Preparing for Academic Writing and Speaking
Organising your text
In planning your writing or speaking task, the instruction (see Preparing: Understanding the Task) helps you with deciding which genre (report, essay, case-study, etc) and text-type (discussion, explanation, etc.) you should be writing or speaking.
The topic (with its restriction or expansion if there is one) determines the overall range of the subject matter but the aspect determines the particular content.
The viewpoint dictates which arguments, for or against, to use.
The interaction between instruction and aspect will lead to decisions about the organisation of the piece of work.
Most of the writing or formal speaking that you do will be several paragraphs long written about one topic. The aim of the text should be deduced strictly from the wording of the title or question, and needs to be defined at the beginning. The idea of a piece of academic writing or speaking is for you to say something for yourself using the ideas of the subject, for you to present ideas you have learned in your own way. The emphasis should be on working with other people’s ideas, rather than reproducing their words. The ideas and people that you refer to need to made explicit by a system of referencing.
Your work should have the following main sections:
Preliminaries Title page Main text Introduction Main body Conclusion End matter References
English academic writing or formal speaking is linear:
– it starts at the beginning and finishes at the end, with every part contributing to the main line of argument, without digressions or repetition. Writers and formal speakers are responsible for making their line of argument clear and presenting it in an orderly fashion so that the reader or listener can follow. Each of the paragraphs – or sections – discusses one major point and each section should lead directly to the next. The paragraphs – or sections of a talk – are tied together with an introduction and a conclusion.
- Essays – Writing Genre Essays
- Reports – Writing Genre Reports
- Case Studies – Writing Genre Case-Studies
- Research proposals – Writing Genre Proposals
- Book reviews – Writing Genre Reviews
- Brief research reports – Writing Genre Brief Reports
- Literature reviews – Writing Genre Literature Reviews
- Reflective writing – Writing Genre Reflection
- Introductions – Writing Genre Introductions
- Research methods – Writing Genre Methods
- Research results – Writing Genre Results
- Research discussions – Writing Genre Discussions
- Writing conclusions – Writing Genre Conclusions
- Research abstracts – Writing Genre Abstract
- Research dissertations and theses – Writing Genre Theses
Plan answers for some of the questions in Preparing: Understanding the Task Exercises