Graduate student writing: Finding your academic voice
Dalhousie Writing CentreGraduate Student WritingFINDING YOUR VOICE:PARTICIPATING IN THEACADEMIC DIALOGUE
OverviewIn writing your Master’s thesis or dissertation, you are participating in the ongoing academic dialogue that propels your field.To create an interesting and original thesis statement and to emphasize the implications of your research and the contribution to the field is to assert your own voice in this dialogue.You may at times feel that your academic voice is lost or overwhelmed or insignificant. But acceptance into graduate school is acknowledgement that your unique academic voice can and should make a contribution to your field.
OverviewThis slide show addresses the need to1. Identify your focus2. Develop the implications3. And choose a structure that reflects your field and your purpose
1. Identify your focusRefine your thesis statement (or claim or research question or hypothesis) as you write to make it more correct, more finely crafted, more specific, and more defensible.A. Your paper should address an interesting problem (gap, ambiguity, unresolved issue, something unsettling, a point of tension).
A. Address an interesting problemConsider issues or points that you have foundunsettling or unresolved.Trust your responses.Trust that your lack of clarity on an issue is a problem,not with you, but with the material, the research, thecurrent practice, etc.
B. Offer your proposed solutionThe paper should offer your proposed solution (new policy or approach, a particular application, an explanation) in a single sentence.The solution should make a contribution to your field of study; it should be original and useful.
B. Offer your proposed solutionConsider the following questions in devising a solution: How can the problem be resolved? What should be done? What do you recommend?The solution to the problem is your thesis statement or claim.
2. Develop the implicationsThere should be clear implications of your research.Editors find that the biggest problem with articles written for publication is unclear or weak implications.
2. Develop the implicationsConsider the following questions in developing the implications of your research: Why should we care about this idea? What effect would your solution have? What effect would a contrary solution have? Is the effect you seek achievable or worth the cost? What consequences are likely to result from what you propose? How does your proposed solution change how we see the world? Will the reader come away from the paper with something that is professionally valuable?
3. Choose an appropriate structureThe structure should reflect the standards of your field.Create a reverse outline of a piece of writing in a formsimilar to what you are writing. Reverse outlines reflectthe flow and arrangement of ideas.In most academic writing, the introduction shouldo contain the problem;o establish the focus (or claim or thesis);o emphasize the implications;o state your intended route (the elements of your analysis in the order you will develop them).
ConclusionThe process of defining the problem and writing the thesis statement, its implications and the following evidence and discussion is often difficult. It is also tremendously fulfilling, rewarding, and exciting to engage in the academic dialogue that propels your field.
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