Academic writing skills for work

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  • This is also in Improve your academic writing Ppt on style
  • Cause: because/because of (followed by a noun)/ since Effect: therefore/due to (followed by a noun)/as a result/so
  • despite in spite of despite the fact that although even though but yet however nevertheless
  • Academic writing skills for work

    1. 1. Writing Skills for WorkAcademic Learning Development 1
    2. 2. Presentation content• What is good writing for the workplace?• Planning and structure/critical thinking?• Drafting and editing• Technical skills, punctuation and grammar• Writing style and other writing tips• Writing memos, conference proposals andreportsAcademic Learning Development 2
    3. 3. What is workplace writing?• Letters• Proposals• Reports• Complaints• Minutes• MemosAcademic Learning Development 3
    4. 4. Good workplace writingwill have:• Clear purpose• Logical structure• Interesting research (ifapplicable)• Professional, simple andcorrect language• Attention to the audienceAcademic Learning Development 4
    5. 5. Planning• Organisation• Time management• Reading the task carefully• Knowing what is expected from the task• Understanding the task• Thinking about the task and purpose of your writingAcademic Learning Development 5
    6. 6. Identify the topic/questionDo you have a topic/question you have towrite about? If so, look at:1) Topic/content words or phrases– Tell you the main subject of the task2) Limiting/focus words– Tell you what aspects of the topic to write about3) Direction words– Tell you what to doAcademic Learning Development 6
    7. 7. Example: “Discuss the Changing Role of Women inthe 20th Century”1. Topic words:Discuss the changing role of women in the 20th century.2. Focus / limiting words:Discuss the changing role of women in the20thcentury.3. Direction word:Discuss the changing role of women in the 20thcentury.Academic Learning Development 7
    8. 8. Mind mapsAcademic Learning Development 8
    9. 9. Source :http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Support/Heat/index.php?page=41Flow Charts: De Montford UniversityAcademic Learning Development 9
    10. 10. Structure• Decide what you want to say... Then...• Put your ideas together and structureyour argumentYou need to:Organise your ideas logically-step by step frombeginning to endMake clear pointsRelate everything to your taskAcademic Learning Development 10
    11. 11. • Make sure you plan your writing• Does it have a structure?• What is the central message of eachparagraph or section?• Do you have a topic sentence?Academic Learning Development 11
    12. 12. Structure: Introduction• Interprets the question• Gives necessary context, backgrounddefinition• Outlines your case• Outlines the essay structureAcademic Learning Development 12
    13. 13. Structure: Body• Each paragraph does a job• Each point is clear and well supported• You move logically from one thing toanother• Develop your argumentAcademic Learning Development 13
    14. 14. Structure: Conclusion• Follows from the body of your essay• Sums up main points of your argument• Demonstrates how you have answered thequestionAcademic Learning Development 14
    15. 15. Write Strong ParagraphsA paragraph is a group of sentences that are linkedcoherently around one central topic/idea. The start of aparagraph is indicated by beginning on a new line.• Topic sentence• Introduces the topic and states what your paragraph will beabout• Often more general and the main point of the paragraph• Usually at or near the beginning• Supporting sentences – develop your paragraph• Expand on the point you are making:explain, analyse, support with examples and/or evidenceetc.• Concluding statements• Show how your evidence backs up your point• May tie your point back to the questionAcademic Learning Development 15
    16. 16. Example of a strong paragraphEssay title:Topic sentence:(main point)Development:Conclusion /tie-backWhat strategies do you consider to be useful inproducing a good essay assignment?Another important step in producing a good assignment isto draft and then revise the essay several times. AsMurray (2006) points out, although many students expectto produce a good version of their essay the first time theywrite it, most successful writers go through severalrevisions. This approach makes sense because writing anassignment is a complex process which involves manydifferent aspects such as organisation, clearargument, flow, grammar and choice of words. It is notpossible to focus on all these aspects simultaneously aswe are writing. Therefore, an effective strategy is toproduce a rough draft from the essay plan and then reviseit two or three times, focussing on different aspects at eachrevision.Academic Learning Development 16
    17. 17. AvoidDon’tjumparoundAcademic Learning Development 17
