Tutor profile: Andrea H.
I recently submitted a paper for a class I’m taking, and my professor commented with a suggestion that I make use of an “Oxford comma.” What is an Oxford comma, and how can it help my writing?
An Oxford (or serial) comma is a comma placed before the last item in a list. For example, if I wrote a sentence saying that I needed to pack my backpack, water bottle, and bug spray for a hiking trip, the Oxford comma is the comma between the word “bottle” and the word “and.” This comma helps to separate all of the items in the list. It isn’t necessarily always required in a sentence, but using it can alter the meaning of the sentence. For example, let’s say a performer was writing an award acceptance speech, and she wanted to thank her parents, her producer, and her agent. Writing it this way: “I’d like to thank my parents, my producer, and my agent,” makes it sound like she is thanking her parents, her producer, and her agent separately. If she would remove the Oxford comma (and, by extension, remove that extra corresponding pause in her speech), the sentence would be: “I’d like to thank my parents, my producer and my agent,” which makes it sound like her parents are her producer and her agent. While the Oxford comma is not always required, it is a useful thing to add for clarification in your writing.
Subject: Library and Information Science
I’m having trouble finding scholarly articles on a subject I’m researching for class. How can I find better articles that are more closely related to my topic?
First, I would recommend breaking down your research topic into keywords. Keywords are the main, most central/important words to your search. Once you’ve identified them, it might also be worth coming up with synonyms for your keywords. This is useful because your synonyms can help cast a wider net over your pool of articles than searching with keywords alone would be able to do. To ultimately put together your search, I would also recommend working in some Boolean search words to widen or narrow your search as needed. Boolean operators can sometimes differ slightly from resource to resource, but let’s work together to put these steps into a search that can bring back the kinds of results you are looking for.
Why are some works of literature, like The Hunger Games, off limits to those who wish to make and publish adaptations of the works while others, like the Sherlock Homes stories, are able to be remade again and again into new movies and TV shows?
The difference between the two examples listed here can be found in the copyright status of the works. The Hunger Games is under copyright protections, and will be for some time, while most of the Sherlock Holmes cannon is not. Public domain refers to creative works that are no longer under copyright law and are now open and available to the public. There are a number of different circumstances that could cause a work to enter into the public domain, but, in this case, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales (with some exceptions) have aged out of their copyright protections and are now able to be used and reworked by other creators.
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