Archive for category C

Convoluted Sense

Remember the first Rubik’s cube. Remember how hard it was to put all of the colors together on each side. Now think about that puzzle you always brought out for company or family visits. A puzzle that had 100 pieces or more was always the hardest to put together, especially if one section of the puzzle represented a sky.

Now compare your analysis that is filled with convoluted language and tangled phrasing to a Rubik’s cube and a puzzle. When you write in such a way that even you can’t understand your writing, your reader loses all grip on the reality you are presenting within your paper and consequently loses interest.

Convoluted phrasing is the equivalent to marrying political rhetoric and philosophy and placing these two different ideas under one umbrella. Convoluted phrasing is similar to an unsolvable math problem, which is oxymoronic. The math problem is hard to understand and is so complicated that it is more encouraging to quit than to continue. In the same vein, a paper filled with convoluted sense is hard to untangle, because if you can’t remember how you first found the information, then you can’t untangle the data.  It is probable that you may have to start over.

The best method for preventing this from happening to you is to keep it simple. Once you can outline the simple, you can move to the next level of writing. Just know this: Sophisticated writing and well-fashioned rhetoric is not the same thing as convoluted and tangled phrasing. They are completely different.

People who write with sophistication know the value of words and understand the function of each element within a grammatical sentence. The writer who thinks and writes in language that is hard to comprehend just doesn’t understand the purpose of a sentence and grammar as a whole.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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Cite a Source/Plagiarism

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

Each person is defined separately and distinctly by a fingerprint (and by DNA). For example, your fingerprint tells us who you are and where you have been. Your fingerprint is similar to a hand signature. For example, everyone has a signature, a way of writing their name. No two people write their names in the same way. Hand specialists study signature patterns and they have methods for determining the difference between one signature and another. This is a general assessment on the topic of hand signatures. Let’s consider a particular context: academic writing.

Your writing style represents your signature. In the same way that everyone has a hand signature, everyone also has a writing signature. In other words, each student has a certain way of analyzing a literary work and writing the academic paper. A student’s paper reflects their personal understanding of the literary work. This is why it is easy for professors to catch cheaters on exams, because no two people write, or analyze, in the same way. You and your friend may study together, but it is very easy to tell when the both of you have worked together on a paper. You can switch the wording around and the paragraphs, but the signature of one will surface over another.

In essence, a professor can always tell which one of you has written the paper and which one has copied from the other. This same example applies to the authors you cite for your papers. They have a specific signature, a craft and skill that they have developed over the years. They are known by their skill (i.e., This is Hegelian, Wordsworthian, etc.). Therefore, when your professor recognizes a signature within your papers that is not yours, he or she will tell you to cite a source to prevent plagiarism.

With this in mind, the comment “Cite a Source” can mean two things. 1) One, if you have placed the quotation marks around the quote, then you are not in danger of plagiarism; you have just forgotten to place the author’s name and page number in parenthesis. Of course, if you knowingly and willingly refuse to put the name and page number in parenthesis, then the presence of plagiarism may exist. 2) Two, the comment, usually in the words of “this is too close to the original” and “you are in danger of plagiarism,” is in reference to the lack of quotes around a group of words your professor already knows are not your own, not your own signature.

The best solution to revising papers where plagiarism exists is to cultivate your own signature, and maintain and respect the standards of others who have cultivated their signature. It is always safe, honest, and respectful to tradition to give credit to the previous author. The implication in this comment is to allow time for proofreading and revision planning. Good proofreading prevents the potential of plagiarism.

For extended explanations, see also the comments “Too Close to the Original,” and “You Are in Danger of Plagiarism.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

Take a dirty, see-through, with no special colorings or design glass from your sink and fill it up with water. It doesn’t matter if the water is cold or hot. Place the glass on a counter on your living room or kitchen table. Take a seat in a chair. Try to see anything in the house through the glass. Is what you see (i.e., the television or a person) clear? Now look around the house or your room. You can see clearly, right?

A paper filled with gaps, shakable evidence, and sloppy content represents a glass with dirty water filled with impurities. A paper that is solid, organized, structurally sound, with credible and verifiable evidence is a paper that is clear. When your professor writes “Clarify” near a section, this comment means that he can’t see through to your ideas because of the jumbled writing and confusing words.

All of these issues with your paper represent a stumbling block, a hindrance for the professor. Clarify your ideas means clarify what you are trying to say.  Ask yourself What do I want to say exactly? Then just write what you think. During the revision part of your writing, you can format and restructure the sentence so that it fits formally into the academic essay.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Can You Elaborate More on That

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

See the comment “Elaborate.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Students often find it hard to provide sharp transitions between paragraphs. It is much easier, within a paragraph, to begin with transitional wording such as first and continue with second or next. However, it is especially difficult to tie one point to another, one end to the other.

The best way to understand this comment is to think about a friend who is telling you a story. Just when it seems that the friend is about to make the point, he or she jumps to something else, some other conversation about something totally different from the one he or she starts in the beginning. This is an example of choppy transitions within paragraphs or how you outline the paper in a choppy way, shifting constantly, abruptly, without warning your reader that you are about to make a change.

