Academic writing is good writing practice, but it is often misunderstood. The process is not sequential, but organic, and generally involves:
- searching for relevant literature; today via library databases
- designing research projects, especially, identifying the methodological approach; e.g., observation, capturing data, interviewing, examining specimens
- conducting research activities
- collaborating with peers (students, academics, industry peers) and supervisors
- examining research findings
- organising literature, methodology, and research findings to present a discussion of the research (in a thesis or paper)
- as a student: submitting work for examination
- as a research student: publishing work at conferences or in the press (e.g., journal articles), and submitting the thesis for examination
- as an academic: publishing work at conferences or in the press (e.g., journal articles)
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- Change the name of something by using their initials; for example, United Nations becomes U.N.
- Use full stops to indicate that it is an abbreviation.
- Use the long form the first time you write (with the short form in brackets), then the short form (initials) can be used thereafter. Example: Peter Jones presented at the United Nations (U.N.) assembly in New York (N.Y.). Peter’s comments to the U.N. were received with enthusiasm.
- When initials become a new word (or something that is well known), you don’t need to add the full stops; for example: Peter Jones presented at the United Nations (UN) assembly in New York (NY). Peter’s comments to the UN were received with enthusiasm.
The Pyramid Principle is an excellent method for developing a logical structure for your writing, whether it is a short essay, a book or an entire dissertation.
And others (et al.)
- The latin is et alli, abbreviated to et al.
- Et al. is used to indicate a list of authors in a reference; for example, Glassop, et al.
- Generally, always list all authors the first time, after that you can use the first author and et al.
- Always consult your official reference style guide to check the requirements
The same place (ibid.)
- The latin is ibidem, abbreviated to ibid.
- When repeating a citation consecutively, you can put ibid. to indicate that the reference is exactly same as the previous one
- For example, (ibid.)
- If ibid. is used in a footnote, use a capital I: Ibid.
In the place cited (loc. cit.)
- The latin is loco citato, abbreviated to loc. cit.
- An alternative meaning is: in the same location
- When repeating a citation, you can put loc. cit. to indicate that the reference is the same resource (author/s and date) and the same citation location (i.e., page number or paragraph) as the previous one
- For example, “Smith (loc. cit.), also claims that…”
- The latin is opere citato, abbreviated to op. cit.
- When repeating a citation, you can put op. cit. to indicate that the reference is the same resource (author/s and date) as the previous one (but the citation location, i.e., page or paragraph number, is different)
- For example (op. cit., p.3)
ComWriter Update – March, 2013
An update on the development of ComWriter Beta, our forums, and other news.
- Place a colon (:) before you add a list things: bread, butter, milk
- A semi-colon (;) is like a comma, but joins two part sentences together or appends a phrase to a sentence; for example, when you provide examples
- Place a comma (,) where you would pause when reading text aloud, or to separate items in a list.
- If the list is provided in bullet form, then you don’t need to use a comma at the end
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Em dash (–), or elongated hyphen
- An em dash (–), or double hyphen, is used to highlight a phase; for example, “I went to the market–in Petersburg–to see what the fuss was about.” In this case, you are wanting the reader to clearly understand that Petersburg is important.
- If read aloud, the reader would read the phrase ‘in Petersburg’ with a highlighted tone from the rest of the sentence, to draw attention to the phrase.
- A double em dash (or four single hyphens) can be used to obscure an obscene word; for example, “It was a d___ shame.”
- An alternative, is to use brackets (); “I went to the market (in Petersburg) to see what the fuss was about.” In this case, you are not so concerned about the reader understanding where the market was.
- If read aloud, the reader would read the phrase ‘in Petersburg’ with the same tone as the rest of the sentence.
- To place emphasis on a specific word or phrase (e.g., make it emotive) you can italicize it; for example, “Justin went crazy when he heard about the event.”
- Underlining a word or phrase also draws the readers attention to the emphasis added. However, today, underlining tends not to be preferred in academic writing.
- Check your official style guide before using underlining; if in doubt, don’t use it.
- Use exclamations (!) sparingly in academic writing to highlight emotion (academic work is meant to be objective, and, therefore, emotion free). For example, “Finally!”
When you quote work from other people there are a few rules:
- If you leave a word/s out, replace it/them with ellipses (…) “…when you leave a word out of a quoted sentence insert three dots…”
- If you change any word/s in a quote (sometimes to make it easier to read), then put the new word/s in square brackets “…when you leave a word out of a quoted sentence [make sure you include] three dots…”
- Always include the reference source, with the page number (if appropriate)
A paraphrase is a quote that you re-state in your own words, so you need to include the reference source.