    18. 18. Category & hierarchyThese are useful organising tools:Category – points that canbe grouped togetherbecause they arerelated or connectedin some wayHierarchy – moves fromthe most general tomore and morespecific.You can use this idea tostructure your contentAcademic Learning DevelopmentShapes2-dimensional 3-dimensionalcircletriangle pyramid globe18
    19. 19. Having trouble starting?Try free writing• Set a timer and write for 10 minutes• Dont stop – keep writing, even if youre writing “I dontknow what to write about”• Any order, anything• You can use singlewords, phrases, sketches, diagrams, pictures• Dont worry about spelling or grammar• Dont cross anything out• Even writing down what you dont know or dontunderstand can be a great starting point• After 10 minutes, look back and decide what you wantto use and develop.• Source: De Montford UniversityAcademic Learning Development 19
    20. 20. Accurate writingYou must ensure that your writing is accurate• Punctuation• Spelling• Syntax/grammar• Proofread• Good dictionary should be nearby, along witha thesaurusAcademic Learning Development 20
    21. 21. Other Writing Tips• Avoid wordiness• Dont use extra words unnecessarily. It is not necessary tosay "2 p.m. in the afternoon" or "the expectant pregnantwoman." Saying "2 p.m." or "2 in the afternoon" or "theexpectant woman" or "the pregnant woman" all conveywhat you want to say and are less wordy• Say out loud what you are trying to write. Listen to how thewords sound• Stay away from jargon your reader may not understand. Ifyour work is very technical, but the person you are writingto is not well versed in that field, stick to words that personwill understand• Keep away from clichésAcademic Learning Development 21
    22. 22. Target: What is your purpose?Who is your audience?• Only write when you have a clear sense of whyyou are writing• Who is your audience? What is the best way toreach your reader?• Try to visualise the person reading and reacting toyour writing• Write at an appropriate level of difficulty• Always be clearAcademic Learning Development 22
    23. 23. Stress the Benefits for the Reader• Write from the readersperspective. Instead of writing fromthe perspective of what the readercan do for you, write in a way thatshows what you can do for thereader. A reader will often read adocument wondering "Whats in itfor me?" Stressing reader benefitswill help you to avoid sounding self-centred and uninterested• Not: I am processing your ordertomorrow.• But: You will receive your order intwo weeks. Academic Learning Development 23
    24. 24. Tone and presentation• Tone – The attitude of the writer to the subject and audience.It affects how the reader will perceive the message.• Be Confident– You can feel confident if you have planned, organised, and areknowledgeable about the material. You want the reader to do as youask or to accept your decision. If you write confidently you will bemore persuasive.• Be Courteous and Sincere– You can build goodwill for yourself by using a tone that is polite andsincere. Without sincerity, politeness can sound condescending. If youare respectful and honest, readers will be more willing to accept yourmessage, even if it is negative.• For example:• Not: You didnt read the instructions carefully, thus your system hasshut down.• But: The system may automatically shut down if any installationerrors occurAcademic Learning Development 24
    25. 25. • Less Direct language is also called “Indirect” or “Polite” language• This does not mean that you cannot be direct and polite at the sametime.• Writing in the United States tends to be more direct than other cultures.Direct Language/ Less Direct Language• Making Suggestions/opinions/ideas• I think ….. If we can/could …. We can/could…• I have an idea …… I’m wondering if we could….?• Why don’t we ….? Maybe we could/should….• We should ….. What do you think about…..?• Might we be able to…?• Have you considered…..?• Would _______ work/be okay?Direct and indirect languageAcademic Learning Development 25
    26. 26. Active voiceThe active voice makes your sentencestronger and usually shorter.Academic Learning Development 26
    27. 27. Exercise!Compare the following three e-mails. Think about: Function – the relationship to the reader and the purpose Form – the organization, format, construction Style – the type of writing Tone – the attitude of the writer Write a reply to each reflecting the characteristics of eachAcademic Learning Development 27
    28. 28. Email 1Writing Class Participants,Just a reminder to bring your pre-courseassessment to class on Wednesday, if I have notgot it already.Also, thank you for emailing me copies of yourrecent communications. They have helped medesign the course and priorities.Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday.ChristineAcademic Learning Development 28
