Academic Writing

Exercises and instructions to write academic papers

View the Project on GitHub fhollenbach/WritingAcademic

  1. Be clear and concise, but this doesn’t mean your prose can’t be fun (McCloskey, Chpt 4).
  2. Begin writing early in a project, use writing as thinking (McCloskey, Chpt 8).
  3. Create drafts and outlines. Word choice in the first few drafts is not important. Outlines will help organize your thoughts and determine the sequence of parts/paragraphs. You could even create separate outlines for each section, planning the content of each paragraph (Fowler, Chpts 4 & 5).
  4. Write for the intended audience. Who is your audience? What do they already know? What do they value? (McCloskey, Chpt 11; Fowler, Chpt 15).
  5. Limit repetition and predictable passages, e.g., nobody needs the paragraph: “ The paper proceeds as follows….” (McCloskey, Chpt 12).
  6. Each paragraph should contain one important point, or should be “a complete discussion of one topic (McCloskey 2000, 44).” Paragraphs can and should vary in lengths to change the pace (McCloskey, Chpt 14; Fowler Chpt 6).
  7. Table and Figures should be self-explanatory. Readers might skim your paper and need be to able to take away the most important points. This also means the captions need to contain a concise explanation. (McCloskey, Chpt 15, Imai 2013).
  8. Your writing should be coherent. Sentences should work and fit together (McCloskey, Chpt 17).
  9. Word order matters, “end of the sentence is the point of emphasis” (McCloskey 2000, 66). (McCloskey Chpt 23; Fowler, Chpt 11).
  10. Sentences can vary in length. If the sentence is longer or more complicated, make sure the main idea is in the main clause (Fowler, Chapt 10)
  11. Read! You should read other people’s writing. By reading good writing you will become a better writer yourself (Fowler, Chapt 2).
  12. Read your own work out loud. Your ear will tell you what does and does not sound good (McCloskey, Chpts 18, 24).
  13. Punctuation should be clarifying and make life easier for the reader. A lot of punctuation can be figured out from reading out loud (McCloskey, 22; Fowler, Chpt 12).
  14. Be concrete, use active verbs (when possible) (McCloskey, 22).
  15. Revise, revise, revise.