sábado, 12 de julio de 2014

SUMMARY: What is “Academic” Writing?

Santiago Mazzei
Teacher: Stella Maris Saubidet
Lengua y Expresión Escrita IV-ISFD 41
July, 2014

What is “Academic” Writing?

          L. Lennie Irvin


Since the development of a written text is not easy and being proficient at it is of great importance for communicating ideas, you must take this lesson as something precious. The present section has the aim of making things easier for you when having to successfully accomplish an academic writing task and giving you a first idea of what this type of writing is about.
In academic writing, the comprehension of your procedure and the right strategy lead to success. We therefore have to get rid of some misinterpretations about certain aspects of the subject before dealing with the most relevant issues.


The following wrong concepts drive writers to unsuccessful results:

1.     Writing is an inflexible straight procedure. As a matter of fact, we go all over again through the different stages of the writing process as we proceed with a task.
2.     One has to have everything sorted out before writing. The truth is that new ideas may come up as we perform the writing task. We can add, remove or rephrase anything later.
3.     A first draft has to be definite and excelling. Again, successful writing takes going all over through the process as many times as necessary.
4.     One is determined to write in a certain way and cannot become a better writer.
5.     I cannot write if I am not good at grammar. “Writing is about achieving your desired effect upon an intended audience.” (Irvin, 2010, p. 5)
6.     I have to stick to/reject the five-paragraph essay. It is beneficial to know it, but it is just a base model that you will leave behind as you improve your way of writing.
7.     I must avoid the use of “I”. In semi-formal style, it is not wrong to implement it.

Ø     The Academic Writing Situation

Since the most important mistakes in academic writing are connected to an inadequate comprehension of the general “writing situation” (Irvin, 210, p. 5), it is necessary to go over the contrast between spoken and written productions.

In speaking, three dimensions are dealt with, whereas in writing, only two. We therefore have to mentally bring about the contextual circumstances.

It is of great importance that you grow a “writer’s sense” (Irvin, 2010, p. 6) not beyond the writing circumstances.

Looking More Closely at the “Academic Writing” Situation

Academic writing has “its own codes and conventions” (Irvin, 2010, p. 7). You have to know:

ü     Your audience,
ü     The context,
ü     Your message,
ü     Your purpose,
ü     The documents or genres used.

Lee Ann Carroll has evidenced the type of writing you are likely to deal with in an academic context.

Since a good familiarity with research skills, a clear understanding of complicated texts, an ability to summarize and a developed critical sense are required in university apart from the usual writing skills, Carroll claims that ‘writing assignments’ should be defined as ‘literacy tasks’.

Writing in college has evaluative purposes so you have to reflect your excellence and your capacities. It is therefore useful to get into the aspects of a “literacy task”.

Ø     Knowledge of Research Skills

Knowing the right way of finding information anywhere and understanding that Research is procedural (constant focus on the different origins of your information is required) are a must. It is also necessary to become aware of that the research of information plays a determining role within the writing task, and thus a lot of effort has to be invested in the process.

Ø     The Ability to Read Complex Texts

Critical thinking in the reading process is a must: detecting nonobjectivity and presumptions, as well as ”making inferences” -how we relate the different parts of (a) text/s.

…an inference is a belief (or statement) about something unknown made on the basis of something known […] based upon the known factors we discover from our reading […] our job becomes to get our readers to make the same inferences we have made (Irvin, 2010, p. 8).

Ø     The Understanding of Key Disciplinary Concepts

Teachers are going to want to see how you utilize and manipulate the concepts you have been asked for in your writing assignments. They want you to show them what you have learnt. So analyze carefully for what concepts they want you to implement into your work.

Ø     Strategies for Synthesizing, Analyzing, and Responding Critically to New Information

Developing tactics for extracting relevant information to later utilize it in your assignment is a must. The acquisition of methods for the organization and identification of relevant schemes in any new material is a necessity.


In academic writing you will have the necessity of presenting a conjecture in which you make a statement (called the “thesis”) and standing for it with effective arguments supported by properly introduced corroborative elements. This can be confusing for new learners, so it deserves a deeper analysis.

Ø     Academic Writing Is an Argument

A point of view that is founded on proper evidence is called an “argument”. That point of view has to receive your examiner’s approval. You have to be convincing by providing grounds for belief. To be successful, a well-structured display of your argument and solid elements that support it are needed.

