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Writing Resources

This page contains writing tips and links to online resources that can help you effectively write all your assignments and meet the requirements to complete your graduate program.

The content of your class papers will be worked out between you and your instructor or mentor. All writing should be neat and accurate, with correct spelling and grammar. Your instructor may ask you to use APA style for your papers.

Writing a Dissertation
A dissertation or thesis for a doctorate or master degree is a formal document that should contain no slang, informal language, or contractions. In writing this document the student will need to follow all the applicable rules as to grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting, quoting, and citing sources. You should begin your dissertation project by reading the IUPS Dissertation Manual (being updated).


Following all these rules can be a challenge, but doing so is part of the learning process to gain the professional writing skills a PhD or MA is expected to have. One advantage of the formal nature of the project is that a formula already exists for putting the material together. All you have to do is follow the formula. You can work on the different parts of the dissertation, as described in the dissertation manual, separately. If you keep working on parts, the whole can be finished in a surprisingly short time, without you feeling overwhelmed in the process.

Research dissertations use a hypothesis, and the purpose of the dissertation is to objectively test the accuracy of that hypothesis. The purpose of the dissertation is not to prove that your current opinion is correct. Your research may or may not prove your hypothesis to be correct.
Everyone has a bias, but the dissertation process requires the student to put that bias aside and to fairly review all the literature, including literature with which the student may personally disagree. Then the student must accurately analyze the research results and report the findings objectively. The language of the dissertation should be objective, as unbiased as possible, and sexually and racially neutral.


Researching the Literature
You will need to thoroughly research your area of study when you choose your dissertation topic. Some of this research may be done during your coursework, but you will need to do a significant amount of further research for your dissertation.


You can do research at a library near where you live. Most library catalogues can be accessed and searched online, and most academic libraries at colleges and universities allow community borrower privileges for a small fee. You can check the catalogues for the libraries near you to see which has the most useful resources and then become a borrower at the one that suits you best.

Journal articles can be easily researched online. The best resource we have found is:


APA Style
All professional writing in the area of psychology and related fields uses APA (American Psychological Association) style. APA style includes grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules, as well as rules for quotations and citations. Though many APA rules can be found online, you should review the actual style manual to see the scope of the rules you need to follow and what rules you need to consult. The manual is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition. APA style uses Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition for decisions about alternate or preferred spellings. You can purchase these or use them online and review the manual at a library near you.


The best online APA style resource is: Purdue Online Writing Lab – APA style


The APA approved dictionary can be accessed at: Merriam-Webster’s
IUPS Formatting Rules
IUPS has its own rules for formatting your dissertation. This includes fonts, line spacing, paragraph indentations, page number placement, and heading styles.


Editing the Dissertation
The student is responsible for making sure the dissertation conforms to APA style and IUPS formatting rules. You may hire an editor to correct errors and polish your work, but the work must be your own.
In the editing and dissertation review process, it is important for the student to remember that the dissertation writing process is part of the learning experience, and no one is expected to get it all right on the first attempt. Most dissertations can benefit from some improvements and your dissertation advisor may ask you to add or change sections of the document. Making your dissertation the best it can be is part of the graduate degree training process.


Online Dissertation Resources:

Some of the articles about dissertation writing online are intended for different degree areas, such a computer science, but they still may contain valuable information about writing an IUPS dissertation. Here are links to some of the better quality pages:

Writing a Dissertation

Completing Your Dissertation Without Tears


Writing from A to B

How To Write A Dissertation, or Bedtime Reading For People Who Do Not Have Time To Sleep




Writing a Methodology Chapter


Tip #1: How to Craft a doctoral Dissertation, PhD Research or Graduate Thesis: Chap. 1: Introduction


Dr. Cheryl Lentz: Chapter 2: Literature Review Writing Tips


Dr. Cheryl Lentz Chapter 3: Research Methodology: Dissertation Writing Tips


Dr. Cheryl Lentz: Chapter 4: Results: Dissertation Writing Tips


Dr. Cheryl Lentz: Writng Chapter 5: Analysis of Results and Conclusions

Writing chapters of the dissertation:
University of Minnesota Duluth: Guidelines for writing a literature review

University of Arizona: The Literature Review ‒ Purpose
Saint Mary’s University: Writing a Literature Review
Other Writing Resources:
University of Illinois: Grammar Handbook
University of Chicago: Grammar resources
Citation Software:
A Review of Free Citation Software


Endnote software
Featured APA Referencing Software

Purdue Online Writing Lab
University of Maine: Online Writing Resources
Harvard Writing Project

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