Welcome Graduate Students!

AlladaWelcome to Missouri S&T! My staff and I are excited to begin this Fall 2013 Semester with you. I believe you have made one of the most critical investments of your lifetime in attending graduate school at Missouri S&T. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.” Your experience at Missouri S&T will not only lead to gaining new knowledge and wisdom but also help you to unleash your imagination. At Missouri S&T, we are dedicated to provide a top return on investment to students, employers, research partners, and donors through extraordinary access to renowned expertise, services, and experiential learning opportunities.

I want to provide you with three simple tips that will enhance your graduate program experience at Missouri S&T.
Tip #1: Let your imagination flow when creating your plan of study at S&T. Einstein once quipped, “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world.” Talk to your academic advisor and explain to them your career dreams so that they can help you develop a plan of study to maximize your personal potential. Use the graduate catalog as a reference to understand the academic rules and regulations.

Tip #2: Know what resources exist on S&T campus to help in your professional development. As a new student, try to attend the new graduate student orientation program hosted by the Office of Graduate Studies to get a bird’s eye view of the resources available. Take the time to visit with various units across campus, such as the Career Opportunities and Employer Relations Center, the Library, the Student Affairs Office, and the Student Design Experiential Center. Getting to know what programs are offered can help choose your level of involvement. Be sure to also visit the Office of Graduate Studies to view some of the events that will be hosted during the 2013-14 academic year.

Tip #3: Ask for help, be sure to network, and try to build relationships. Do not be either shy or overly confident when asking for help. Seek mentors who can help you. These mentors could be faculty, staff, peers, or Rolla community members who could guide you in making sound ethical decisions as you pursue your academic, professional, and personal goals.

New students, start your engines and have a safe, productive graduate life journey. Do not hesitate to take short scenic detours to enhance your teamwork and leadership skills that are conveniently located on your way to reach your academic goal.

Wishing you the very best,

Venkat Allada

New Graduate Student Orientation

Graduate Student OrientationThe Office of Graduate Studies is hosting a New Graduate Student Orientation in order to provide information, answer questions, and guide new graduate students as they begin their graduate studies at Missouri S&T. Presentations and information booths will be set up by the following departments:

Office of Graduate Studies- General Information

Council of Graduate Students- Council Members and Organization Functions

Office of the Registrar- Joe’SS, General Information

Student Life- Services

Missouri S&T Police- Student Safety & Security

Student Affairs- Student Ethics

Career Opportunities and Employer Relations- Services for Graduate Students

Select Graduate Faculty Members/VPGS- How to Select an Advisor


When: Wednesday, August 28

4pm-6pm will consist of the presentations and panel of graduate faculty.

From 6pm-7pm students will be able to network and visit the information booths. Refreshments will be served.

Location: St. Pat’s Ballroom B, Havener Center

Presented by: Office of Graduate Studies

Contact: costoplosl@mst.edu

Register online at http://www.facebook.com/mstgradstudies

Congratulations Susan!

Please join us in congratulating our graduate tutor, Susan Sipaun.  Susan has just completed Level I training of the Office of Graduate Studies’ tutor training program.  This training has been awarded International Tutor Certification by the College Reading and Learning Association.  Tutors who complete one or more levels of this training will receive credentials recognized at over 500 universities internationally.


As part of her training, Susan conducted more than 25 hours of tutoring sessions with graduate students at Missouri S&T.  She contributed regularly to our newsletter, “Graduate Life,” the office’s Facebook page, and this resource blog.  She completed more than 30 hours of training, attending various workshops and seminars,  to help her improve her tutoring skills, and she assisted with various office activities throughout the fall 2012 semester.

Susan was awarded at an office luncheon for this achievement.  We are sincerely grateful to have Susan working with us to help graduate students improve their writing skills.  She is a great asset to this University, and we look forward to continuing to work with her in the future!

Technical Writing for Non-Technical Readers

“When you write for your peers, you can use as many technical and esoteric terms as you like.  Why?  You know they will understand what you are saying; you don’t need to explain what, to you, are everyday concepts.  But it’s a different story when you need to write for non-technical readers.” ~Desolie Page

Very often, our journal articles, conference papers, and so forth will be read by both technical and non-technical readers alike.  As such, we must craft our work so that it can be comprehended by an incredibly varied audience.  Desolie Page has written a terrific article on how to do so successfully.  She walks writers through a number of issues writers must consider when putting together their work.  Page offers pointed questions you should ask yourself when beginning your writing.  She then walks you through crafting paragraphs, lists, and non-verbal elements.