Ø     Academic Writing Is an Analysis

One has to know what the teacher’s expectations are. In some cases these remain tacit, and thus difficult to detect. In the first place, summarize only if you are told to do so. Secondly, your resulting work will depend directly on your previous analysis of the subject matter.

Analyzing implies following:

1.     Carry out an investigation and remain open-minded towards the various possible answers that you may find.
2.     Detect the relevant pieces of information.
3.     Study these isolated pieces of information and find out the way in which they are connected to each other.

New notions will come up from the isolation and inspection of the different items of information that conform the subject of your essay. At the same time, your point of view of the way in which these different pieces of information connect with each other conforms your thesis statement, and the objective of your work is to place an argument that defends that point of view validating it and making it a solid one. Separate the different pieces of your investigation and take notes of the particular features of each. As new schemes show up, you have to consistently relate each element. Analysis is an extremely important element of the “literacy task”.

Ø     Three Common Types of College Writing Assignments

There are three types of college writing tasks:

Ø     The Closed Writing Assignment

Two opposing statements are presented, and you have to decide (based on your research) which the most solid is. The important part of your work is showing the way in which you arrived at that conclusion.

A deeper inspection of the main issue may lead you to ambiguous assumptions. Do not use a “simplistic thesis” (Irvin, 2010, p. 12).

Ø     The Semi-Open Writing Assignment

“Discuss […] Explain […] Compare […] Show how…” (Irvin, 2010, p. 12)

Avoid using statements that are too obvious. Make relations between the sort of elements you are going to use, their natural origin and role and what leads to them. You have to “dig […] and see what you find” (Irvin, 2010, p. 12).

Do not summarize or merely account for things in this type of essay. Bringing an argument up is also required. Your professors will want to see how you get to your discernments into schemes and connections related to the topic. Your work is required to show what you arrived to from this research.

Ø     The Open Writing Assignment

“Analyze […] a character […] Compare and contrast two themes…” (Irvin, 2010, p. 12)

You have to determine your subject and your thesis statement. One has to comprehend the relevant pieces of information, and from there choose the proper theme. The most important is to determine your subject and reducing it to a malleable proportion.

Ø     Picking and Limiting a Writing Topic

Seek for what is of interest to you, as well as what gives you reachable results. Present your subject as an attractive interrogative. That interrogative will indicate you the best path to follow and what the core aspect of your statement is, as that statement will provide the result to that previous interrogative.

Reduce your subject to malleable proportions as it will make things easier.

Ø     Three Characteristics of Academic Writing

Thais and Zawacky say that there are three aspects:

1.     Perseverance, an open-mind, and method within the writer.
2.     Logic first; passions come in second place.
3.     Answers arrived at with the use of reason.

Everything mentioned in this section is what your examiners want to perceive in your written assignments.


Specific characteristics are attributed to the text. The format should not be arrived at with the use of formulas; the process requires flexibility.

Ø     Characteristics of the Critical Essay

1.     It “MAKES A POINT and SUPPORTS IT.” (Irvin, 2010, p. 15)
2.     The statement is naturally expository. Such claim is a declaration that is more suitably placed after the introductory paragraphs.
3.     Structure: “a clear introduction, body and conclusion.” (Irvin, 2010, p. 12)
4.     Supporting sources: The use of quotes indicating the sources of information is a must. No argument has to lack supporting elements. A sufficient amount of supporting material is needed, not only one piece of it.
5.     Every source of information has to be documented indicating its origin.
6.     “Transition” (Irvin, 2010, p. 16) sentences should be related to the main statement since hey indicate the theme of that part of your work.
7.     MLA or APA style is required.
8.     No inconveniences concerning grammar should be found in your essay.


The key is to comprehend one’s actions and the way in which one proceeds when working in an academic writing assignment. The base is to have the proper direction at the time of writing an essay.

Works Cited

Carroll, Lee Ann. Rehearsing New Roles: How College Students Develop as
Writers. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2002. Print.
Irvin, L. Lennie. What Is “Academic” Writing? Library of Congress Cataloging-in-
Publication Data, 2010. Print.
Thaiss, Chris and Terry Zawacki. Engaged Writers & Dynamic Disciplines:
Research on the Academic Writing Life. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2006. Print.

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