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Friday, July 6, 2012

Seven steps to academic writing success

THE ASSIGNMENT


Write a one page paper describing your current research to someone from a different academic discipline.

Include three sections

·       Introduction
·       Discussion
·       Conclusion

Target length: between 350-500 words

THE SEVEN STEPS


Step 1: Determine your main idea and contribution

·       Main idea - what is your paper about?
·       Contribution - how does your main idea add value to your field?


Step 2: Rewrite your topic sentences

·       The topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph.
·       It introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
·       If your topic sentences are not clear, then the rest of the paragraph most likely won’t have a specific focus or will be incoherent.
·       Ask yourself, "If someone only read my topic sentences, would he or she be able to understand my main idea and supporting arguments?
·       Rewrite your topic sentences so that they convey your main idea and supporting arguments.


Step 3: Rewrite your transitions

·       Transitions indicate the connections and relationships between your ideas and sentences.
·       Transitional words and phrases help you write clearly and coherently.
·       Moreover, transitions help the reader follow the text, stay focused, and understand how your sentences relate to one another.
·       Vague or imprecise transitions confuse readers.
·       Confirm that your transitions convey the correct relationships between your sentences.
·       Rewrite your transitions so that they best express the connections between your sentences.


Step 4: Rewrite passive voice sentences into active voice

·       Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand. For example, "The students tested the samples."
·       The passive voice places the emphasis on the action, rather than the actor.
·       A sentence is passive if the direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned. For example, "The samples were tested."
·       Passive voice is used frequently in technical (and academic) writing, where the focus is usually on what was done rather than who did it. It is conventionally used to report experimental procedure and to avoid constant repetition of I or we throughout the report, paper or thesis.
·       Use passive voice for a specific purpose, not simply out of habit.
·       In order to use passive voice correctly, it is necessary to understand, and be able to recognize, the difference between passive and active voice.
·       Find and circle all examples of passive voice in your paper.
·       Do they fit one of these five reasons for using the passive voice?

a. The 'actor' is not known.
Oil was discovered off the coast of Australia.
The number of Internet users was estimated to be over one million.

b. The 'actor' is not important.
The report has been published.
The results will be presented at the conference.

c. It is considered desirable to conceal the identity of the 'actor'.
The results are invalid, as the correct testing procedure was not followed.         
Research funding will be cut next year.

d. An impersonal tone is needed for academic writing.
In this report, the stress fields in a C-shape plate will be analyzed.

An impersonal tone is also used for describing processes.
First, the raw materials are loaded into a container ...

e. A tactful tone is needed to smooth over an error or difficulty.
Example of passive voice: The samples were not checked at the second stage . . .
Example of active voice: We forgot to check the samples . . .

(found at  http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/grammar/engineering/passive/1.1.xml; accessed 2011/06)

·       Find all passive voice sentences that do not fit one of the five reasons.
·       Then, change them into active voice


Step 5: Rewrite articles

What is an article?

·       An article is an adjective. Like adjectives, articles modify nouns.
·       English has two articles: the and a/an.
·       the = definite article used to refer to specific or particular nouns
·       a/an = indefinite article used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns; "A/an" is used to refer to a non-specific or non-particular member of the group
·       Find and circle all of the articles in your paper.
·       Can you tell which nouns require definite and indefinite articles, and which require no article at all?
·       Find and fix any mistakes in your use of articles.


Step 6: Peer review

·       "As a peer reviewer, your job is not to provide answers. You raise questions; the writer makes the choices. You act as a mirror, showing the writer how the draft looks to you and pointing our areas which need attention." - Sharon Williams
·      Read a draft all the way through before you begin to comment on it.
·      Give yourself enough time to read and respond.
·      Point out the strengths of the draft.
·      Be respectful and considerate of the writer's feelings.
·      Offer appropriate, constructive comments from a reader's point of view.
·      Make comments text-specific, referring specifically to the writer's draft (not "This paper is confusing. It keeps saying the same things over and over again" but rather "It sounds like paragraph five makes the same point as paragraphs 2 and 3.").
·      Before giving your written comments to the author, reread your comments to make sure they are clear and make sense.

(found at http://mwp01.mwp.hawaii.edu/resources/peer_review.htm; accessed 11/2010)


Step 7: Revise and polish

·      Follow steps 1 - 6 until you are confident that your paper represents your very best work











1 comment:

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