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Walden University Writing Center

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Email Etiquette for the Scholar Practitioner

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If you’re a working student, you’re probably swimming in emails every day. But have you ever been taught how to compose an effective email? Read on for some tips to take your emails up a notch.

Email Etiquette for the Scholar Practitioner

Is Email the Best Option?
Before you start writing, consider whether email is the best way to get the information you need. Is the information already available to you through your syllabus, textbooks, or the course or department website? If you’re emailing a department here at Walden, you may want to see if they have chat services available for urgent questions, as many offices have a policy of replying to emails within 24 hours. Email may not be the fastest way to get the answer to your question, so it’s best to consider other resources first.

The Logistics of Your Email
Although email has a great deal in common with other forms of communication, there are some unique conventions and concerns that you should be aware of:
  • If you are emailing in your role as a Walden student, it’s best to email from your Walden email address so that the recipient knows exactly who is writing them. 
  • To avoid sending your message before you have finished composing it, wait until after you have finished writing your email to add the recipient’s email address. Double check that you have included the correct address so that your message reaches its intended recipient.
  • Include a clear subject line for your message. Question isn’t very clear. Question about EDUC 5243 Week 3 Application Assignment gives the recipient a much better sense of the content of your message.
  • Open your email with a greeting. Unless you have been told to do otherwise, use your professor’s proper title (Professor, Dr., etc.) as a sign of respect.
  • Include identifying information, including your full name and, if applicable, your class, section, and the specific assignment or topic you are concerned about.
  • Give the recipient adequate time to respond before sending additional emails to follow up. Although you may do your academic work on the weekend or late at night, the recipient may not be able to respond until normal business hours. It’s important to recognize that email is a fast means of communication but is not immediate.
  • Use the high priority option sparingly. Overusing this option may lead to a true emergency being overlooked in the future.

The Tone of Your Email
Because email can involve formal communication but does not take place face-to-face, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of your tone. Use a polite tone by employing “magic words” like “please” and “thank you.” Express appreciation for the time that the recipient spends reading and responding to your message. If you are writing because you are angry or frustrated, take the time to cool down before sending your message. Above all, remember that email lasts forever: don’t send anything in an email that you wouldn’t want on the public record.

The Content of Your Email
It’s important to take a polite tone in your email, but since most people receive a great deal of email each day, it is also ideal to get to your main point quickly. To save time emailing back and forth with your recipient for additional clarity, be sure to provide all of the necessary information in your original message.
Editing Your Email
You may be tempted to use abbreviated, texting style communication via email, but it is much more professional to use standard written English. Avoid abbreviations, use emoticons sparingly, use appropriate punctuation and capitalization, and avoid using all caps unless you want to appear as though you are shouting. Before you send your message, proofread it carefully, paying special attention to the recipient’s name: there is no quicker way to annoy someone than to misspell their name in a message that asks something of them!

Sample Email Script
If you are wondering what these guidelines look like in practice, here is a sample email that you can use as a model for your own messages:
Hello, Professor Zimmerman.

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend.

I’m in your Primary Care Nursing course. NURS 6565. I’m currently working on the GI Disorders assignment, and I was wondering if I should include an abstract for this paper. I’ve looked in the syllabus and on the course site, and I don’t see mention of an abstract requirement, but I wanted to check with you to make sure that one is not needed. Can you please let me know whether I should include an abstract in this paper?

Thank you,

Veronica Eloise Middletonburyhall

Did you know that the Writing Center offers support via email? You can send your questions about writing and APA Style to writingsupport@waldenu.edu and your questions about writing capstone documents to editor@waldenu.edu. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheryl Read Author Image

Cheryl Read
 is a Writing Instructor in the Walden University Writing Center. She’s a big fan of etiquette as a way to make our world a kinder, more respectful place. When she’s not helping student writers at Walden, Cheryl stays busy playing with her son and working on her dissertation.

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Foundational Skills for Transitioning Writers: A 3 Part Series

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Academic writing often seems to be a language of its own. On top of having to ensure proper page formatting and citation style, scholarly writing relies on a set of skills that work to develop and support ideas in an academically sound way. This goes beyond having professional sounding sentences! You may be returning to school after time off, or perhaps you have been back for a while but still feel out of step with your writing. Our three-part blog series on foundational writing skills can help. Join us in this examination of foundational concepts of scholarly writing.

In this series, we look at foundational skills that will help any scholarly writer feel more confident in their ability to converse in the language and form of academic writing.

Here are the posts in our foundational concepts for transitioning writers series:

  • Part One: Using Evidence Claire explains what evidence is as well as how to include it in your work to support your ideas
  • Part Two: Point of View Veronica gives a tour of first and their person points of view, explaining how and when to use each in academic writing
  • Part Three: Establishing Context Nicole reminds us that our readers may lack the same background understanding as us, and she shows was to include contextual information

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The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. The center supports students through all stages of the writing process and develops the writer as well as the writing.

