Effective Academic Writing: Write Papers that Get Results
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Learn to write an academic paper that is clear, effective, that makes you look good, and that is well-received.
Academic writing is not about grammar. It's not about fancy words. It's not about memorizing information or showing off new fonts.
It's about effectively communicating a complex idea, and backing that idea up with facts and compelling arguments.
"But I have good ideas!", you protest. "But I still don't get good grades!!"
That's because you haven't learned how to package and sell your ideas to your reader. I was a straight A student before becoming a professional editor. I have spent the past 10 years mastering the art of academic writing. I know how to get good grades, I know what you need to do to get them too. And in this course, I show you.
"I am a graduate student," you sigh. "I don't need some class talking to me about grammar. I need someone who knows that I have ideas that need to get through."
I understand about ideas needing to get through. I am a published researcher, and professional scientific editor. I have edited 100s of manuscripts at every level in the fields of psychology, social science, linguistics, engineering, education... I know what this kind of writing is about. And I know how to make it "sell".
Academic writing is a strict, rules-based form of communication. In this course, I take you behind the scenes and into the mind of your professor (or TA) or referee board. I give you the tips and tricks that I have gained through my years of experience and that work.
I have jam-packed the information you need into a series of lectures, course notes, and quizzes. This course is compact: I give you the information you need to excel, no time-wasters.
The lectures, course notes, and quizzes are complimentary and contain all the information you need to take your academic writing to the next level.
Students who will benefit most:
- college students/undergraduates who need to boost grades,
- grad students who need to take their writing to the next level (i.e., finish dissertation and get published!)
This course is NOT a grammar course. If you are looking for a course to take you through the basics of English grammar and style, I don't do that here. If you are looking for a course to help you kick some academic butt, enroll right now.
- I am assuming you have a basic knowledge of English grammar and sentence composition. These are essential to beginning to build a cohesive academic text
- You will learn important information about structuring academic texts
- You will learn important information about paragraph structure and creating flow
- You will learn important information about structuring and presenting literature reviews for an academic audience
What is the purpose of academic writing? It is to defend a specific point of view.
Ok - who cares? You should! Because if you think the point of academic writing is to look smart, summarize work, or anything else, you will be PITCHING YOUR MESSAGE WRONG. DON'T DO IT!! Instead, listen to this lecture, and make sure you are on the right track. You'll notice this is the longest lecture in the series. I pride myself on being concise when I write, and when I teach, but there are just no two ways about it: you NEED to understand the purpose of what you are doing in order to write an effective academic paper. Watch this video. Go over the notes. Then test yourself with the quiz. I cannot tell you how important this is.
We are almost out of the woods. We have a pretty good idea of why we're writing after the previous lecture. Now we need to know who we are writing for. They say (people who write, that is) that the most important thing is knowing your audience. I would like to introduce you to yours.
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce... your professors and TAs!
In terms of the technical side of academic writing, structure is the single most important aspect to master. People think good writing is all about fancy sentences. They're wrong. Good writing is all about getting a message across. And guess what? You can't do that without good structure.
In this lecture we review the most common academic writing structures and my tips for how to use them to your greatest advantage. Don't slave over a paper endlessly, trying to communicate an idea that just won't seem to write itself down on paper. Check out the tips and tricks, and get this story flowing.
Structure is the most important thing to do well. Watch this lecture and take the quiz.
A common problem with ANY kind of writing is not knowing how to get started. Luckily, there's a formula. This lecture goes into the technical aspects of a good intro. The intro is the first place your reader goes, and so it's important to make a good impression here. Don't underestimate WRITTEN IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT. Make a good impression up front, and the reader will expect good things throughout - and when a person is expecting good things, they are more likely to see them.
Check out this lecture to find out how to achieve the ideal introduction and take the quiz to test your knowledge.
What? Conclusion already?? Yes.
This is all about structure. And it IS the "real stuff". People have limited working memory, and the important thing is to start strong and end strong. Check out this lecture to understand how to wrap up effectively. A good conclusion wraps up your paper by hitting the main points and reinforcing your basic point of view or stance. It provides CLOSURE.
This is an essential part of the patterning that characterizes good structure. Watch the video to find out how to do this, and take the quiz for extra goodies!
Alright. Now let's write this paper. The whole purpose of writing a text is to create the packaging you need to send your ideas over the sea of brain waves and to safely land in your readers mind. And everybody likes a nicely packaged present better than one that's dumped on them upside down. (Many professors won't even read it if it doesn't look "packaged".)
Important! Important! Important! Check out this lecture to understand how to make sure your ideas look like they are dressed in ribbons and bows, and make the reader like them! Quiz yourself for extra goodness!
Writing effective academic papers also means mastering some aspects of framing and tone. This section describes some of the most important elements to keep you on the right side of your grader. I highly recommend listening to this lecture, and then listening to it again. Every field is different and will have a slightly different set of "unwritten rules" about how to look smart. Also check out the bonus lectures on this topic below. You got structure down? Now let's REALLY make you look smart. Let's go!
Now this may be the last lecture, but, at risk of sounding kitchy, it is NOT the least important. Closing gift and hard-earned nuggets of wisdom from my 10+ years of academic writing and professional editing. Check it out.
Often, the main problem with academic papers is NOT grammar, it's STRUCTURE. This video gives you a quick tip to help you make sure that you've got the right sentences in the right place. This is the crux of the issue. We have talked about it above, but now see a quick tip to help you if you get stuck. Tune in!
The credit for the (great!) music in the intro/outro : "Hallon" by Christian Bjoerklund.
This mini-tutorial gives you the skinny on word choice in academic writing. How important are the fancy words?? This video gives you quick tips to allow you to judge what words to use when in order to make sure you maintain the right tone throughout your paper. Listen in for these valuable tips!
Ok - here we deal with a common question: when is it appropriate to use jargon? This video gives you the straight guidelines you need to know to decide when to use the jargon and when to avoid it. Check it out!