I may call it AD anyway). There also exists the Turabian citation style, which uses both NB and AD. With all of these choices, how can a student ever know what is truly acceptable? Never fear. This post is a quick piece with, hopefully, interesting information. The EIU Writing Center, Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL), and the EIU History department (see links below) can all help those who need more in-depth information.

The Author-Date system brings up the authors in the text with the date following immediately in parenthesis. This is the form of CMS that most resembles APA and the Author-Date system is used when the dates of publication are very important to the research being done. The page number is included as well in text after quotations and also in parentheses. Much like APA, the Bibliography or Works Cited page is called References for AD style of citation within CMS. If you cannot work at least the last name of the author into the sentence, follow a quote with (AuthorLastName year published, page number). The Author-Date system does not have notes concerning sources, but may still have endnotes or footnotes that are actual notes that relate to the research instead of a bibliographic note.

NB is used most frequently in the humanities. Notes-Bibliography system uses a superscript number that corresponds to a footnote or endnote with the bibliographic information for every source. Concerning the Bibliography part of the NB, one must remember that sources are listed alphabetically by authors’ last names, just as in the list of References of APA or the Works Cited of MLA. The order goes: Lastname, First. Title (if it is the title of a book or journal, otherwise it is placed in quotation marks). Publisher (or Journal Name). Year of publication. It is interesting to note that in CMS the year of publication is, on the spectrum, closer to APA needs and desires than to MLA. In MLA the year is rarely important, and in APA the year is always important.
Listed above is the most straight forward formatting of a bibliography entry. Other formats can be seen at or .

Chicago Style can be complicated, but you are able to overcome. 

The Writing Center
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
EIU History Department:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Is the Reading Center Right for You?: What I Learned from my Interview at the Reading Center

I walked into the Reading Center with a feeling of anticipation and was met by a caring, helpful staff whose welcoming attitude matched the colorful decorations on their bulletin board. It was nice to talk to the Reading Center Director, Ms. Shilpa Maheshwari, and Dr. Joy Russell, Chair of Elementary Education, both of whom share our belief in the connection between strong reading and effective writing. 

The Reading Center’s mission is to support all students across the curriculum—including graduate students—with reading comprehension, vocabulary fluency, and study skills. Students who want to improve the fluency of their reading can take a diagnostic test to determine where they should focus attention during weekly one-to-one tutoring sessions.

Skills they teach through workshops include close reading, study strategies, and “vocabulary preparation,” which focuses on word contexts and Latin/Greek root words. They also offer a workshop where you can learn about the different learning styles—visual, audio, and kinesthetic—and get advice on employing methods for your specific learning style.

The Reading Center also has computer-aided practice tests available for students preparing for the TAP Test, ACT or SAT. Workshop schedules and brochures describing their services are available in the Reading Center (Room 1320 in Buzzard Hall).

If you find yourself wondering if you should visit the Reading Center, go ahead and give them a call. The last question I asked during this interview was: “Is there anything else that you want others to know about the Reading Center?” Both Ms. Shilpa and Dr. Russell emphatically, enthusiastically, boldly exclaimed that they wanted you to feel comfortable coming in: they work around your schedule; their Graduate Assistants are very knowledgeable; their study rooms are peaceful; and, most of all, they are there for you.

As a writing consultant working in the EIU Writing Center, I encourage you to visit the Reading Center because reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Who wouldn’t benefit from learning root words and increasing vocabulary? Who wouldn’t want to gain a wider repertoire of reading skills? Who wouldn’t want to learn a study skill like managing one’s time? Who wouldn’t want to use a free service that could enable them to be a better student? All of these services improve writing. After all, that is what we’re doing at EIU. We’re bettering ourselves as readers and writers, and more specifically, as students. That—to me—is EIU.

Visit their website or give them a call for more information: