How to write an Academic Writing

how to improve academic writing and also how to learn academic writing and how academic writing is different from other writing and how writing academic paper
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HelenaColins,New Zealand,Professional
Published Date:06-07-2017
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Student Learning Development Services Academic Writing 0800 MASSEY (627 739) www.massey.ac.nzSome Differences between Academic Writing & Other Writing Contexts Writing is a skill that is required in many contexts throughout life. For instance, you can write an email to a friend or refl ect on what happened during the day in your personal diary. • In these kinds of interpersonal settings (or intrapersonal in the case of a diary record), the aim may be to communicate the events that have happened in your life to someone close to you, or to yourself. • Opportunities abound for personal refl ection. • It is expected that in writing about these life events, you will include your personal judgements and evaluations, which may be measured by your feelings and thoughts. • The personal stories you write in a diary or email to friends can be written down at the moment they enter your mind. • There is no need to follow a structure, as prose on the page or the computer screen appears through freely associated ideas. Similarly, another quality of writing in personal contexts is that it is typically informal, so there is no need to adhere to structures of punctuation or grammar (although your reader may be quite appreciative if you do so). • In these settings, it is perfectly acceptable to deploy colloquialisms, casual expressions, and abbreviations, like “that’s cool”, “by the way…”, “slacker”, “Palmy”, “b4”, and “thru”. In contrast, academic writing does many of the things that personal writing does not. Firstly, some kind of structure is required, such as a beginning, middle, and end. This simple structure is typical of an essay format, as well as other assignment writing tasks, which may not have a clearly articulated structure. • In the case of an essay, the introductory paragraph informs the reader about the nature of the topic, which is discussed and evaluated in the middle of the essay, also referred to as the body. • The introduction may also summarise very succinctly, in a sentence or two, your position on the issue, which is then elaborated on at length in the series of paragraphs that make up the essay’s body. • Lastly, the end paragraph constitutes a conclusion in which you may summarise the overall points made, but obviously not every single one, as there is often never the word space to do so. • The concluding paragraph is also a good point at which to move the essay forward to touch on implications or future advancements surrounding the issues addressed. • Another type of structure, common in university assignments is that of a report, often organised around the identifi cation of problems or diffi culties and corresponding solutions. – Unlike most essays, a report is divided according to clearly labelled sections, such as “Introduction”, “Discussion”, “Conclusions”, and “Recommendations”. – Further, unlike an essay, reports allow for bulleted points with respect to the Conclusions and Recommendations sections. Consequently, in briefl y considering the formats expected of typical university assignments, it is clear that they do follow a formal structure, which is often less clearly demarcated, if at all, in personal writing contexts. A second difference between academic writing and other writing genres is based on the citation of published authors. • If you make judgements about something in academic writing, there is an expectation that you will support your opinion by linking it to what a published author has previously written about the issue. • Indeed, citing the work of other authors is central to academic writing because it shows you have read the literature, understood the ideas, and have integrated these issues and varying perspectives into the assignment task. 2 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing• The importance placed on referring to other authors in your work can be refl ected in the elaborate referencing conventions that have been created within different disciplines, such as APA (American Psychological Association) referencing, which is used in psychology, education, some social sciences, as well as for business. Thirdly, 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 as well as the conventions of grammar are universally known systems (within English speaking cultures) that maintain clarity and avoid ambiguity in expression. Interestingly though, there are other situations where you may fi nd yourself adhering to some of the principles underlying academic writing. • One example is writing a covering letter for an employment position, or, even, taking minutes in a meeting. On the other hand, minute-taking may focus more on brief note-taking as opposed to fully constructed sentences furnished with marks of punctuation. • Nevertheless, in a covering letter it would be unwise to use colloquialisms for a potential employer to read. • Similarly, it would be to your advantage to write down your ideas using some kind of structure, even if it is ensuring that you have paragraphs that contain a distinct set of things to talk about, which then can be differentiated from another paragraph. Yet, aside from all this, there are still some features of covering letters and meeting minutes that are distinct from other aspects of academic writing. Traditionally, academic topics have focused on abstract things, like ideas and concepts, which