Ivory Tower Writing #1: What, why, and how

This post is an introduction to the Ivory Tower Writing series.

After a prolonged absence (I think it’s been almost a year since I last posted something here), I’ve decided to restart operations. And what better way to do that than starting a new article series!

In this series, I’d like to share my experiences and tips on how to do academic writing. Granted, academics are perhaps the worst writers (why the hell would you even ask an academic for writing advice?!), but if one wants to survive in the Ivory Tower world, one has to be able to master the fundamentals (and some advanced skills) in the art of writing. This series is actually targeted to my undergraduate students—whose work I have to read on a daily basis—and is intended to help them to write better (so I don’t have to suffer).

What is academic writing?

Short version

Writing for academic purposes e.g. for scientific journals, books, or any scholarly publication where the primary audience is your fellow academics.

Long version

A process by which an academic documents their research within a specific format that is agreed upon by their peers. The content thereof ought to inform peers of the primary research findings or results that the researcher has found and ought to contribute towards the advancement of existing knowledge within the field. The finished document should then be published within a reputable medium of publication (also known as peer-reviewed journals) which will function to communicate the researcher’s findings to their peers. [insert footnote for added impact]

Why do academic writing?

If you want to succeed in the dog-eat-dog publish-or-perish world of academia, you have to write. Your job literally depends on it.

If you’re a student, be it undergrad or postgrad, you pretty much have your hands tied. Most of your assignments require you to communicate your ideas and insights and arguments to your lecturer/professor. To make them less shitty, you need to learn how to write well… or at least to the level expected of you.

How do you do academic writing?

Interesting question. Stay tuned for episode 2 to find out.

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