Wednesday, 19 September 2012

It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it !


Justin's beloved VW Beetle
A story I heard on the radio inspired me to write this short piece on academic writing style.  The story was of a middle aged, professional man who had hired a white van to help his mother move.  Dressed in suitably casual clothes he parked up his hired white van on the forecourt of a Jaguar dealership to pick up a brochure for a new model.  Whilst flicking through the brochure an attentive sales person walked over to him and told him it was ok to look at the brochure, but that he should not take it away with him.  Bitter sweet revenge was enacted on the dealership when a few weeks later the white van man returned in his brand new £65,000 Jaguar to explain that the poor customer service he had received had seen him buy his new car from another dealership.  (BBC Five Live, 7 Dec 2010)
Would you try to sell this man a Jaguar ?


Clearly a marketing lesson in not judging a book by its cover and to avoid using stereotypes in a customer service environment. 

Three tips for effective academic writing:

(1) Whilst content is king, style is also very important.  Referencing accurately and using an appropriate academic writing style pays dividends in assessments.  Present your work pristine and polished, not a rough diamond.

(2) Make yourself aware of what is expected before the pressure of deadlines overwhelms you.  Below are a number of writing style guides that you will find useful.  Print out some of the pages for future reference.

(3)  Read text books and academic journals to pick up the tone and feel of academic writing, over time you will bring this style and its vocabulary into your own way of writing.  Emerald, Science Direct and Business Source Complete (Ebsco) are online search engines to access a wide range of material, click 'peer reviewed' and 'full text' options where you can.  I award top marks for work that includes content from here. 

Royal Literary Fund
http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/writing/essayguide.cfm

Edinburgh Napier University
http://www2.napier.ac.uk/gus/writing_presenting/academic.html

Birmingham City University
http://library.bcu.ac.uk/learner/writingguides/1.20.htm

Harvard referencing guide from Sheffield University
http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/writing/essayguide.cfm