cannot, necessarily, be given in a concrete or physical form. Hence, while minute-taking in meetings and covering letters for potential employers draw on physical, practical, and functional tasks, academic writing is often more likely to focus on abstract processes and relationships. Yet, despite the abstract, non-material structure of some academic topics, you may be able to borrow concrete and physically oriented words to explain these abstract ideas and the relationships between them. • Typically, academic writing requires you to clearly describe abstract forms and their component parts, their links to other abstract forms, as well as where they are positioned in relation to a general, overall system. • Even if you are dealing with a practically oriented topic like economics, computer science, rehabilitation, nursing, or teaching, the academic practice of learning about these things will likely require you to delve into theories, philosophies, concepts, and other abstract ideas that underlie the practical nature of the activities concerned. • Therefore, the very nature of academic writing is also different from many practically-oriented or socially- oriented writing tasks. This is because academic writing tasks require you to look beneath the surface for underlying principles, theories, and concepts that can offer mainstream as well as alternative explanations for common practices, processes, and procedures. To summarise this introductory section, academic writing is a special genre of writing that prescribes its own set of rules and practices. 1. These rules and practices may be organised around a formal order or structure in which to present ideas, in addition to ensuring that ideas are supported by author citations in the literature. 2. Further, academic writing adheres to traditional conventions of punctuation, grammar, and spelling. 3. Finally, in contrast to many other personal writing contexts, academic writing is different because it deals with the underlying theories and causes governing processes and practices in everyday life, as well as exploring alternative explanations for these events. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 3This book is designed to address each of these components in one way or another. There are sections on citing authors, referencing at the end of the assignment, planning and organising your assignment, to being critical and understanding marking guides. Some useful resources on parts of speech, and common errors in grammar and punctuation, among other helpful supplementary material, are also presented at the end. Before moving onto each of these components, I would like to take this moment to focus on why it is important to develop good academic writing skills. 4 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level WritingWhy Should You Develop Good Writing Skills? Whatever subjects you are studying, the readers of your assignments – usually the markers – need to be able to understand exactly what you are trying to say. • Hence, in order to persuade and convince them of your argument, in which you integrate ideas from the literature to help ground your argument, it is vital that you have good communication skills. • Generally, the only way in which to demonstrate your skill in communicating to the marker is through your writing. • Therefore, developing sound writing, as well as research skills, is an essential part of succeeding at university. • Further, developing these skills is also a fundamental aim of course co-ordinators and lecturers, and accords with the principles underlying a university education. Even though assignments may cause a lot of unexpected stress, they are a fact of university life. Therefore, it is worth your investment in time and commitment to develop good writing skills. In doing so, you will not only be rewarded by better grades, but also by more effi cient and effective procedures in which to carry out writing tasks, both at university and in later life. Remember … • Assignments allow you to come to a better understanding of the subject. • They provide you with the opportunity to explore something in a more in-depth and analytic way. • They allow you to become more active in your learning as well as to become responsible for your own learning. • They are a vehicle for demonstrating your knowledge and understanding to the marker, as well as displaying your ability to reason and write academically. However … • Assignments are not last minute tasks. • They require thought and planning. • They are activities that allow you to form your own opinions, often guided and based on the literature. • They also require you to turn your opinions into a clearly presented argument. • They require you to make sure your sentences are as clear as possible because written language can be easily misunderstood. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 5Finally, assignments are NOT just about grades – they allow you to develop and enhance your own thinking, writing, and evaluation skills, which can have spin-offs in many other aspects of your present and future life. Do not be afraid to take your time in learning how to write good assignments. It will be worth it The following sections in this book have been designed to address how you can do well on an assignment and conform to an accepted standard in academic writing and structure. The fi rst section focuses on a key feature of academic writing: showing the marker you have integrated the ideas of published authors. Before looking at this topic in depth, it is important to clarify the kinds of sources recommended to be used in university assignments. 