Tutor profile: Cynthia S.
Why do I need to use a manual of style?
Different academic disciplines tend to use different manuals of style. Within each discipline, the chosen style is well recognized, and your adherence to that style allows your reader to better understand your work. For instance, scholars within a field can instantly recognize the fact that you are transitioning from one standard section of a research study report to the next, and they know what information to expect in each section. This increases their reader comprehension, which is particularly important in complex fields. Manuals of style also provide standards for citing and referencing your sources, which is of paramount importance in academia. Using someone else's words or ideas without properly attributing them to the person who originally created them is tantamount to academic theft, which is a serious charge in academic circles. Citing and referencing sources gives credit to the work of others and identifies the portions of your piece that are your own, original words and thoughts, thereby giving you credit for your work. Finally, your ability to adhere to the rules of academic writing directly illustrates to professionals within your field that you are also a professional. Your adherence marks you as someone who understands and respects the rules of your discipline. Since many of your readers have dedicated their lives to that field, your acknowledgement of (and adherence to) these rules also mark your respect for your readers.
Subject: Library and Information Science
My professor keeps telling us to use the library's databases. What is a database?
A database is just a collection of data, which can take many forms. In academia, that data usually takes the form of articles, often from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Each database is owned by a company or organization. Often, those companies or organizations charge high fees for access to the materials contained in their database(s). Luckily, your university library pays for your right to access the database(s) in their collection. So, as a student, you have access to a vast collection of journal articles that are appropriate for academic research. Access to these databases usually takes place through a digital portal, most often at your library's website. If you have difficulty navigating the journals, seek help from a librarian. Librarians have expertise in research and data retrieval. In fact, I am a librarian, and I would love to help you navigate your way to appropriate research materials.
My professor and my grammar software keep saying that I am writing in passive voice. What does that mean, and how do I fix it?
Passive voice is a concept based on proper syntax. Syntax is just the framework of a language, and different languages can have a different preferred syntax. In English, the proper syntax Looks like this: Subject --> Verb --> Direct Object (if the sentence contains a direct object.) Importantly, the subject that precedes the verb should perform the action (the verb) that follow it. In other words, the proper subject of a sentence is the do-er of the action. So, let’s look at a passive sentence: The cake was eaten by Mary. Who is performing the action in this sentence? Who ate the cake? It was Mary! However, in the example above, the subject that performed the action is at the end of the sentence. This is not proper English Syntax. It makes the direct object (the cake) the focus of the sentence instead of the do-er. This is passive voice. To correct passive voice, move the do-er of the action (Mary) to the beginning of the sentence, like this: Mary ate the cake. The sentence now follows proper English syntax. In other words, the do-er of the action appears as the subject at the beginning of the sentence and is followed by the verb. In this sentence, there is a direct object; the cake is the direct object because the action of the sentence is performed upon the cake. It is the thing that was eaten. This sentence now follows proper English syntax of Subject --> Verb --> Direct Object Still confused? I can help with that. Just reach out.
needs and Cynthia will reply soon.