    29. 29. Email 2Hi Everyone,Hope you are having a good week and consciously thinking about yourwriting.It was great to be with you last week and get to know you and find out whatyou need to improve your writing. The emails you copied me on helped medecide what to teach you. It’s all going to be very useful and practical. Yourstandard of writing is very good – but we need to work on a few things tomake it better.By the way, I’m sorry to bother you about this, but I really need the pre-course assessment. So, consider this a reminder. If you could give it to me onWednesday I would really appreciate it.I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again on Wednesday. We will havebinders and handouts and worksheets to practice the writing skills. It’s goingto be wonderful.Thanks,Hugs,ChristineAcademic Learning Development 29
    30. 30. Email 3Writing Class Participant: I need your pre-courseassessment if you have not given it to me. Bringit to class on Wednesday. Christine PolkAcademic Learning Development 30
    31. 31. Agreeing withsuggestions/opinions/ideas• ______ is fine. I like your suggestion to….• O.K. Let’s …. …. is a good idea.• I agree that ….. …sounds like a good idea.• I’m pleased to hear that …….• Disagreeing with Suggestions/opinions/ideas• I can’t agree… I’m not sure …• Your suggestion/plan won’t work. I wonder if … would be better• ….is not possible at this time I received your suggestion about …. but….• I disagree. Thank you for your suggestion, however ….• You are wrong. You have a good point about … However, I think…..• I’m afraid I don’t think that…• I don’t really agree that….• In my opinion…….• It seems to me that ……• I can understand how strongly you feel about this, but I’m sorry that …..• I understand your point of view, but I have to disagree. I….Academic Learning Development 31
    32. 32. • Expresses equality and respect for all individuals• Make sure your writing is free of sexist language and free of bias based onsuch factors as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, anddisability. Use gender-neutral language.• Not: Chairman• But: Chairperson• Not: Executives and their wives• But: Executives and their spouses• Not: Dear Gentlemen:• But: To Whom It May Concern:• Not: Each student must provide his own lab jacket. But: Students mustprovide their own lab jackets. Or: Each student must provide his or her ownNon-discriminatorylanguageAcademic Learning Development 32
    33. 33. Demeaning orstereotypical terms• Avoid demeaning or stereotypical terms.• Not: After the girls in the office receive an order, ouroffice fills it within 24 hours.• But: After the office receives an order, our office fillsit within 24 hours.• Omit information about group membership.• Not: Connie Green performed the job well for herage.• But: Connie Green performed the job well.Academic Learning Development 33
    34. 34. Transitional Words and Phrases• Connect sentences, ideas, paragraphs (like a bridge)• Link sentences and ideas smoothly• Give your reader clear signals to understand yourthinking• Lead your reader to make assumptionsAcademic Learning Development 34
    35. 35. • To Show Time, Sequence– At this time, at thispoint, now, during, simultaneously, concurrently, first, secondetc., today etc. next, then, after, afterwards, followingthis, soon, later, before, previously, earlier, recently, once, meanwhile, in the meantime, until, finally, eventually, last, lastly…• To Continue the Same Idea– And, again, and then, too, next, further, furthermore, moreover, inaddition, besides…• To Repeat– As I have said, as I have noted, as mentioned…• To Give an Example– For example, for instance, such as, in this case, on this occasion, inthis situation, to demonstrate, to illustrate, as anillustration, namely, to be specific, specifically, in other words…• To Show Cause and Effect– Because, because of, consequently, thus, so, sothat, since, therefore, due to (the fact that), as a result, resultingfrom, accordingly, evidently, it is evident, for this reason…Academic Learning Development 35
    36. 36. • To Emphasize– Definitely, extremely, absolutely, positively, emphatically, unquestionably,without a doubt, without reservation, certainly...• To Show Importance– A significant factor, a primary concern, a key feature, a central issue, aboveall, especially important, important to note, most of all, pay particularattention to, the basic concept, the principal item...• To Compare– By comparison, compared to, similarly, or, likewise, equallyimportant, same...• To Contrast, To Show an Unexpected Result– Although, in spite of, despite, but, yet however, nevertheless, whereas, onthe other hand, unless, in contrast, different from, even though, rather.• To Qualify (The idea is not exact.)– Almost, could, should, might, maybe, nearly, probably, except…• To Prove– Because, since, obviously, evidently, in fact, as a result…• To Summarise, Conclude– In brief, summing up, in summary, to sum up, to conclude, in conclusion, asI have shown, as…Academic Learning Development 36
