Rowena Murray and Sarah MooreThe Handbook of Academic WritingThe Handbook of Academic Writing offers practical advice to busy academics who want,and are often required, to integrate writing into their working lives. It defines whatacademic writing is, and the process of getting started through to completion, coveringtopics such as: Gaining momentum Reviewing and revising Self-discipline Writing regularly Writers’ groups and retreatsAcademic writing is one of the most demanding tasks that all academics andresearchers face. In some disciplines there is guidance on what is needed to beproductive, successful writers; but in other disciplines there is no training, support ormentoring of any kind. This book helps those in both groups not only to improve theirwriting skills and strategies, but, equally importantly, to find satisfaction in engaging inregular and productive writing.This book will help writers in academic contexts to develop a productive writing strategy,not only for research monitoring exercises, but also for the long term.Sarah Moore is Dean of Teaching and Learning at the University of Limerick in Ireland and amember of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority. A teacher and researcher in the area oforganizational behaviour and development, she has used the principles of this discipline to helpdevelop effective academic practices and processes both within and beyond her own institution.She has designed and delivered nine dedicated writers’ retreats for academics within the last fiveyears. Sarah is also the lead author of How to be a Student (Open University Press 2005).Cover illustration – John McFarlaneCover design Hybert Design www.hybertdesign.comwww.openup.co.ukMurray and MooreRowena Murray is a Reader in the Department of Educational and Professional Studies at theUniversity of Strathclyde. She regularly facilitates a range of innovative and informative professionalworkshops and seminars designed to help academics to develop and enhance their writing. She isalso the author of How to Survive your Viva (Open University Press 2003), Writing for AcademicJournals (Open University Press 2004) and How to Write a Thesis, 2nd edition (Open UniversityPress 2006).A Fresh ApproachUnderpinned by a diverse range of literature, this book addresses the differentdimensions of writing. The fresh approach that Murray and Moore explore in this bookincludes developing rhetorical knowledge, focusing on writing behaviours andunderstanding writing contexts.The Handbook of Academic WritingIf you have trouble fitting writing into an alreadybusy schedule, then this is the book for you!The Handbook ofAcademicWritingA Fresh Approach
The Handbook of Academic WritingA Fresh Approach
The Handbook ofAcademic WritingA Fresh ApproachRowena Murray and Sarah Moore
Open University PressMcGraw-Hill EducationMcGraw-Hill HouseShoppenhangers RoadMaidenheadBerkshireEnglandSL6 2QLemail: email@example.com wide web: www.openup.co.ukand Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2289, USAFirst published 2006Copyright Rowena Murray and Sarah Moore 2006All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for thepurposes of criticism and review, no part of this publication may bereproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form,or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording orotherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher or a licencefrom the Copyright Licensing Agency Limited. Details of such licences(for reprographic reproduction) may be obtained from the CopyrightLicensing Agency Ltd of 90 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 4LP.A catalogue record of this book is available from the British LibraryISBN-10: 0 335 21933 0 (pb) 0 335 21934 9 (hb)ISBN-13: 978 0 335 21933 9 (pb) 978 0 335 21934 6 (hb)Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication DataCIP data applied forTypeset by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, SuffolkPrinted in Poland by OZ Graf S.A.www.polskabook.pl
For Ger and Morag
ContentsAcknowledgementsPrefaceviiiixPart I1 Defining and understanding academic writing32 Advancing your writing: Starting, gaining momentum andengaging creatively in the academic writing process203 Retreating: Reviewing, revising, crafting and enhancing yourwriting364 Disciplinarity in academic writing54Part II5 Retreating to advance: Planning, running and participatingin writers’ retreats for academics736 A writing for publication programme907 Writers’ groups109Part III8 Redefining academic writing practices1319 Integrating writing into your life14310 Using writing to reconcile teaching–research tensions15911 Advancing and retreating: The essential dynamic ofacademic writing175BibliographyIndex184191
AcknowledgementsWe warmly thank all of the following colleagues and friends: Maura Murphy,Sarah MacCurtain, Angelica Risquez, Nyiel Kuol, Helena Lenihan, MargeryStapleton, Eoin Reeves, Eoin Devereux, Liz Devereux, Jill Pearson, MikeMorley, Noreen Heraty, Gary Walsh, Harriet Cotter, Karen Young, TerryBarrett, Gearldine O’Neill and Alison Farrell.We are grateful to those who took time to discuss, read and comment on ourwriting-in-progress, including Donald Gillies, Bill Johnston, Caroline Parker,Christine Sinclair and Morag Thow.Finally, particular thanks to all of the participants of the University ofLimerick and University of Strathclyde writers’ groups and writers’ retreatswho, since 2001, have been sharing and developing their academic writingin ways that have created new communities of practice at our universities andbeyond.
