Academic Skills Development
Writing an Academic Paper and
"In my writing, I average about ten pages a day.
Unfortunately, they're all the same page."
Michael Alley, The Craft of Scientific Writing
Task 1. Read the text and answer the questions to discuss below. Most post-graduate students cringe at the thought of having to distil a whole year’s research work into a single journal article of 20 A4-pages. “It’s impossible!”, “I will never be able to do it”, “7000 words …, you must be mad!” are typically how students react when first confronted with the challenge of writing a scientific article. However, as experienced writers point out, you do not have to be an award winning novelist or rousing poet to report the results of a well-conceptualized and executed study. You only need to be organized, accurate, clear and concise in your writing. And you have to keep your eye on the details, because, when writing an academic article, “the devil is in the details” (Feldman, 2004:1). Questions to discuss:
1) Why do we write scientific articles? What is their function? 2) What are the most difficult things for many people in writing an article? Task 2. Study the table that characterizes a writing process. Describe in detail what activities each stage involves (in your opinion). Prewriting
Task 3. Traditionally, a scientific article has the following structure: title, abstract, keywords, introduction, literature review, methods, findings and results, discussion, conclusion, references, if applicable, appendices.
Match the following questions with article’s structural elements. (Teaching materials designed by TUM English instructor Karl Huges. 2010) 1.
What are my main points?
Is there any extra information?
What does it mean?
What did I find out?
How did I deal with the problem?
Whose work did I refer to?
Who helped me out?
What is the problem?
What did I do, in a nutshell?
The title, keywords, abstract, introduction and discussion are perhaps the most important as these are the “doors and windows” through which a reader is most likely to access the article. It is, therefore, extremely important to use effective keywords and make a title that is able to grab the readers’ attention. Guidelines to formulating a title:
choose a title that would be proper and adequate to the function and style. For example, the title “More than a one night stand” would not be appropriate for a journal article on relationship marketing; the title should be as specific as possible given the restrictions on length; some of the keywords listed after the abstract should appear in the title; A title should preferably answer the following questions:
What will be researched?
How will the topic be researched?
With whom? – describes the research population and units of measurement Where / in what context will the study be conducted?
Language Practice Activity
Task 4. Read seven suggestions for writing the title of a research paper. Which suggestions should you use to write a good title? Which suggestions don’t give good advice? a) Make it about 50 words long
b) Write it as a question
c) Begin with a phrase like ‘A study of …’
d) Include a joke or play of words
e) Include important key words for internet search tools
f) Include information such as the species studies, the treatment used. g) Present the key result
Task 5. Study the following titles and analyze how complete they are. Use the questions introduced above to help you choose the appropriate title. 1) Engineering students’ presentations: a focus on results or methodology? 2) Do engineering academics in Finland have job satisfaction? 3) Pedagogical evaluation of simulation tools usage in network...
References: e.g. Many Americans fail to vote (Hobolt et al., 2006: 137)
ibid.: taken from the same source (i.e
Devy, G. (1999). Translation and literary history: an Indian view. In S. Bassnett & H. Trivedi (Eds.), Post-colonial Translation: Theory and Practice (pp. 182-188). London: Routledge.
1) What is the use of commas and periods in a reference entry?
2. Dörnyei, Z. (2009) The Psychology of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3. Flege, J. (1999) ‘Age of learning and second language speech’ in Birdsong, D. (ed.) Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis.London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 101-32.
4. Gass, S. and Selinker, L. (2001) Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
“Plagiarize - take and use another person’s (thoughts, writings, inventions) as one’s own. (Oxford Dictionary, 6th edition, 1976);
Plagiarism is the act of appropriating ideas, writings, inventions of another without due acknowledgement
“Plagiarism is an idea, phrase, story etc that has been copied from someone else’s work without stating that this is where it came from. E.g. the article is full of plagiarism”. (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1995).
Plagiarism – the process of taking another person’s work, ideas, or words, and using them as if they were your own. (Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, New edition, 2007).
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