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Academic Writing in an Information Age

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This presentation has been used to guide workshops on academic writing for upperclassman and first-year graduate students. The content is rich, emphasizing reflection, research/inquiry, as well as …

This presentation has been used to guide workshops on academic writing for upperclassman and first-year graduate students. The content is rich, emphasizing reflection, research/inquiry, as well as grammar. This material was designed to be presented interactively with writers across the disciplines, multilingual writers, and any writer unfamiliar with the academic writing process. Some slides could be adapted for a freshman writing course, or even a session or workshop for graduate student writers.

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  • 1. Academic Writing in the Age of Emergence One of Many Pathways towards the Evolution of Consciousness
  • 2. ● Who reads it? ● What are readers' expectations? ● How does living in an information age affect what is perceived as 'academic writing?' What is Academic Writing?
  • 3. ● Create new knowledge through (re) discovery ● Innovate current frameworks, theories, and methods ● Investigate a specific problem that clarifies or explains some broader issue ● Develop practical applications of research ● Replicate findings from a disputed model Purpose of Research
  • 4. Identify the limitations of the way a problem has been discussed (e.g. key terms/concepts) ○ Connect missing or overlooked links. ○ Identify the limitations of an accepted framework or methodology ○ Deliberate about the impact or accuracy of some phenomena ○ Dispute the accuracy, relevance, or importance of findings ○ Investigate research ethics Writing Objectives
  • 5. Consider the difference between an information question and a research question: Do Americans perform better than Norwegians on standardized tests? To what extent do standardized tests adequately measure human intelligence? Inquiry and the Research Question
  • 6. One of student's major anxieties about research is the "ME FIRST" problem! - You are NOT a journalist, your job is to help us understand a story, not 'break' stories. - You cannot OWN knowledge, you may acquire awareness and go through a process of conveying how you came to this awareness. - Writing and Research is COLLABORATIVE The Problem with Frontier Logic
  • 7. ● BEFORE you do your research, recall your purpose. ● Take an hour or so and write down everything you already know about your topic ● Set the writing aside for at least a day. Come back to it, re-read it and ask: ○ How did I come to these conclusions about my object of study? ○ Who has already studied these matters? How did I come into contact with them? ○ What do I need to know more about? Planning Research
  • 8. Your Name. Your Email. 1. What are you researching? 2. Why is it important? Write no more than three sentences for the WHOLE thing! Introduce your Research (5 min)
  • 9. ● Save time ● Reduce or eliminate anxiety over being "original" or plagiarizing ● Begin assessing how much you need to prove ● Reflect on what kind of argument(s) you are making ● Articulate your thought process more clearly ● Integrate personal opinions that directly relate to your research question Utility of Planning Research
  • 10. Who's doing the research? ● Some disciplines don't do 1st person, but others may. Check with advisors. ● Planning your research will help distinguish between your thoughts and your sources ● What's the difference between personal experience and personal opinion? ○ Experience is knowledge, belongs in the realm of facts ○ How you interpret the relationships between your personal experience and other phenomena belongs to the realm of argumentation. The "I" Problem. Seeing like Who?
  • 11. You may have a personal experience, and you feel you've gained knowledge from it. However, when communicating that experience to others you have to teach us about that experience by showing us how you came to your conclusions about something. The "I" Problem Continued
  • 12. It's all about the query ● Boolean Logic: Broad/Narrow ○ "search a phrase": Search a phrase ○ AND: Both terms must appear in the result ○ OR: Expands searches ● Google Logic: Domain Specificity ○ site:.edu=education ○ site:.gov=government ○ site:.mil=military ○ site:.org=organization Information Resources: Navigating Databases
  • 13. Google Scholar ● Locate sources (can access with PSU log-in) ● Can see how many people have cited a source (useful for Lit Reviews) ● Observe titles of articles and note how your topic is discussed: ○ Which terms recur ○ Which authors recur ○ What story do these titles tell about both your research topic and research questions ■ What are the conflicts/events? scenes? characters? resolutions? Navigating Databases
  • 14. The Corpora (BYU/Google Books) Search for trends in key words featured in books for the past 100 years or so. Google News: Customizable (also Patterns) Another great way to find trends in current events. Search real-time. Customize by key words. Modify dates. Navigating Databases
  • 15. PSU Libraries<Databases<Search or Browse: ● Academic Search Complete ● PubMed ● PsycINFO ● JSTOR ● Statistical Insight (Proquest) ● America's Historical Newspapers 1690- 1922, ProQuest Historical Newspapers Navigating Databases
  • 16. Think of your opening as an appetizer. ○ Have you articulated the purpose/significance in a way that will make your audience hungry for more information? (tip: Don't start with definitions) Be direct in your approach, clearly map out your research plan. ○ Your research problem/question and methods should be clear within the first page if not your first paragraph. Your introduction invites your audience into your world of experience. Introduction
  • 17. 1. What's the problem? 2. What's the scope and scale of that problem? 3. Who has tried to (re)solve it? 4. What additional approaches are needed to (re)solve it? 5. What are you proposing to do about it? 6. What are the projected benefits of doing it that way? To whom? Tip: Use these questions to develop a concise abstract! Organizing the Introduction: A Heuristic
  • 18. ● Enables you to establish credibility and trustworthiness to your audience ○ Proves that you are sensitive to how researchers talk about a subject, which makes people want to listen to you! Can fake it til' ya make it, but its not advised!!!!!! ● Demonstrate how you came to the conclusion that you research problem/question is worth investigating Literature Review
