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ACADEMIC WRITING October 30, 2013. Is well-organized, with main ideas introduced early on and defended, complicated, and refined throughout Is coherent.

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Presentation on theme: "ACADEMIC WRITING October 30, 2013. Is well-organized, with main ideas introduced early on and defended, complicated, and refined throughout Is coherent."— Presentation transcript:

1 ACADEMIC WRITING October 30, 2013

2 Is well-organized, with main ideas introduced early on and defended, complicated, and refined throughout Is coherent and unified Explores and explains worthwhile content Is aware of its audience Explains the significance and importance of ideas Demonstrates good mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation) ALL GOOD WRITING

3 Broad topic Unclear thesis Not enough specific detail Indirect Not enough analysis or evaluation Memorizing Unclear connections Plagiarism COMMON PROBLEMS

4 Questions, topics, answers Expectations The writing process Resources on campus OUTLINE

5 Topic: what you’re writing about. –Canadian content regulations –The role of MCH nurse in raising developmentally delayed children –The effects of globalization –Causes of climate change –Alternative medicine Thesis: your argument and what you think, overall, about the topic or question. QUESTIONS vs. ANSWERS

6 Broad topics lead to confusion, unclear theses, and complicated research. Focus the topic: –Will help you find, select, and effectively use sources. –Having a narrowed topic will help you develop your thesis. How? –What interests you? What do you have an opinion about? –Find something manageable, relatively easy to research, with enough resources to work with. –Ask questions. TOPICS/QUESTION S

7 Can you look at the causes of the topic? Can you look at the effects? Are there different definitions of the topic? Or has a definition of the topic changed over time? Are there any unresolved issues or controversial points? Narrowing by time and geography is also helpful. NARROWING YOUR TOPIC

8 Topic = problem or question Your essay will answer the question, propose a solution, or argue your thesis –Your solution or argument will be a single sentence 1)How can the problem be resolved? 2)What can you recommend?

9 EXPECTATIONS What is expected of my writing? - Original Thinking - Strong Analysis - Beyond the 5-paragraph Essay - Proper Referencing & Formatting - Grammar & Spelling

10 Will vary by field, faculty, project, and assignment specifications –Research Study –Argumentative –Exploratory What is included will also vary Original contribution to knowledge ASSIGNMENTS

11 To many readers, an essay is “thought made visible” –How sophisticated is your thinking? –Want to see you USING concepts and ideas (not just stating or summarizing) –What do you think about the ideas? –How can you connect different ideas? –So what? EXPECTATIONS Original Thinking

12 What are your ideas? What does the information mean? How can you connect two or more ideas or findings? How have you evaluated the findings? Does your essay argue a new idea, solution, or perspective? Do you clearly explain and support your ideas? CRITICAL THINKING

13 Shows you can: –Identify/define problems –Generate questions and hypotheses –Review and summarize the literature –Apply appropriate methods –Collect data properly –Analyze and judge evidence –Discuss findings –Produce publishable results –Engage in a sustained piece of research or argument –Think and write critically and coherently WHY?

14 Creating this will involve: –Critical thinking –Thorough research –Effective writing style and organization

15 You are expected to know how to –Paraphrase –Summarize –Quote –Reference Plagiarism: presenting the work or ideas of someone else as though they are your own. You must reference ANY idea that is not your own fact, analysis, idea or thought!! ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

16 1.Use the system required by your field, faculty, or assignment. 2.If in doubt, reference. 3.If it sounds like the original author, it is the original author: Quote it instead! 4.Reference each and every instance when you use the idea/author (that may mean every sentence). REFERENCING RULES

17 Structure & Organization New idea: new paragraph Flow between paragraphs; proper transitions –Each paragraph/idea should be connected to the one before it and after it Introductions –Catch reader’s interest: why is the topic important? What’s interesting about it? –Your first sentence should introduce the topic. –Get to the point: what’s your thesis? What support will you be using? –Keep it short and concise Conclusions –Summarize the argument –Where do you go from here? EXPECTATIONS Beyond the 5-paragraph Essay

18 Will help you to –Divide and organize ideas –Develop a point of view –Establish scope –Sequence points –Develop a writing strategy Work out general plan first; then make the outline more specific Use the outline to write your introduction Creating an Outline

19 Which style are you using? (APA, MLA, Chicago Style, Vancouver Style?) Style affects referencing, page formatting, structure, spelling/grammar Consult the style guide for specifics Online: OWL Purdue: http://owl.english.purdue.edu Refworks: EXPECTATIONS Referencing & Formatting


21 To become aware of current knowledge in your field –Who are big names? –Major theories? –Studies? –How will existing literature contribute to your work? How will you use it? –Criticisms? –What’s missing? To contribute new knowledge –Seeing what is already there will help you find what isn’t RESEARCH Why?

