Basic Writing Skills

The tabs below jump to statements about the standards that scholarly writers are expected to meet and describe resources to guide writers to develop or improve skills.

The Writing Resources in the right navigation bar will move you to more specialized writing topics.

Why write?

Nurse leaders must have good writing skills. Clinical leaders must develop reports, as change agents in the evolving health care system, must be able to disseminate opinions and program information in writing. Researchers must write grants and publish research findings. Educators must know writing protocols in order to effectively design curriculums and to evaluate course materials submitted by students.

Scholarly Writing System

Technical Writing

Scholarly writing is technical writing. It is systemic formal writing; i.e., it is formatted according to certain standards. The standards for scholarly writing vary depending on the context of your writing. Grant writing differs from report writing, and writing a dissertation differs from writing for publication or from preparing an abstract for a conference presentation. Scholarly writing is a skill that must be LEARNED; it is not an innate talent.

Because technical writing is a SYSTEM, the rules have been written—the wheel has already been built. You don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, just the knowledge to know where to go for the right resources. Many resources are provided on links on the Office of Research and Grants Support (ORGS) web site.

A prerequisite for developing and styling content for technical writing of any kind is knowing that you must have proficiency with writing tools: writing and reference software, use of guidelines, the ability to properly style tables and figures, etc. Resources are provided to help develop these skills on the sites linked to the Writing Resources on the top right of this site.

Writing Guidelines

What all forms of scholarly writing have in common is that the 'rules' (called 'Guidelines') have already been developed and are published. No one has an encyclopedic knowledge of the many guidelines that govern scholarly writing. But you can learn how to find and follow the guidelines. Editors, reviewers, and colleagues expect that work presented to them to read are styled and formatted according to guidelines.


One type of guideline is called STYLE, which refers to a preferred manner of presenting and formatting content. There are many types of style, which are published in style manuals, on publishing web sites, etc. The default style for nursing publication is APA 6th, which is published in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Although you will find helpful tips about using this style (or others) on the world wide web, it is important to own a manual for your discipline and refer to it when you are writing.

Published Resources for Scholarly Writing

The editor of this web site has compiled bibliographies (reference lists) of publications that you can find and refer to for specialized types of scholarly writing, and for general writing skills. The bibliographies are available on the sites listed in the Writing Resources bar located on the top right section of this site. Most resources can be found online or in university libraries.

Purdue Online Writing Lab

Linked from the Purdue University web site:

Purdue University has an excellent web site with resources provided by the Purdue Writing Lab. On their site you will find numerous resources to help academic writers develop writing skills. Some of their sites are listed below with links; however, you are encouraged to go to the Purdue home (Welcome) site and explore their numerous resources.

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