Academic Writing in English

Topics: Citation, Parenthetical referencing, Bibliography Pages: 13 (2075 words) Published: April 1, 2014
Academic Writing in English∗
Dr Radu Negoescu, RKC
January 22, 2012

Contents
1 Introduction

2

2 Common English mistakes

2

3 Academic writing
3.1 Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2 Clarity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3 Citations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3.1 Referencing using the Harvard method
3.3.2 Conventions for the Bibliography . . .
3.4 Assignment front cover . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.5 Presentation of your assignment (checklist) .

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Ver. 1.23, January 22, 2012

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1

Introduction

Academic writing, and in particular academic writing in English, can be quite different from other languages or undergraduate level writing. As such, Robert Kennedy College (RKC) and University of Cumbria (UoC) leaders of this programme decided to give you, as an MBALS student, a quick primer to academic writing in English.

This document is by no means extensive. Its main purpose is to help RKC and UoC students prepare high quality material for their required course-work in the MBALS programme, often in the form of essays. As such, a very concise list of guidelines is provided here, with pointers to more extensive pieces of work detailing different aspects of academic writing in English.

This document is structured as follows: in Section 2 we will review some of the most frequent mistakes made while writing in English, and we briefly discuss academic writing in particular in Section 3.

2

Common English mistakes

In this section we give you a quick overview of the most common mistakes found in student submitted works, which have an impact on the final quality, and thus mark, of the papers.

Spelling
Some people are better than others at detecting typographical mistakes. As long as you have an occasional typo or two in your document, it should be ok. However, if each paragraph has a mistake, things are much more serious. Always use a spell checker, it will at least help you eliminate most of the accidental typos, even if it will not detect things like ”spot” and ”spit”. In what concerns the British versus American spelling, either is accepted, but do be consistent! If you spell neighbor, also spell labor, and not labour. Research the internet for ”spelling differences between British and American English” for a more detailed look at this issue.

Contractions
Do not use verbal contractions in writing, such as:
• can’t - always use cannot or can not,

2

• don’t - always use do not or does not,
• we’ll or I’ll - always use we will or I will / I shall , • wouldn’t - always use would not.

Sound-alikes
Be aware of words or phrases that sound alike and are written differently, as you form the idea in your mind your fingers might trick you into writing the incorrect form. Examples include:
• they’re - their ,
• it’s - its,
• we’ll - will ,
• suites - suits,
• he’s - his.
You will notice that if you consistently avoid verbal contractions, you are much more likely to be safe from this kind of error.

3

Academic writing

There are many factors that influence the way one should write an academic paper. They range from venue (journal, conference, letter, essay, etc.) to academic field (computer science, economics, law, etc.). For our particular case we will consider essay writing, not intended for publication in peerreviewed venues, but instead aimed at convincing your module tutor(s) of your command of the material presented in the course and the achievement of the learning outcomes.

In many cases, English is not your mother tongue. A study by Santos (1998) looked at the way professors reacted to academic writing of nonEnglish speakers. Although the study was limited to only two 400-words essays...

Citations: “it has been argued by Smith (1998), however, that...”
When a less direct reference is made to one or more authors, both name
and date are bracketed, with the references separated by a semi-colon, as in:
“several authors have noted this trend (Carr, 1989; Grundy,
2000; Kemmis, 2001)”
When the reference is to a work of dual or multiple authorship, use only
surnames of the abbreviated form, as in:
“Salter and Tapper (1991)” or “Broadfoot et al
“Smith (1994a, 1994b)”
For direct quotations, you should include page numbers in the reference,
as in:
“Jones (2001:57)”
“Gardner and Lunzer (cited in Beard, 1987) suggest...”
Brief quotations should be incorporated in the text of the assignment,
Wells, G. (1997) The Meaning Makers. London:
Hodder & Stoughton.
Blyth, W.A.L. (1990) “Social Demands and Schools’
Responses”
O’Hear, A. (1999) “Learning One of Life’s Mysteries”. The Times Education Supplement. 29th June
1990: 20.
The Times Education Supplement. (1993) “Call for
Nursery Expansion”
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