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Conventions of academic writing - Essay Example

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This simple structure is typical of an essay format , as well as other assignment writing tasks, which may not have a clearly articulated structure. Typical university assignments follow a formal structure, which is often more formal than in personal writing. A significant difference between academic writing and other writing genres is based on the citation and referencing of published authors. Like all varieties of writing, academic writing has its own tone, which dictates the choice of words and phrasing.

The tone of academic writing can also vary significantly depending on the subject-area and the academic discipline you are writing for. The readings, textbook, and study guide of your course show you what tone is expected in the paper, so study their style carefully. It is important to remember who you are writing for. Being conscious of academic tone suggests that you are aware of your audience and respect the formality normally associated with academic writing.

You should assume that your readers will be intelligent thinking people, but they may not be specifically informed of your topic. Do not presume that your reader knows all the terms and concepts associated with your work. In academic writing you should always follow rules of punctuation and grammar , especially as the end-user or consumer of your writing, unlike a friend, is likely to be very different from you and will not always know to what you are referring.

Hence, it is vital that you are clear. Punctuation and the conventions of grammar are universally known systems within English speaking cultures that maintain clarity and avoid ambiguity in expression. Have a study or assignment writing question? Alumni Merchandise Chapters Benefits more News Latest releases Research news University news more Events and key dates Albany campus Manawatu campus Wellington campus more Jobs Academic General Staff benefits more History of the University - - - more Calendar more Courses Programme search Paper search Course advice more Academic teaching timetables Timetable planner Building codes more Examinations Exam timetable Exam venues Key exam dates more Library Find information Library services Help and instruction more PhD and doctoral degree administration Doctoral handbook Administration forms Citations more Support for researchers Funding opportunities Guide to managing research Resources more Enrolment Online enrolment Enrolment forms International students more Entry requirements New Zealand citizens Australian students International students more Fees Calculator Programme fees International student fees more Scholarships and awards Undergraduate Postgraduate High Achiever more Writers should also be aware of other ways in which the discourse community shapes their writing.

Other functions of the discourse community include determining what makes a novel argument and what a 'fact' is. The following sections elaborate on these functions.

It is important for any writer to distinguish between what is accepted as 'fact' and what is accepted as 'opinion'. Wikipedia's article Fact misguides writers in their interpretation of what a fact actually is.

The article states that "A fact derived from the Latin factum, see below is something that has really occurred or is actually the case". But this is not how writers think of facts. Writing professionals hold that, "In a rhetorical argument, a fact is a claim that an audience will accept as being true without requiring proof". The audience can be thought of as a discourse community, and a fact can suddenly change to become an opinion if stated in a different discourse community.

This is how writers within discourse communities manage to present new ideas to their communities. Any new opinion would need to be proven by making a rhetorical argument, in which the writer would weave together what his or her intended audience will accept as 'facts' in a way that supports his or her idea.

Therefore, knowing the intended discourse community is a very important part of writing. Across discourse communities, what is considered factual may fluctuate across each community. A key concept in this change is learning to recognize that facts aren't so much inherently true statements as they are claims-that is, assertions that most of a given audience has agreed are true because for that audience sufficient proof has already been given.

You, like most people, would probably classify the statement "the Earth is round" as a "fact. What Kantz wants us to see is that what makes the statement a fact is not how "true" the statement is but that most people have agreed that it's true and treat it as true.

Statements about which we haven't reached this consensus remain claims, statements that people argue about. Kantz's work here demonstrates why it's so important to read texts-even "factual" works like textbooks and encyclopedias-as consisting of claims, not facts.

Within discourse communities, writers build on top of the ideas established by previous writers. One of the most common misconceptions about writing is the idea of the 'lonely writer'; that great writers' papers are filled almost entirely with original ideas and messages. But this is simply not the case. Discourse communities introduce new ideas and claims, and from these, writers expand on them.

James Porter, a scholar of Rhetoric at Indiana University, uses The Declaration of Independence as an example to illustrate this point. Porter points out that Jefferson merely pulled the phrase "That all men are created equal" straight from his commonplace book he made as a boy. Porter also points out that, "'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness'" was a cliche of the times, appearing in numerous political documents.