6 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level WritingCiting & Referencing Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 7Identifying Academic Sources The sources of information you can document in university assignments are typically those from an authority. In an academic setting, an authority is usually someone who has been the author of published material. This material may come in the form of…… • Books • Journal articles • Published reports This kind of information is useful in that it provides evidence, which may be in the form of – theoretical ideas, critical evaluations, research fi ndings, and scholarly opinions - to back up the points you are making. Sometimes, these sources can be grouped into two categories: primary and secondary sources. Primary sources relate to publicly available data, like historical documents (e.g. a transcript of oral history, interview data), raw data from an experiment, or demographic records. Secondary sources draw on these primary sources of data, but have been produced for public consumption in the form of a journal article or a chapter in an edited book. You are more likely to use secondary sources in your assignments. Secondary sources differ from secondary citations, which occur when you use a reference that was cited in another source and not the original. Secondary citations are dealt with in a later section (see page 10). Academic sources of information, or evidence, differ from…… • Your own opinions. • Conclusions or outcomes of discussions on the issue with friends or relatives. • A celebrity’s opinion. • Articles in popular magazines, like the Women’s Weekly. • Opinion columns in newspapers (as opposed to newspaper articles). You can certainly draw on these materials for ideas to be developed in your assignment, but do not use them as sources of evidence, unless requested to in the assignment instructions. Having identifi ed acceptable academic sources, the next section considers how to integrate these sources into your writing. 8 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level WritingIntegrating the Ideas of Published Authors One of the primary features of academic writing is using the literature to support your ideas. This requires you to read widely in order to seek out the different sides of a debate within a particular fi eld of inquiry. In a sense, university assignments can be considered as vehicles for exploring the literature and fi nding out points of difference, agreement, and variability amongst different authors. What this means is that you need to demonstrate evidence of your literature exploration by including these authors in your writing and mentioning their points of view. This technique of referring to authors in your writing is often termed citing, documenting, or in-text referencing. Citing Authors Within academia, different disciplines have their own conventions for citing authors. One of the most common conventions at Massey is the American Psychological Association’s referencing system, otherwise known as APA. Other referencing systems used to document authors in your assignments, namely MLA, Harvard, and Chicago, will be outlined in a later section. APA follows an author-date pattern for citing authors. In the body of your assignment, this involves recording the author’s surname (or family name) followed by the year in which their work was published. This author-date pattern can be used in the body of a sentence, or in brackets at the end of the sentence. It is worth noting that by using the former, the reference becomes part of the sentence, and, therefore, clarity of attribution is often increased in the mind of the reader. Example In the body of a sentence According to Holmes and Smith (1986), gender is an important feature in language. The full “and” is used. Year is in brackets, immediately following authors. In brackets Gender is an important feature in language (Holmes & Smith, 1986). The ampersand “&” A comma separates The full stop goes is used. authors and year. after the brackets. You will notice that in the body version, the authors are embedded into the sentence, with the year of publication in brackets. In contrast, the brackets version involves all the author details placed in brackets. The full reference details for Holmes and Smith (1986) should be found in the reference list at the end of the assignment. How to construct reference lists is covered in a later section. Author Citation Tips • There is no rule concerning which citation method – whether citing authors in the body of a sentence or in brackets – is best. Either method is fi ne. However, it is always useful for the reader to provide variety when citing authors in your assignment. So, try to alternate between these two methods. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 9• To avoid relying on the same verbs when introducing authors into your sentence, as in the case of “McDonald (1992) says…” or “Anderson (2003) states…”, a list of verbs is provided to add variety to your sentence- embedded citations. agrees asserts believes claims comments; concedes that challenges; concludes; compares defi nes; delves deeper describes examines; explains; explores; echoes feels; felt that focuses on goes further holds that insists; includes; identifi es is clear that; was clear on maintains; mentions notes observes points out; points to prefers; poses provides evidence qualifi es recalls; recounts refers to reminds; responds reports; reveals says; sees shows speaks of states; suggests summarises; supports tells; tells of touches on verifi es writes that • If there are two or more authors with the same surname, regardless of year of publication, include their fi rst initials to distinguish the publications. Example In the body of a sentence According to R. B. Holmes (1995) and J. S. Holmes (1995), management principles underlie many organisational practices. In brackets Management principles underlie many organisational practices (R. B. Holmes, 1995; J. S. Holmes, 1995). NB: When listing two or more authors in brackets, use a semi-colon to separate each reference. 