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3 The Academic Writing Process: A Structure Contents: • How to organize your notes • How to develop a comprehensive outline • How to develop an introduction, body, and conclusion • How to use headings • How to make effective revisions • Characteristics of an appropriate and effective title • Creating an abstract Key Terms: • Comprehensive outline • Introduction • Body • Conclusion • Headings • Abstract Figures: • Figure 3.1: The academic writing process • Figure 3.2: Creating an article outline Our goal in this chapter is to take you through, step by step, the process that we recommend you follow to do your writing. Figure 3.1 suggests that you will need to consider strategies for organizing your notes, planning and drafting an outline, developing each section of the paper, dealing with headings, revising, choosing a title, and even constructing an appropriate abstract. Again, it is possible that your assignment will allow you to skip one or two particular steps (for example, the abstract), but it is worthwhile to understand them all nonetheless. 51 03-Military:03-Military 24/10/09 10:27 Page 51 52 The Academic Writing Process: A Structure 1. Read through and review your notes. 2. Think: how does the research fit together to prove your point? (a) Reorganize your notes into an order that reflects your thinking, or (b) Divide your work into three or four distinct themes, or (c) Divide your work into a series of models or case studies. 3. Repeat the process within each section. 1. Introduction: informal; include a few rough sentences , your line of approach, and thesis. 3. Conclusion: reiterate your thesis and line of approach, include ideas for future research and policy recommendations, along with a final idea to increase the relevance and timeliness of your paper. 2. Body: more detailed; include titles of the main arguments and references to sources. o It will act as an established point of reference. o Begin broadly, and end with a narrow focus. o Introduce the research question. o Establish the issue as soon as possible. o Avoid using the first person. o Length: no more than 5% of a good paper. 1. Organize your notes. 3. Write the introduction. 2. Develop a comprehensive outline. Divide your outline into three broad sections. Figure 3.1: The academic writing process (Continued on next page) 03-Military:03-Military 24/10/09 10:27 Page 52 The Academic Writing Process: A Structure 53 Made up of arguments and sub-arguments supported by relevant and properly documented evidence. Each paragraph should contain a main point and be self-contained. 1. Strong: impress your readers in the beginning and give them a reason to continue reading. 2. Weakest: present your least effective information in the middle when the reader is paying the least attention. 3. Most convincing: present your best evidence at the end, so that this is what is left in your reader’s mind. (a) Begin with a topic sentence. (b) The next sentences discuss the idea. (c) Link the other sentences in final sentence. o Reiterate your main argument and review how you got there. o Summarize policy recommendations. o Add suggestions for further research. o “So what?” → give your readers something to take away and think about (but do not introduce new evidence in the conclusion). o Length: can range from one or two paragraphs to 20% of your essay; concise is best, but let your conclusion reflect the content of your paper. The body paragraph: For each body paragraph: Order of the points in your paper: 5. Write the conclusion. 4. Write the body. Figure 3.1: The academic writing process (cont’d) 03-Military:03-Military 24/10/09 10:27 Page 53 54 The Academic Writing Process: A Structure Remember: o Wait at least one day before revising. o Read your paper aloud. o Share with a peer or colleague . 7. Make effective revisions. 6. Insert headings. 1. Avoid headings in your initial draft. 2. Limit the number of headings in papers fewer than 5000 words. 3. Headings should be clear and easy to navigate. Headings act as signposts and a quasi-index, allowing information to be located quickly, but use cautiously. Writing/formatting: use a spell check, but also proofread the essay. Content: reread the introduction , followed by each individual sub-section. Ask: what does each section contribute to your argument? Make any necessary revisions to content, writing, and formatting. Figure 3.1: The academic writing process (cont’d) 03-Military:03-Military 24/10/09 10:27...


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