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Viewing written work using the five filters of accuracy, brevity, clarity, objectivity and formality provides a pragmatic way to respond to academic and scientific writing. The five-filters approach makes it easy for novice writers to understand both what needs to be done and how they can do so. The key to responding to writing effectively is to provide writers with actionable easy-to-understand feedback.
Teachers of academic and scientific writing may be faced with multiple submissions by many students over a semester. Teachers of writing need to maintain a work-life balance, and so there is invariably a trade-off between quantity and quality of responses. The expectations of writers vary; some valuing a quick turnaround with pithy comments while others prefer to wait longer for more detailed comments.
In order to write appropriately, it is necessary to be able to adhere to the expected conventions of the target genre in terms of content, form and format. A template analysis (King, 2004) of the pedagogic literature on scientific writing was conducted which uncovered three major criteria: accuracy, brevity and clarity; and two minor criteria: objectivity and formality.
Practical applications in which writers, peers and teachers can harness the five filters will be demonstrated. No-tech, low-tech and high-tech ways to harness the five-filters approach will be shared. The high-tech method uses a genre-specific online automated error detector tailored for writers of short articles in computer science. The errors for this detector were extracted from a learner corpus of all computer science theses (n = 629) submitted from 2014 in the University of Aizu, Japan. Where possible, regular expressions and easy-to-understand actionable advice were created for each error. Scripts were written that automatically colour, highlight, and display advice on the matched strings. A web interface was created to enable text submission around the clock.