Tag Archives: academic writing

Not letting go of the text

Not letting go of the text

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I had any advice for someone who struggled to let go of their writing – they wrote but then it was really difficult to send the writing off to their supervisor. And clearly, this was an issue. Sending the stuff off is part and parcel of […] … learn more→

Why it’s important to be exactly certain about how much you don’t know

Why it’s important to be exactly certain about how much you don’t know

“Your academic writing trouble and how to fix it” was born of our frustration at reading the strange comments supervisors sometimes write on thesis drafts. Sometimes academic feedback makes even less sense than the text that inspired it. In this book we work backwards from these hard to interpret supervisor comments to tell you want […] … learn more→

Your MC for this paper is…

Your MC for this paper is…

Academic writing often needs an MC. Yes MC, a Mistress/Master of Ceremonies. The MC, or emcee, is an official host. A compere. At a public event, say a festival, their job is to introduce the acts – speakers or singers or DJs or bands. The emcee has to know enough about the performers to say […] … learn more→

Why is academic writing so hard

Why is academic writing so hard

Academic writing is a complex business. And it’s that complexity that makes it tricky. When you sit down to write a thesis, book or paper you start off with: material that comes from a well designed project a defensible analysis and possibly, depending on discipline, a cogent theoretical explanation a good grip on the relevant literatures […] … learn more→

Tightening up your sentences – cut the bloat

Tightening up your sentences – cut the bloat

We all know what bloat is. If something is bloated it is swollen, puffed up, flabby, distended, enlarged. Right now, we probably associate bloat with eating too much over the festive season. But bloat also happens in academic writing. A lot of academic writing is on the bloated side. You can pick up almost any […] … learn more→

Writing the thesis – work, moves and structure

Writing the thesis – work, moves and structure

Before you start to wrestle your material into a thesis structure, it’s helpful to consider the work that the thesis has to do, and the moves that ensure the work is done. Once you understand the work and the moves, you can think more strategically about the thesis structure. The thesis work The thesis, like […] … learn more→

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→

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→