10 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing• If there are two or more publications written by the same author in the same year, then add the letter “a” immediately after the year of the fi rst publication mentioned in the text, and add the letter “b” after the second, and so on. Ensure the same detail is refl ected in your Reference List. Example McMillan (1992a) illustrates cross-cultural awareness in organisations, while McMillan (1992b) argues for the signifi cance of gender in cross-cultural awareness. • When stating the same author twice in a single paragraph, the year only needs mentioning the fi rst time in the paragraph (unless it could be confused with another reference, such as in the case of publications written by the same author in the same year). Example The notion of anger has been debated for centuries (Wilkinson, 1976). Indeed, Wilkinson points out that…. • For works with no identifi able date, include n.d. in brackets. Example The notion of anger has been debated for centuries (Wilkinson, n.d.). • When citing a publication written by three to fi ve authors, for the fi rst text citation, include all names. On subsequent citations, state the fi rst author followed by “et al.”, which is a Latin abbreviation for “et als”, meaning “and others”. Example In the body of a sentence According to Slater et al. (1978, p. 120), it is important to establish the grounds of the argument. In brackets It is important to establish the grounds of the argument (Slater et al. 1978, p. 120). • For works of six or more authors, for all citations, including the fi rst, include the fi rst author’s surname followed by “et al.” • In the case of secondary citations, that is when a source you are using cites someone else’s work – which is the work you want to include, but you do not have access to the original document – it is important to acknowledge both the original source and the source you have access to. When documenting both sources in brackets, use “as cited in” before the secondary source. Example Riechter’s (1984, as cited in Smith, 2003) study highlights how business models offer a framework for understanding commercial mechanisms. In the reference list at the back of the assignment, only list details for the source that you have been able to access, which is the source by Smith in the example above. • On occasion, you may be in a situation where an expert, such as a lecturer, or a consultant working within an organisation, communicates a point, which happens to be relevant to your assignment. This point may have been communicated in an email, in face-to-face communication, or via a telephone conversation. In such cases, the information can still be included in your assignment as a personal communication – although only include these in your assignments if absolutely necessary. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 11Example The legal fi rm, Cole and More, also practise criminal law (R. J. More, personal communication, December 14, 2005), which... It is important not to rely on personal communications in your writing, as these do not demonstrate your interpretation of the literature. Personal communications are mentioned in the body of an assignment only. Consequently, they are not included in your Reference List at the end of the assignment. Having explained the techniques involved in citing authors in the body of your assignment, the following section illustrates two different approaches to embedding authors’ ideas in your writing: putting their ideas into your own words, or quoting their ideas verbatim. Putting Authors’ Ideas into Your Own Words It is important to be able to explain the ideas of authors in your own words because this shows you understand the concepts and opinions. It does take some skill to alter the form in which information appears without signifi cantly changing the meaning of that information. You may fi nd though that, with practice, it becomes easier. Dictionaries and thesauruses are useful starting points for putting authors’ ideas into your words. Indeed, the more word resources you have at your fi ngertips, the greater fl exibility you have in reshaping the words of others, while still retaining as much of the original meaning as possible. There are two approaches to putting authors’ ideas into your own words: summarising and paraphrasing. Summarising will be dealt with fi rst, followed by paraphrasing. Summarising Summarising involves selecting out some key features and then using those to create a shortened version of the author’s prose. Of course, in your assignment, you need to ensure that there is enough difference in form between the original version and your own summarised version. This may be achieved by simplifying the ideas, as well as using a different sentence structure or sentence order to present those ideas. Examples “Children spend a very large proportion of their daily lives in school. They go there to learn, not only in a narrow academic sense, but in the widest possible interpretation of the word – about themselves, about being a person within a group of others, about the community in which they live, and about the world around them. Schools provide the setting in which such learning takes place.” Leyden, S. (1985). Helping the child of exceptional ability. London: Croom Helm, page 38. Summaries Author citation