Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問

The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: I generally communicate well in other areas of writing and speaking, but I am having trouble correctly employing academic terminology and structure. How do I adapt my writing skills to the academic model?

Academic writing and informal or popular writing indeed are different styles of communication. The good news is that if you are proficient in one area, you can learn to be proficient in the other. The skills are the same. Only their application differs. When you say you struggle with the “terminology and structure” of academic communication, do you mean the jargon specific to an academic discipline and the format for expressing it? Or are you having difficulty with the overall guiding principles of academic expression? Perhaps it is both. I will try to address them.

Jargon—or specialized language—can add to a paper’s precision at the same time it reduces word count. But if jargon hinders communication of an idea or deadens expression, it should be replaced by more commonplace terminology. Some preening authors forget this and seemingly are proud of the density and unreadability of their academic papers. Don’t follow their example. In respect to structure, remember one word: flow. A focused start should flow, paragraph by paragraph, into an enlightening body, and then a refocused ending. Flow. It’s really that simple.

To summarize the principles behind effective scholarly writing, a listing of words and phrases might help. Strive for the following elements: A core thesis. A logical flow of ideas. Intellectual vigor. Neutral, authoritative language. Concise and clear expression. Informed opinion. Thorough citation. In short, a scholarly writer employs critical thinking and precise expression. Non-academic writing, by comparison, is imprecise and spontaneous. While spontaneity is liberating, knowing the logic behind structured writing can free up a good academic writer.


Posted at 2012-11-16 12:50:57

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