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Public Affairs, Public Service, and Public Administration: Writing Tips

This guide includes resources for studying public affairs, public service, and public administration.

A Better Research/Writing Process

Here are some tips and tricks to make writing and researching easier from the following books:

 

Boice, Robert. How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency : A Psychological Adventure. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 1994. Print.  [HWJ]

---. Professors as Writers : A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing. Stillwater, Okla., U.S.A: New Forums Press, 1990. Print.  [PAW]

Single, Peg Boyle. Demystifying Dissertation Writing : A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text. 1st ed. Sterling, Va: Stylus, 2009. Print.  [DDW]

 

Some of these ideas appear to be counter-intuitive, but they are supported by research and the experiences of writers and writing teachers.

 

1.  Write more frequently, but for a shorter time (30 minutes to no longer than 1-2 hours daily).  (PAW, p. 84).  Writing every day leads to shorter warm-up times (DDW, p. 132) and more creativity (PAW, p. 80).

 

2.  Have a designated place or places for serious writing (PAW, pp. 76-7).

 

3.  Stop when you are planning to stop.  Make notes about what you are planning to do next, so that when you sit down to write again, your warm-up time is minimal.

 

4.  On taking notes.  

a.  Read to write, which is different from detailed reading.  Scan for the important parts for your research, then read and take notes only on those.  (HWJ, pp. 54-7)   

b.  In order to save time, read an entire book or article before taking notes on it.  Mark the good passages as you read, then return to make more meaningful notes at the end. (DDW, p. 64)  

c.  Take two kinds of notes:  your detailed overall notes and then, in a different place (different paragraph, different field in a citation manager), the "citeable [sic] notes" you can derive from your original notes.  (DDW pp. 69, 82-83)  The purpose of this dual note-taking is to prevent having to return to the original documents to look for material.  You should have begun summarizing and making sense of  the source as you make your notes, building a bridge between your reading and your writing to make the final writing task easier.  (HWJ, pp. 54-7).

APA Format in Word Files

Here are some templates to help you prepare papers with Microsoft Word in APA format.

 

If you are using Office 365 online, you can use official Microsoft templates:

https://templates.office.com/en-us/APA-style-paper-TM00002033

 

Here is a YouTube video from Colin Murphy, Ed.D., to help you set up an APA paper in Word 2016:

 

Here is a set of slides to help you set up APA in Word 2007:

http://www.slideshare.net/mpostphd/creating-a-word-2007-apa-template

Instructions from Everglades University on making a Word 2010 template can be found at: https://eulibraries.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/apa_word_2010_template_instructions.docx

Here is a homemade template for Word 2010.  Please use with caution, although I did my best to avoid errors:

APA Template RLT.dotx

Here is a homemade template for Word 97-2003:

APA Template RLT 97-2003.dot

 

 

 

Writing Advice from a Pro

How to Write a Strong Term Paper

This PowerPoint presentation from the late Dr. Michael Gershowitz explains how to focus and construct an excellent piece of writing for public administration classes.  Dr. Gershowitz was a professor of public administration, a successful grant writer, and a former journalist.

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Roberta Tipton
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Public Administration Librarian
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