Wednesday, 4 December 2013


academic conventions

1. Introduction
In this lecture I wish to look at a not uncommon way of writing and structuring books, dissertations and theses. This approach, I will argue, involves the writer announcing at the outset what he or she will be doing in the pages that follow. The default format of academic research papers and textbooks, it serves the dual purpose of enabling the reader to skip to the bits that are of particular interest and — in keeping with the prerogatives of scholarship — preventing an authorial personality from intruding on the material being presented. But what happens when this basically plodding method seeps so deeply into a writer’s makeup as to constitute a neutralisation of authorial voice, a limitation, a faux-objectivity? 

book that deconstructs the conventions of academic writing, three books in one all working together and operating on the same page, idea of challenging conventions is what COP could and should be about.

academic conventions: 

Academic Conventions are like an institutional framework for your work
They structure and standardise They aspire to academic honesty 

ways of writing, style of referencing quotations, what your work is meant to look and read like, an institutional framework for your work to be fitted into.  These academic conventions are in the back of their mind when assessing your work.  Series of rules you have to play by, its about academic honesty, following rules of referencing is not just about showing how much research I've done, what quoting and referencing is about is showing to anyone who looks where your argument is coming from, about honesty, clarity, openness

what you should be able to do:

At this level you are expected to be able to: 
Demonstrate a critical knowledge of practice 
Apply theory to practice Analyse relevant material 
Evaluate theory and evidence within the context of study
Reflect – critiquing and critically reflecting on your learning and using this to improve practice. 

deep learning can be evidenced through academic conventions.
take knowledge and do something new with it
surface approach - someone just doing something to get marks, a routine way of going about things.  Quoting and then not leading on from this with opinion etc is surface learning engagement, these are the bottom tow maximum of the pyramids.

Concentration on Learning Outcomes 
Passive acceptance of ideas 
Routine memorisation of facts Sees small chunks Ignore guiding patterns and principles 
Lack of reflection about, or ignorance of, underlying patterns and theories 
Little attempt to understand 
Minimal preparation and research 

deep learning

the way in which you write, structure, 

Independent engagement with material
Critical and thoughtful about idea and information
Relates ideas to own previous experience and knowledge
Sees the big picture
Relates evidence to conclusions 

Examines logic of arguments
Interested in wider reading and thinking 

Ongoing preparation and reflection 

how do I evidence deep learning?

Academic writing is formal and follows some standard conventions
Each academic discipline has its own specialist vocabulary which you will be expected to learn and use in your own writing
The substance of academic writing must be based on solid evidence and logical analysis, and presented as a concise, accurate argument.
Academic writing can allow you to present your argument and analysis accurately and concisely. 

learning the jargon and being able to use it comfortably, expected to use specialist vocabulary suited to the subject.


Aim for precision. Don’t use unnecessary words or waffle. Get straight to the point. Make every word count.
If there is any uncertainty about a particular point, use cautious language (such as ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘could’, ‘potentially’).
Unless you are a confident writer, it is best to avoid over-long sentences and to aim for a mixture of long and short sentences for variation and rhythm.
Avoid repeating the same words 

academic writing is much more about precession, sharp writing, not flowery, fancy pros


Avoid abbreviations and contractions
Avoid slang words and phrases
Avoid conversational terms 
Avoid vague terms

statement that backs it up, evidence and support. You don't need to write a conversational way of writing, using words like 'totally' 'this totally changed peoples lives' is an unnecessary word to make your argument seem more backed up

In many academic disciplines, writing in the first person is not acceptable as it is believed to be too subjective and personal. Many tutors prefer impersonal language to be used in assignments. 

writing in first person will show to most tutors that you are not following academic conventions, you have to be able to do it well, if you're anxious about that, do not write in first person

First person sentences use the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’. 
For example:
We have considered... 
I suggest that... 
I have observed... 

First person sentences use the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’. For example:
Consideration has been given to... 
The suggestion here is that... 
It has been observed...


Preliminaries - Title / Acknowledgements / Contents / List of Illustrations
Introduction - The abstract / Statement of the problem / Methodological approach
Main body - Review of the literature / logically developed argument / results of investigation
Conclusion - Discussion and conclusion / Summary of conclusions
Extras - Bibliography / Appendices 

long quote analysed in detail critical analysis
small quotes woven in to sentences
sections where you paraphrase 
blend all three things, triangulate, standardised 
3/4 quotations from each 

harvard referencing:

always follows this structure: Author (date) Title Place Publisher 

It would look exactly like this, structure and logic:
MILES, R. (2013) Why Referencing, Leeds: LCA Publishing

referencing after a quote

‘quote quote’
(surname, year, page) 
‘I have no idea how to reference’ (Miles, 2013:7)
“I have no idea how to reference” (Smith in Miles, 2013, p.7)  referencing a persons writing in another book


referencing images
3. Conclusion
In this lecture I have attempted to highlight the simultaneous necessity and limitations of a variety of academic conventions that institutionally frame research at undergraduate level. Put in slightly different terms, the necessity and limitations of structure per se. In doing so I hope to have broadly outlined a method for academic writing and the presentation of research in such work. As has been suggested, the contradictory nature of research sources on this topic can be disorienting for the budding researcher and, because of this, the importance of each individual finding consistent, but workable and personal, methods and approaches cannot be over- emphasised. Ultimately, ‘the default format’ of academic research, alluded to throughout, is one of many institutional codes, or discourses, that we have to learn to operate within, or perhaps subvert from within it. The success of this maneuvre will ultimately determine ‘success’ in institutional terms, in the form of a grade but, hopefully, not at the expense of ‘success’ in different terms, be they creative, artistic, personal or such like. 

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