    37. 37. To add to the same idea“The report was very informative. It had some excellent ideas.”a. The report was very informative. In addition (also), it hadsome excellent ideas..b. In addition to (besides) some excellent ideas, the report wasvery informative.c. The report was very informative. It had some excellent ideastoo (as well).d. The report was very informative. Furthermore (moreover), ithad some excellent ideas.Academic Learning Development 37
    38. 38. “Check and edit your correspondence.”a. The key feature/basic concept in writing is to check andedit your correspondence.b. Pay particular attention to checking and editing yourcorrespondence.c. Most of all/above all: check and edit yourcorrespondence.d. A primary concern/a central issue is to check and edityour correspondence.e. Checking and editing your correspondence is especiallyimportant.f. It is important to note: check and edit yourcorrespondence.To show importanceAcademic Learning Development 38
    39. 39. “The department copier was broken. The maincopier was fine.”a. The department copier was broken, but themain copier was fine.b. The department copier was broken. On theother hand the main copier was fine.c. The department copier was broken;however, the main copier was fine.d. The department copier wasbroken, whereas/while the main copier wasfine.To show direct contrastAcademic Learning Development 39
    40. 40. “The report was late. The copier was broken again.”a. The report was late because the copier wasbroken again.b. The report was late because of the brokencopier.c. Since the copier was broken again, the reportwas late.d. The copier was broken again, therefore/so/as aresult the report was late.e. Due to the broken copier, the report was late.To show cause and effectAcademic Learning Development 40
    41. 41. To Show an Unexpected Result“Everyone met their deadline. The report was late.”a. The report was still late, although/even though everyonemet their deadline.b. The report was still late, despite the fact that everyonemet their deadlinec. The report was still late, despite/in spite of everyonemeeting their deadline. (Note different form of the verb.)d. Everyone met their deadline, but/yet the report was stilllate.e. Everyone met their deadline; however/nevertheless thereport was still late.Academic Learning Development 41
    42. 42. Exercise!• Add another sentence to continue the main ideaof each of the following sentences, usingtransitional words or phrases.• 1. I had a lot of work to do today.• 2. Our budget is tight this month.• 3. There will be no more overtime.• 4. The latest shipment was damaged.• 5. I didn’t get a good performance review.• 6. Writing in English is difficult.• 7. Our department staff are all computer literate.• 8. I can change my schedule.Academic Learning Development 42
    43. 43. No “fragments”• A fragment is a group of words that do notfully state an idea.• A fragment often is without a subject or averb.• A sentence needs to be about a completeidea, with all the necessary information.Academic Learning Development 43
    44. 44. Exercise!Make these “fragments” into complete sentences:1. Whether he decides to go to the meeting or not.2. Although we might accept his proposal.3. When he left the meeting.4. I think we could do it, but if we do.5. Regardless of how you handle the matt.6. If I wasn’t concerned about what my manager would say.7. The Director, who was very pleased with the presentation.8. We won’t meet our budget if the spending.9. When I forgot to respond to the e-mail.10. Because we were short-staffed.Exercise!Academic Learning Development 44
    45. 45. No “run-on” sentences• A “run-on” sentence is two or more sentencesthat are written together without the correctpunctuation.• A sentence needs to be about only onecomplete idea.• Each sentence should have one – or maximumtwo – verbs in it.• Limit the length of your sentences to 20 wordsmaximum.Academic Learning Development 45
    46. 46. Exercise!Edit these “run-on” sentences. Add punctuation and capital letters.You might need to add, delete and/or change words.1. At two o’clock I have a meeting it will last an hour.2. It was a very interesting meeting that proved to be very helpful to Michaeltoo and it finished on time.3. Don’t worry about what I think worry about what your supervisor thinks.4. Tell Mary hello if you see her it’s been weeks since we’ve talked.5. The secretary typed the letter and then edited it and then copied it andthen mailed it.6. When the meeting started Mr. Jones made his recommendation which wasdiscussed at length before the chairperson decided to take a vote and therecommendation was defeated.7. I told you I would type the letter but if you need it today you will have to doit yourself because I have a report that my manager wants tomorrow.8. The salesman made me a good offer I think I will buy it.Academic Learning Development 46