in the body of the sentence As Leyden (1985) points out, schools are places for children to learn about life, themselves, other people, as well as academic information. Author citation in brackets Schools are places for children to learn about life, themselves, other people, as well as academic information (Leyden, 1985). You will notice that in the examples above I have relied on some of the same key words that were used in the original version from Leyden, such as schools, children, learn, other(s), themselves, and academic. This is often the case when you are creating your own version of the author’s words because many concepts and ideas cannot be broken down to a more basic level, without losing a sense of their original meaning. However, the difference between my summary and the author’s version has been created through the arrangement of these key words in combination with other words which I have selected. 12 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level WritingSecondly, the very selection of ideas from the total pool available within the original version has also contributed to the difference between my version and the author’s version. For instance, you will notice that I have not focused on the meaning contained in the fi rst sentence about children spending much of their “daily lives in school.” Instead I have summarised the ideas contained in the last two sentences. Yet, at the same time, I have omitted specifi c details within the second sentence, such as “the community”, and interpreting academic in the “widest possible” sense. Further, instead of allocating a whole sentence to the point that “schools provide the setting in which such learning takes place”, I have condensed this idea and merged it with the ideas in the second sentence, as evident in “schools are places for children to…” Thirdly, difference from the original version has also been created through the order in which the ideas are presented. For example, in Leyden’s version, she mentions the academic focus of learning fi rst, followed by a broader context of issues which children also learn about while they are at school. In contrast, my version presents the broader context of issues fi rst followed by the academic focus of learning. Consequently, when summarising the ideas of authors, you can use several techniques. Firstly, you can identify some key words and link these with other words to create a different combination. Secondly, you can be selective about the specifi c ideas you choose to adopt, while leaving out others. In this way, you are actively summarising the information. Finally, by reordering the ideas in your own framework, you are also creating a distinction between your version and the author’s. All this can be achieved without signifi cantly altering the meaning of the information. Many of these techniques can also be applied to the strategy of paraphrasing authors’ ideas. Paraphrasing Before you begin to paraphrase, it is REALLY IMPORTANT to build-up your OWN IDEA of the information or try to develop a picture in your mind, and then use this as a model to help FRAME or GUIDE your paraphrase of the author’s idea. Paraphrasing means to restate information using different words. Unlike summarising though, paraphrasing focuses less on shortening and condensing the information. Paraphrasing aims to rewrite the information by drawing on different words and phrases. Examples “Children spend a very large proportion of their daily lives in school. They go there to learn, not only in a narrow academic sense, but in the widest possible interpretation of the word – about themselves, about being a person within a group of others, about the community in which they live, and about the world around them. Schools provide the setting in which such learning takes place.” Leyden, S. (1985). Helping the child of exceptional ability. London: Croom Helm, page 38. Paraphrasing Author citation in the body of the sentence As Leyden (1985) points out, schools are places where children spend a signifi cant amount of time. Beyond merely going to school to learn academic information, Leyden argues that learning occurs within a far wider context as children also learn about who they are, by being in groups, their local community, as well as the wider world which surrounds them. Hence, schools offer the settings to facilitate children’s learning about a great many things. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 13Author citation in brackets Schools are places where children spend a signifi cant amount of time (Leyden, 1985). Beyond merely going to school to learn academic information, learning occurs within a far wider context as children also learn about who they are, by being in groups, their local community, as well as the wider world which surrounds them (Leyden). Hence, schools offer the settings to facilitate children’s learning about a great many things. You will notice that in the paraphrased examples above, the version I have created is very detailed, compared to the one-sentence, summarised version. The paraphrased version rewrites each of the three sentences that make up the original version from Leyden. Further, it relies on a few more of the key words Leyden uses, such as schools, children, academic, learn, spend, groups, community, world, them, setting(s), and learning. A second difference between the summarised version and the paraphrased one is that the same order of ideas is retained in the paraphrased version. For instance, unlike the summarised version, the paraphrased one mentions the academic focus of learning fi rst, followed by a broader context of issues which children also learn about while they are at school. Moreover, the