PrefaceIf you are an academic, the chances are that your career development isdefined by what you write. This simple fact is often the basis of a cynicism andhostility within the academic world. Despite the inevitable problems associated with how writing is evaluated and rewarded across the disciplines, academic writing continues to be seen as the fulcrum on which many otheraspects of scholarship depend. In light of this, it is extraordinary that theprocess of academic writing continues to be an under-explored, unexaminedand poorly reflected-upon process. If it is a process that lies at the very centre ofacademic performance and success for both academic teachers and their students, then surely its dynamics and challenges need to be subjected to morethorough analysis. This book engages in that analysis in order to provide anempowering framework for academic writers. It aims to help you to developeffective approaches to your own writing challenges. It offers insights andlessons that we think will be particularly useful for those who are new to theacademic environment, but will also help with the re-conceptualization ofwriting-related issues for those who have been operating in academicenvironments for some time.Academic writing is often a highly problematic but always potentially transformational activity. Despite the great diversity within and between differentacademic disciplines, several common themes are associated with the experience of writing in academia. It is often encountered as a process that is full ofparadoxes. This book aims to identify and explore those common themes andto help you, the academic writer, to address and resolve the paradoxes foryourself. It will do this in a way that can also help you to become a moreproductive, effective writer with healthier, more positive approaches to what itmeans to be an academic, and more particularly what it means to be a writer ofacademic text. Whether you are writing your doctorate, planning a journalarticle, struggling with reviewers’ comments, or drafting a research proposal,this book will help you to make more effective progress. It will help you todevise a strategy that will reach beyond any individual writing task and todevelop an integrated approach to your life as an academic, in which writingplays a central role.
xPREFACEPerspective and background of the authorsWe are both experienced in the process of academic writing within our owndisciplines and have worked with academic writers for many years. During thistime, we have identified a range of common fears and problems that peoplebring to the academic writing process. We have facilitated and witnessed avariety of ways in which academics can experience important breakthroughsin their development as writers. Our motivation in writing this book is to sharethe approaches that we have found can help to create more productive writinghabits among academics. In doing this, we also explore the values and ideasthat we believe are necessary to underpin effective academic writing.The importance of the iterative nature of writingThe idea of writing being driven by an iterative dynamic is central to all of thethemes that we explore in this book. We see academic writing as being characterized by a dynamism that is essential but often frustrating for those who arecharged with the responsibility of doing it. We demonstrate that effectivewriters must wane as well as wax, ebb as well as flow, go back as well as goforward. These ideas will be more fully outlined in Chapters 1, 2 and 3, whereacademic writing is defined in detail, and where the iterative characteristics ofwriting are explored.We believe that it is important to understand writing paradoxes in yourdevelopment as an academic writer. Once you explore and accept the paradoxical nature of writing, and once this is less surprising to encounter, it maybe possible for you to confront the challenges of academic writing in somenew and interesting ways.Problems with writing – problems with the academyThe problems associated with academic writing are those that haunt the manycreative activities that have become highly ‘transaction-based’ in organizational settings. The rewards associated with productive academic writing, andthe sanctions associated with a lack of it, increasingly form a backdrop toacademic life that is often experienced as stressful and threatening (Chandler,Barry and Clark, 2002). Writing can be driven by a negative ethic, and one thatis linked to a ‘deficiency’ model of professional development. ‘Unless you have
