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1 Academic Writing: What Is It? And What Makes It Good? Contents: • What isn’t academic writing • The difference between narrative, expository, and academic essays • Characteristics of a good persuasive essay • Determining the quality of a persuasive essay • Citation and formatting Key Terms: • Academic writing • Narrative essay • Expository essay • Academic essay • Primary evidence • Secondary research • Endnote • Footnote • Name-page number (internal citation) • Name-date (internal citation) Figures: • Figure 1.1: Citations and formatting • Figure 1.2: Chicago Manual of Style, footnotes • Figure 1.3: Chicago Manual of Style, endnotes • Figure 1.4: Council of Science Editors (CSE), citation-sequence • Figure 1.5: Modern Language Association (MLA), name-page number (internal citation) • Figure 1.6: American Psychological Association (APA), name-date (internal citation) 9 01-Military:01-Military 24/10/09 10:06 Page 9 Our purpose in this chapter is twofold. First, we will provide you with a sense of the major differences between academic and nonacademic writing. Second, we will describe and provide examples of a number of the key characteristics of a good academic paper. I. What Isn’t Academic Writing Although we acknowledge, and indeed support, non-traditional writing assignments and creative approaches to evaluation at staff colleges and elsewhere, for our purposes in this book, academic writing will refer specifically to the composition of a research essay. (We will deal with other forms of writing briefly in Chapter 7.) It is therefore something notably different from typical staff work, speech writing, investigative journalism, or other potentially more creative forms of artistic and intellectual expression. Generally speaking, there are three types of essays, only the last of which we will consider academic. A narrative essay aims to tell a story. One of Canada’s greatest military historians, the late C. P. Stacey, begins his classic history of Canadian external relations as follows: Since the Second World War, Canada’s relations with the external world have interested both Canadian parliamentarians and the people they represent more than they ever did before. The subject has lately become important in the universities, and much valuable research has been done and is being done on special aspects of it.Yet it is a good many years since a serious attempt was made to write a general history of Canadian external policies .… Experience in teaching the subject has made me aware of the need for a new history, and has encouraged me to make an effort to meet it. I hope the book now presented will serve both the student and the general reader.1 Note here that Stacey’s primary purpose is to present the history of the period, not to catalogue a series of Canadian foreign pol10 Academic Writing: What Is It? And What Makes It Good? 01-Military:01-Military 24/10/09 10:06 Page 10 icy accomplishments, nor to make a specific argument evaluating the impact of Canadian actions on the world stage. An expository essay is predominately descriptive. Its aim is to describe or “expose” the full extent of an issue or idea to the reader without necessarily passing judgment on it. In addition to using this book as an example, consider the purpose of Lieutenant-General George Macdonald’s article on national missile defence (NMD): This article will address the various issues concerning NMD from a perspective that will seek to be logical and understandable to those who have little or no knowledge of the subject. While the outcome of the US program has yet to be determined, it is important that Canadians understand the consequences of deployment and the implications for our defence partnership. Only through a good understanding of the issues can an informed decision on our approach to NMD be possible—and one that reflects our national interests.2 Macdonald is not recounting the history of the debate over missile defence, nor is he aiming primarily to convince his readers to support or oppose Canadian policy towards it. Rather, the intent of his paper is to catalogue the issues and ideas that are relevant to a productive assessment of NMD’s merits. Unlike narratives and expositories, academic essays are explicitly and deliberately persuasive.Authors of persuasive essays make a specific point in an attempt to convince their readers to agree with their opinions on a given issue. These essays evaluate ideas in an effort to prove their authors right. When asked to write an academic research essay, you are essentially being challenged to develop a comprehensive, persuasive argument. When Canadian Forces officer...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780776618869
Related ISBN
9780776607344
MARC Record
OCLC
794702117
Pages
148
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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