The Writing Centre, UL
www.ul.ie/rwc
Academic Writing for FYP
Students: Applied Languages
Seminar 3
Íde O’Sullivan, Lawrence Cleary
Regional Writing Centre
Plan of Seminars
• Seminars: Weeks 5, 6, 7
Wednesdays 2–3 pm A1-052
• One-to-One Sessions:
visit our website (www.ul.ie/rwc) to
check out our tutors and make an
appointment
2
Plan of seminars
• Seminar 1 (Week 5):
– Getting started
– Layout/presentation/structure
– Referencing
• Seminar 2 (Week 6):
– Writing an effective abstract, introduction
and conclusion
– Developing and sustaining an argument
• Seminar 3 (Week 7):
– Academic writing style
– Editing and proof reading
3
Academic Writing Style
Academic writing style
• Academic writing is clear, concise and
comprehensive
• Clarity of expression
– ‘Clear writing is direct, orderly, and
precise’ (Ebest et al., 1997).
– Logical method of development
– Effective transition signals
– Good signposting
– Coherent
– Consistent point of view
– Conciseness (careful word choice)
5
Academic writing style
• Clarity of expression
– Avoid repetition of words
– Avoid repetition of ideas
– Delete redundant words
– Be direct: avoid using too many words
– Avoid ambiguity
– Avoid unclear pronoun reference
– Choose strong active verbs
– Use parallel constructions
6
Academic writing style
• What is wrong with the following?
“In Florida, where the threat of
hurricanes is an annual event, we
learned that it is important (1) to
become aware of the warning signs.
(2) There are precautions to take,
and (3) deciding when to take shelter
is important.”
(Purdue OWL 2006)
• http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
7
Academic writing style
• Formality/register:
– Academic writing uses a formal style
– Avoid informal language especially
colloquial expressions, idioms and slang.
– Do not use contractions (don’t, can’t).
– Avoid subjective language (“I heard it
said…”)
• Appropriate language
– Use bias-free language.
– Avoid language that privileges one race,
colour, gender, persuasion, or religion
over another.
8
Academic writing style
• Voice:
– Replace personal references, e.g. "I aim
to" with passives, e.g "the aim of the
project is". Use language that
emphasises the subject, rather than the
writer.
• Vocabulary
– Academic writing conventionally uses a
more lexically dense, varied vocabulary.
– Academic writing uses more
subordination and passives than other
genres.
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Academic writing style
• Tense
– Do not mix verb tenses in compound
predicates
– Be consistent
– Check for subject verb agreement
– Use verbs to emphasise the subject, not
the writer
• Avoid
– Repetition
– Unfinished ideas
10
Academic writing style
• Be sure that sentences express a
complete idea.
• Arrange ideas logically in paragraphs,
logically dividing your ideas and
presenting them linearly.
• Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and
punctuation should be according to
conventions.
• Do not use contractions.
• Be explicit; use signals.
11
Academic writing style
• Hedge. Distinguish between absolutes
and probabilities. Absolutes are 100%
certain. Probabilities are less than
100% certain.
• Be responsible. Provide traceable
evidence and justifications for any
claims you make or any opinions you
have formed as a result of your
research.
12
Editing and
Proof Reading
Editing and proofreading
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•
•
•
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What is editing?
Macro and micro edits
Types of edit
Becoming the editor
Traps – spelling, grammar,
punctuation
• Common errors
• Tips for editing
14
What is editing?
• Editing a document is revisiting it for
publication
• It is ‘sharpening a thought to a
gemlike point and eliminating useless
verbiage’ (Leedy, 2001: 54)
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Types of edit
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Policy edit
Integrity edit
Screening edit
Format edit
Mechanical style edit
Language edit
Substantive edit
16
Macro and micro edits
• Macro Issues
− content and organisation
− logical sequence of ideas
− audience adaptation
− purpose
• Micro Issues
− grammar
− style
− format
• Only edit one thing at a time
17
Revision
• Revising the structure
– Introduction
– A clear logical structure
– Your arguments / evidence
– Conclusion
• Revising the research methodology/design
and methods
• Revising the content
– Accuracy
– Style
– Use of words
18
Revising the structure
• Introduction
– Have you stared what you are doing and why?
