Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Academic Writing

Question: What does academic writing across the disciplines have in common?

Answer: The author acknowledges that we have emphasized the differences in academic writing across the disciplines, but says that there are some commonalities. She gives six of these academic commonalities:

. “Academic writers respond to what others have written about their topic. When academics write, they join a conversation. To show they understand this they refer to what others have already written about their subject.”

. “Academic writers state the value of their work and announce a plan for their papers. One reason academics refer to what has been written about an issue is to establish that the issue matters. Another reason is to show that their research addresses an aspect of the issue unresolved.”

. “Academic writers acknowledge that others might disagree with the position they’ve taken.” In short, they hedge and qualify their statements.

. “Academic writers adopt a voice of authority.”

. “Academic writers use academic and discipline-specific vocabulary.” [Comment: And that intimidates the non-specialist who wants to read about the topic. RayS.]

. “Academic writers emphasize evidence, often in tables, graphs and images.”

The author suggests that students read authentic journals from various disciplines. Encourage them to note and discuss differences.

Comment: The author addresses academic writing in professional journals. Academic writing occurs beyond professional journals, as in executive summaries, etc. Still, her principles of academic writing apply in some ways. An interesting way to provide discussion on writing. RayS.

Title: “Teaching the Conventions of Academic Discourse.” Teresa Thonney. Teaching English in the Two-Year College (May 2011), 347-362.

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