Social Science Student Success


Writing Mechanics

Writing is a fundamental skill for Social Science students. Becoming a better writer is a process that takes time and practice. Good writing is a skill that can be learned. The mechanics of writing – grammar and spelling, and so on – are an important part of written communication. Your ideas will not be taken seriously if they are expressed in a paper that contains many grammatical areas. Professional communication requires good writing mechanics. Understanding what constitutes good writing is part of your educational experience. Here are some suggestions and resources for improving your writing:

  • Consult with The CapU Writing Centre for help with understanding and using feedback that you’ve received on your written work, organizing your work, grammatical questions, and more. They are available in-person and on-line.
  • Check out this hit parade of common errors in writing, or of Common Student Mistakes of English Grammar, Mechanics, and Punctuation.
  • Read. Reading good writing is one of the best ways to learn about good writing.
  • Consult with the Student Success Instructor for one-on-one help with all aspects of writing.

Professional Style

Each discipline in Social Sciences employs a style of writing specific to that area; for example, psychology students are instructed in the format described as APA Style – American Psychological Association style. Other disciplines may also use APA style, or one of the other common styles such as MLA or Chicago. Understanding the expectations for writing that are specific to an area may require you to do some reading in that area on your own. Do not assume that because you learned MLA style in one course, that MLA is the style you should be using in another area of Social Sciences. Here are guides to a few of the common styles:

  • APA
  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • Purdue University’s excellent OWL site for various style resources.
  • Consult with the Student Success Instructor for one-on-one help with all aspects of discipline-specific style.


Plagiarism is the act of submitting the work of someone else, and passing it off as your own, or of failing to give credit for an idea or piece of writing that you submit. It is a serious academic offense. Avoiding plagiarism is a challenge for emerging writers, especially those who may have been permitted to copy and paste in high school, or those who have not been taught to provide correct attributions when referring to someone else’s work. Avoiding plagiarism requires an understanding of how to use, incorporate, and refer to the works of other people. To learn more about what constitutes plagiarism, see this excellent resource by Indiana University. For one-on-one help with this aspect of your work, contact the Student Success Instructor.