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ACADEMIC WRITING

GGGB6012
SEMESTER I 2013-2014
Lecture 1

What is academic writing?


Audience

Purpose

Organization

Style

Flow

Presentation

Audience
For whom are you writing?
What are their expectations?
What do they already know?
--- What assumptions can you, the
writer, make about the reader/s?
--- How familiar is the audience with
the content of your writing?
--- Thus, how clear should the writer
be?
The answers to these questions help
determine the content of your
writing.

Purpose and Strategy


Audience, purpose, and strategy --- all
interrelated
If reader/audience knows less than the
writer -- writers purpose is instructional.
E.g. a textbook
If reader knows more, the purpose is to
show or demonstrate familiarity, expertise,
and intelligence e.g. in graduate school
writing
What are the strategies for successful
display or demonstration of knowledge?
E.g. how to present ideas to convince the
reader such as summarizing and
connecting particular ideas to wider issues.

Organization
Academic writing uses a variety of
organizational patterns -- internal and
external
e.g. chapters, sections, paragraphs -- external
organizations
Information is to the audience
systematically e.g. using a structured format
Most writings -- comprise regular,
predictable patterns (so that the audience
can follow the ideas)
Predictable patterns in writings can be
observed, eg.letters letter of rejection and
acceptance (good news letter). Are they
organized the same way?

Organization
An example of a strategy in
academic writing
Problem-solution (four parts):
1.Describe a situation
2.Identify the problem
3.Describe the solution
4.Evaluate the solution

Organization
Other ways of organization:
Comparison-contrast (e.g. contrastive
definitions; comparative summaries)
Cause-effect (one cause and multiple
effects earthquakes; multiple causes
and one effect global warming)
Classification (e.g. Earthquake
effects on underground structures can
be grouped into two categories: (1)
ground shaking and (2) ground failure.
Research paper introductions follow an
established organizational pattern.

Style
Academic writing requires a specific style.
Style of writing -- must be consistent and
appropriate (for the message conveyed
and the audience)
e.g. Formal research report written in
informal English too simplistic although
the actual ideas/data are complex

Style
What is academic and non-academic style? Difficult
to determine.
Grammar check program on the computer only
finds spelling and basic grammar errors; no stylistic
advice or may not be right for your writing
e.g. grammar checker may consider using passive
voice as unacceptable but, describing a process
or procedure may allow this!
What is acceptable academic style, may differ in
one area of study and others e.g. Contractions are
allowed in philosophy, but not in other areas.

Style

Beginning sentences with informal elements such


as But, using imperatives (as in consider the
case of) and using first person I are becoming
common in academic writing.
Academic style is not used in all academic writing.

Academic and research speech --- more like casual


conversation than written academic English. E.g.
US lecturers use phrases such as stuff, things,
bunch, or a whole lot of all not appropriate for
academic writing tasks. Often metaphors and
vivid expressions are used to make speaking style
lively.

Style
Language Focus: The Vocabulary
Shift
A feature of academic writing style
-- using the more formal form when
selecting a verb, noun, or other
parts of speech.
1. Verbs
To express an action or occurrence
in English, we often use a phrasal
verb (verb +particle) or
prepositional verb (verb +
preposition) and a single verb

Style

In lectures and everyday speech, verb +


preposition is used.
In written academic style --- academic
writers use a single verb.
This is critical shift from informal to formal
style.
Example:
(a) According to some psycholinguists,
coming up with clear proof of the role of
universal grammar for second language
learning has been problematic. (less
formal style)

Style
(b) According to some psycholinguists,
offering clear proof of the role of
universal grammar for second language
learning has been problematic.
(academic style)

Style
2. Nouns and Other Parts of Speech:
Choosing the More Formal
Alternative
More than one way to express an
idea using varied vocabulary.
Choose words that are less informal
and also precise.

Style
Language Focus: Formal Grammar
Style
1. In general, avoid contractions.
e.g. Export figures wont improve until
the economy is stronger. (will not)
2. Use formal negative forms.
e.g. notany
no
(a)The analysis didnt yield any results.
(b)The analysis yielded no new results.

Style
notmuch
little
1(a) The government didnt allocate
much funding for the program.
(b) The government allocated little
funding for the program.
notmany
few
2 (a)This problem doesnt have many
viable solutions.
(b) This problem has few viable
solutions.

Style
3. Limit use of run-on expressions,
such as and so forth and etc.
(a)These semiconductors can be used
in robots, CD players, etc.
(b)These semiconductors can be used
in robots, CD players, and other
electronic devices.

Style
4. Avoid addressing the reader as you
(unless you are writing a textbook or
instructional materials).
e.g.
(a) You can see the results in table 1.
(b) The results cab be seen in Table 1.
(c ) You can classify individuals as Morning
Types (MT) or Evening Types (ET).
(d) Individuals can be classified as Morning
Types (MT) or Evening Types (ET).

Style
5. Be careful about using direct questions.
(a) What can be done to lower costs?
(b) It is necessary to consider how costs may
be lowered.
Or
(c ) We now need to consider how costs may
be lowered.
6. Place adverbs within the verb.
Adverbs are often placed in mid-position rather
than in the initial or final positions. In
informal English, adverbs appear at the
beginning or end of sentences.

Style
Examples:
1.(a) Actually, very little is known
about the general nature and
prevalence of scientific dishonesty.
(b) Very little is actually known about
the general nature and prevalence
of scientific dishonesty.
2. (a)This model was developed by
Krugman (1979) originally.
(b) This model was originally
developed by Krugman (1979).

Style
7. Think about whether you should split
infinitives.
Prescriptive grammar prohibits use of
split infinitives (putting an adverbial
modifier between to and the infinitive
as in to sharply rise).
Sometimes split infinitives are used to
avoid ambiguity or awkwardness.
Find out about readers preference.
Examples:
We need to adequately meet the needs
of those enrolled in the program.

Style
Neural networks have the ability to
correctly classify new patterns.
9. Focus on the efficient use of words.
Use as many words you need to
express your points; try to use no
more than you really need (not too
many or more than necessary).
Examples:
It may be difficult to make a decision
about the method that we should
use.
Choosing the proper method may be
difficult.

Flow
For successful communication, you
should consider flow moving from
one statement in a text to the next.
Language Focus:
1. Linking Words and Phrases
Linking words and phrases help
maintain flow and establish clear
relationships between ideas.

Flow
2. Punctuation
(a) Semicolons join two completely
independent sentences. They work like a
full stop.
e.g. The participants in the first study were
paid; those in the second were unpaid.
(b) Semicolons can be used with sentence
connectors.
e.g. Increasing the size of airports is one
solution to traffic congestion; however,
this is a long-term solution whose benefits
may not be seen for many years into the
future.

Thats all for today!