46

One comment he repeated several times was that parts of my text sounded "too conversational." I think meant that I didn't sound professional or academic enough. You'd be better off asking for clarification instead of guessing at the meaning. He also suggested revisions that increased the word count and complexity of the sentences without adding any ...


34

Usually no. When quoting, it is assumed that you are using the original writer's dialect and spelling, since that is a part of what they wrote. The style guides I consulted agree on that point. APA has a blog post confirming that spelling standards pertain only to your own manuscript, not quoted material: The Publication Manual’s spelling guidelines ...


33

In this answer, I am going to explain to you why you shouldn't announce what you are about to write anyway. It is boring and redundant and a waste of real estate on the page. Start with a claim, or a key observation. Those can be interesting. Don't talk about your paper in your paper, get to your paper! A sentence saying "The goal of this work is XYZ." can ...


23

Your first option is, really, Pandoc, which was already mentioned. Its usage is quite straightforward. I've done some converting along these lines myself, and it's brilliant. It's included in Debian repositories, so I'd think acquiring an installation wouldn't be a problem. You indeed want to convert to HTML first: pandoc OdtFile.odt -o HtmlFile.html and ...


22

I'll start with something of a confession - I've been (and often still am) a supervisor who suggests changes to technical reports, instruction manuals and guides to functions which appear to have been written in a conversational style. It's worth mentioning that there's a huge grey area between obscure and conversational language. In some cases it's as ...


17

Usage will vary based on the style guide. Some will ask writers to omit the title. Others will conform closely to standard English usage. In MLA 8, under 1.1.2 (Titles of Authors), it recommends that titles "such as Dr., Saint, or Sir" be omitted from works cited lists and "usually" omitted from text discussion. Among the examples is "Philip Sidney (not ...


14

I don't have any special knowledge of journalism, but I have a fair amount of experience with academic writing as well as giving advice to my grad students. Here's my take, all at the paper level: You're right about the possibility of sensationalism. I tell some of my students to imagine someone reading their work twenty years from now. Too much enthusiasm ...


14

An abstract should cover the whole paper. It reports what the paper is for, what you did and the conclusion. E.g. This paper explores the hypothesis that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The experiment classifies new tricks as tricks the dog hasn't learned before. Six dogs were used in the trial. Three old, three not old. Two tricks were used. One ...


14

This depends on your style guide and potentially your teacher/school/boss/etc.'s guidelines. If your teacher (for example) says to avoid using the first person you may be able to negotiate to change their position, but ultimately they are the ones evaluating your work so you need to follow their rules. None of the three major American style guides forbids ...


14

The best way to avoid overly general openers is to write them. Go ahead, write them all down. Get them out of your system. If you don't, they're gonna be on your brain distracting you. Once you finish your opening paragraph, go back and cut it ruthlessly. That first line is out of there. Maybe the second and third line too. Start at the line that ...


13

If your problem were only with the single word which, it would be routine to solve it by simply using a different word: I have been working for the past seven years as some form of interface designer, making me a practitioner in the field of usability studies. But there are other ways to avoid the problem you have identified. I do not think that ...


12

In response to your specific question, I would say that ghostwriting is NOT illegal. However, I would say that it IS unethical, unfair, cheating, and a violation of academic policies. We had a discussion on this topic on the meta site a short while back after someone had asked about how to lower his writing standards to make it seem more like he was a ...


12

With the disclaimer that I'm neither a tech writer or tech editor: Scientific and academic books are generally organized by function. Unlike a narrative book where the chapters are broken down by feel or by narrative rhythm, a scientific or academic book has a certain amount of material to cover, and it makes logical sense to divide the book according to ...


12

When I wrote user manuals and so on, for A Big Company, they had a corporate style guide for technical writing. Part of it said to minimise the "reading age" or "grade level" of text: to maximise its readability. There was a tool, built-into the word processor software, to evaluate the text's complexity. It preferred shorter sentences. One reason it gave, ...


12

How should you respond? Take a careful and critical look at your own writing, and - in effect - do as your supervisor has suggested. We all get attached to our own writing, word choice, phrases, and so on. Writers (novelists) are often given the advice to root their favourite, overused phrases and kill them off. As far as academic/technical writing is ...


12

There are reasons to repeat yourself, but they differ to what you imply. Academic readers are usually skimming through hundreds of papers to find the results relevant to their current work, so Try to tell them everything they need to know in the title If that fails, try to tell them everything they need to know in the abstract, including results and ...


11

Well, having been a Social Science major and a Journalism minor who has written several academic papers and worked for a variety of newspapers and magazines here is the difference for me. In academic writing you generally introduce a topic by presenting a thesis or a hypothesis, then you lay out the premise of the discussion, then you discuss the topic and ...


11

Contractions are, by their very nature, informal, as they tend to be more frequently used for speech than writing. However, you don't necessarily always have to avoid them: although the APA Style Guide recommends avoiding them for academic writing, other style guides, e.g. Chicago Manual of Style, recommend using them, for when "used thoughtfully, ...


11

Since we don't have the sample text that was analyzed, it's hard to answer this question in any specific sense. But I'd guess that this overuse of prepositions is actually the overuse of prepositional phrases. You can't eliminate prepositions, since English depends on them so heavily, but you can minimize them. Background Let's back up here: What's a ...


10

In everyday writing, (say on the web, or an email) I'd use bullets where possible. I think they're more accessible and quicker to scan. Unless there were some reason to actually number things. The Wikipedia style manual spells this out well: Use numbers rather than bullets only if: A need to refer to the elements by number may arise; The ...


9

That depends on where the two separate statements come from. If Smith says the price decreases, while Watson says the industry grows, the first one is correct. On the other hand, if both authors note the correlation of price and industry, the second is right. It happens very often that the same statement is contained in more than one article, so you need to ...


9

It's often seen as too casual Consider the following phrase: As I stated earlier, Romeo & Juliet is a tragedy. The use of "I" in this statement implies that the author has a connection to the reader and that it's fairly casual. That's not always the case. If you were writing that on your AP Language test, the test taker isn't anybody who has met you....


8

I am an english student, so if you are teaching, you already far outmatch me in ability, however, these are my thoughts. Sometimes, although is sounds a little bit insane, it is possible to create someone in your mind to critically analyse your work. Try this. Imagine a sarcastic, witty imp, sitting on your favourite shoulder. He knows nothing but the ...


8

Personally I can't concentrate if I leave bad spelling behind me. the solution to that for freewriting is to either go back and fix it (which isn't according to the 'rules' of freewriting) or write about the fact that you can't go back and fix what you've written until something else comes to mind. The concept of freewriting is to limber your mind up, if ...


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