How to Write a Sophisticated, Dynamic Scholarly Argument

Tweed Gears

It is incumbent upon early-career academics to distinguish their research as mature scholarship, not student work. So as an editor who often works with junior faculty and recent PhDs, I’m always on the lookout for hallmarks of amateur writing that scholars can identify and excise.

Perhaps most academics can name some of the tics that unfortunately characterize graduate-student writing: overqualification, hedging, extensive literature review, and a high ratio of quotation to original material are just a few.

Another quirk I’ve noticed is that less effective manuscripts—whether they’re written by early-career scholars or not—tend to organize information into lists. That may not sound so damning, but lists become vulnerabilities when they are presented as arguments. [Read more…]

Recommended Reading for Academic Writers


Publish & Flourish: Become a Prolific Scholar by Tara Gray

Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation
by Sonja Foss and William Waters

Becoming an Academic Writer: 50 Exercises for Paced, Productive, and Powerful Writing
 by Patricia Goodson

Journal Keeping: How to Use Reflective Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight and Positive Change
by Dannelle D. Stevens and Joanne E. Cooper

Writing for Publication: Road to Academic Advancement
by Kenneth Henson

Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing by Robert Boice

Academic Writing: Individual and Collaborative Strategies for Success (The New Forums Scholarly Writing Series) by Ed Neal

How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing
by Paul J. Silvia

Academic Writing for Graduate Students, 3rd Edition: Essential Tasks and Skills (Michigan Series in English for Academic & Professional Purposes) by John M. Swales and Christine Feak

“They Say / I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Third Edition)
by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword

Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success by Wendy Laura Belcher

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) by Kate L. Turabian, Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Josephe M. Williams 

Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis by Joan Bolker

Telling a Research Story: Writing a Literature Review (Michigan Series in English for Academic & Professional Purposes) by Christine Feak and John M. Swales

Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article: Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) by Howard S. Becker and Pamela Richards

Publish and Flourish: A Practical Guide for Effective Scientific Writing by Amar A. Scholapurkar, K Ramnarayan and Shobha Tandon

Working with Faculty Writers by Anne Ellen Geller and Michele Eodice

Handbook for Academic Authors by Beth Luey

Publish and Prosper: A Strategy Guide for Students and Researchers
by Nathaniel M. Lambert

147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars: From Publishing to Time Management, Grant Seeking, and Beyond by Kathleen King and Ann Cranston-Gingras

PhD: An uncommon guide to research, writing & PhD life by James Hayton, PhD

Help us build this list! Share your favorite books.

The value of using social media to broaden your academic reach: An interview with Tanya Golash Boza

Tanya Golash-BozaTanya Golash-Boza, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced. She is widely published, with her academic works including academic and trade books, textbook chapters for edited volumes, and journal articles. Currently she is working on two primary projects, one being a book on the lives of people deported from the United States, and the second being a sociology textbook on race and racism. 

Golash-Boza has successfully utilized social media in her academic career for the past several years. She is the author of three popular blogs, including her academic blog entitled Get a Life, PhD, Weekly Tips on How to Succeed in Academia and Have a Life Too.

Here Golash-Boza shares her insights on the value of utilizing social media to broaden your academic reach. [Read more…]

7 Tips for creating your own website

John Soares

John Soares

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It has become increasingly important for academics to create an online presence as a means of networking and marketing your work. One way to do that is to create your own professional website.

To reap the most rewards from your website, John Soares, a freelance writer and author of the popular Productive Writers blog, offers the following advice for each step in the process: [Read more…]