For the complete article, please visit Technical Writing for Non-Technical Readers

Meeting with a Tutor: What to Expect

Written by: Susan Sipaun, Graduate Tutor

Since August 2012, the Graduate Resource Center (GRC) has been offering tutoring sessions to Missouri S&T graduate students. This program is, essentially, a peer tutoring session that focuses on writing. So what can you expect in a sitting? Read on!

Bring your document. Maybe you have written an article to be submitted to a journal and you want someone to look over it with you.  Maybe you are writing a research proposal and need someone to discuss it with. Our tutors are on-hand to help with not only revising your draft but also improving your writing skills. You are welcome to bring your notes, laptop, references etc. during the session, if doing so would help.  We also have a computer you may use if necessary. Having specific questions for the tutors can help streamline the sessions.

Have an open mind. We would be happy to have conversations about all things writing. The benefits of having that extra pair of eyes are numerous. We are graduate students, too. We know it is hard to write and edit your own work! Let us have a friendly conversation about your abstract, write-up, journal paper, and more. Together, we will strive for that gratifying and impactful writing outcome.

Writing well reveals your scientific character. Every idea, every effort counts and it should show in your writing. Those months and years of
working on multiple projects are worth at least a thousand words. As we enter into our chosen fields, a well-written paper can establish that we have accumulated enough knowledge and skills to succeed in both research and academic publishing. This optional but free tutoring session can help you achieve this!

Work in progress. Understand that writing takes time and we will get better with practice! Start writing early to give yourself time to gather your thoughts and put it in writing. Coming in sooner rather than later for the tutoring session helps as you allocate ample time for your writing to mature in the way you want it to.

Drop us an email and make an appointment today at emrt24@mst.edu

We look forward to meeting you!

Writing Resources Available Through the Office of Graduate Studies

The Graduate Resource Center (GRC) returns to its normal hours of operation this week.  Graduate students currently enrolled at Missouri S&T can come in for help with all aspects of writing, from creating an outline to reviewing a final draft.  The GRC also has a number of materials available to help students improve a wide variety of writing related issues.  All services offered through the GRC are supported by the Office of Graduate Studies and, thus, provided to graduate students with no additional fees.

The editor is also available to edit your work, providing feedback on strengthening your grammar, punctuation, style, and more.  She will review your writing line-by-line to help you create the strongest document possible.  Again, these services are supported by the Office of Graduate Studies and provided to graduate students with no additional fees.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with a tutor or have additional questions regarding the editing services offered, please email Elizabeth at emrt24@mst.edu.

Who’s Going to Read My Thesis?

I often hear students ask the question, “Why does this matter?  Who’s going to read my thesis anyway?”  I think two possible answers exist to this second question.  Let’s consider first that no one ever reads this work.  Let’s assume the work in your thesis has been nothing more than an academic exercise in discipline.  If that is true, you don’t need to do anything more than write for your thesis committee.  Complete your work in a timely fashion, defend with authority, and collect your signatures.  In this situation, you are doing your research, writing, revising, and defending for no more reward than graduating from school.  Of course, graduation in itself is quite an accomplishment but let’s be honest.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have that work recognized on a slightly larger scale?

And that brings us to a second possible answer for “who will read my thesis?”  Does your family know you’ve dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to this work?  Do your friends know?  Will either your advisor or your thesis committee ever refer to your work as an example of what a student either should or should not do when creating a thesis?  Will you ever, in passing, tell someone you once wrote a thesis in college?  When you update your CV/resume, will you include your thesis publication?  Is it possible a potential/existing employer will Google your name?  Answering “yes” to even one of these questions means you already have an audience.  You have family, friends, coworkers, employers, and more gauging you as a researcher/professional according to the work in your thesis.  What do you want that work to say?

Be careful not to see your thesis as simply a stepping stone for achieving your academic goals.  Instead, see it as a building block to your future.  Your thesis is not something that should be published and forgotten.  Rather, it is something that should be held up as an example of your accomplishments.  Use it to demonstrate your dedication to your work, your desire to succeed, and your persistence through difficult times.

Stop for a moment and think of anyone and everyone you don’t want to read your thesis.  Now assume they will anyway.  What do you want that thesis to say?

Common Vocabulary Errors

When editing students’ papers, I often notice a number of common vocabulary errors. (To be completely honest, I see these mistakes in a variety of different places…apart from student papers.)  For example, when do you use “approximately” rather than “about?”  And what is the difference between “which” and “where?”

