Academic Writing I, week 7: May 30th, 2015


  1. Email me your Essay#1 AND your re-written essay as soon as possible and by Friday June 5th at the latest.
    1. You can send your essay first, and send your re-write later, or both together. It’s up to you.
    2. Please save your essay as AW1_Essay1_YourName  (family name only is ok).
    3. Please save your re-write as AW1_Essay1_Rewrite_YourName

Makeup class for May 1st will be July 11. Time and place will be announced later.

Today’s class:

  1. Academic writing is characterized by
    1. analysis (breaking ideas down into separate pieces). Academic writing is concerned with ideas rather than stories of events.
    2. deductive reasoning (see some examples here)
    3. semi-formal voice, e.g. “do not” instead of “don’t”, “they are” instead of “they’re”, “is not” instead of “isn’t”, etc. Avoid conversational expressions, e.g. “I had a tough time”, or “it was very nice” or “they are cool”; replace with more formal expressions such as “I had a number of difficulties” or “It was pleasant weather/delicious food/enjoyable experience,” or “they are elegant/attractive/charming/good-looking/well dressed”, etc.
    4. 3rd-person point of view, rather than first-person. E.g. “Perfume is a highly popular Japanese girls’ pop group” instead of “I like Pokemon”.
  2. One-page writing workshop (handouts). There were three today (you can download them here: One-page Writing Workshop )
    1. Academic writing began in Europe as letters written between scientists exchanging scientific information.
      1. These letters were not for personal or social purposes, therefore personal or social conversation was not included.
      2. Academic writing takes place between educated people who may or may not live in the same area or country, who may or may not speak each other’s language but share a common language (in this case, English; originally, it was Latin).
      3. The purpose of academic writing is to contribute to the community’s pool of factual, true knowledge about the world and how it works.
      4. Academic readers, therefore, are interested in your factual information which will increase their knowledge and understanding about how the world works. They are not interested in you personally.
      5. Therefore, avoid expressions such as “Why I became interested in ….” or “I love….” or “I have studied …. for xxx years”.
    2. Avoid using “we” (which usually means “we Japanese”). You are not a representative of the entire Japanese people, nor have you any evidence (usually) to back up your claim. Instead, use phrases like “Many people in Japan” or “It is customary/traditional in Japan to…” This also follows the rule of using the 3rd-person point of view and avoiding the first person (“we” is first person plural).
    3. Focus on general ideas rather than unique, personal details. For example, in the sample essay in the textbook on pp. 15-6, the writer never mentions the names of her best friends, or her teachers, or even the name of the school. Why not? Because she is focusing on general ideas or principles, such as “growing through adversity”, or “learning to appreciate one’s parents”. Writing the names of her school, for instance, would suggest that hers was a unique experience rather than one that can be shared by other human beings.