Academic writing skills

Report
GET AHEAD
POSTGADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2012
Academic writing skills
Sara Steinke
Aims of the session
• Undertake study skills audit of your academic
writing skills
• Identify the key features of postgraduate
academic writing skills
• Look at the dissertation writing process
• Consider how you can develop your writing
skills in preparation for your course
The importance of academic writing
skills for postgraduate study
• Postgraduate studies require you to be a more
active and engaged critical thinker
• As a postgraduate student you are expected to
contribute to your field of study
Influence postgraduate writing in 4 ways:
1. Critical thinking
2. Research
3. Academic integrity
4. Academic style
Critical thinking
• Think independently
• Provide original perspective on previous
research
• Make connections between ideas/between
your work and other research
Writing skills:
• Organise your discussion into logical points
• Establish clear connections between ideas
• Cite relevant sources
• Explain, not just describe, quotes, examples
Research
• Become aware of the current knowledge in
your field
– deep and breadth
– synthesise information
– literature review
• You will be expected to contribute personally
to the knowledge in your field
– creative thinking
– presenting information in a new way, applying
previous research to new problem, proving a thesis
Academic integrity
• Give credit for intellectual property that you
borrow
– paraphrasing, quotes, referencing
• Be familiar with intellectual property rights
– opportunities to produce original work
Academic writing style
• Use formal style
• Writing style does not have to be
complicated/elaborate
• Be well organised and present ideas in logical
order
• Present objective analysis that is critical
without being too positive or negative
• Use clear precise language
• Avoid emotive language
Academic writing: key conventions
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Do not use contractions or slang
Use the terminology of your field
Avoid the first (‘I’) and second person (‘you’)
Define key terms you use in a particular way
Include only ideas that are relevant to your
argument and subject
• Limit ideas to one per sentence/single point for
each paragraph
• Be kind to your reader – give reader clues
(transition words, summaries) to let them know
where they are in your argument
• Use subheadings and sections
Think about the following
What are the
similarities between
writing a dissertation
and writing an essay?
a) Follows basic
procedure
b) Adheres to academic
conventions
c) Involves research skills
d) Requires writing in
prose
e) Uses analytical reading
/writing skills
Think about the following
What are the
differences between
writing a dissertation
and writing an essay?
a) Individually designed
piece of work
b) Personal involvement
c) Time management
d) Self-management and
motivation
e) Literature search
f) Presentation/ structure
g) Methodology
h) Managing your
supervisor
i) Viva
Structuring your dissertation
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Title page
Abstract
Acknowledgments
Table of contents
Introduction
Literature review
Theoretical framework/methodology
Finding analysis
Analysis
Conclusions
Footnotes/endnotes
References
Appendices
1.
Write down the three most important
things about academic writing that you have
learnt/thought about in this session?
Why were they important to you?
2.
What are your areas for improvement in your
academic writing?
What are you doing to do to improve this
aspect of your learning?
Recap of the session
• Undertaken study skills audit of your academic
writing skills
– What are you doing well?
– What are the areas for improvement in your
academic writing skills?
• Identified the key features of postgraduate
academic writing skills
– similarities and differences between writing a
dissertation and writing an essay
• Looked at the dissertation writing process
– structuring your thesis
– managing your supervisor
– preparing for your viva
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/
support/phd-support
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/
support/dissertations/pg_dissertations
http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/studentlife/
postgraduate/index.asp
http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/studentlife/
postgraduate/writing.asp
Wisker, G. (2007) The Postgraduate Research
Handbook (Palgrave)

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