paraphrased version also represents more closely the specifi c points addressed by Leyden. In contrast, the summarised version presents a very general representation of the ideas, while leaving out specifi c aspects. However, the paraphrased version does have at least one thing in common with the summarised version. Indeed, the paraphrased example integrates many other words and phrases not used by Leyden to get across Leyden’s message. Further, even though the order, in which these ideas are presented, is the same as Leyden’s order, the choice of phrases is signifi cantly different. For example, while Leyden refers to learning “not only in a narrow academic sense, but in the widest possible interpretation of the word – about themselves…”, the paraphrased version refers to the same idea in terms of the following: “beyond merely going to school to learn academic information, learning occurs within a far wider context as children also learn about who they are…” Copying and Changing a Few Words – Not Paraphrasing As already highlighted, it is vital that you create enough distinction between your paraphrased version and the author’s version. Commonly, however, many students do not make enough of a difference between their words and the author’s. In some cases, for instance, they may copy large phrases from the original, and only change a few words. Example “Capital represents human creations that are used in the production of goods and services. We often distinguish between human capital and physical capital. Human capital consists of the knowledge and skills people develop (through education and formal or on-the-job training) that enhance their ability to produce, such as the taxi driver’s knowledge of the city’s streets or the surgeon’s knowledge of the human body. Physical capital consists of buildings, machinery, tools, and other manufactured items that are used to produce goods and services. Physical capital includes the driver’s cab, the surgeon’s scalpel, the ten-ton press used to print Newsweek, and the building where your economics class meets.” McEachern, W.A. (1991). Economics: A contemporary introduction (2nd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: South- Western, page 3. Copying and changing a few words – Unacceptable paraphrasing Capital signifi es human products that are utilised in the creation of goods and services (McEachern, 1991). Human capital comprises knowledge and skills that people develop (through education and on- the-job training) to enhance their capacity to produce. In contrast, physical capital comprises buildings, machinery, tools, and other manufactured items that are utilised to produce goods and services (McEachern). 14 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level WritingThe above example demonstrates what NOT to do when paraphrasing an author’s ideas. Although acknowledgement of the author is made in the bracketed citations, this is not enough to distinguish the author’s version from your own version. You also need to ensure that the phrasing is suffi ciently different. The paraphrased version has only substituted individual words, as follows: represents = signifi es creations = products production = creation ability = capacity used = utilised consist of = comprises This leaves the structure of the original version intact. Although most of the examples have been excluded, the sentence structure is exactly the same as the author’s. Including linking phrases, like “In contrast”, on their own do not adequately restate the author’s idea. The whole passage needs to be restated in different words to meet the requirements of paraphrasing. The example below demonstrates this. Example “Capital represents human creations that are used in the production of goods and services. We often distinguish between human capital and physical capital. Human capital consists of the knowledge and skills people develop (through education and formal or on-the-job training) that enhance their ability to produce, such as the taxi driver’s knowledge of the city’s streets or the surgeon’s knowledge of the human body. Physical capital consists of buildings, machinery, tools, and other manufactured items that are used to produce goods and services. Physical capital includes the driver’s cab, the surgeon’s scalpel, the ten-ton press used to print Newsweek, and the building where your economics class meets.” McEachern, W.A. (1991). Economics: A contemporary introduction (2nd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: South- Western, page 3. Acceptable Paraphrasing Capital is an economic concept referring to the things humans make, which are then used “in the production of goods and services” (McEachern, 1991, p. 3). This broad concept can be divided into human as well as physical capital, as McEachern illsutrates. Indeed, human capital focuses on the products pertaining to individuals’ skills and expertise, which function to improve individuals’ production capacity. This type of capital can be gained through some form of education and/or training. In contrast, physical capital involves the kinds of tools and equipment, including buildings that are central to providing goods and services. Things to Note about Acceptable Paraphrasing You will notice that in the example above I have constructed a number of things to create some difference between the original and my paraphrased version. 