Academic Writing I, week 5: May 8th, 2015


No class May 15th. Next class is May 22nd

  1. (For those students who have not done so, send me an email. If you can’t, leave a comment on the blog)
  2. Choose a topic from the list in “Your Turn” p. 19.
  3. Write an explanatory essay. Use the same format as the essay on pages 4-5. It must be typed.
  4. Read the class blog (below) for this week, including the explanations of academic writing, and tell me your response in the comments.
  5. Continue with your easy reading. When you’ve finished reading something, add it to the class library on Zotero.  (Read the instructions here.)

Today’s class

  1. Free reading: 10-15 minutes
  2. Reading report (On “My Reading List”)
  3. Free writing – 10 min
    1. No dictionaries
    2. No erasers
    3. Free topic (and can change topic as often as you want)
    4. No rules.
  4. Mini-lecture on the origins of academic writing in Europe
  5. Discussion of 4 in small groups.
  6. Write the key points in English on loose leaf paper
  7. Look at the essay on pages 4-5 in the textbook
    1. How many paragraphs?
    2. How many blue sentences in each paragraph?
  8. The blue sentences are the topic sentences, that give the topic for that paragraph.
  9. Read the explanatory essay on pages 15-16.
  10. Do Practice 7 on your loose leaf paper (pp 24-5)

Read these explanations of academic writing. Are they useful for you? Tell me what you think in the comments.

1) Bell, Debra. “What Is Academic Writing?” Debra Bell. 22 June 2012. Web. 8 May 2015.

What is Academic Writing?

Academic writing is the type of writing students are expected to produce in response to content they learn about in an academic setting; i.e. school. It’s how they formally join the “scholarly conversation.” And it can begin at a very young age, when a child writes a report about a book he has read or a topic she has learned about. It is not a personal experience, nor a story, nor merely a description. Academic writing tells us what the writer thinks and what evidence has contributed to that thinking. The evidence can include the writer’s personal experiences, information found in other books or sources, or information gleaned from talking with others (such as, a parent or expert).  The standard for good academic writing is how logical or reasonable the writer’s thinking is — is the author’s opinion based in evidence that is credible and convincing?

As students mature in their writing skills, we expect them to back-up their thinking with credible evidence (e.g. research) and we expect them to provide citations for where that research has come from (using the style guide associated with the particular discipline; for instance, MLA formatting for the humanities or APA formatting for the social sciences). …

Just ask yourself often what do you think about this? And why do you believe that? What evidence can you provide to support your opinion? Where did you find the facts, ideas and examples you are using to back-up the conclusions you have drawn.


2) Mirza, Ozzy. “Definition of Academic Writing.”Write A Writing. Web. 8 May 2015.

  • writing about a specific subject from an authoritative perspective; your tone will be that of an expert on the field who has references from other experts backing up his claim.
    gather & quote as many possible references from other experts who have shared your point of view in the past and published their work.
  • In addition to making a claim, you can also write an academic paper for exploratory purposes i.e. you try to find out more about a particular issue and add your findings to the (sometimes) already existing “knowledge bank”.
  • my definition of scholarly writing is, “Any writing that can either be backed up by past research to validate a certain claim or is conducted to explore a particular subject; commonly assigned by universities & colleges”.


3) Jones, Rosemary. “Academic Writing.” EFL Laboratory. Web. 8 May 2015

Academic Writing

By Rosemary Jones

Looking at the big picture

Academic writing is based on analysis – the process of breaking down ideas – to increase one’s understanding. It uses deductive reasoning, semi-formal voice, and third person point-of-view.

Use of deductive reasoning – Stating the thesis (main idea) early and then following with supporting examples and details make complicated ideas easier to understand.
Semi-formal voice – This means no slang, colloquialism (common expressions of ordinary speech), contractions of nouns and verbs, etc.
Third person point-of-view – Third person points-of-view (e.g., he, she, it, and they) should be used.
Characteristics of academic writing


General purpose – to present information that displays a clear understanding of a subject

Specific purpose – varies according to the assignment:

Argument and Persuasion – To persuade readers to accept the writer’s opinion

Exposition* – To explain something

Description – To describe something

Narration – To tell a story

What is expository writing?

Expository writing is an explanation of a topic by answering the following questions:

What is it?
What does it do?
What does it resemble?
How does it work?
How does it come about?
Why is it important?
What types of development are used for expository writing?

  • Cause and Effect
  • Comparison and Contrast
  • Definition
  • Description
  • Process








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