A3 Academic Writing for Arts and Social Sciences
Tutor: Dr Laura Davies
Date of workshop:17/11/2011
Weirdly feel like the pressure is on for this blog post, I may have to up my writing style game here..! Anyway, right, so a few hours ago I was sat in a seminar aimed at improving writing style in my field; Psychology. (Possibly incorrect semicolon usage - oh dear). We began by discussing the definitions of analysis and evaluation; two key parts of most academic writing that we will participate in. We went on to talk about referencing, the overall structure of essays, and had a go at discussing the strengths and weaknesses of some example essay sections (including having a quick look at our own work, which is much much harder to analyse; I guess we just can't help but take our own criticism personally!).
So, what strengths and weaknesses do I have? Intending to print off the last essay I did, I accidentally printed off a piece of work I wrote on developmental psychology from my first year. However, this actually had a surprise benefit: I could see the change in the quality of my work up to this point, and the advice I received demonstrated just how far I can go from here! Currently, I'm pretty good at presenting an argument (the benefits of doing an English Literature A level!), and writing with a decent structure. One thing I lack however, is not being able to present information in a clear, precise manner. Having been encouraged to use elaborate language in essays at A level, I find it very hard to switch this writing style off, and go into "nobody cares about pointless adjectives" mode. Therefore, first action point: in all pieces of work I'm writing, make a conscious effort to read over the completed piece, and cut out any unnecessary language.
My second action point ties in with not using unnecessary language. Whenever I write an essay and check back over it, I almost always find myself over the word count. At this point, I begin to see that pretty much ALL sentences can be presented in a much more precise manner. This applies not only to adjectives etc. but also to general sentence structure. So, my second action point will be to start out by structure sentences correctly in upcoming essays. If, when writing the essay for the first time, I can make sure sentences are written to convey the main evidence, and nothing more, then when it comes to exams I will be able to write in this way (as there is less time to check through essays in that context).
Finally, my last action point is that I need to read more journals. The more I expose myself to the subject literature, the more I should be able to soak up their writing style, like a metaphorical academic sponge. I figure that if I pick journals that interest me, I'll be able to maintain concentration and may get through on average one more piece of writing every day, which would be a good start!
I will try to update my progress on this side of my skills development at the end of next week, when I've attempted to put these targets into action. Good stuff!