PREFACExia PhD you can’t be a legitimate academic’. ‘Unless you publish regularly in arange of identified journals, you won’t be promoted.’ ‘Unless you bring in somuch research funding to your department, you won’t be a valued member ofyour academic community.’ These are often seen as the realities of academiclife. Parts of academia may still offer a privileged existence, but increasinglyit comes with a price. And part of that price may be expressed as the pressureto write. Many talk about competition between colleagues that gives rise todysfunctionally cut-throat dynamics. Many lament that individualistic,non-collaborative behaviour is rewarded and endorsed when they feel thatuniversity life should be encouraging just the opposite. Positive writingenvironments can enhance the possibilities associated with sharing ideas,collaborating, teaching, research and learning. Like several commentatorsin academic environments, we think that it is time to reframe the nature ofacademic writing.For many, academic writing has become a thorn in the side of the academy,instead of the glue that holds everyone together. It can be argued that theemergence of the ‘new public management’ and the managerialist processeswith which corporate values have been implemented has prevented academicwriting from being a process through which learning and scholarship are nourished, and through which positive dialogue within and between disciplines isinitiated and sustained. We believe that it is still possible for academic writingto represent a route through which teaching, learning and research in universities can be more meaningfully united. We think that reconceiving writingin more positive, collaborative ways offers important solutions to many of theproblems that haunt contemporary university settings. From the perspectivesof individual academics and from those of organizational developers in universities, we propose that this book offers a set of implementable interventionsthat could help to give rise to the development and sustenance of healthierapproaches to writing.Influences from other fields of inquiryIn developing our ideas, we refer to a range of both established and emergingideas from various fields. We explore the fact that, separate from the externalrewards with which it may be associated, writing can be satisfying and pleasurable in its own right. We refer to concepts of ‘flow’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)which define how sheer, unselfconscious delight can be associated withexceptional performance and the activity that is required to achieve it. Werefer to the idea that ‘transaction-oblivious’ orientations like those associatedwith natural play are those that can direct us towards the achievement ofhealthy and more meaningful patterns of academic writing. We show throughour own experiences and through the accounts of others (for example Grant
xiiPREFACEand Knowles, 2000), that writing can become a pleasurable activity, even foracademics who dread the process and initially feel a lack of confidence andcompetence when it comes to writing within their academic disciplines.We also believe that many popular ideas such as emotional intelligence(Goleman, 1995), stress management, self-esteem, career development, andthe principles of mentoring, networking and coaching can all be incorporatedmore successfully into both individual and group strategies for developingacademic writing. In this book, we will describe a range of interventionsthrough which this can be achieved.An overviewIn Part I, we present a contextualized analysis of academic writing in universityand other third-level settings.Chapter 1 sets the scene by defining and exploring important aspects ofacademic writing. We explore the iterative nature of writing, which we arguecharacterizes all writing, and we unravel some of the paradoxes that are aninevitable part of the process. By analysing writing paradoxes, we present amatrix for the development of writing strategies that can form a useful framework for building positive approaches to writing while avoiding unhelpfulroutines and habits. Chapter 2 focuses on initiating creative, energized andconfident approaches to academic writing. The act of ‘advancing’, or steppingforward, is defined as a phase in which ideas are plentiful and when a largerange of possibilities and alternatives lies in front of the writer. This orientationrequires preparation and planning, and you will be introduced to techniquesto generate and free up your thought processes. You will be encouraged toexplore the positive dimensions of the ‘creative phase’ as well as to understandthat this phase can also be associated with problems such as those associatedwith disorganization, chaos and information overload. Chapter 2 ends with aseries of practical ideas about how writers can get ready to step forward in theiracademic writing processes.In Chapter 3 we discuss why retreating, or stepping back and regroupingafter sustained advances in writing, is an essential part of the process. In thatchapter, we also provide an analysis of what retreating from your writingrequires. Retreating may be initiated by your own independent discoveries oras a result of critical insights from someone else. Chapter 3 also presents astructured strategy for developing healthy attitudes and responses to criticism.You will be encouraged to explore how to make the most of stepping back fromyour writing by understanding the positive and negative experiences associated with this phase, and by developing effective methods of re-evaluatingyour writing. Chapter 4 explores the importance of understanding your ownparticular academic discipline when you are targeting the places in which you
