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The Art of Academic Writing

As an academic writer, I am aware of many "myths" about academic writing, which many people call rules. But what are the rules? Or should we abolish the notion of rules and become writers in our own voice rather than being so "academic"?

  • Part of the discussion needs to be on the contested idea of what academic writing actually is and how it differs between not only disciplines but also countries. – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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  • I agree with Sarai, this is a wonderful topic, but it will need to be broken down if you really want to get into the nitty gritty. Each country is different, but even the disciplines are completely different. For example: I'm an Anthropology major. With this, we use Chicago 17 or AAA to cite sources. In our wriitng, we use heavy theory and heavy concepts of our own voice with only case studies to have as a way to prove our point. This is what our data is. Now if you look at Psychology, they use APA to cite sources. Theirs has less of a 'voice' and is more about having the data of research and hard numbers to prove a point. I think this would be really good to do, just a lot of work and making sure you're organized. – AuthorAsh 2 years ago
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  • Thanks for the feedback. I agree that different countries and disciplines have different styles. my research is Business, as part of the social sciences. What is really contestable is the divide between quantitative and qualitative research and how to write it. Quantitative is similar to Psychology, while qualitative research has more "voice". – jdumay 2 years ago
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  • I definitely would agree that it’s key to note that there are different kinds of academic writing. I write in history and film and that sometimes that can involve writing almost narratively and it’s perfectly okay to be self-reflexive and sometimes even use the much dreaded ‘I’. This I know is frowned upon in other disciplines but they might write in ways that I would never dream of. Point being, there isn’t really one cohesive set of rules for ‘academic writing’, there’s a set for just about every discipline. So maybe yes, perhaps there should be more room to be experimental or flexible but on the flip side, sometimes these rules exist for each discipline for them to be comprehensible and cohesive. It’s also important perhaps to consider the fact that you have to publish and journals often have very strict rules about how the paper should be written and structured. If it is to change it needs to be across the board. – Beth Jones 2 years ago
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  • Hi Beth, Thanks for your insight. The use of the dreaded "I" is one myth I was referring to in my original post. As a social scientist, I use "I" or "we" in articles when I need to show how a person discovered something and then makes an argument based on evidence. What is annoying to me is when someone writes "the research shows" as if the "the research" is a person. What is wrong with, "Our analysis shows" or "I argue" and support the argument with data from the research? – jdumay 2 years ago
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  • I've written academically and think of it as coherent, well-developed, supported by substance, well researched, in order words what you expect of good writing in general. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago
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