1. I have crafted capital as “an economic concept”. Hence – even at the basic word level – I have drawn on my own understanding to help guide the process of rewriting the author’s idea. 2. Instead of distinguishing between two types of capital, as the original version does, I have talked about this in terms of dividing the “broad concept” of capital into two. Similarly, as in the point above, I have reframed the author’s words within my own framework of understanding to help guide my rewriting of the author’s idea. 3. Linking words at the beginning of sentences have been used to help with my fl ow of writing, such as “Indeed”, and “In contrast”. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 154. Rather than defi ning human and physical capital in terms of “consists of…”, “human capital focuses on…” and “physical capital involves...” have been applied. Similarly, instead of talking about human capital as enhancing people’s ability, I have rephrased this as “functioning to improve…” Likewise, “central to the production of…” has replaced “used to produce”. Hence, I have tried to draw on phrases I am more familiar with to express the author’s ideas. 5. Individual words have also been replaced by other words, such as “things humans make” for “human creations”, and “individuals” instead of “people”. Again, at the level of individual words, I have repackaged the information within my own framework of understanding. 6. Acknowledgement of the author’s ideas are made with two references provided in the paraphrase – one in brackets and another embedded in the body of a sentence. When to Retain SOME of the Original Features Sometimes with paraphrasing, there may be a need to retain some of the features of the original. For instance, you will notice that I relied on the author’s phrasing for “in the production of goods and services” because it was diffi cult to restate this in different words. However, the author’s words are acknowledged, as evident by the quotation marks around the quoted material, in addition to the author’s name, year of publication, and page number where the quote is located. Specifi c details about quoting authors’ ideas are provided in a later section (see page 23). In addition to using a quotation, a few phrases have been retained from the original, including “physical capital” and “human capital”. This is because these phrases are recognised terms used within the economics fi eld, and are not specifi c to the author’s usage. More importantly, “physical capital” and “human capital” are the names of concepts, which cannot be changed. Similarly, I have retained the phrase “goods and services” because it is a recognised term, commonly applied in many other contexts beyond an academic setting. Consequently, I felt it was not necessary to use quotation marks around such terms. However, if you are in doubt, it is always best to exercise caution by acknowledging the source and applying quotation marks. Better still, try to restate the idea in your own words. Putting authors’ ideas in YOUR WORDS is likely to be the SKILL you will use MOST when writing university assignments. It’s worth investing time to develop this SKILL. Techniques for Putting Authors’ Ideas into Your Own Words Verb List for Academic Writing The key to developing the skill of restating other people’s ideas in your own words is to develop your own repertoire of words that can be used in academic writing. What follows is a list of verbs organised in different groups, because of their similarity in meaning, which can be integrated into your writing. These words may assist when summarising authors’ ideas. They may also be helpful when paraphrasing appropriately the words of other authors. There is room to add your own words to each group. articulate, comment, mention, maintain, note, point out, say, state, suggest, indicate, refer,… hypothesise, predict, theorise, conceptualise, understand, demonstrate, show, convey, portray, support, substantiate, corroborate, verify, confi rm….. investigate, research, experiment, conduct, administer, observe, …….. acknowledge, assert, claim, … argue, challenge, compare, contradict, contrast, counteract, debate, defend, refute, hold, …. comprise, consist, constitute, embody, characterise, defi ne, identify, recognise, diagnose, … create, construct, develop, generate, produce, evolve, manufacture, ….……. 16 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writingsynthesise, coordinate, cooperate, correspond, collaborate, contribute, share, … reveal, conceal, …. analyse, examine, evaluate, scrutinise, criticise, … report, record, collect, collate, categorise, document, … differentiate, deviate, distinguish, divide, separate, … access, utilise, deploy, adopt, practise, … strengthen, increase, expand, weaken, reduce, decrease, contract, condense, …. convince, compel, justify, explain, clarify, reason, account, … signify, highlight, specify, specialise, symbolise, … accumulate, calculate, maximise, minimise, formulate, … relate, connect, link, associate, correlate, … exclude, include, situate, locate, place, … condemn, deny, decline, negate, … dominate, segregate, subordinate, … affect, infl uence, transform, … conclude, summarise, … Changing the Sentence Structure and Form In addition to building up your repertoire of academic words, another method for creating difference between the author’s version and your version is by altering the structure in which information is presented. The following strategies identify a variety of techniques for altering sentence structures. 1. Restate the information by referring to the author. EG: McDonald (1992) highlights; According to McDonald (1992); As highlighted by McDonald (1992). 2. Embed the author at the beginning of the sentence, the middle, or at the end. EG: As identifi ed by Smith (1990), social dynamics involve…; Social dynamics, as identifi ed by Smith (1990), involve…; Social dynamics involve…, as identifi ed by Smith (1990). 