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Academic Writing

HSBurke's picture

As I'm learning, I have formed a very narrow definition of what is means to write academically, but still, the image that pops into my head when I think about this style is something long, stuffy, boring and unrelateable. Through my classes this semester, I have been exposed to academic writing that fails to fit this description, and thus is more enjoyable for me to read and understand. However, when I am asked to write an academic paper, I know that, most of the time, the more personal, anecdotal style is not what my professors are asking for. Because of this, I still struggle with feeling very stifled by the idea of "academic writing".

Additionally, I had a difficult time grappling with the style of our recent research paper. Taking data from interviews and coupling it with our own interpretations was something that I hadn't done before (outside of journalistic style for my school newspaper). At times I felt that my voice was becoming lost on all of the very precise language I was attempting to use. But at other times, I felt that my interpretations were taking over the paper and that my voice had too much of a presence. That particular assignment required balance from me, and although I struggled, I think that by attempting this new style, I was able to further my abilities in conquering academic writing without losing my own writing style in the process. 

Sorry for my ideas being a bit all over the place here! One more thing I noticed happened while I was reading an ethnography about Reading Terminal Market for my soc class. The ethnography was very colloquial and casual -- by far the least "academic" (in terms of my def. as mentioned above) work that we've read. However, as I was reading it, I started to become put off by the pedestrian language of the author. Everything felt wrong to me, like the ethnography had been written by an amateur. At first, I was horrified by how stuck up I'd become. After all, this was a professional work that obviously was full of academic merit. But at the same time, I feel like I could have written it. This is the first time I'd had that feeling, and I am struggling to discover why I did. It's possible that that because the subject was familiar to me, it didn't feel like I was learning about new places and ideas. Or maybe the author's tone was an attempt to mirror the close-knit familiarity that he described of the market... Either way, although the article was interesting, I just wasn't impressed for some reason. 

Here's a link to the book, in case you are interested: