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unCommon News

A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community.

Issue 7, December, 2012

Hello friends,

December has been a milestone month for Writing Commons. On December 3rd, we broke the 2,000 user per day mark with 2,107 unique users! 

Perhaps even more exciting than witnessing a great deal of traffic at Writing Commons is observing from where this traffic is originating: we truly are developing a global audience for our authors.  Besides the United States, Writing Commons is receiving interest from writers in Canada, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In November writers from the Philippines visited Writing Commons 2,943 times, representing the third most frequently visiting nation. The 15 users from Myanmar who accessed Writing Common in November found the help they needed, represented by an average visit duration of more than 21 minutes! The solitary user from the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) also found what he or she was looking for and stayed for 20 minutes, surfing between 3 of our pages. 

We are thrilled that our community has grown so much over the last year, particularly in regard to our global neighbors. We are constantly working to improve the quality and scope of our content so that we can better serve the needs of our global community of writers. As always, we want to hear from you about how we can meet your needs as a writer or about what makes your corner of the writing community unique and special, particularly if you're one of our overseas participants!

In this issue we will explore:

  • Writing Program Profile: the University of Arizona
  • Traffic Report
  • Calls for Papers
  • Social Media


Writing Program Profile: the University of Arizona

At Writing Commons we celebrate the diversity of writing pedagogies and styles that allow our discipline to carry out the challenging task of improving student writing, reasoning, and information literacy. As part of our celebration Writing Commons will profile writing programs from around the United States, and hopefully the world, so that we can share the ideas, practices, and strengths from members of our community of writers.
This month we are pleased to profile the writing program at the University of Arizona. Thank you very much to our user and friend, Dr. Amy Kimme Hea, for her willingness to share.

The University of Arizona Writing Program's mission is to help all students become more capable writers for personal, civic, academic, and professional purposes. Across the nine different first-year and advanced writing courses offered in our program, students are taught rhetorical strategies that can be applied to writing situations in their personal, academic, or workplace lives. Our pedagogical practices for teaching writing include service learning, classroom discussion and interaction, events, field trips, among other learning experiences. Currently in Fall 2012, the Writing Program is serving more than 6,800 students (with similar enrollment projections for Spring 2013, leading to total AY  '12-'13 student enrollments of 13,000+).

Our Writing Program is unique in several ways:
  1. We are dedicated to producing local and national research on the teaching of writing and Writing Program Administration.
  2. We emphasize rhetoric as central to the mission of our courses, including spatial and visual rhetorics.
  3. We publish our own custom textbooks that speak to students and help our program to integrate locally important issues.
  4. We are a program that believes in the talents of our teachers with mentoring and support coming from a professional team of Faculty Supervisors, WPAs, and Writing Program Staff.
Thank you so much Dr. Kimme Hea. If you would like Writing Commons to profile your writing program please send us a description about what makes your program unique, what technologies and tools you utilize, how you ensure best practices, and/or even just a report on the current size and scope of your program. Please direct all profiles to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 The Traffic Report

November was a great month at Writing Commons with 41,174 unique visitors accessing our text; over 11,000 more users than last month. Below we highlight some of the top-trending articles, search terms, and traffic sources for Writing Commons

The top 10 Writing Commons articles accessed  were: 

  1. Literay Criticism
  2. Rogerian Argument
  3. our Writers Wanted section
  4. Ad Analysis
  5. APA footnotes
  6. Using the First Person in an Academic Essay: When is it Okay?
  7. Rhetorical Appeals
  8. Understanding How Converations Chage Over Time
  9. Autobiography
  10. Think Rheotically

The top 10 search engine key-word search terms that our visitors used to find Writing Commons were:

  1. APA footnote
  2.  APA title page template 
  3. Examples of autobiography
  4.  Cause and effect topics
  5.  Autobiography example
  6.  Cover page template 
  7. Third person point of view
  8.  Rhetorical appeals 
  9. Footnotes
  10.  APA Title page emplate

The top 10 social media sources of traffic for Writing Commons were:

  1. Facebook
  2. Blogger
  3. Twitter
  4. Weeblu
  5. Diigo
  6. Ning
  7. WordPress
  8. Google+
  9. Tumblr
  10. Delicious
What does it all mean? Knowing what our users are interested in, how they find it, and where they are coming from can give you a better idea of how you can be involved in our writing community. If real estate is all about "location, location, location," then scholarship is about "information, information, information." 

Each user accessing Writing Commons is a vote for the relevance, quality, and scholastic value of every article published, and that article could be yours. So send in your work and enjoy the benefits of 40,000 readers a month.


Calls for Papers
As an organic, digital, recursive text we seek new and interesting articles and chapters to expand the breadth and depth of what we can offer our global community of writers.

While we welcome submissions covering all aspects of writing, we are especially in need of content focused on academic argument. In the past Writing Commons has partnered with the first-year composition program at the University of South Florida to produce a derivative work, a textbook used by that writing program--one that more specifically focuses on academic argument.

Those interested in submitting articles should contact Jason Carabelli and Brogan Sullivan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details about recommended content and conventions.  Note: all submissions will be reviewed by editors at Writing Commons. 

A list of submission topics is as follows:

Forms of Academic Writing

Writers Emphasize Complexity

Writing is an Ongoing Conversation

Writing is a Process

What is an Argument?

Understanding Claims

Visual Rhetoric and Cultural Lenses

Writing a Rhetorical Analysis

Research as Conversation

Research as Discovery

Defining Evidence

Summarizing and Paraphrasing

Formulating a Thesis

Thesis Models

Making and Supporting Claims

Considering the Opposing Side

Considering Audience, Purpose, and Genre

Classical Argument Structure

Tracing a Logical Progression

Introductions and Conclusions

Citing Your Sources

Writing Helpful Peer Reviews

Making the Most of Peer Feedback

Making the Most of Instructor Feedback

Information Literacy

Submissions will be between 500 and 1,000 words, and will take advantage of the capabilities offered by the digital space (i.e., the ability to include Creative Commons-licenced images, to embed YouTube or other videos, to hyperlink, etc).

Topics may address:

  • What is information literacy? (an introduction to the concept)
  • Determining what information you need
  • Approaching online sources / conducting research online
    • Identifying credible electronic sources
    • Discovering and using library databases
      • Understanding best resources for research
      • An annotated list of electronic databases that first-year undergraduate students might find particularly useful
    • Understanding the place of place of resources like Wikipedia in the research process
  • Distinguishing between different types of sources (i.e., an edited collection, a book, a journal article, etc.)
  • Understanding the connection between writing and research
  • Citation Mining
  • Avoiding plagiarism and citing correctly
    • Formatting according to Chicago style
    • Formatting according to Harvard style
Submissions should be sent as Word docs to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by January 18, 2012. If images are used, please attach them to the same email as separate files (preferably jpegs), indicating their placement within the text file. Citation should follow the current edition of the MLA Handbook. For more formatting and style, please see the "Guide for Authors." Queries are encouraged and may be directed to either Quentin Vieregge at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jennifer Yirinec at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Social Media

Keep up with Writing Commons using your favorite social networking sites.

Writing Commons has its own Facebook site, where we keep our status and postings relevant to the latest site information, as well as news about the greater Open Education Resource community.

Writing Commons is also available on Twitter using @writingcommons and #writingcommons.

Writing Commons' tweets consist of answers to students' most common writing questions, such as "What's a paragraph supposed to have?" and "What's an argument, again?" Each tweet is hyper-linked to our Writing Commons blog, where Writing Commons staff provides succinct, accessible answers and helpful examples.

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