3. Try to repackage the idea using the following sentence starters: This concept is about… This idea is organised around… This issue focuses on / involves / integrates / highlights / illustrates…. This means… It is comprised of… / constitutes… A central feature underlying this concept is… This functions to… / serves to… / works to… 4. Change the order in which the items or events are placed. 5. Consult with a thesaurus for ideas on how to say things differently. As an example, Collins Essential English Thesaurus may be a useful resource. 6. Draw on different linking words and phrases to begin sentences as well as to link different ideas within the same sentence, such as the following: Being specifi c In particular…. Regarding… With respect to… In relation to… More specifi cally… In terms of… Especially, … Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 17Giving an example For instance, … For example, … This can be illustrated by… …namely, … …such as… Clarifying In other words, … Basically, … …namely, … Introducing parallels Simultaneously, … At the same time, … Equally, … Concurrently, … Mentioning a common point Traditionally, … Typically, … Conventionally, … Commonly, … Often, … Acknowledging something and moving onto a different point Although… Even though… Despite… Notwithstanding… Following a line of reasoning Therefore, … Hence, … Consequently, … Subsequently, … As a result, … Accordingly, … As a corollary, … As a consequence, … To this end, … 7. Can you expand and elaborate on what the author is saying? 8. Alternatively, can you simplify and shorten what the author is saying? 9. Include a value judgement as you put the idea into your own words. EG: Gibson’s (1978) analysis about… is useful because it takes into account external factors. 10. Can you summarise in one sentence the ideas from several authors. EG: Based on the ideas of Johnson (1979), McDonald (1988), and Wright (1999), it can be argued that… Similarly, when summarising the fi ndings from different studies, the same structure can be applied. EG: Based on the fi ndings from Johnson (1979), McDonald (1988), and Wright (1999), it can be demonstrated / concluded that… 18 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level WritingSteps for Putting Authors’ Ideas into Your Own Words 1. Write down or paste a photocopy of the passage you wish to put into your own words. Underline the author’s main points. 2. List some key ideas, concepts, and phrases. Where possible, note down alternative phrases or synonyms for each of these. 3. Identify the author’s main point(s) in your words. 4. Can you simplify your words further? (This may not always be possible.) 5. Now, use your words and phrases in steps 3 and 4 to restate the author’s main point, without looking at the original text. This is your reconstructed version of the author’s idea. Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing 19Steps for Putting Authors’ Ideas into Your Own Words 1. Write down or paste a photocopy of the passage you wish to put into your own words. Underline the author’s main points. Marriage was a greater infl uence on the course of many of the women’s lives than choice of job or career, or even family background. Yet few women talked about choosing to get married (although choice may be a misnomer) in the same way they talked about career choices. Relationships are generally believed to belong to the realm of emotion, and ‘we fell in love’ or ‘then I got married’ suffi ces. The decision to marry is not usually something to be analysed or explained, nor is the choice of a particular man. Indeed, both getting married and marrying a particular man often appeared to be inevitabilities rather than choices. Women did talk about how they met their future husbands, however. Park, J. (Ed.). (1991). Ladies a plate. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press, page 113. Key points have been underlined. 2. List some key ideas, concepts, and phrases. Where possible, note down alternative phrases or synonyms for each of these. marriage, getting married – selecting a life partner marriage was a great infl uence – signifi cant impact, infl uential factor decision to marry – choice, marriage options, choice of partner not usually something to be analysed or explained – typically not talked about, not a topic of discussion getting married and marrying a particular man often appeared to be inevitabilities rather than choices – the process of marriage and choice of partner were more a matter of course, something inevitable, compared to individual choice. 3. Identify the author’s main point(s) in your words. Marriage was an infl uential factor in the women’s lives. This was more so than other factors. Yet, at the same time, marriage options, including choice of partner, were typically not a topic of discussion for most women. Few women actually discussed the subject. Indeed, the process of marriage and choice of partner were more a matter of course, something inevitable, compared to individual choice. 4. Can you simplify your words further? Although marriage impacted the women’s lives signifi cantly, it was not a decision that was analysed. Indeed, it was more a matter of course compared to individual choice. 5. Now, use your words and phrases in steps 3 and 4 to restate the author’s main point, without looking at the original text. Park’s (1991) interviews with women showed that although marriage impacted women’s lives signifi cantly, it was not typically a decision that was analysed. Few women discussed the topic of marriage, including choice of partner. Rather, marriage was seen as more a matter of course than individual choice. 20 Academic Writing: A Guide to Tertiary Level Writing

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