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Third Time's the Charm: Strategies for Your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Paper Review Appointments

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Did you know that using the Walden Writing Center’s paper review service three or more times can impact your academic success much more than using the service once or twice? New research has found that visiting a writing center more than twice positively impacted student success. Maybe you are new to academic writing or returning to writing. You might feel a little uncertain about your writing skills or have received feedback that indicates you have skills to work on. Or, perhaps you feel confident about your writing skills but still want to advance those skills. Maybe you just aren’t sure about your writing and would like a secondary reader, and you’d like to schedule some Writing Center appointments. You may be wondering how to fit the Writing Center into your already busy schedule to take advantage of this service and enhance your skills. Well, we have some options for you!

Third Time's the Charm

Here’s what three appointments in a term might look like for you:

Appointment One
You can make an appointment at the next available opening on the appropriate schedule and submit something you’ve recently written for class, even if you’ve already turned it in. Your writing instructor will provide positive, encouraging feedback and links to additional sources we think will help you work towards your learning and writing goals. You can even let us know in the appointment form that your document has already been turned in and you’re looking to see how your writing is going so far. Or you can always submit whatever you’re working on that week. 

Appointment Two
We suggest, at this stage, that you review your first appointment and look into some of the additional resources provided by your writing instructor. Using that feedback, you can work to implement changes in your document and reflect on skills you’d like to focus on in the future; these skills might be organization, APA, using source information effectively, etc. For optimum scheduling, we suggest you make an appointment between a week and three days before your next assignment is due and attach a rough draft. In your appointment form, let the instructor know what skills you’d like to focus on or have worked on since your previous appointment. At the same time you can reserve an appointment for the following week so that you can submit your work again once you have revised.

Appointment Three
At this point, we recommend that you read through your instructor’s feedback and consider the additional resources they provided. You should take time to implement changes to your entire document (regardless of if the instructor read all the pages or not) based on their suggestions and what you’d like to focus on. This will look different for each student, but your instructor will provide guidelines or areas of focus they suggest as you work to revise, add on to, re-organize, add citations, or whatever else you might focus on for this particular draft. Once you’ve revised, you can attach your work to your previously-scheduled appointment for the next week prior to the required deadline.

After you receive your feedback from Appointment Three, you can revise again, based on writing instructor feedback. This revision may continue work on the same topics from the previous draft, or may shift to more focused and specific nuances in your writing. Either way, be sure to review your whole draft again with the instructor’s feedback in mind. Then you can submit your paper to your course.

Come back again!
Now you can keep making appointments ahead of time or even for each assignment as your schedule allows.

You can schedule appointments at the Writing Center up to two weeks in advance—so if you know you have papers coming up, you can plan to revise with us. If your schedule allows, two revisions of the same paper will make it even stronger! If not, then planning to visit before you turn in an assignment and keeping the patterns and resources in mind between appointments will still be beneficial. You can have up to two appointments a week, so pre-schedule whatever makes the most sense for your assignment due dates and schedule. Be sure to keep in mind that your paper will be returned the day of or after your appointment, so build that into your schedule as well. If you have a standing appointment or multiple appointments reserved in advance, you can attach whatever you’re working on that week, or cancel your appointment before the 5am EST deadline.

Here’s a few key things to remember:

  • Plan ahead—take a look at your course schedule to see when big assignments are due and when you plan to work on them.
  • Submit old papers—you can submit something you’ve already turned in to get some revision practice and general feedback on your work to use moving forward.
  • Reserve—reserve slots up to two weeks in advance! If you don’t feel you need or want an appointment that week, you can cancel as long as it is before the 5am EST deadline the day of the appointment itself.
  • Make Goals—between reviews, keep track of what you’re working on in your writing and what you’d like to make stronger, clearer, or more effective. Keeping these goals in mind will help you revise more effectively between reviews and help your writing instructor focus on what’s most important to you as a writer! You can read more about making writing goals on our goal-setting page.

Claire Helakoski author photo

Claire Helakoski is a Writing Instructor  at the Walden Writing Center and holds an MFA in Creative Writing. She has taught writing and Composition as well as acted as a writer and editor in a variety of mediums. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and enjoys reading, writing creatively, and board games of all kinds.

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WriteCast Episode 49: Meet Your Reviewer, Cheryl Read

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Come join us for WriteCast this episode as Claire and Max chat with one of the Walden University Writing Center's newest Writing Instructors, Cheryl Read. Listen in as Cheryl shares a bit of her background as a writer and teacher, and describes the approach she takes working with students in Paper Review Appointments. Click the play below, or check out our WriteCast podcast page to view our entire library. 

Cheryl Read Author Image

Cheryl Read joins the rest of the Writing Instructors who are dedicated to supporting the scholarly writing of Walden University scholar practitioners. Working with instructors like Cheryl gives writers the tools and support needed to succeed in building their writing skills. Learn more about our Paper Review service here.