  • 19. ● What's a brief definition of the subject and its importance? ● Who seems to get cited most often? Which critiques are prevalent? ● What trends exist (e.g. sub-topics) ○ Do I notice any key terms/concepts/methods recurring? ○ Do I notice that one work seems to be cited over another? ○ Do I notice certain conflicts? Do I notice that these conflicts take on different types of conversation? Strategies for Lit Review
  • 20. ● When articles stand out to you, select them. ● Begin an annotated bibliography. ○ Here’s what this work is about: type of source, main argument, evidence presented, etc. (summary) ○ Here’s why I think this work is important, significant, useful, need to be critiqued, etc. (interpretation) ○ Here’s where and how I plan to use this work in my actual research paper (utility) [Note that any of these sentences may serve as topic sentences for the lit review!] Strategies for Reviewing Literature
  • 21. Considerations: Purpose of Research, Research Problem/Question. Conventions of speech/writing in your field. What structure will enable us to see why what you are doing is necessary? (will probably be hybridized) ● Chronological? ○ Does your research update work? ● Major Conflicts over a term or method? ○ Does your research modify concepts? ● Discrepancies over findings? ○ Does your research attempt to replicate results? Organizing the Lit Review
  • 22. Transitions: Paper is literally a path…a path through the evolution of your thought. Like any trip, we need markers to let us know where we have been and where we are going. Stop signs, street lights, even advertising markers for attractions. Approximating reality happens in two interdependent ways: - Causal - Evaluative Grammar Tip: The Transition
  • 23. Writing is ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS! Chronological or Causality: These demonstrate connections based on time and consequence. - First, Next, Third, Finally (All paragraphs point toward a central thing from which they emerge) - Consequently, By consequence, As a result (something is interdependent on what came before or what comes after) Exemplification: These indicate that your paragraph is demonstrating or proving something is true. ● Attribution: Citing an authority, Introducing evidence ○ As X states, Y points out, X opines, Y notes, X argues ● Illustration: For example, For instance ● Comparison/Contrast: In contrast, However, Nevertheless, Similarly, Likewise, Since ● Reinforce: Moreover, Furthermore, Additionally, In addition ● Summarize: In sum, In conclusion, As a result Grammar Tip: Transitions (Con't)
  • 24. Once you've justified why you are doing what you are doing, you can write a methods section. This section lays out precisely how you are investigating your subject, why you've designed it that way, and what you think you may find. ● Qualitative Approach ● Quantitative Approach Both are valid, depends on your field and topic! Methods
  • 25. Another difficult section. Use plenty of qualifiers to present the findings. Don't want to draw massive conclusions from small tests. Don't overreach, but don't underestimate what could be interpreted as interesting results. Don't fear being "wrong." If your hypothesis doesn't check out, good..it offers yet another way of figuring out how to resolve the problem! Findings
  • 26. Truth should be offered as a contextualized measurement. The following words assist you in this expression: Examples: Sometimes, May, Often, Typically. Can you think of more? I'll compile your responses into a list. Grammar Tip: The Qualifier
  • 27. Being assertive and correct feels great, but we can't always be sure we are right! Being honest about what your study can't prove helps you increase your credibility to other researchers in the field. Gravitas goes a long way in building trust with others. When you do the lit review, note how and where in the article researchers admit to their limitations. Play with different ways of making concession. Limitations
  • 28. Similar to the introduction, I should feel as if reading your research was totally worth it. Make me hungry again! Instead of simply repeating the introduction, offer us some implications: ● How can others benefit from your project? ● In what ways do you see others utilizing your findings or methods? Conclusion/Implications
  • 29. Categorical Argument X is a Y Definition/Evaluation Argument X is a (effective) Y Resemblance X is like Y Causality X leads to Y Proposal X should do Y Claim Structures
  • 30. ● Learn the language of your discipline. Even if it seems difficult, you can't change it until you understand it. ● Put on your anthro hat: How do researchers attempt to perform their identity as members of X field? Where do you find these performances in their research? ● Don't hesitate to question the terminology if you have ample evidence that concepts or terms are inadequate ● Don't use big words to appear smart if you don't know what they mean. Complex ideas rendered simply make big impact Word Choice
  • 31. Who's doing what? (helps with the active voice) Try to always include a subject and a verb. Even scientific writing needs to be animated! Sentence Structure
  • 32. Example: Many people were upset about The Bell Curve, calling it offensive to populations such as African-Americans. ---or--- Many researchers argued The Bell Curve reified segregationist attitudes towards African-Americans because Herrnstein and Murray claimed a direct link between race and intelligence. Active and Passive: ANIMATING
  • 33. Example: This project is important because it will benefit healthcare initiatives. ---OR--- This project establishes a connection between genetics and risk-taking behavior. If this link is taken into account by healthcare professionals, rehabilitation efforts may become more effective. Active and Passive: ANIMATING
  • 34. Revision is actually re-writing the draft! This involves modifying claims, moving around paragraphs, adding transitions, or eliminating chunks of writing altogether. Revision may require you to revise your REASONING, as well as your writing! Several revisions may be required. Note: Editing happens after revisions are made. Editing without Revising is Wack and Unproductive! Revision Vs. Editing
  • 35. Editing involves modifications on the sentence-structure level such as adding commas, changing words, inverting subjects/verbs, eliminating the use of "to be," etc. To recap: Editing involves correcting grammatical errors. However, editing is NOT simply minor changes. For instance, modifying the passive voice to active voice could help you clarify your reasoning. Revision Vs. Editing
  • 36. Alexandria L. Lockett AlexandriaLockett@gmail.com http://www.alexandrialockett.com http://writeresources.pbworks.com Resources