Distinguishing features of academic writing #3: Formality

American poet, W.S. Merwin once said, “The idea of writing, to me, was, from the beginning, was 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.

Distinguishing features of academic writing #2: Complexity

Albert 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.

Distinguishing features of academic writing #1: Precision

During 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.

On plagiarism

Years ago now, when I worked at the Sweetland Writing Center at the University of Michigan, we hosted a large conference called, “Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism,” to place “plagiarism in dialogue with notions of originality and imitation” (3) [1]. In the years since, as I work with departments to integrate writing across the disciplines and with graduate students and faculty to publish in their fields, I find myself continuing to think about how we can do a better job teaching these three cornerstones.

9 Proven strategies to help you stop procrastinating and write your manuscript

In her recent TAA webinar, “Beyond the Blank Page: 9 Proven Strategies to Help You Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Manuscript”, Mary Beth Averill shared nine strategies for moving beyond the blank page. These strategies are proven techniques for breaking out of your procrastination trap and turning your paper from idea to written manuscript.

Find your article writing MATE in the “Most Awesome Tool Ever”

Are you a beginning author looking for help in developing academic articles worthy of publication? Do you find the process of organizing your academic journal articles challenging? Perhaps you’ve been successfully writing and publishing articles but are looking for a tool that can help you get better results, faster.

In her presentation at TAA’s 31st Annual Textbook and Academic Authoring Conference in Santa Fe, NM, Katherine Landau Wright shared the “Most Awesome Tool Ever” – MATE – that she developed with TAA member Patricia Goodson to help anyone learn how to write for academic journals.

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: August 24, 2018

In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we’ve found some helpful tips for academic researchers related to digital workflow, free writing, note taking, and time management. We’ve also found information on how openness influences research impact, things to avoid when developing surveys, and reasons one researcher would unfollow you on social media.

Richard Bach reminds us that “a professional writer is an amateur who never quit.” We hope that this week you can apply some of these tips to improve your writing practices and success. Happy writing!