Finding your voice as a writer june 2012


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Finding your voice

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Finding your voice as a writer june 2012

  1. 1. Finding your voice as a writer: navigating the literature review Sherran Clarence 14 June 2012
  2. 2. Why do you need a literature ‘review’? • Joining a conversation… • …or pointing to a need to start a new one • Locating your research within a wider body of relevant writing • Pointing to a gap in the field or a space into which your research can speak • Finding your voice among the voices of others Knowing whose voice is speaking is the beginning of finding one’s own voice (Bernstein 2000) • Indicating that you know who’s who in the conversation/debate you are joining
  3. 3. So how do you find your voice? • Know your argument – what you want to say and what you main question is – write it down in as simple and clear language as you can • Keep the central question or argument you are making in mind when you read other articles – keeps you focused • Ask yourself: “what is my article about?” And then write about it using ‘I’ – ‘I think’; ‘I believe that’; ‘my argument is’ • What are you saying that is different or new or adds to the conversation?
  4. 4. Why is your voice so important? • What are journal editors looking for when they review articles for publication? • What sets ‘grad student papers’ apart from ‘journal articles’? • A writer who has a clear voice, and can call on others to support their arguments, has a better chance of being reviewed than one who leans on other writers, obscuring their own voice. • You need to be able to show how what you are saying contributes to the field you are writing into
  5. 5. Small task • Look at the following readings and skim through the intro and initial ‘lit review’ sections. • Can you clearly locate the writer in the text? • Do they have authority in the text? • What gives them this authority, for you? • How is the writer using the sources they’ve chosen in relation to their own arguments?
  6. 6. Some useful tools • A reading journal: – When you read any article/book chapter, read it all the way through the first time – don’t stop at things you don’t understand – Then on a clean piece of paper, write the full reference and then write to yourself about what was interesting or related to your topic, and what else it made you think of etc – Then go back and read again and work out all the tough bits – make more detailed notes if you need to
  7. 7. Some useful tools • A research journal: – Like a diary, except about your work – The muse can be unpredictable – keeping a journal can help you track your ‘research journey’ – Write about ideas, new connections you are making, links you can draw between different parts of your research – Write as if you are writing to someone else – that way when you come back it will make sense to you 
  8. 8. Keep working on it - reading and writing • The more you read (as we tell our students) the more the language becomes yours and the more able you are to use other voices to support yours, rather than create a ‘patchwork quilt’ • Reading journals are a good way of doing small chunks often enough that you feel like you are reading and writing often; research journals are also a way of keeping the work going even if it’s not ‘writing’ • The more you read and write the easier it gets to keep going towards this literature review and others after it – the longer you pause, the harder it is to get back into the process
  9. 9. “A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room”. ― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life