    47. 47. Coming up…Tips for some typical workplacewriting:• Memos• Conference proposals• ReportsAcademic Learning Development 47
    48. 48. Memo• List each item you need to discuss in your memo or report• Put them in order — from most to least important• Write a brief summary of your entire memo — this will beyour first paragraph• Expand on each item listed in step• If any action needs to be taken by the recipient, state thatin your closing paragraph• Gather information to backup what you plan to say, or tohelp illustrate your points• If appropriate, get input from others who are involved inthe project youre discussingAcademic Learning Development 48
    49. 49. Academic Learning Development 49
    50. 50. Conference Proposal• Read carefully the call for papers, orient your topic ofpresentation around the buzzwords and themes listed inthe document• Take note of the deadline and respect it. Latesubmissions leave a bad impression and suggest poorplanning skills.• Consider the given time frame (generally 15-20 minutes).• Stick to the required word limit of the conferencecall, usually 250 to 300 words. The organizers have toread a large number of proposals and will appreciateyour brevity.Academic Learning Development 50
    51. 51. StructureA conference proposal will typically consist of:1. Introduction to your topic– not longer than one-third of the document2. Your thesis statement3. Delineation of your approach to the problemAcademic Learning Development 51
    52. 52. Focus on: the thesis statement• Make sure you explain why your thesis is original andinnovative as well as important and interesting to scholarswho might be outside your specific area of research.• As … states, “whether your role at a conference is to talk oronly listen depends not just on the quality of yourresearch, but on the significance of your question.”(Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of ResearchPapers, Theses, and Dissertations. Chicago, IL: U of ChicagoP, 2007. p. 128).• This portion takes up approximately 3-5 lines, whereas therest (approximately another third of the total length)focuses on the conclusion that you will arrive at in youressay and exemplary evidence.Academic Learning Development 52
    53. 53. Important considerationsfor the writing process• Consider your future audience carefully in order to determine both how specificyour topic can be and how much background information you need to provide inyour proposal.• If you would like to add a quotation to your proposal, you are not required to provide acitation or footnote of the source, although it is generally preferred to mention the author’sname. Always put quotes in quotation marks and take care to limit yourself to at most one ortwo quotations in the entire proposal text.• Always proofread your proposal carefully and check whether you have integrateddetails, such as, author’s name, the correct title of words, year of publication, etc. correctly.• If you are comparing and contrasting two different authors or subjects, you shouldclearly outline the process at which you arrive at your conclusion, even in a shortproposal. The reader needs to realize the importance and legitimacy of comparingthese two themes and get a sense of cohesion.• Check the names of keynote speakers and other attendees of note to avoidrepeating known information or focusing your proposal.Academic Learning Development 53
    54. 54. Types of conference papersand sessions• Panel presentations: You will be one of the participants in a panel orsession and be given 15-20 minutes to present your paper, which isfollowed by a question and answer session. You may use audiovisualequipment.• Roundtables feature more speakers, each of whom gets the floor forapproximately five to ten minutes to speak of the respective subject.Papers from the speakers may be circulated in advance among theroundtable members or even prospective attendees.• Papers with respondents are structured around a speaker who gives anapproximately thirty-minute paper and a respondent who contributes hisown thoughts, objections, and further questions in the following fifteenminutes. Finally, the speaker gets that same amount of time to formulatehis reply to the respondent.• Poster presentations ask participants to visually display their ideas aseither an outline of findings, an essay of several pageslength, or, preferably, charts, graphs, artwork, or photographic images.Academic Learning Development 54