22 You might be acting on existing knowledge or adding to it Will support your ideas by showing: –you understand what you’re doing –how you’re doing it –how your research ties into the context of your field RESEARCH Consider

23 Use databases on the McMaster library site Do not (just) use the Internet Keep looking; don’t settle for the first materials you find At the end of your research, be prepared to print more materials than you will wind up using Select by reading abstracts for relevance to your topic and interests Ask for help from a reference librarian or another classmate HOW TO RESEARCH

24 Don’t just read for facts Critique each article by asking What? How? How well? So what? Use the materials you find (scholarly evidence) to make your point Be prepared to discuss conflicting views and try to show your decision-making process in choosing among them HOW TO READ

25  Immediately after reading an article  One page (usually)  In your own words Your research summary should answer the following questions: What: What is the thesis of this piece? What does it claim? How: What methodology is used? What school of thought? How well: How convincing or problematic do I find the study? So what: How does it fit in with the other readings? WRITING RESEARCH NOTES

26 Evidence comes in four forms: Authorities on the subject Examples: your own or others’ Statistics Reasons: your assessment of a case and of the materials you have read on the subject Remember you will need to use this evidence: it does not speak for itself One of your jobs in the essay is to teach the reader about what you found and why you found it convincing Paraphrase the evidence (put it in your own words) USING EVIDENCE

27  Do not use quotations except in rare cases to define a word, or to quote some elegant phrases or terminology exactly  If you borrow ideas, you must cite them, just as you would cite facts, statistics, etc.  Do not worry that there are too many references to sources, provided you use them to make your point  If readers would ask, “How do you know this?”, you must include a citation WHEN TO CITE


29 Undergrad Writing Mechanically correct Concise Clear (though not necessarily interesting) May or may not demonstrate new ideas Contains citations when required Uses transition words Written for a general audience or for person marking UNDERGRAD & GRADUATE WRITING Graduate Writing Mechanically skillful Concise though also nuanced Engaging, stylish, and interesting, and speaks with your own voice Explores a topic in a new way Demonstrates extensive research Has a strong organizational frame Moves from point to point in the way you want your audience’s thoughts to move Written for a professional audience

30 Be direct and concise Avoid metaphors or mystery Provide detail Explain your ideas and what they mean Explain the significance and implications Use specific support – not generalizations Make clear, linear connections Cite your sources TIPS


32 MAKING IT EASIER The Writing Process

33 Breaking an assignment into chunks helps you to... –Reduce anxiety –Eliminate procrastination Spreading out your work over time allows you to... –Get some distance from your work which allows you to see it more clearly Interacting with your own work gives you... –The confidence to add, delete, move or change materials as you go along –A paper trail to show your progress, to seek help, or to use to ask for a brief extension Sample: Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge THE WRITING PROCESS

34 Your experiences or ideas about an issue or topic Your review of the research you found on the topic Could be: –Notes notes notes –Mind map, concept web, etc. –Free-flow writing –Verbal diarrhea Remember to cite everything! THE WRITING PROCESS Madman

35 Your outline or plan for the paper In what order will you make your arguments? Develop themes, finding evidence from various sources to support ideas Remember: every idea in your essay must relate to your thesis or argument, and each paragraph must connect to your thesis THE WRITING PROCESS Architect

36 You have your ideas and plan: now build it This is your first draft – for your eyes only Use an outline and keep it visible on your desk Refer to your research notes Write out your ideas; don’t worry about how you say them THE WRITING PROCESS Carpenter

37 The paper has been planned and built; now it’s time to make it pretty. This is your final draft and preparation of the paper with the reader in mind. Evaluate clarity, flow, organization, spelling, grammar, formatting, etc. Learn the difference between editing and proof-reading. THE WRITING PROCESS Judge

38 Does it follow the guidelines for the assignment? Does my introduction get to my topic in the first sentence? Does it have a thesis? Does it say how I will prove my thesis? Does my conclusion rephrase my argument and key points? Does each paragraph have a topic sentence? Does each paragraph deal with only one main idea or point? Refer to the assignment’s grading rubric or specific requirements EDITING Ask yourself:

39 Student Success Centre Writing Assistance –Office hours throughout the week –Book appointment through OSCARplus: ‘Appointments’  ‘Student Success Centre Appointments’  ‘Academic & Writing’ Graduate Studies Writing Circles ( students/academic-resources/graduate-student-writing-circles.html) students/academic-resources/graduate-student-writing-circles.html Online OWL Purdue: http://owl.english.purdue.edu NEED HELP?

40 Stay Connected with the Student Success Centre Check out the Student Success Centre! We offer  Orientation Programs  Academic Support  Service-Learning Opportunities  Career Counselling  Job Search Advice  Leadership Development Find us online:  studentsuccess.mcmaster.c a   @MacSSC

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