Effective reading is the source of better writing

AcWriChatAccording to the University of Richmond Writing Center, “Reading and writing are very closely related. If a writer doesn’t understand the material they are reading, chances are they will not be able to write about it successfully.” This premise was the foundation of our May 15th AcWriChat discussion on Twitter where we discussed effective reading habits of academics.

Event participants, Danielle Apfelbaum, Marc A. Ouellette, and Sonal A. Mehta added personal perspective to the discussion. During the TweetChat event we asked about ways to make reading efforts more effective, strategies to improve notetaking, post-reading processes, and how reading outside your discipline can improve your academic writing. Below is a summary of key insights from the discussion. [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #4: Objectivity

fresh work area with a blank screen on the laptopA good researcher is objectively seeking answers to their research questions and reporting those findings objectively to the community at large. But what does it mean to write objectively? How do we maintain objectivity where possible? Finally, how do we make efforts to identify and avoid bias in our academic writing?

In our fourth discussion of the distinguishing features of academic writing, we discussed all of these questions. A summary of the discussion and related resources is below. [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #3: Formality

formalityAmerican poet, W.S. Merwin once said, “The idea of writing, to me, was, from the beginning, writing something which was a little different from the ordinary exchange of speech. It was something that had a certain formality, something in which the words were of interest in themselves.” Perhaps this same sentiment is the foundational principle from which academic writing has gotten its distinguishing feature of formality – to provide something in which the words are of interest in themselves.

In our third discussion of the distinguishing features of academic writing, we discussed what makes academic writing formal, the purpose of such formality, effect of formality on tone and word choice, whether there are levels of formality acceptable in academic writing, and ways to improve the formality of academic writing efforts. [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #2: Complexity

complexityAlbert Einstein is credited with saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” If this is true, why does it seem that academic writing is distinguished by complexity?

In this second discussion on the distinguishing features of academic writing, we aimed to understand why complexity is not only present, but acceptable in academic writing, and the challenges and benefits of reducing complexity while maintaining academic rigor. [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #1: Precision

precision - pencil line being drawn with ruler on paperDuring the course of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) in November 2019, we explored five distinguishing features of academic writing – the first of which being precision.

What does it mean to write with academic precision? In this article, we recap the event where we sought the answer to this question. During the discussion, we also explored the importance of academic precision and the effects of word choice, active voice, redundancy, and organization on the goal of precision in our manuscripts. [Read more…]

Academic writing styles: Persuasive academic writing

persuasive academic writingAcademic writing is far from a one-size-fits-all genre. Applicable to the broad variety of academic disciplines and their unique approaches to conducting and documenting research efforts in the field, one might find it challenging to identify clearly what constitutes academic writing.

In our latest series of #AcWriChat TweetChat events on Twitter, we explored four commonly accepted academic writing styles: descriptive, analytical, persuasive, and critical. This article focuses on the discussion about the third of those four styles – persuasive academic writing. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 10, 2019

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." ~E. L. DoctorowSeveral things textbook and academic authors are never short on: commitments, obligations, things to learn, and changing landscapes. This week’s collection of articles from around the web includes them all as well.

We start with the question of why college students are sleep deprived and overextended, look at tips for building a career in scholarly communication, and what it takes to be a co-author. We then explore different strategies for writing papers, making the most of summer plans, University Journals, and interdisciplinary mentoring. Finally we explore industry changes as Wiley buys Knewton and the University of California’s decision on Elsevier.

In the words of E. L. Doctorow, “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” This week we encourage you to write, explore, and learn as you go. Happy writing! [Read more…]

The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literature

The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literatureSo far in this series we have examined how to define a research project – The What, how to construct an effective writing environment – The Where, and what it takes to set realistic timeframes for your research – The When. In this article, we will explore The Who: Finding key sources in the existing literature. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: March 30, 2018

"The next best thing after finishing writing a chapter is starting a new one." ~Chris AlmeidaWe begin this week’s collection of textbook & academic posts from around the web with a royalty calculation update from Cengage as it relates to their Cengage Unlimited service. We then have several articles of interest to textbook authors and faculty considering OER textbook options. Finally, we found advice for academic writers on structuring papers, coping with peer review processes, and being scholar-activists.

Chris Almeida put it best when he said, “The next best thing after finishing writing a chapter is starting a new one.” As you write this week, we hope the end of March brings with it some finished work, and the start of April brings with it new beginnings in your writing. [Read more…]

How to extract articles from your dissertation

When I finally got around to writing my dissertation writing tree(that’s another story), I realized that its organization easily fell into several relatively self-contained chapters. Once I defended, I needed to convert as much of the dissertation to publishable articles as I could, for the “hound of tenure” was fast on my heels.

I realized that I had written each chapter with a possible article based on it already in mind. In philosophy one often takes on positions articulated by others, and seeks to attack them in a way that makes one’s own view more plausible and defended against those who would, or should, attack it. So, I “carved” the dissertation into three chunks and wrote them up as independent articles. I sent them to the same journals that had published the articles I was attacking, and they were accepted (usually subject to some revisions). Hence, my first three publications, followed by a fourth when one of my attackees sought to defend himself in print. Those, plus a couple of short pieces, secured a tenured appointment. [Read more…]