Jefferson wrote this great work by weaving together the intertext of his discourse community. As Greene describes in his article, "Argument as Conversation", academic writing can be thought of metaphorically as a conversation between those in the discourse community. Just like in a conversation when you listen to the ideas of the others who are involved and formulate your own opinion on the topic, a writer may be reading a paper done by another writer in the discourse community and from this paper, the scholar may obtain inspiration to expand the claims expressed in the paper or address them from other angles.

Good academic writers know the importance of researching previous work from within the discourse community and using this work to build their own claims. By taking these ideas and expanding upon them or applying them in a new way, a writer is able to make their novel argument. Intertextuality is the combining of past writings into original, new pieces of text. The term intertextuality was coined in by Julia Kristeva. All texts are necessarily related to prior texts through a network of links, writers often unwittingly make use of what has previously been written and thus some degree of borrowing is inevitable.

This generally occurs within a specific discourse community. Factoring in intertextuality, the goal of academic writing is not simply creating new ideas, but to offer a new perspective and link between already established ideas. This is why gathering background information and having past knowledge is so important in academic writing. A common metaphor used to describe academic writing is "entering the conversation", a conversation that began long before you got there and will continue long after you leave.

A quote from Kenneth Burke encapsulates this metaphor:. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar.

Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending on the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. Intertextuality plays into this because without it there would be no conversations, just hundreds of thousands of writings not connected or able to build on each other.

The listening until you can join the conversation can be seen as doing research. All of the research you read, is built on research instead of self-knowledge. This can be connected to the part of the metaphor where no one in the parlor is qualified to bring you up to speed, just as the papers your researched were researched also. Porter inspirationally explores the essence of intertextuality in one of his articles Intertextuality and the Discourse Community:.

Intertextuality reminds us that "carrying out ritual activities" is also part of the writing process. Barthes reminds us that "the 'I' which approaches the text is already itself a plurality of other texts, of codes which are infinite". The power of this statement is the idea that one can turn intertextuality into ones own favor only once one "does not exist" when writing academic text and only once one realizes that there is no universal reader to which the text can be attributed to.

The text lives its own life with its own purpose and the author is not the actual creator of the text. The author is simply translating meaning assignment into non-existent code, forming non-existent "I" which is intended for non-existent reader it is rather series of different readers, often with various opinions on the text.

So what is academic writing about? In essence, it's about nothing. It is an imperfect conventional form of code created by few people whom we do not know and it is surrounded by non-existent concepts. It is inherited from imperfect teachers and is bound to reveal only very small portion of all the possible infinite codes. However, this small portion can be unique. As long as it is, it provides us with new combination of codes and an opportunity to find our own existence in the nothingness which surrounds us, either through the eyes of the machine or through the eyes of our own.


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The most important convention of academic writing is the principle of giving proper credit to the work of others. To avoid plagiarism use citation and let the readers know when you borrow from a source by introducing a quotation or paraphrase with the name of its author.

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Academic writing is, of course, any formal written work produced in an academic setting. While academic writing comes in many forms, the following are some of the most common. Literary Analysis.

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Conventions of U.S. Academic Writing NC State Writing and Speaking Tutorial Services ∗ NC State Graduate Writing Center paydayloanslexington.gq ∗ ∗ paydayloanslexington.gq In order to familiarize yourself with U.S. conventions, some of the rhetorical strategies that are most commonly used for U.S. academic audiences are discussed below. Certain conventions in academic writing dictate how this supporting evidence is cited or referenced. These conventions ensure that readers of your work are clearly able to find and evaluate the sources of your evidence. The expression of opinion and argument is an essential part of academic writing.

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Academic writing is conducted in several sets of forms and genres, normally in an impersonal and dispassionate tone, targeted for a critical and informed audience, based on closely investigated knowledge, and intended to . As an academic writing convention that provides guidelines for writing and documentation of research in the humanities, especially in English studies, I acquire a sense of flexibility every time I review and edit my critical writing with MLA format.