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*I'm a Grad Student! Now what?

Real help

Learning to write as an academic--writing within your chosen discipline--takes time . . . just as it will to read through a few of the sites below.  But so very worth your time!

Explorations of Style offers a lot of help.  In the interest of time and efficiency, below are the most important points.

5 Core Tactics
3 Key Principles 5 Key Strategies
Using writing to clarify your own thinking Reverse Outlines
Committing to Extensive Revision Paragraphs
Understanding the needs of your reader Transitions



Excellent article by Eric-Jan Wagenmakers:  Teaching Graduate Students to Write Clearly--Ten Tips

This link opens to the journal article however, a PDF is usually available if Google the title.

Avoid these 3 problems

Again, from Explorations of Style:

Insufficiently explaining the contribution. One of things that I most often see in graduate student writing is introductory material that neglects the author’s own research problem and its significance in favour of focusing heavily on the work done by others. This elision may result from a lack of confidence, but it can also result from a lack of familiarity with the generic features of academic writing. Learning the essential moves involved in introducing a research problem can help writers to overcome the tendency to under-emphasize their own contribution.

Insufficiently managing the scholarly literature. Another common issue in graduate student writing is a literature review that lacks a coherent argument about the need for the current research given the existing state of the field. Again, it is easy to see how a lack of confidence in the identity frame of academic writing makes writers hide behind the work done by others. Learning more about structuring a literature review can help writers manage the existing literature in a way that consistently supports their own eventual contribution.

Insufficiently crafting an authorial voice. Finally, I find myself talking frequently with graduate students about the problem of what can be called writer-less texts. Needless to say, being reticent about inserting ourselves into the text is often a by-product of feeling less than confident about our status as writers. It can also reflect deep uncertainty about the question of voice in academic writing. Learning more about metadiscourse and the factors that inhibit its usage can offer us tangible guidance on how to raise our own profile within our texts.

(In all three of these cases, I [Rachael Cayley] would recommend using highlighting to come to a better understanding of how visible we are within our own writing.)