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…]

Learn as you mentor: An interview with Felicia Moore Mensah

Felicia Moore-Mensah

Felicia Moore-Mensah

Felicia Moore Mensah, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is widely published in the fields of science and education and serves on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Science Teacher Education and Journal of Elementary Science Education, as well as lead-editor for Cultural Studies of Science Education.

Recently awarded the 2012 American Education Research Association Division K, Early Career Award, Dr. Mensah currently serves as President of Sisters of the Academy Institute, one of TAA’s chapters.

Here Moore Mensah talks to TAA about her experiences with scholarly writing:

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Don’t use a scalpel to peel an apple

One of my favorite people was the legendary football coach, Vintage typewriterPaul “Bear” Bryant. One event stands out. Coach Bryant had won more games than had any other coach, and his institution, The University of Alabama, had won more national championships than any other institution. A rookie player had made a great touchdown and had let everyone know it by spiking the ball. The Bear calmly called him over to the bench and said, “Son, don’t act like this is the only time you have ever made a great play.” [Read more…]