The TTU Graduate School’s website is undergoing some changes right now, and we’ve received some requests to post the URL for the templates and other forms pertaining to your Thesis/Dissertation document and defense here on the blog. For your convenience, here is the link to the “library” of forms:

Scroll to the bottom of that page and click on the “Thesis/Dissertation Forms” bar, which should then expand. There you will find our style guide and templates.


The ABD Survival Guide is a free newsletter that offers some great advice to doctoral students post-coursework. The articles range from how to stay on track with dissertating to networking at conferences. Though it is geared for students who are “all but dissertation,” it is a good resource for all graduate students. Check it out here:

Even if you don’t want to subscribe to the newsletter, here are a couple of articles we thought would be helpful to you:

“Busting the Top 5 Dissertation Myths”

“Master Distraction in 18 Minutes a Day”

Do you know of a good resource for graduate students? Let us know so that we can share! Email

The Graduate School has been hosting writing workshops this semester, and during one of our workshops, a student asked a great question about paraphrasing: when do you know if you have correctly paraphrased a quote? The student gave me an example of the quote and a working paraphrase, and gave me permission to share this on our blog. Below I analyze the student’s paraphrase and discuss why it may or may not be effective, as well as when you may want to quote vs. paraphrase.

Original words:

studies found that vigorous intensity physical activity was more strongly associated with decreased likelihood of depression than lower intensities. Most intervention studies showed that both intensities were effective in reducing the likelihood of depression.

Your  paraphrasing:

Research found that vigorous intensity physical activity had stronger relationship with decreased likelihood of depression than lower intensities. Most intervention studies found that both vigorous and lower intensities were helpful in decreasing the likelihood of depression (Teychenne, Ball, & Salmon, 2008).

Paraphrasing  is re-writing a passage from a source using your own words. You would paraphrase, instead of quote, if you feel that you can more clearly and/or more concisely express the point of the passage than the original authors did. If you feel that a particular passage is difficult to understand and that you can express the same idea in a way that is more clear to your reader, then paraphrase. If not, then use a direct quote. To paraphrase effectively, you need to do more than simply change some of the words. Instead, your wording must be significantly different than the original.

You can check your own paraphrase first by highlighting what words are the same in your paraphrase and the original quote. Then check your paraphrase against the rules of paraphrasing:

  1. Is it in your own words?
  • As you can see from the highlighting above, most of these two passages are identical, containing the exact same wording. What has been changed is not a significant change (“more strongly associated” is not different enough from “had stronger relationship”). Since these two are almost identical, this is not an effective paraphrase and unfortunately appears plagiarized. Even if you cite these authors, since your wording is so similar to their original wording, it counts as plagiarism.
  1. Does it contain the same information?
  • Yes, your paraphrase does contain the same information, but unfortunately it does this without using your own words (it is still too close to the wording of the author).
  1. Does your wording make it more clear?
  • What is difficult to understand in the above passage? The concept that studies have shown that intense exercise or physical activity is associated with a decreased incidence of depression, or perhaps that most studies have focused on this particular aspect. Yet, the words that express this central concept are the same in both passages. What has been changed is not making the quote more clear. So, for example, “more strongly associated” is just a different way of saying “had stronger relationship.” “Relationship” and “association” in this context have the same meaning, Furthermore, these specific words are not what makes the passage difficult to understand in the first place. So converting “association” to “relationship” doesn’t make the passage more clear.
  1. Is it more concise?
  • While in some writing courses we teach that paraphrases should be about the same length as the original, this is not really true. We say that because we want to get the idea across that when you paraphrase you must include the same information as the original quote, whereas in a summary (which is usually of an entire passage or entire work, not of a single quote) you necessarily leave out information. However, when deciding whether or not to paraphrase, one way to decide is if in paraphrasing you cane xpress the same idea/information in a way that is more concise, saving you some space and saving the reader some time.
  • Your paraphrase isn’t really more concise, so I would think that it would be better to quote.

In the end, I would quote this particular passage if you feel that it is pretty clear already and you do not need to paraphrase it to make it more clear to your reader. Save paraphrasing for passages that may be difficult for your reader to understand. If you wanted to paraphrase this passage, then here’s a good example of how to do that:


While most studies have shown that physical activity decreases the likelihood of depression regardless of intensity, there does seem to be an inverse relationship between the intensity of activity and the incidence of depression (Teychenne, Ball, & Salmon, 2008).


studies found that vigorous intensity physical activity was more strongly associated with decreased likelihood of depression than lower intensities. Most intervention studies showed that both intensities were effective in reducing the likelihood of depression.

The new paraphrase does contain some similar wording, but overall it is substantially different. The main point of the passage, that the intensity of activity is indeed associated with the incidence of depression even though any kind of exercise is good, is more clearly expressed in the paraphrase. Even though it would still be fine to quote the original, you can use this paraphrase if you wanted to emphasize this main concept for some reason.

I hope this helps!

Date and Time: Friday, March 08, 2013 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: University Library, Room 150

Creating a poster for presentation at a scholarly conference can be challenging. There are many factors that go into the conception and execution of an outstanding poster, one that stands out from the competition. In this workshop, those who attend will learn the importance of defining your audience, as well as the intricacies and aesthetics of poster design and information layout. You will learn about graphics, color, typography, and other key elements that go into the creation of an award-winning design. The significance of rehearsal and presentation strategies and what factors to consider in effective poster assessment are additional topics that will be covered.  This workshop will help to demystify the poster creation and presentation process and provide participants with the skills that they need to produce and showcase an outstanding poster that demands attention.
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