Academic Writing
Danielle M. Kwasnik, Ed.D
Nova Southeastern University
Contributors:
Donald Gainey, Ed.D
Nancy Maldonado, Ph.D
Steve Thompson, Ph.D
What is Academic Writing Style?
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When writing in an academic writing style, do not write
as you would normally speak.
Avoid informal language, such as slang or
colloquialisms, or contractions.
Structure your language carefully, using complete
sentences and paragraphs. Although bulleted lists are
acceptable, they should not be overused because
your writing would start to look like it was just notes.
You can get ideas of the kind of writing favored in your
subject area by looking at relevant research papers in
academic journals. Also, when you are reading for
your course, you might find it useful to look at the style
of writing.
You will find your ability to write in an effective
academic style will improve the more you read, and
the more practice you get in writing.
Academic writing…
• is formal.
• is impersonal and
objective.
• is cautious or tentative.
• references other writers’
work.
Informal vs. Formal words or phrases
INFORMAL
FORMAL
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try to find out
carry out
look at carefully
make sure is true
show
get rid of
Investigate
conduct
examine
verify
demonstrate
eliminate
Academic Writing Style Tips
• Strive to be clear, concise, and
precise.
• Say exactly what you mean.
• Complete sentences.
• Clear construction of paragraphs.
Treat each paragraph as a section
around an idea. Do not extend
paragraph length more than one full
page.
Academic Writing Style Tips
• Avoid first person.
• Sentence variety.
• Very rare use of
hypothetical questions.
They tend to weaken the
voice of the writer.
Academic Writing Sample
Interpersonal communication is defined as an interactional
process between two people, either face-to-face or through
mediated forms (Lane, 2001). Interpersonal communication theories
explore concepts such as cognitive processing, relationship
development, processing and maintenance, and influence
(Burleson, 2001). In general, interpersonal communication theories
provide a way for individuals to better understand themselves and
others in the context of their communication (Arai, ShockleyZalabak, & Wanca-Thibault, 2001).
It is hardly practical to study each individual person in
society; therefore, researchers studying interpersonal
communication have had to concentrate on generalizations that
can be made to produce broader knowledge regarding
communication behaviors (Salwen & Stacks, 1996). There are four
specific perspectives from which interpersonal communication can
be studied: (a) relational (qualitative) communication, in which the
roles of sender and receiver are shared by two people concurrently
in order to generate meaning; (b) situational (contextual)
communication, which takes place between two people in a
specific context; (c) quantitative, dyadic interactions, including
impersonal communication; and (d) functional (strategic)
communication strictly for the purpose of achieving interpersonal
goals (Lane, 2001). While the study of interpersonal communication
is clearly expansive, scholars must gain a broad understanding of
interpersonal communication theories in order to determine how
people can improve and enhance organizational communication
skills.
Grammar Checks for Writing
• Subject-verb agreement
• Run on sentences—two or more
complete sentences together
punctuated as one sentence. Use a
semi colon (; ) or a period ( .) to
correct this.
• Avoid second person (YOU); use third
person, and stay consistent using third
person.
Grammar Checks for Writing
• Select present tense if possible;
sometimes past tense is necessary, but
stay consistent with tense.
• Spelling
• Use of quotation marks—put commas
and periods inside of quotes. “The
new dog is brown.”
• Introductory clauses need a comma.
• Use “who” and not “that” when
referring to people.
• Certain words or phrases should be
avoided if possible: “hopefully” and
“a lot.”
Helpful Grammar Links
Brief Overview of Punctuation: Semicolon,
Colon, Parenthesis, Dash, Quotation
Marks, and Italics
Pronoun usage:
• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/gra
mmar/pronouns1.htm
Pronoun-antecedent agreement:
• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/gra
mmar/pronouns.htm
Subject-verb agreement
• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/gra
mmar/sv_agr.htm
Passive and active voice
• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/gra
mmar/passive.htm
Helpful Grammar Links
Online Writing Lab at Purdue University
• http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handout
s/grammar/g_overvw.html
The Guide to Grammar and Writing -Answers to any other grammar issues
• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/gra
mmar/marks/marks.htm
Punctuation Made Simple:
• http://lilt.ilstu.edu/golson/punctuation/i
ntro.html
Writing Tips
• Do not give life to inanimate objects.
For example, schools cannot "think.“
• Avoid ambiguous sentences. Follow
"this," "that," "these," and "those," with
the words to which the terms refer.
• Spell out acronyms when they first
appear; thereafter, use the acronym
[Example: "The National Education
Association (NEA) cited the
following..."]
• Do not use the first names of
reference citations in your text.
Writing Tips
• Cite primary sources whenever
possible. Sometimes secondary
sources have inaccurate pages
citations and quotes, or both. If you
intend to use the information in your
paper, go back to the original source.
• Prefer the active voice to the passive
voice. "The man bit the dog" is more
interesting than "The dog was bitten
by the man," and uses fewer words.
– No. An in-service program was set
up by the school system.
– Yes! School personnel established
an in-service program.
Writing Tips
• Avoid weak, verbose, wishy-washy
constructions.
– No. It was hoped that in the near
future the students would seem to
benefit from the new program.
– Yes! Students will soon benefit from
the new program.
– No. In an article by Smith and
Jones (2004) it was contended
that high expectations by a school
faculty could help scores obtained
by students to increase. (There are
many better ways!)
– Yes! Smith and Jones (2004) noted
that high faculty expectations
seemed...
Writing Tips
• Paragraph. Except for emphasis and
news reporting, one sentence is not a
paragraph. A paragraph has a topic
sentence, some sentences expanding
on the topic sentence, and a conclusion
or transition sentence.
• Plan. Draft. Edit. Revise. Consider your
idea carefully. Write it. Review and edit
your writing. Check spelling, grammar,
and content.
• Proofread your work carefully. Is your
work clear, concise, cogent, and
correct? Does it make sense to you?
• Have someone else proofread your
work. You often are too close to your
own work to see inconsistencies, errors,
etc. Does your work make sense to a
friendly critic? Will your work make sense
to an unfriendly critic?
Writing Tips
• Don’t write or say “between
you and I.”
• Don’t write “alot.”
• Don’t confuse the contraction
“it’s” with the possessive “its.”
• Don’t use “loose” when you
mean “lose.”
• Don’t confuse “their,” “there,”
and “they’re.”
• SPELL CHECK DOES NOT CATCH
EVERYTHING!!!
Commonly Confused Words and Phrases
• Affect or effect? As a verb, effect means “to
bring about” or “to accomplish,” while
affect means “to influence.”
• Allude or elude? You allude to the
document where a fact may be found; you
elude a question that you cannot answer.
• Can or may? Can refers to ability; may refers
to permission.
• Farther or further? Farther is more
appropriate as a distance word, while further
works best as a term of time or quantity.
• Good or well? In reporting conditions such as
health or performance use well rather than
the adjective good, although when
describing attitude, it is proper to say, “I feel
good today.”
Commonly Confused Words and Phrases
• Imply or infer? When you imply, you
indicate or suggest something by word or
action, without actually say it. When you
infer, you deduce or draw a conclusion
from the evidence.
• Irregardless or regardless? Irregardless is
incorrect.
• Precede or proceed? When you go
ahead or in front of, you precede. When
you begin or carry on some action, you
proceed.
• Principle or principal? A principal is the
head of a school, a chief official or an
original sum (as in a loan). A principle is a
fundamental truth.
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