How To Learn Academic Writing

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Academic Writing: How It Is Supposed To Be

Academics has been dealing with writing all the time. But how do they learn to write right? And do all of them do that right? You may think that there is nothing difficult if you know how to operate grammar and stylistic rules. You may know what to write and how to write, but is it enough? Academics usually do not think who they write for and why. It is an emotional constituent that is always omitted.

On the other side, you might know all of that. But can you provide decent academic writing? People should remember that expertise in a subject does not equal expertise in writing and vice versa. It means, no matter how good you are at your subject, your paper will fail if you don’t possess good writing skills.

If you don’t, then don’t worry—you can always learn to write. There are many guides on writing, but the thing is that they are often focused on technicality. Even if a supervisor helps you, the way they want you to deliver information may not work with other students or scholars. And English writing lessons are usually oriented to ESL learners, that is they teach mostly grammar and stylistics.

Speaking of learning, a psychologist Carol Dweck says there are two types of people—with “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”. The former doesn’t want to learn as they believe they possess enough skills and knowledge, while the latter are always looking for changes and new challenges.

So how should an academic writing course look like? First of all, teachers should be academics that are familiar with the latest literature on research writing. The course should be practice-focused, otherwise there is no need in it. It would be much better to gather researcher from different fields so that they can learn something new from each other. But the most important thing that should be taught there is an ability to accept criticism and rejection.

Helen Sword, a professor in the University of Auckland, has carried out research and found out that women attend writing workshops more often than men. The reasons may be different, she says. One of them consists in an attitude towards own writing. Women feel more negative towards their writing than men.

The thing is that men often overestimate their abilities, while women underestimate theirs. Men are sure of what they are capable of. However, the fact that women more often attend workshops shows that they are not afraid of looking for help publicly.

Academic men and women can be defined as hunters and gatherers respectively. Hunters are in most cases loners. They are sure of themselves and their abilities and thus can take risk without fear of failing. It shows that they cannot wait around; they want to act. Gatherers usually try to work collaboratively, think things over, act slowly, step by step, and risk only when they are ready. In fact, it can be explained by the way men and women operate in different social situations.

While we all are mulling over whose approach to work may be better, Sword is wondering whether universities should help young academic writers, support them, keep them afloat, so to speak, or load them with challenges they will have to overcome on their own.

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