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Beginnings and Endings Hillary Wentworth and Jessica Barron Writing Consultants Writing Center Walden University.

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Presentation on theme: "Beginnings and Endings Hillary Wentworth and Jessica Barron Writing Consultants Writing Center Walden University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beginnings and Endings Hillary Wentworth and Jessica Barron Writing Consultants Writing Center Walden University

2 Session Overview How to begin and end a paper Introductions and Conclusions Why these elements matter How to write effective beginnings and endings for your own work Structure Tips

3 Beginnings and Endings: Why? Why an Introduction? Provide background and context Establish the problem and why it is important Give purpose or argument for paper Why a Conclusion? Restate main argument of paper Bring together all the subtopics Point to social change implications

4 Beginnings and Endings: Why? Ways to Visualize the Purpose of the Introduction and Conclusion: Bookends propping up the great ideas you discuss in the body of your paper Bread holding the sandwich fixings together A GPS navigating the reader into the material and out A complete conversation, with a handshake and a goodbye

5 Beginnings The definition of an introduction is a piece of text that accomplishes two important tasks: first, it attracts readers’ interest, and second, it presents the topic and makes some comment on it. It contains, in other words, a strong lead, or hook, and often an explicit thesis as well. Many introductions open with a general statement about the topic and then go into more detail, leading up to a specific thesis at the end (Lunsford, 2011, p. 93).

6 Beginnings: Thesis Statement The most important sentence of your paper because it offers the central argument and purpose. A thesis statement is concise, specific, and arguable usually the last sentence in your introduction Example thesis statements: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy. To improve patient care in a rehabilitation setting, nurses must follow Jean Watson’s theory of caring. For more on thesis construction:

7 Beginnings: Structure Funnel Shape Broad: Background/context Narrower: The problem relating to that background Narrowest: What you are arguing or proposing about that problem (the thesis statement)

8 Beginnings: Structure Conflict is inevitable in a healthcare environment because of emotional, financial, and operational stressors (Vivar, 2006). However, conflict is both a positive and negative phenomenon that effective nurses navigate. By assessing conflict situations, nurses can develop insight, recognize strengths and limitations, and accept outside resources to manage such situations (Manion, 2005). The particular assessment best suited to nurse-doctor conflict is the PEPRS framework. Why does this introduction work? Flow from broad (idea of conflict), to narrower (conflict assessment as growth), to narrowest (PEPRS framework for conflict assessment) Clear argument Appropriate level of detail Appropriate academic voice

9 Beginnings: Structure Structure Don’ts: Too much detail(direct quotes, evidence that goes beyond background and should be placed elsewhere) Too vague (reiteration of assignment guidelines) “Blueprint” or step-by-step of what is to come in the paper

10 Beginnings: Structure For this application, I have selected an acute care setting. In this paper, I will explain why patient safety is important in this setting. Second, I will identify the key challenges for nurses regarding patient safety. Finally, I will describe two strategies for improving patient safety and explain why I chose them. Why is this not the greatest introduction? Assumes reader knows assignment Gives a step-by-step of paper (AKA “the blueprint” design) Uses the assignment guidelines as sentences Gives only a general overview (could apply to any fellow student’s paper) Does not give a real sense of problem or argument

11 Beginnings: Tips Heading Per APA, there should be no “Introduction” heading. Incorrect: Introduction In this paper, I will xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx Correct: Title of the Paper In this paper, I will xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

12 Beginnings: Tips Length For a short course paper, your introduction is usually just a paragraph; for longer and more complex papers, it can be several paragraphs. Be brief. Grammar and Voice Just like the rest of your paper, use a formal academic voice. Typical Errors We See in Introductions A casual or conversational tone Let’s first discuss healthcare in America today. As you know, healthcare is a big problem in America today. Both of these examples talk directly to the reader, as if in a friendly chat. Instead, make sure there is distance between writer and reader. Healthcare is a problem in America today because 40% are without insurance and therefore susceptible to untreated injury and disease.

