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Academic Writing II Helen Fallon, Deputy Librarian, National University of Ireland Maynooth [email protected]

Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

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This is a presentation from an ANLTC Workshop on Academic Writing, hosted by the Library at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Participants have already participated in an introductory workshop.

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Page 1: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Academic Writing II

Helen Fallon, Deputy Librarian, National University of Ireland Maynooth

[email protected]

Page 2: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

GrammarStyleEditingProofreading

Themes

Page 3: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Voice – active versus passive Verbs Adverbs Adjectives Tense Adjectives

Grammar

Page 4: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Active Voice◦ Subject + verb + object or just subject + verb◦ The Library introduced self-service

borrowing at the start of the academic year

Grammar - voice

Page 5: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Object + verb + subject or object + verb e.g. mistakes were made◦ Self-service borrowing was introduced by the

Library at the start of the academic year

Passive verb is a form of the verb “to be” and the past participle of the main verb. The main verb must be a transitive verb (take an object)

Passive Voice

Page 6: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

To turn the passive voice to the active voice: Ask: “Who does what to whom?”◦ Increased seat occupancy was observed in the

months leading up to the examinations◦ We observed increased seat occupancy◦ A recommendation was made by the Library

Committee that a survey be carried out◦ The Library committee recommended that a

survey be carried out

Passive to Active

Page 7: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Write with Verbs Use Strong Verbs Use verbs rather than their noun equivalent

◦ The author makes the suggestion that...◦ The author suggests that...

Don’t bury the main verb◦ Keep the subject and main verb (predicate) close

together at the start of the sentence. Use “to be” verbs purposefully and

sparingly – is are was were be been am

Grammar - verbs

Page 8: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Minimise use of There are/There is◦ There are many ways in which we can arrange the

collections◦ We can arrange the collections in many ways◦ There are many librarians who like to write◦ Many librarians like to write◦ The data confirm that there is a link between

library usage and exam results◦ The data confirm a link between library usage and

exam results

Verbs – There is/There are

Page 9: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

The following verbs are frequently used, particularly in abstracts:

addresses, asks, argues, concludes, covers, critiques, demonstrates, describes, discusses, elucidates, examines, evaluates, expands, explains, explores, identifies, maps, outlines, presents, proposes, promotes, reports, reveals, reviews, shows, suggests, summarises.

Verbs

Page 10: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Adverb – describes or modifies a verb

expresses manner or quality◦Very◦Easily◦Terribly◦Slowly◦Quickly

Grammer - adverb

Page 11: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Describes or modifies a noun long/new/old/difficult/late/terrible

Compound adjectiveWhen you join two or more words to describe an

object e.g. An up-to-date collection

Adjective

Page 12: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Tense Contributes to tone

“ Forceful writing results from writing concisely, actively and positively. The present tense is usually more active and therefore more forceful than the past tense.” (Henson, p. 48)

Grammar - Tense

Page 13: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

The American Psychological Association ( APA) suggest:

using past tense to describe results and action or a condition that occurred at a specific, definite time in the past;the present tense to discuss implications of results, to present conclusions and to express a past action or condition that did not occur at a specific, definite time or to describe an action beginning in the past and continuing to the present.

Grammar - tense

Page 14: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use punctuation to vary sentence structure and support meaning

Punctuation marks contribute to continuity (flow) by showing relationships between ideas

Punctuation should mirror speech

Grammar - punctuation

Page 15: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Semicolon Colon Comma Apostrophe Dash Hyphen Quotations marks Parentheses

Grammar – Punctuation

Page 16: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

The semicolon connects two independent clauses

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

She knew a lot about the Library; she had worked there for twenty years

The book on academic writing is very useful; it is full of interesting ideas

Semicolon

Page 17: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

The semicolon is also used to separate items in lists that have internal punctuation◦ The number of books issued has reduced

dramatically: in 2008 25,000 books were borrowed; in 2009, 19,000; by 2010, when the new library was built, only 15,000 items were issued

Semicolon

Page 18: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a quote, a list, an explanation or conclusion

QuoteFormal quotations are introduced by a colon and enclosed in quotation marksThe Library policy states: “Journals may not be borrowed by undergraduates.”

Colon

Page 19: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

ListThe committee now includes the following people:librarianundergraduate student postgraduate studentmature student Part-time student

Colon

Page 20: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use for items in a list, except the penultimate one◦ She ordered three books, a journal, a thesis and

an article Where you have inserted a clause to

provide extra information◦ She liked the Library, where she had worked for

some time, but left to take up a post in a different town

Introductory phrases◦ However, borrowing increased during the period

Comma

Page 21: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use for a missing letter in a word◦ The Library isn’t open today◦ Where’s the journal kept?

Use to denote possessive◦ The student’s books◦ The Library’s stock (one library)◦ The Libraries’ stock (means the stock of more

than one Library)

You don’t need to add the possessive “s”

when the name ends in “s” – unless it is common usage: Mary Jones’ book/St. James’s hospital

Apostrophe

Page 22: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use for time phrases when the time modifies a noun◦ The Library will open in one day’s time◦ Six months’ ban on borrowing

Don’t use apostrophe for possessive pronouns or for plurals of words or for dates◦ The book isn’t hers; the departments stock, 1970s

Apostrophe

Page 23: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

“A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses. Use a dash only when a more common mark of punctuation seems inadequate.”—Strunk and White

to add emphasis to insert a definition or description almost

anywhere in the sentence to announce a long explanation or summary

Dash

Page 24: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use to connect compound words It’s a little-know fact that the book dated from the early-

Eighteenth Century◦ Use for figures written out and when you use figures

as adjectives◦ Twenty-four; a three-year old book; a 20-minute

presentation Use for titles

◦ Vice-President Use for prefixes

pre-Christian, post-natal

Hyphen

Page 25: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Generally double quotation marks for direct speech and single ones for speech within speech.◦ He said: “I meant to say ‘The Library will close in one

hour’.” Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks if

the whole sentence is a quotation He said: “The Library was closed when I arrived.”

Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks if the punctuation refers only to the words quoted

“I was forced to steal the book,” he said

Quotation Marks

Page 26: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use parentheses to insert an afterthought or explanation (a word, phrase or sentence) into a passage that is grammatically complete without it. If you remove the material within the parentheses, the main point of the sentence should not change.◦ She travelled to Nigeria in 1964 (having

completed a science degree in UCC) and remained there for over thirty years.

Parentheses

Page 27: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

shows a relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and other words in a sentence – to/on/over/up/through/among/between/

with/for/in/over/besides

Omit needless prepositions“that” and “on” are often superfluous◦ The meeting happened on Monday◦ The meeting happened Monday◦ They agreed that it was true◦ They agreed it was true

Prepositions

Page 28: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Affect and effect Affect = Verb; effect = noun

Will the financial cuts affect service?What was the effect of the financial cuts

on service? Practice (noun) practise (verb) Precede (go before), proceed (continue) Stationary (adjective – still), Stationery (noun) Dependent (adjective) She is dependent...,

dependant (noun)

Commonly Confused Words

Page 29: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Writing as storytelling Beginning, middle and end (not necessarily in

that order) What makes a story interesting? A story has a theme A story has movement A story has a flow Something happens/changes Perhaps try to write your piece from start to

finish before beginning editing

Narrative/Story

Page 30: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

There are different ways to structure articles Study the structure of articles in your target

journal Model articles on other articles that work

well (template) Different structures can achieve the same

results ways Be aware of your audience

Outlining/Structuring

Page 31: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Sentences Paragraphs Headings and subheadings Transitions

Structure

Page 32: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

There needs to be a unity of thought in a sentence. This may be achieved with one main clause; generally there is only one subsidiary clause

Place the subject towards the beginning of the sentence

Sentences

Page 33: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

New paragraph signals a move from one clear idea to another or change of direction

Should relate logically to the previous paragraph and relate to the overall theme of the text

The first sentence or two usually present the topic or theme and the following sentences expand on this

Short paragraphs, surrounded by white space, can be very effective in keeping attention and creating a visually attractive manuscript

Paragraphs

Page 34: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Act as signposts Break up text Make the structure clearer Allow the reader see at a glance the main

themes of the paper Help organise ideas Help readers anticipate key points and track

the development of the article

Headings & subheadings

Page 35: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Create connections between the different parts of the paper

Can make a manuscript visually more attractive

Endings of sections that hark back to what has gone before or opening sections that indicate what is to come act as unofficial signposts

Headings and subheadings

Page 36: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Transitional words ◦ help maintain flow of thought

time links (then, next, after, while, since)◦ cause-effect links (therefore, consequently, as a

result)◦ addition links (in addition, moreover,

furthermore, similarly) ◦ contrast links (but, conversely, nevertheless,

however, although)◦ Provide signposts for readers

Transitions

Page 37: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Use positive rather than negative constructions◦ The nursing team did not believe the drug was

harmful◦ The nursing team believed the drug was safe◦ Not important/Unimportant◦ Did not remember/Forgot

Use concise language◦ A majority of/most◦ Due to the fact that/because◦ Gave rise to/caused

Language

Page 38: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Drafting and Redrafting

All writing is rewriting Draft and redraft Number, date and save drafts Refer back to your abstract Ask a critical colleague to read Revise title, abstract & article Check references against journal guidelines

Page 39: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

All writing is rewriting Draft and redraft Number, date and save drafts Read aloud Wordiness

◦ Cut unnecessary words and phrases; delete repetitive words

Delete unnecessary adjectives◦ Helpful tips, terrible tragedy

Delete unnecessary adverbs ◦ very, really, quite, basically, generally

Editing

Page 40: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Verbs ◦ Underline the main verb in each sentence. Watch for: (1)

lacklustre verbs (2) passive verbs (3) buried verbs

Does each paragraph contain one main theme?◦ It can be helpful to write down the main topic of the

paragraph in the margin or at the top of the paragraph ◦ If the paragraph contains more than one main idea,

divide it

Editing

Page 41: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Prepositions◦ Omit unnecessary prepositions – that, on

Delete unnecessary adjectives◦ Helpful tips, terrible tragedy

Delete unnecessary adverbs ◦ very, really, quite, basically, generally

Does your writing have movement, coherence, clarity?

Editing

Page 42: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

This requires concentration; proofread when you are alert

Try to allow some time between writing the piece and proofreading it

If possible have a colleague proofread it first Take breaks Consider using “track changes” function in

Word

Proofreading

Page 43: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

If correcting manually make changes in the body of the text and on the margin

Use a red pen to make your corrections stand out

Mark each page that has to be changed After proofreading and making changes

save version with a new date

Proofreading

Page 44: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Read aloud slowly Read each word Watch out for widows and orphans Check hierarchy of headings Check paired items such as brackets and

speech marks Check type font is consistent Check grammar and use of English Check punctuation is consistent Check abbreviations

Proofreading

Page 45: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

When finished put aside for a period then reread

Spell check Date and File preprint Let go If you have already sent a query e-mail to

the editor refer to that in your submission

Let it Go!

Page 46: Academic writing II: Grammar, Style, Editing, Proofreading

Kenneth T. Henson, Writing for Publication: Road to Academic Advancement, 2005, Boston: Pearson

Strunk and White’s Elements of Stylehttp://www.bartleby.com/141/

References and Useful Resources