    55. 55. Reasons proposals fail andcommon pitfalls• Acceptance rates of proposals range from 10 to 100%• These are the most common pitfalls that you might need toimprove on for future proposals:• The proposal does not reflect your enthusiasm andpersuasiveness, which usually goes hand in hand withhastily written, simply worded proposals. Generally, thebetter your research has been, the more familiar you arewith the subject and the more smoothly your proposal willcome together• Lack of detail and focus• The topic is too broad• The topic is not related to the call for papers.• Poor language Academic Learning Development 55
    56. 56. Submitting the Conference Proposal• If you submit your work by email, make sure you follow emailetiquette guidelines, e.g. include a proper subject line, a short butprofessional body of text in the email• You may include– a short paragraph on your scholarly background– skills and qualifications– why you chose to submit to his panel or this conference• The actual proposal, unless otherwise required by the call forpapers, should be a Word document that can be read by most computers(when in doubt, save the file as a .doc file instead of a Microsoft Vista one).You may also want to save and send the file in rich text format (rtf) orPortable Document Format (PDF) to ensure compatibility with differentcomputer operating systems and platforms.• Write your proposal either double-spaced or with 1.5 spacing (to notexceed one page, for instance) and use a clear font and heading with yourinformation and the conference title and date.• Save and/or print a copy of your proposal in case it gets lost and check tosee if the email was sent (or carboncopy it to your own folder)Academic Learning Development 56
    57. 57. Presenting the Conference Paper• Time your talk to fit your slot in the panel, without speaking too fast• Present the structure of your presentation• The thesis of your paper should be found on the first page of your essay(at least no later than the top of the second page)• You may repeat important points and the logical connections between theparts of your speech• At the end of your presentation summarise your points• You may bring a bibliography to help you respond to the audienceAcademic Learning Development 57
    58. 58. Report• A report is a systematic, well organised document which definesand analyses a subject or problem, and which may include:– The record of a sequence of events– Interpretation of the significance of these events or facts– Evaluation of the facts or results of research presented– Discussion of the outcomes of a decision or course of action– Conclusions– Recommendations• Reports must always be:– Accurate– Concise– Clear– Well structuredAcademic Learning Development 58
    59. 59. Stages involved in writing a report:• clarifying your terms of reference• planning your work• collecting your information• organising and structuring your information• writing the first draft• checking and re-draftingAcademic Learning Development 59
    60. 60. Report structure• Reports are written in sections with headingsand sub-headings, which are usuallynumbered• Below are the possible components of areport, in the order in which they wouldappearAcademic Learning Development 60
    61. 61. 1. Title page2. Acknowledgements3. Contents page4. Terms of reference5. Procedure6. Materials andmethods7. Summary8. Introduction9. Main body10. Results11.Conclusion12.Recommendations13.Appendices14.References15.Bibliography16.GlossaryAcademic Learning Development 61
    62. 62. Report tips• Careful check the following elements of yourreport before you print off the final version:– General layout– Text organisation– Coherence– Grammar, spelling and punctuation– Referencing– StyleAcademic Learning Development 62
    63. 63. Upcoming EventsWestminster PASS 17th-21st June 2013. (Passing Assessments StudentSupport)• There will be a week of exam and assessment support (dissertationsand literature reviews included) between 17th -21st June 2013.• All students are welcome to attend. The week will consist ofworkshops from the Academic Learning Development team, theCounselling Team, and Disability Learning Support Team. There willalso be one to one support available throughout the week. Forfurther information please contact Shahzeena Ahmad ons.ahmad1@westminster.ac.uk• The Library will also be delivering workshops on library searchstrategies in June and July. For booking information contact AaronShakespeare on a.shakespeare@westminster.ac.ukAcademic Learning Development 63
    64. 64. Want to be a volunteer for our Department((Academic Learning development)?If you would like to enhance your:• Writing skills• Critical thinking skills• Presentational skills• Network with staff and students at the university• Get university recognitionVolunteer for our upcoming projects. For moreinformation contact s.ahmad1@westminster.ac.ukAcademic Learning Development 64

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