Academic Writing Skills Guide

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Maastricht University School of Business and Economics

A Guide to Academic Writing Skills
Second edition

Robert Wilkinson Jeannette Hommes

©2010 Robert Wilkinson and Jeannette Hommes, Maastricht University. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission from the copyright owner, or, as the cases may be, the publishers, beyond the exceptions provided for in the Copyright Law.

"The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write." Gabriel Fielding (British novelist 1916-1986)

Table of contents
Preface 1. Introduction 2. The planning process 2.1. The planning activities 2.2. The planning outline 3. Structuring 3.1. The introduction 3.1.1. The background information 3.1.2. The purpose statement 3.1.3. The short outline in the introduction 3.1.4. The organization of paragraphs in the introduction 3.2. The middle sections of your paper 3.3. The discussion and conclusions 3.4. The organization of a paragraph 3.4.1. The topic sentence 3.4.2. The elaboration and closure 4. Citation of sources 4.1. The importance of citation 4.2. How to cite information from other sources 4.2.1. Paraphrasing and generalizing 4.2.2. Direct quotes 4.2.3. Placing the citation in the sentence or in parentheses 4.3. In-text citations 4.3.1. One source by multiple authors 4.3.2. One source with no author 4.3.3. One source with no author 4.3.4. Two or more sources 4.3.5. Personal communications and entire websites 4.4. The list of references 4.4.1. General principles governing elements of reference entries 4.4.2. Examples of references 5. Manuscript presentation 5.1. Format requirements 5.1.1. The title page 5.1.2. The title 5.1.3. Table of contents 5.1.4. Sections of a paper 5.1.5. General format requirements 5.2. Footnotes 5.3. Tables and figures 5.3.1. Tables, figures, and other exhibits from another source 5.4. Revising the paper 5.4.1. Revising the content 5.4.2. Revising the style and tone 5.4.3. Revising the grammar, spelling, and punctuation 5.5. Evaluation References List of Tables and Figures 2 4 9 9 10 14 14 15 17 20 21 22 24 26 27 28 36 36 39 39 39 41 43 44 45 45 46 47 48 51 55 59 59 59 61 61 62 62 65 66 66 68 68 69 71 72 74 75

1

Guide to Academic Writing Skills

Introduction

Preface to the first edition (2002)
We have written this guide for you to help you on the way to becoming proficient in your chosen field of economics or business administration. As you advance in your studies, you will demonstrate your proficiency through the essays, papers, case reports, and other texts that you write. Your writing is thus a marker of your relative expertise in your discipline. Yet, it is also a means in itself. Writing helps you organize your own ideas, discover the strengths and weaknesses in your thinking, and internalize the knowledge you construct. We hope this guide will help you on your way. But like all guides, it does not contain everything. As Voltaire said, “ the best way to be boring is to leave nothing out” This guide acts as a starter – it is up to you to . go deeper. Just as you will find with your writing assignments, we too have gone through the writing process in the construction of this guide. We constructed a plan, consulted numerous sources and people, wrote the text, revised it, and edited it, all the time trying to keep it clear and simple. In putting together this guide, we have aimed to follow Ernest Hemingway who said, “ My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”We hope we have succeeded. Henri Mennens, MSc Robert Wilkinson, MSc

Second edition (2010)
The second edition of this guide to academic writing is a thorough revision of the first edition (2002). Apart from changes to chapter 2, we have significantly...
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