Nuts and Bolts
These resources will help you with some of the technical aspects of writing – including sentence structure, and key techniques such as signposting and metadiscourse.
Choosing Your Words – Patter
This blog post from Pat Thomson discusses the usefulness – and limitations – of academic phrasebanks.
Explain Your Terms – Patter
This blog post from Pat Thomson gives examples of how to use and define your terms more clearly.
Beware of Nominalizations (AKA Zombie Nouns) – Helen Sword for TED-Ed
This TED-Ed lesson from researcher Helen Sword is about a key mistakes academics make in their writing – using so called ‘zombie nouns’ to transform simple and straightforward prose into verbose, and often confusing writing.
An Academic’s Guide to Writing Well – Joe Moran for THE
This blog post outlines some key ‘nuts and bolts’ to think about to improve your writing, including things like noun, verb and preposition use.
Sentence Structure – Begin As You Mean to Go On – Patter
Another blog post from Pat Thomson that is part of the #wakeupreader series, and begins to pick apart sentence structure with a focus on how a sentence begins.
Academic Sentences – Patter
Another in the #wakeupreader series, this blog post talks about sentence length, and the importance of varying your sentence length and structure to keep your reader engaged.
Sins Against the Comma – Janene Carey for The Thesis Whisperer
This blog post unpacks the ways we use comma when we should be using other forms of punctuation.
Getting to Grips with ‘The Paragraph’ – Patter
This post contains a helpful explanation and outline of paragraph structure in academic writing.
The Uneven U – The Thesis Whisperer
In this post The Thesis Whisper outlines Eric Hayout’s method for structuring your paragraphs – the uneven U.
Signposting and Metadiscourse – Explorations of Style
This blog post from Rachel Cayley explains two key writing techniques – signposting and metadiscourse – and how they can add clarity and content for your reader.
More on Metadiscourse – Explorations of Style
This is a more in depth look at metadiscourse, and how you can use it in your writing
What is meta-text?
A blog post from Pot Thomson splitting meta-text or metadiscourse in to 3 types – preview, review and overview.
Your MC for This Paper Is – Patter
This blog post by Pat Thomson using the metaphor of the emcee to explain metacommentary and meta discourse in academic writing, with some useful examples.
Scaffolding Phrases – Explorations of Style
Another post from Rachel Cayley, this looks at some of the habitual phrases we use in our writing, and the importance of identifying your writing ‘tics’ as part of the drafting process.
Citation: What You Might Cite For and How You Might Show Critical Analysis – Alistair Kwan for Doctoral Writing SIG
This blog post outlines different citation practices, and contains some advice on what not to do.
Achieving Writing Precision: Applying Simple Activities to Complex Thesis Writing – Doctoral Writing SIG
This blog post by Susan Carter for Doctoral Writing SIG deals with defining complex ideas, and suggests some exercises to get your started.
Decongesting Writing Through Revision – Doctoral Writing SIG
Another post by Susan Carter, which talks about ‘decongesting’ the wordy and verbose nature of academic writing to achieve clarity.
De-stuffing Your Writing: or The Bumper List of Words and Phrases You Could Delete to Make Your Writing More Concise – Katherine Firth for The Thesis Whisperer
This blog post compiles filler phrases and words that we all use in our writing – that we could easily remove to make it more concise.
Don’t Let Those ‘Sticky Words’ Confuse Your Thesis Examiner – The Thesis Whisperer
Particularly useful for ESL researchers, this post talks about ‘academic grammar’ and dialects with disciplines, and includes an exercise to help identify the academic grammar in your discipline.
Precision With Word Choice in Doctoral Writing – Susan Carter
This blog post lists various words doctoral writers should use with caution, and why.
Academic Writing is Like a Painful, Upper Middle Class Dinner Party – The Thesis Whisperer
This blog post contains ideas being developing by The Thesis Whisperer for an new book on academic writing, Writing Trouble. It discusses the ways in which we use verbs to describe other people’s research, and how this indicates our opinion about it.
Verb Cheat Sheet – The Thesis Whisperer
This cheat sheet was shared by The Thesis Whisperer as part of her blog post, and gives examples of verbs that we use to indicate our opinion about research.
