Showing posts from January, 2012

MLA Made Easy?

Every time you use someone else's ideas or words you must follow it with an in-text citation and an entry on the Works Cited page.

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" (Gibson 1).
Note that this is a direct quote, so it has quotation marks and is immediately followed by an in-text citation (Gibson 1) and that the punctuation (the period) follows the in-text citation. Gibson is the author's last name and the quote was found on page one. Also notice there is no comma between the author's last name and the page number.

When readers see the in-text citation it clues them that there will be an entry on the Works Cited page that begins with Gibson. The works cited entry for the above quote looks like this:

Works Cited
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 1984. Print.

Note that the book's title is italicized. Every period, colon, and comma are important so be sure you put them in the right place.

The biggest…

Rhetoric of Political Advertising

When talking about rhetoric, we think ethos (appeals to authority), pathos (appeals to emotion), or logos (appeals to logic). Advertisers are the kings of exploiting rhetoric to get you to do something, from buying cars or fast food to electing a president.

Political advertisements often use pathos to scare the electorate into voting for a canditdate who will make things "better." Or, they may rely on hope, the way President Obama did in the last election. Today many political advertisments ask, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" the way President Reagan did in 1984.

Constitution Daily has collected the 10 Best Political Advertisements since 1952.

Here's a couple:

’60 – JFK JingleM
Candidate: John F. Kennedy, Democrat
Did he win?: Yes.

Here's an election that turned Kennedy's youth into an asset with the slogan he's "old enough to know and young enough to do."

’64 – “Daisy”
Candidate: Lyndon Johnson, Democrat
Did he win?

Unemployment Rates Among College Graduates

Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a study showing that college graduates have a better chance at finding a job than those with less education. Not a surprise there, but you may be surprised at how much of a difference a college education makes when it comes to earnings and employment. "The overall unemployment rate for recent bachelor's-degree recipients is 8.9 percent, compared with 22.9 percent for recent high-school graduates and 31.5 percent for recent high-school dropouts" (Chronicle of Higher Ed).

But some college majors fare better than others. Students graduating as architects have a 13.9 percent rate of unemployment, while the arts and humanities find 11.1 percent unemployed, and liberal arts are at 9.4 percent. While architects may be an anomoly because of the horrific state of the housing market, industry oriented degrees on the whole are hired at a better rate than teachers and social workers.

Is colle…

Plagiarism Checker: Good for Grammar Too!

If you are lucky enough to have access to TurnItIn at your college, I bet you didn't know it can do more than just give you a similarity rating?

TurnItIn now has e-rater, a grammar checker, that works alongside the plagiarism checker. If you don't have TurnItIn at your school, it is available for a fee online at

In addition to checking quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material, e-rater looks at grammar, style, mechanics, usage and spelling. Errors are flagged and offer students the option of dismissing e-raters' advice, or clicking on "handbook" for further explanation.

Using e-rater will improve your grammar. As a professor, I know most grammar mistakes are really proofreading errors, but when you run across something truly perplexing, e-rater's grammar handbook can teach you something new.

Before you charge off to TurnItIn with your next paper watch the following demo explaining how it works (the demo is for WriteCheck, but it wo…

Plagiarism: Bad

There was a popular little poetic ditty when I was in college that began: Plagiarize, Let no one else's work evade your eyes, but plagiarize. Today plagiarism is still a huge problem on college campuses--and if you get caught copying someone else's work it could cost you your academic career. By the way, getting kicked out of college for cheating can also destroy your chances at good job--who wants to hire someone that steals? Nobody does.

Most of us know we shouldn't copy anyone else's work, but reminds us that there are many forms of plagiarism:
Sources Not Cited

1. "The Ghost Writer"
The writer turns in another's work, word-for-word, as his or her own.
2. "The Photocopy"
The writer copies significant portions of text straight from a single source, without alteration.
3. "The Potluck Paper"
The writer tries to disguise plagiarism by copying from several different sources, tweaking the sentences to make them fit toge…

Still not sure why you're in College?

College is expensive and time consuming, and if you still don't know why you're warming a seat in the lecture hall, you better get with it!

Does money matter to you? According to CNNMoney, in 2011 first-time salaries for business majors were $48,089, while engineers started at $59,435, and liberal arts majors could expect to start at $35,633. In the debt column, The Wall Street Journal says that the class of 2011 graduated with an average college loan bill of $22,900, up 47 percent in the last decade. Yikes!

Still not sure?

Have you ever taken an aptitude test? has a couple of quizzes that can help you decide. Remember, your career is something you are supposed to do for the rest of your life. You can do something you like, or you can do something to make money, or you can do both? How you ask? If you are good at accounting, but you've always wanted to be an actor, you could do accounting work for a Hollywood studio or agency.

How do you know what…

School House Rock: Busy Prepositions

The little words called the busy "P"s . . . at, far, in, from, by, with, to, on, of, over, across and so many others.

The Preposition's job: "Connect noun or pronoun object to some other word in the sentence . . . and they never stand alone."

But what exactly is a Preposition?
The University of Ottawa Writing Center says:
A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. The word or phrase that the preposition introduces is called the object of the preposition.

A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence as in the following examples:

     The book is on the table.
     The book is beneath the table.
     The book is leaning against the table.
     The book is beside the table.
     She held the book over the table.
     She read the book during class.

In each of the preceding sentences, a preposition locates the noun "book&qu…

Schoolhouse Rock: Pronouns

Next up in the School House Rock repertoire: Pronouns starring Rufus Xavier Sarasparilla . . . and a little bit about pronouns on your résumé.

How'd you like to have a name like Rufus Xavier Sarsasparilla? What if pronouns didn't exist and you had to keep repeating "Rufus Xavier Sarasparilla" instead of "I" or "he"? Wow, pronouns make things a lot easier. "Saying those pronouns over and over can really wear you down."

Here's what the OWL at Purdue has to say about pronouns:
Because a pronoun REFERS to a noun or TAKES THE PLACE OF that noun, you have to use the correct pronoun so that your reader clearly understands which noun your pronoun is referring to.

Therefore, pronouns should:

1. Agree in number. If the pronoun takes the place of a singular noun, you have to use a singular pronoun.

If a student parks a car on campus, he or she has to buy a parking sticker.
     (NOT: If a student parks a car on campus, they have to buy a p…

Résumés: Five Great Things To Do

Job hunters are always reminded of things they should avoid doing in their résumés. But here are five great things to do with, or include in, your résumé.

1. Show enthusiasm. It's okay to be excited about a job possibility. In fact, enthusiasm is often contagious, and says, "I'm ready to work!" What employer doesn't want an employee that conveys a can-do attitude?

2. Include Awards and Achievements. Employers want to see more than job history. If you've won awards for your work, schooling, special interests, or have done volunteer work, it tells perspective employers that you're willing to go the extra mile and that you are passionate about something.

3. Computer and media skills. Many companies maintain a high internet presence. Why? Because a lot of it it is free, and if you know how to navigate through twitter, blog spot, wordpress, Facebook, LinkedIn or other networking sites, that tells would-be bosses that they have someone who understands m…

School House Rock: Conjunctions

Let's jazz it up at Conjunction Junction. If this tune doesn't stick in your head for the rest of the day . . .

Conjunction junction what's your function? Conjunctions are: and (additive, this AND that), but (the opposite of and, not this BUT that), and or (when you have a choice, like this OR that). Conjunctions hook up words, phrases and clauses to make them work right.

Pretty easy, right? Let's look at subordinate conjunctions and coordinate conjunctions.

Here's some tips from the OWL at D'Youville College in New York:
>Subordinate Conjunctions
A subordinate conjunction is a word or phrase that begins a dependent clause. Examples of subordinate conjunctions are the following: since, because, when, if, after, although, until, etc.

Example #1
I don't function as well as I normally do when I get tired.
Explanation: The subordinate conjunction is "when," and it begins the dependent clause "when I get tired."

Example #2
We can't…