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What makes a piece of writing ‘academic’? How can you keep the reader of your thesis interested in what you have to say? We will look at some examples of ﬁne academic writing and consider how you too can write in this manner.
‘There was something wonderful, almost magical, about seeing ideas take shape on a deep level that I didn’t know I had. I was learning things.’ Jane Gallop in Bammer, The Future of Scholarly Writing p.35
Relating to education or scholarship
Not of practical relevance
in the form of …
Research diary (sketch book)
Notes from reading, conversations, seminars
Write from the very beginning of the research
How much critical [academic] writing is done in
the early hours, fuelled by the promise of next-
day delivery? How much is done through the
course of a quiet day as our attention moves
variously in the vicinity of the materials at hand?
And how much happens piecemeal over weeks
and months, perhaps longer, as the words of
another turn their way round and about our days
Benson, S. and Connors, C (eds) (2014) Creative Criticism. An Anthology and Guide.
Edinburgh University Press. p.35 5
academic writing is…
A way to communicate research
A research method
A practice that constructs knowledge
A researcher is a writer
NOT writing up!
• Has a thesis or proposition
• Takes a stance (informative, questioning,
• Refers to a context
• Has methods
• Follows certain conventions eg references
• For a particular audience
• A contribution to knowledge / to the field
Uses many voices (multivocal)
Language is not a neutral window on the world
or onto research
It is an approximation, a symbolic construction
of what exists or what happened
We put thoughts onto paper and so remove
ourself from them
They become available to others.
• New thoughts
• Making a new form
Why is it so hard?
• Not knowing
• Shameful (humiliating)
Read these first pages from academic
How do you react to the text?
In what way is the text ‘academic’?
What voice(s) is the writer using?