13 Beginnings: Tips More Errors We See in Introductions: Passive voice (Providing no set subject or “doer” of the action) In this paper, the problem with healthcare will be argued. Instead, use the active voice: In this paper, I will argue that the problem… Anthropomorphism (Giving human traits to inanimate objects) This paper will analyze… The literature review determined that… Because a paper or a section of a paper cannot describe or reveal, use “I”: I will analyze… Through the literature review, I determined…

14 Beginnings: Tips More Errors We See in Introductions: Questions If 40% of Americans are uninsured, what do they do if they become sick? Why doesn’t the government do something about inflated health premiums? Though questions can be passionate and can “hook” the reader, in academic writing, avoid them in order to –Maintain an unbiased, formal tone –hook the reader instead with your evidence –express the problem in a clear and straightforward way Direct quotes “The great fault of the 21 st century is the lack of access to healthcare for those of low socioeconomic means, leading to an increase in both preventable deaths and anxiety disorders” (Smith, 2010, p. 7). Because this is your paper, you’ll want to use your own words to guide the reader.

15 Beginnings: Tips More Errors We See in Introductions: Verb tense shifts Use the future tense when explaining the paper: In this paper, I will analyze healthcare reform. Use the past tense when describing the research: Douglas and Jones (2011) stated that, despite progress in healthcare reform, low-income communities will not see changes until the next decade. Use the present tense when presenting something that is currently or always true: Millions of Americans lack health insurance due to increasing premiums and unemployment. Weak verbs In your thesis especially, use powerful verbs that promote argument or analysis. Not so effective: summarize, explain, describe Better: argue, compare, critique, synthesize

16 The Body of Your Paper Goes Here, in Between the Introduction and Conclusion It Should Convince the Reader of Your Argument and Expand

17 Endings After the body of your paper, rather than stopping, you will want to ease your reader into your final thoughts on your topic, otherwise known as a conclusion.

18 Endings What is the purpose of a conclusion? Acts as a reminder Argument Main points Gives the big picture Provides closure

19 Endings Without a conclusion… …your readers may feel lost, confused, and unsure why they spent all that time reading your paper.

20 Endings The definition of a conclusion is a piece of text that leaves readers satisfied that a full discussion has taken place. Many conclusions begin with a restatement of the thesis and end with more general statements that grow out of it: this pattern reverses the common general-to-specific pattern of the introduction. (Lunsford, 2011, p. 93)

21 Endings Creating closure through Structure No new information Avoiding the “blueprint” Synthesis rather than summary

22 Endings: Structure Triangle Shape Narrow: Restating the thesis Broader: Reiterating main points Broad: Implications of argument to social change and future research

23 Endings: Structure Be brief Typically one paragraph for course papers Use headings Level 1 heading Common headings: Conclusion, Summary, or Discussion Summary In conclusion, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xx

24 Endings: Structure Have a similar tone to the paper Word choice, scholarly language Follow the same writing rules as an introduction Avoiding anthropomorphism, passive voice, rhetorical questions, and incorrect verb tense

25 Endings: Tips No new information should appear in a conclusion. New information includes Direct quotes Introduction of new sources Avoiding “flip-the-page” syndrome

26 Endings: Tips Just like an introduction, a conclusion should not be in a “blueprint” format. In this paper, I discussed how informatics is an important part of nursing. I included information from peer-reviewed sources and noted how informatics will impact my field and organization. I concluded with some of the trade-offs of implementing informatics and not.

27 Endings: Tips Why the blueprint doesn’t work: All summary Simple word choice and sentence structure Might annoy your reader

28 Endings: Synthesis So…what does work? Synthesis instead of summary Include the main points of your paper Put back together for your reader Phrased in a different way

29 Endings: Synthesis Tie back to introduction and thesis Reiterate overall argument Why did you write this paper? Why is this topic important? Remind readers of how you proved that argument Studies, theories, experience, data

30 Endings: The Future? Discuss future implications of research or topic Not new information Should naturally build throughout your text Reiterates the importance of your argument

31 Endings Sample Conclusion Paragraph Employing informatics in an organization may include frustration and pushback from healthcare staff, but using a system like CPOE is a necessity. In my organization, improved and consistent patient care was an early benefit, and scholars continue to note the long-term benefits of informatics. As CPOE becomes a future requirement for healthcare organizations, administrators should encourage its use and fund training to have a smooth, well-received implementation.

32 Recap Beginnings Construct an arguable thesis Establish your scholarly tone Remember the funnel shape Endings Reiterate your thesis Synthesize your main points Remember the triangle shape

33 Questions Thanks for joining us this evening! Use the Question box to ask for clarification For more information on beginning or ending a paper, see

34 Reference Lunsford, A. (2011). The St. Martin’s handbook (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

35 Resources Walden Library: Residencies: Center for Research Support:

36 Contact Information: the Writing Center anytime at or


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