– Have you outlined the structure?
– Have you mapped the plan?
• A clear logical structure
– Did you lead the reader clearly through the
essay/FYP?
– Did you follow the map outlined in the
introduction?
– Did you give directions to the reader? (check
coherence, topic sentences and transition
signals)
– Have you delivered on all your promises?
19
Revising the structure
• Your arguments / evidence
– Is each argument developed
sufficiently?
– Do you give enough evidence to support
your argument?
– Do you use the appropriate language to
reflect the evidence?
– Is the content of each paragraph
relevant?
– Does irrelevant information get in the
way?
• Conclusion
20
Revising the
research methodology
• Is the methodology appropriate?
• Are the following clear and appropriate?
– Sampling strategy
– Data collection
– Data analysis
• Are the findings presented clearly?
• Are the findings supported by sufficient
data?
• How important are the findings?
21
Revising the content
• Accuracy
– Facts: Is the content accurate?
– Quotations: Is it clear which ideas
are mine / those of others?
– Are all sources and references
acknowledged?
– Is everything in the bibliography?
22
Revising the content
• Style / use of words
– Are there words, phrases, sentences or
paragraphs that are unnecessary?
– Will the reader get lost in long sentences?
– Are there any obscure / ambiguous words?
– Is the appropriate voice used?
– Are there unnecessary modifiers?
• Final read
–
–
–
–
Does it flow smoothly / read well?
Is it interesting?
Is the pace / rhythm appropriate?
Does it look neat and professional?
23
Copyediting / Proofreading
• This is the careful editing of each line and
each graphic to ensure that the material is
expressed in simple, clear correct English
• Checking errors in spelling, punctuation,
grammar, format, sentence structure
• Proofreading is not editing in the broader
sense – it is an effort to achieve
correctness in the elements mentioned
above
• Correctness is the most important
criterion of excellence
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Spelling
• Make sure to set the language to BrE or
AmE but stick to one (-ise/-ize)
• Standard forms
• Double letters
• Don’t rely on spell check – it doesn’t catch
everything
- for
foe
- form
from
- quiet
quite
- practice
practise
- affect
effect
25
Grammar
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•
•
•
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Sentence structure
Complete sentences
Agreement
Tense
Grammar check is not always correct
- passive sentences
- defining and non-defining clauses
The woman who lives in apartment No.
34 has been arrested.
Mrs. Jackson, who is very intelligent,
lives on the corner.
26
Punctuation
• Commas, semi-colons, full stops
• Apostrophe
• its Vs it’s
• 1920s
• Possessives
• The dog’s bone
• The dogs’ bone
• The horses’ mouths
• Seamus’ car
• Capitalisation
27
Tips for editing
• Set it aside for a few days and come back
with a fresh eye
• Get someone else to proofread it as well as
you
• Use the print preview button to check
layout before you print
• Always proofread on hardcopy
• Hold paper below the line you are
proofreading
• Use the find button to make changes
• Be consistent!!
28
• Editing a reference list is separate
Editing a reference list
• Check that in-text dates and page numbers
match reference list
• Only enter names in reference list that you
have mentioned in your text – it’s not a
bibliography
• Make sure that if a name is mentioned in
the document that is in included in the
reference list
• Do a separate edit of your reference list,
checking everything matches, everything is
included and it is consistent
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Common errors
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•
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Consistency of layout
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
Syntax
Correct font and spacing
Word or letter substitution
Transposition of letters
Omission of a line or lines, which does not
outwardly affect the meaning
• Check finished work with original
• Dates, proper names and place names, and
figures
• Complete labelling of diagrams, tables, graphs, 30
etc
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