Perhaps you have seen these mistakes as well.  Now, though, when someone asks you about the difference between “affect” and “effect,” you’ll be more than ready to offer a fantastic answer!

about, approximately

Merriam-Webster defines “about” as one of three things: an adverb, a preposition, and an adjective.  Synonyms include almost, around, and near.  “About” is used in more casual communication.  When writing a technical document, however, you want to give a professional, more specific tone to your writing.  The typical standard is to use the term “approximately” rather than “about” when describing estimations.

as to whether, whether

Many writers often struggle with “wordiness:” using far more words than necessary in a discussion.  “Whether” will often work just as well as, and be preferred over, “as to whether,” helping an author reduce wordiness.

assure, ensure, insure

Assure means ‘to encourage’; ensure means ‘to make certain.’ Insure should be used when referring to underwriting a loss” (“Society of Petroleum Engineers,” 2011, p. 5).

compare to, compare with

When “compare to,” the writer is implying a resemblance/relationship between two different ideas/things.  When using “compare with,” however, the writer implies a contrast between similar ideas/things.

currently, presently

If something is happening right now, it is “currently” happening.  If it will happen in the near future, it will happen “presently.”


“Data” is the plural of datum.

differs from, different from

One thing differs from, or is different from, another.  One thing is not different than another.

due to the fact that

This wordy phrase can simply be replaced with “because.”

effect, affect

“Effect” is a result.  “Affect” is an influence.

farther, further

“Use farther when distance is implied, further when referring to time or quantity” (“Society of Petroleum Engineering, 2011, p. 7).


This is not a word.  Use “regardless” instead.

that, which

That is the defining or restrictive pronoun; which is the nondefining or nonrestrictive pronoun. ‘The automobile that is out of gas is in the driveway,’ tells which automobile. ‘The automobile, which is out of gas, is in the driveway,’ adds a fact about the only automobile in question” (Society of Petroleum Engineering, 2011, p. 7).

where, which

“Where” references a physical location.  “Which” references a circumstance.



Merriam-Webster. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/about

Society of Petroleum Engineers: Style Guide. (2011, 31 August). Retrieved from http://www.spe.org/authors/docs/styleguide.pdf



Plagiarism can often be a difficult thing to understand.  Researchers compiling their data will do so gladly only to groan over what does and doesn’t need to be cited.  And, of course, credibility can be either gained or lost based on the citations (or lack thereof) in a paper.  We know citations are necessary.  We appreciate a citation’s importance.  But how can we be sure we are citing exactly what needs to be cited?

Plagiarism is the act of taking credit for someone else’s work without giving credit to the original author/researcher.  This includes

  • Using exact quotes from another work without giving appropriate credit,
  • Using another’s unique/distinctive ideas without giving appropriate credit,
  • Using another’s processes without giving appropriate credit,
  • Using words or images, both altered and unaltered, without giving appropriate credit,
  • Using words/phrases that have been altered slightly but still belong to another.

(Burnett, 2005, p. 214)


Student Writing

Each of these is an example of plagiarism.  Examples of things you don’t need to cite include:

  • “There are four seasons in the year.
  • There 365 days in a year.
  • The U.S. entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  • The state bird of Georgia is the brown thrasher.”

(“Common Knowledge”)

You want to avoid plagiarism because you want to ensure you’re a credible, trustworthy, thorough researcher.  The thoughts you’re presenting aren’t always your own and that’s alright.  You’re supporting your work with already established work.  Hopefully, you’re using highly credible work.  And you’re giving credit to the appropriate people.

You wouldn’t likely want someone else to copy and paste from your work without giving credit to you.  Of course, plagiarism isn’t always intentional.  So…perhaps the greatest rule to help you navigate plagiarism is this: When in doubt, cite your source.

For more information on plagiarism, visit the following:

Is It Plagiarism Yet?


What is Plagiarism?

The Exception: Common Knowledge


Burnett, R. (2005). Technical communication (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

“Common knowledge.”  Retrieved from http://www.usg.edu/galileo/skills/unit08/credit08_04.phtml


Welcome to the newly created blog dedicated to helping you develop stronger communication skills!  Within this blog, you will find resources dedicated to helping you communicate better along all stages of writing, from crafting an outline to completing a final draft.  You’ll find both links to online resources and annotated bibliographies of books available at the Missouri S&T library.  You’ll find a current calendar of upcoming events as well as running commentary on tips, tricks, and techniques for producing a higher quality of communication.

I’m wonderfully passionate about both the written word and the visuals we use to communicate our ideas.  As such, I’m very excited about this new project.  I hope you find this blog helpful as you work toward completing your writing goals!