Tag Archives: academic writing

How successful academics write

How successful academics write

I am a longtime fan of Helen Sword’s work on academic writing. I first came across her lovely piece in Studies in Higher Education on Writing higher education differently. Sword writes the first part of the paper in a conventional way, and then the second part in a more daring, direct and elegant way. This paper really […] … learn more→

Academic writing is like a painful, upper middle class dinner party

Academic writing is like a painful, upper middle class dinner party

Although I got reasonable marks for my creative essays in high school, literary criticism was never my strong suit. One of the issues with my analytical writing was that I didn’t really understand how to use verbs. It wasn’t until I nearly finished my masters degree that I found out that verbs function in academic […] … learn more→

It’s all about wordplay

It’s all about wordplay

I quite like a short sentence. And a phrase by itself. Only for stylistic purposes, you understand. Nevertheless, it’s important to vary sentence length, otherwise your reader goes to sleep. I prefer the active voice. And don’t let anyone tell you can never start a sentence with ‘and’ or ’but’. You can, but it’s wise not […] … learn more→

Good academic writing – what’s your list?

Good academic writing – what’s your list?

I asked people in one of my Australian writing workshops to tell me what they thought was essential in good academic writing. The purpose of the activity was to generate criteria that participants could use to steer their own writing. The list was not meant to be an evaluative rubric, something that could be used […] … learn more→

Academic writing – no one best way

Academic writing – no one best way

My approach to writing about and teaching academic writing is underpinned by some key principles. One of them is this – no one best way. Or I can alternatively express this as one size does not fit all. Let me explain. Not all of the writing that is done in the academy is the same. Different […] … learn more→

Mind your technical language and write more clearly

Mind your technical language and write more clearly

Lately I’ve been doing some more reading around my thesis subject in preparation for writing up. I’ve been making notes from textbooks, casting my eyes over topic reviews and poring over original research papers. As I covered a subject related to my thesis, but unfamiliar to me, I suddenly realised how often I was stopping to look up the meaning […] … learn more→

Academics need to embrace new ways of writing and sharing research

Academics need to embrace new ways of writing and sharing research

Universities are a “thousand-year-old industry on the cusp of profound change”. That’s according to a study that explored Australia’s higher education landscape four years ago. One warning from the report rings true far beyond Australia and all the way around the world: Over the next ten-15 years, the current public university model … will prove […] … learn more→

Here’s why academics should write for the public

Here’s why academics should write for the public

There’s been much discussion about the needless complexity of academic writing. In a widely read article in The Chronicle of Higher Education last year, Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard and author of several acclaimed books including The Sense of Style, analyzed why academic writing is “turgid, soggy, wooden, bloated, clumsy, obscure, unpleasant to […] … learn more→

Clear, concise writing: It’s the law (seriously)

Clear, concise writing: It’s the law (seriously)

Earlier this fall a headline in The Atlantic caught my eye. “The Needless Complexity of Academic Writing,” it said. Promising enough on its own, but there was also a subhead: “A new movement strives for simplicity.” It was like Christmas had come early. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the crusade to simplify […] … learn more→

On “other” academic writing

Academic writing is not all introduction, literature, methods, results, discussion. While this is the dominant mode of writing across the social sciences, and in other disciplines too, it is not all that there is. IMRAD, and the variations on it, is certainly the academic writing structure and style that is most recognised and rewarded, but […] … learn more→