The best way to prevent your papers from having choppy areas is to “outline” what you want to discuss on a separate sheet of paper or in another Microsoft Word document. Once you understand what you want to discuss, then return to your paper and continue the process until you have completed the thought within your paper. As the best incentive to developing your paragraphs, always read sections aloud, one by one, and determine the best way to approach revision.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Read Aloud.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Could Be Better Worded

Know the value of words, their impact, and their contribution to a sentence. In my short time of teaching, I always encouraged my students to look up words in a dictionary, to check a thesaurus, and to use a synonym/antonym dictionary.

The comment on your paper “Could Be Better Worded” implies that a possible method might be to copy and paste the words into a new Microsoft Word document and study them. Once you have an idea about how you want to move forward, then copy the revision back into your document.

We get better at writing through revision.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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A comment along the lines of “contradictory” may refer to four areas within your paper:

  1. a contradiction involving your thesis and the support you use for analysis;
  2. a contradiction involving the credibility of the support in relation to other sources used;
  3. a contradiction involving your thesis and the author’s position; and/or
  4. a contradiction within the conclusion.

Understanding (1) and (2)

For (1) and (2), receiving such a comment depends upon how well or how poorly you have organized your information. You have learned to create an outline before assuming the task of writing. If you do not know who says or who has said what, in terms of your thesis and the support you use, you may easily develop a thesis that lacks strong foundation. For an argument, if you develop the thesis “All dogs are nice,” but support the thesis with a fact from The Humane Society such as “All dogs 100% of the time bark at strangers,” then you contradict your thesis.

Think about how you wash your clothes; you always separate the whites from the colors.  Now think about how you fold your clothes after drying. You place socks that match together.  This same ideology applies to your thesis and the support you use for the thesis. All of your likes, your matches, must go into one pile; and all of the ones that are different from the likes must go into a separate pile. This way you can identify what is what and what is not.

Understanding (3)

For (3), you must develop a thesis that correlates to the author’s claim and the requirement of the exam question (as expected from your professor on a final paper). Your thesis and the author’s claim should be on the same level. Even if you are negating his claim as a way to develop your thesis, you can’t develop a thesis that is so far beyond what the author claims. In other words, if the author claims that “All dogs are nice,” you can either agree or you can disagree by claiming that all dogs are not nice. In doing this, you are still on the same level as the author. However, you can’t argue that “All dogs are kind to only people they know.” What does this thesis have anything to do with what the author claims? Examine the thesis carefully and separate what the author believes and what he doesn’t believe. Don’t apply implications that are not truly implied in the immediate text.

Understanding (4)

Lastly, a contradiction within the conclusion suggests that you have deviated from your objective.  Remember your thesis. Remember what you want to prove. Before attempting to write a conclusion, go back and reread the introduction and the body paragraphs and ask yourself this question: Do I believe or have faith in anything I have just written? If you do, then you have a conclusion. If you don’t, then before you can even begin to write a conclusion, you must return to the starting point and change your thesis, change the support, and then write the conclusion. Otherwise, you will receive a comment of “contradictory” either in sections of your paper or the comment will reflect the whole paper.

See also the comments “This Doesn’t Occur/Contradiction” and “There is No Indication of This.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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See the comments “Contradictory,” “This Doesn’t Occur/Contradiction,” and “There is No Indication of This.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Confusing, Confusing/Tangled Phraseology

A strong indication that a student doesn’t understand the material is present within how the student constructs a sentence. Students put together disorder in the sense that they don’t distinguish between one thing and another. They bring together phrases that don’t make sense even to themselves, let alone to the reader.

Sample Excerpt

The Indians see the white man as stupid in their strive to civilize the savage.  And this thought takes notice because the Indians were often painted as fragile and passive people.  Passivity proved to their advantage because they tended not to incorporate themselves into society.

Figure 7: Essay Excerpt, “The Legacy of Conquest”


1) How can a thought take notice? What does this mean?

2) How did passivity prove to their advantage?


The opposite of “to confuse” is “to clear up” or make plain.  It is not always a good thing to try to demonstrate sophistication in your writing if you don’t already possess this ability. You will only confuse the reader even more. Sometimes constructing the simplest statement(s) represents the best indication of your ability to create a well-constructed, effective sentence, one that especially has an impact upon your reader.

Your major objective is always to be effective. Writing what you mean and meaning what you write should be your primary goal.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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No paper that is formal in nature can be effective with clichés as a significant part of the analysis.  Clichés are informal and suggest a flippant tone. In addition, when you use a cliché, you demonstrate your inability to think of a word or a collection of words that reflect critical thinking about the work. In other words, you are not successful at fully maximizing your intellectual muscles. Essentially, you lack the ability to think “analytically” about the subject matter.

In the same way that people curse because they can’t form another word that conveys the same meaning, students who use clichés within their papers don’t embody a strong vocabulary.  This statement is not only geared to the one who uses profane language. Individuals who use big words boastfully don’t quite know how to express themselves simply to the average reader.  They use words as a crutch in the same way that the person uses profanities or clichés.

With this in mind, don’t let clichés become a crutch. It is better not to use them at all. If you feel that one truly evokes a meaning you want to convey within a certain paragraph, then do your best to prove your point in-depth also, but don’t flood your papers with clichés because such a decision to do so will suggest that you don’t take the assignment seriously.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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