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The scholarly environment can be a daunting place to reside academically. On August 31, 2015, I took up residence in that environment in pursuit of my doctoral qualification. I was suddenly present in an arena that vocally and tacitly demanded that I wean myself from my Professional/Creative writing style, and quickly learn and embrace a new style of writing -- if I was going to succeed.

Yes, you guessed it; I was now challenged to write as the ‘Aspiring Academic Scholar Practitioner’ I had become, by virtue of becoming a Walden PhD student.

It is incumbent upon me to define ‘scholarly writing’ prior to providing the characteristics of one who aspires to be a ‘Scholarly Writer’ – an ‘Aspiring Scholar Practitioner.’

Scholarly writing is defined by Walden University as, ‘writing that is used in all academic fields; and has its own characteristics, such as:

  1. Writing clearly – no jargon, colloquialisms, clichés or gut-feeling. Scholarly writing is evidence-based, concise and follows the active voice.
  2. Writing objectively – our own thoughts which are steeped in empirical data.
  3. Writing and being aware that revising and editing are major parts of scholarly writing.
  4. Writing from a balanced perspective – that is, able to present both sides of an argument.
  5. Avoiding complicated statement structures – rather, write formal yet simple and concise.

To write effectively as graduate students, we must first find and become acquainted with and adhere to scholarly voice rules. Walden University contends that, “if graduates adhere to the rules set out for ‘scholarly voice’, we will become experts at scholarly writings.” (

How Do I Know When I Find My Scholarly Voice – A Good Starting Point

As graduate students, we know we have found our scholarly voice when are aware of and edit our writings for:

  1. General bias – Relative to race and disabilities (See APA Guidance, pp: 70-77)
  2. Gender bias – "police officer" rather than "policeman"
  3. Objectiveness – not advancing our personal preference and our preconceived ideas
  4. Sentence length – short and clear rather than long and winding, the latter loses readers
  5. Proper Grammar – Follow guidance by William Strunk and E.B. White
  6. Empirical evidence – Seek to substantiate our own thoughts with Peer-Reviewed data
  7. Sentence structure – writing in a round-about way to sound more scholarly becomes passive writing – Graduates write in the active voice (Say, ‘Pauline registered for college yesterday’  and not ‘Pauline was registered for college yesterday’
  8. Being alert to generalizations – By staying away from using “all” and “never”
  9. Being alert to our own bias – Yes, we have them
  10. Parallel consistency in writing – Say ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and not man and female
  11. Our audience, our audience, our audience matters!! To write successfully, we must know our audience (

It takes a lot of adjustments to move from a professional/creative writer to an academic or scholarly writer; however, this is a feat that can be successfully accomplished if we:

  1. Become familiar with our scholarly voice
  2. Read peer-reviewed literature, read peer-reviewed literature…
  3. Build time into our schedules to revise and edit our work – remember, writing scholarly means rewriting and editing
  4. Practice writing in precis format – it helps with stripping away words that do not change the original meaning of the article or assignment
  5. Practice paraphrasing statements made by others – this is an excellent way to ensure our writing is in our own style; but remember to cite the original author whose thoughts we paraphrased
  6. Practice thinking like a scholar, that is, thinking at a higher level – At this level, we have grasp the skills of analysis, evaluation and integration 
  7. Let us be kind to ourselves by rewarding ourselves for small wins…

Until Next Time – See the journey’s end! 


Norma Williams-Seymour is the President and Chief Executive Officer of HOWES INC Training & Development (Cayman) Ltd.; a personnel training, development and organizational diagnostic company.

She has broad experience in various fields spanning human resources & training, education, Banking, teaching at primary and college level. She lectured at the graduate and undergraduate level and was the Senior Vice President at a major local retail Bank.

Norma is currently pursuing her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, with specialization in Leadership, Development and Coaching. She enjoys interior and floral designing, reading and learning new things and helping people and organizations be their best self.


Sources/Further reading:

  2. American Psychological Association. (APA). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) pp.70-77.
07 Jan 2016

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