PREFACExiiihope to have your work published. It identifies common and distinctive features of scholarship and proposes specific ways in which these features can beincorporated into your academic writing.Part II provides details of three innovative approaches to developing academic writing in third-level settings. Chapter 5 describes the conceptual andpractical considerations associated with running university-based ‘writers’retreats’; Chapter 6 provides details of a structured ‘writing for publicationprogramme’; while Chapter 7 explores the parameters associated with theestablishment of writers’ groups to enhance and develop effective academicwriting. Chapter 8 explores the insights gained from these institutionalinnovations in order to redefine and reconceptualize writing practices inacademia, with particular reference to the importance of community-based,collaborative learning both for faculty and students.Part III focuses on how you can renegotiate your academic life in very practical ways, ensuring that writing occupies a central part of your professionallife, linking positively with a whole range of other important activities. Weshow that by becoming a more productive writer, you can enhance your rolesas a teacher and a scholar. We suggest that in order to proceed with youracademic writing, it is useful to engage in a series of negotiations that recognize not just your responsibilities, but also your rights within your own uniquenetwork of professional and private support. The final chapter of this bookpulls together the strands and themes that have been explored to presentpractical models of academic writing that can act as guides to help you to putacademic writing in context and manage its peaks and troughs effectively.Some of the ideas we present in this book are simple and self-evident. Somewill provide you with strategies that you have never thought of before, butwhich we hope you can easily and rapidly adopt to help to develop yourwriting. More simply, though, all of them encourage you to enjoy the journey.They urge you to stop always looking at your watch and to avoid the constanttemptation to measure the distance between your current position and yourultimate destination. The more you focus on the journey and its intricaciesand sights, the faster and more exciting the journey will feel.If you struggle with academic writing, or associate it with at least some badexperiences, we hope that this book will help you to reframe the aspects of theacademic writing process that you find difficult. If you have already gained agood command of your academic writing, we hope that some of the reflectionsin this book will help to generate even more comfortable writing routines andto enhance your approach further. If you are interested in helping others todevelop their academic writing, then this book will also provide some insightsfor you to consider. Throughout this book, we encourage academic writers,educational developers and teachers of academic writing, to considerideas, rhythms and routines that they may not have previously considered inthis way or this deliberately. Importantly, if you approach writing as a linear,step-by-step process and you can’t bear the thought of ‘going back’ to revisitand to re-evaluate your writing, then we hope that this book will offer some
xivPREFACEworkable alternatives that will feed and develop your approach as a writer.We hope that the reflections, strategies, guidance and advice that this bookcontains will help to make your academic writing effective, pleasurable andsatisfying – characteristics that should be central to the experience of academiclife.
Part IIn getting to grips with the process of academic writing, a useful starting pointis to explore its nature, phases and characteristics. If we know more about thecomplexities of the process, it may be that we can come to terms with thechallenges of the content. These first four chapters have been written in orderto engage in a deeper analysis of writing paradoxes, writing time slots, writingprogression and writing regression. Getting used to the idea that writing
Academic writing is often a highly problematic but always potentially trans-formational activity. Despite the great diversity within and between different academic disciplines, several common themes are associated with the experi-ence of writing in academia. It is often encountered as a process that is full of paradoxes. This book aims to identify and explore those common themes and to help .
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