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Third Time's the Charm: The Magic of Multiple Paper Review Appointments

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Have you ever wished for a magic wand? I know that I have, especially when contemplating a new writing project for my coursework at Walden University. I’d love to wave a magic wand and magically become a more skilled writer before my next paper is due!

While magic wands may not exist (yet), there is one strategy that students at Walden can begin using today to improve their writing. This strategy is supported by research, and although it isn’t magic, there are a lot of benefits to using it. Are you ready for the not-so-magic trick? Here goes:

Make at least three paper review appointments at the Walden University Writing Center this term.

Third Time's the Charm: Scheduling Repeat Appointments

While it may seem common sense that three appointments would be better than one or zero, some compelling research supports the argument for making at least three paper review appointments at the Writing Center to review your writing.

While many researchers have discussed the overall efficacy of Writing Center visits in improving student writing (Learner, 2014; Robinson, 2009; Yeats, Reddy, Wheeler, Senior, & Murray, 2013), Irvin (2014) found that when students attended at least three writing tutoring sessions, success factors like persistence and grades improved. In addition, Williams, Takaku, and Bauman (2006) used a longitudinal study to conclude that only the frequency of writing center visits predicted grade outcomes for students. Finally, Yeats et al. (2013) discovered that three tutoring sessions can help students shift their motivations for improving their writing from extrinsic to intrinsic, and increasing intrinsic motivation can improve overall learning. Taken together, this research points to the third time being the charm when making Writing Center paper review appointments.

Multiple appointments allow for more breadth in reviews, and they also allow you to gain the perspective of a critical reader outside of the classroom. Writing instructors can help you pinpoint areas where readers might be confused and provide writing and revision strategies you can use in future papers. Some students prefer to work with one instructor over multiple appointments, while other students prefer to work with a different instructor for each appointment. You can listen in on the debate about continuity versus variety in writing feedback on WriteCast podcast episode 32. However, whether you choose to work with one writing instructor or many, all of our instructors are interested in helping you make the transition to a successful scholar practitioner.

Although using the Writing Center can help you work toward your writing goals, three appointments at the Writing Center will not magically improve your grades and writing. Three visits is a great start, but continuing to visit can help to improve your writing skills over time. Learning revision and self-editing skills involves hard work and effort, and our paper review appointments provide a way to focus your efforts to improve your writing rather than a shortcut to better grades. With that said, why not make it a goal to schedule and complete at least three appointments at the Writing Center this term? The staff and writing resources at the Writing Center are here to help you set and achieve your goals!

I encourage you to make an appointment at the Writing Center today, even if you don’t have any papers due right now. Remember that writing instructors can also review past work to help you with future assignments. Because writing instructors generally comment on patterns within writing, you’ll be able to use the tips and techniques in your review for future assignments as well as current assignments. If you’re unfamiliar with the Walden University Writing Center’s paper review service, you may want to stop by our website to learn a little more about our paper review policies and view samples of writing instructor feedback. You can also send any questions about our paper review service to writingsupport@waldenu.edu, and we will answer your inquiry within 24 hours.

As a final note, I've included references for the above research at the end of this post, so please feel free to peruse it and let us know what you think. We’d love to see any other resources you’ve found about the efficacy of writing center resources.

Alternatively, share your experience with using Writing Center services—have you found that the third time is the charm when it comes to making appointments at the Writing Center? Let us know in the comments!


Irvin, L. L. (2014). What a difference three tutoring sessions make: Early reports of efficacy from a young writing center. Writing Lab Newsletter, 39(1-2), 1-5. Retrieved from https://wlnjournal.org/

Lerner, N. (1997). Counting beans and making beans count. Writing Lab Newsletter, 22(1), 1-4. Retrieved from https://wlnjournal.org/

Robinson, H. M. (2009). Writing center philosophy and the end of basic writing: Motivation at the site of remediation and discovery. Journal of Basic Writing, 28(2), 70-92. Retrieved from https://wac.colostate.edu/jbw/

Williams, J. D., Takaku, S., & Bauman, K. (2006). Effects of self-regulatory behavior on ESL student writing. Tohoku Psychological Folia, 65, 24-36. Retrieved from https://www2.sal.tohoku.ac.jp/psychology/folia/index.html

Yeats, R., Reddy, P., Wheeler, A, Senior, C., & Murray, J. (2013). What a difference a writing centre makes: A small scale study. Education + Training, 52(6/7), 499-507. doi:10.1108/00400911011068450

Katherine McKinney author image

Katherine McKinney is a writing instructor in the Walden University Writing Center. She received an M.A. in English from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at Walden. Katherine's goal as an instructor is to show students that the best writing results from practice, and she aims to provide feedback and resources that will guide students through the invention, composition, and revision process.

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