Introductions and Conclusions
Introductions – Explorations of Style
This blog post outlines the key purpose of an introduction to help you start writing.
Introductions: Establishing Significance – Patter
Here Pat Thomson outlines two different approaches to introductions, and how to clearly establish the significance of your research.
Writing Introductions: First or Last?
In this blog post Rachael Cayley explains why you should write your introduction first…and last.
Boostering Your Introduction and Conclusion – Patter
This blog post talks about our tendency to use ‘hedges’ in academic writing – words such as may, suggest, indicate and could – and how we might use boosters – words such as will, show, find, determine and confirm – to make our writing more authoritative.
How to Make a Great Conclusion – Doctoral Writing SIG
A really useful post on what makes a good conclusion, and how to get started writing one!
Leave a good lasting impression: the thesis conclusion – Patter
This blog post from Pat Thomson outlines some of the key issues people experience with thesis conclusions, and what you need to do to leave the right lasting impression of your research and your thesis with your examiners.
Being ‘Critical’ – Patter
This blog post introduces the notion of critical in discussing research and scholarship.
From Description to Analysis – Patter
This post gives helpful examples of the difference between description and analysis in doctoral writing – and lists some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are being analytical!
Argument and Message
Better than Donald – How to Argue Like a Pro – The Thesis Whisperer
This blog post introduces the Beardsley-Freeman method argument mapping, as a way to make your arguments better and move convincing that ‘the Donald’ approach.
Message tactics – Patter
This blog post gives some practical ‘tactics’ to help you strengthen and support your argument and key messages for your reader.
Know the Difference Recount, Summary, Argument – Patter
This blog post outlines the three major genres of academic writing – recount, summary and argument. It talks about the difference between them, and how and where they are used in academic writing.
The Difficult Discussion Chapter – The Thesis Whisperer
This blog post deals specifically with the discussion chapter of your thesis and introduces a 5 step strategy to help you develop it.
Writing the Thesis: Work, Moves and Structure – Patter
This blog post from Pat Thomson breaks down the different ‘moves’ – or components – of your thesis argument.
Improving Your Writing
These resources introduce techniques to make your writing more engaging for your reader, including key techniques such as authorial voice.
Authorial Voice or Putting on the Ritz – Doctoral Writing SIG
Authorial voice is key in academic writing, and this post unpicks what we mean by having a ‘voice’ in your writing.
Voice in Doctoral Writing: What is it? and can it be taught? – Susan Carter for Doctoral Writing SIG
In this blog post Susan Carter reports on a workshop with a list of linguistic features and moves that contribute to the creation of authorial voice.
Use a Vignette Wake Up Reader – Patter
This blog post introduces the idea of using stories and examples in your writing, to help explain complex ideas and keep your reader engaged.
Reverse Engineering of Writing: Reading to See How ‘good, interesting writing’ Works – Susan Carter for Doctoral Writing SIG
This post on Doctoral Writing SIG contains an exercise to analyse the writing of articles in your field.
Leading By Exemplar: The benefits of asking good questions about other people’s writing – Doctoral Writing SIG
This blog post talks about how to look at other people’s writing, both for critique and to help you develop your own.
Writing Doctoral Research: Learning Through Peer Critique and Feedback – Doctoral Writing SIG
This blog post by Pia Lappalainen on Doctoral Writing SIG outlines the benefits of giving peer critique and feedback to develop your writing, and includes a checklist for doing so that you could use to look at a peer’s work – or your own.
Doctoral Writing: Exercises for Stylish Writing – Doctoral Writing SIG
This post by Susan Carter for Doctoral Writing SIG introduces 3 exercises from Helen Sword’s research to help you develop more ‘stylish’ academic writing.
5 Myths About Doctoral Writing – Cally Guerin for Doctoral Writing SIG
This important post explains some common and damaging myths about doctoral writing.
Academia and Storytelling – Cheryl Brumley for LSE
This blog post applies narrative structures to academic writing, and how you can use storytelling to improve the narrative of your writing.