readability in academic writing

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  • Readabilityfor success in academic writing

    Lawrie HunterEditor/mentor, GRIPS CPC

  • No need to take notes (:^0)

    All materials can be downloadedfrom Hunters slideshare at

    http://slideshare.net/rolenzo/

    Other resources athttp://lawriehunter.com/

    Contact:For GRIPS business: cpc_editor@gmail.comFor questions/discussion: hunterlawrie@gmail.com

  • Abstract

    There are several distinct markers of success in graduate school.

    1. Acceptance of the thesis / dissertation.

    2. Publication of a research paper in a journal.

    3. Acceptance to present at a conference.

    In all three cases, success depends on the content of the document, and the writing of the document.

    To be successful, writing must be readable, i.e. it must be easy and comfortable to extract information and argument from the writing.

  • Abstract (contd)

    This workshop will introduce the concept of readability, beginning with a survey of the main elements of readability.

    Then in a focus session two important elements will be presented: cohesion and topic-stress.

    The workshop will close with practical tasks and pointers to resources.

  • Accessibility: it is easy for the reader to get the information from the writing.

    Conformity: the writing follows the conventions-of academic writing, -of your field, and -of the target journal,

    -as well as the conventions of everydaygrammar and usage.

  • Todaystopic area

  • Todaystopic area

  • Readability in YOUR writing life

    How can readability knowledge work for your writing?

    1. Working with a mentor, using coded feedback fantastic learning opportunity.

    2. Peer editing: with this knowledge, and basic problem solving / pattern recognition

    3. Self editing: after you have let your writing cool off go back and check using a check list.

    4. Using a writing model: a paper published on your topic / with your research design- checking: is it a good model???- check readability / FAE* / grammar

    *FAE = formal academic English

  • Sample ofcoded feedbackcomments

    -GRIPS studentpaper

  • Hunters mentor comment marks (coded feedback)

    agr mistake with subject-verb agreement

    awk A phrase or sentence is awkward (awkward = not smooth)

    cas This language is casual, not formal.

    comb Combine sentences.

    conj This is a conjunction (dont start a sentence with it).

    gr grammar mistake

    non-std this phrasing is not standard

    par mistake with parallel structure

    red redundant (some information has been repeated, e.g. The temperature was also recorded as well.

    ref pronoun reference problem (what is the reference? is it correct form?)

    rep repetitive

    rephr Rephrase this.

    run-on This is a run-on sentence; it's too long to be readable.

    sp spelling mistake

    S-V The subject and verb in a sentence do not agree in some way.

    tense You have used the wrong verb tense (past/present/future) e.g. Yesterday I am going to Tokushima.

    vag This phrasing is vague or ambiguous.

    voice Change from the passive voice to active voice, or vice versa. e.g. The ball was hit by the batter. ('voice' means change to The batter hit the ball.)

    windy This writing is run-on, it could and should be much shorter.

    word Find a better word for your meaning.

  • Noticing

    Audience

    Conventions

    Abstractness

    Accessibility

    Ethicality

    Rhetoric

    Registers

    Usage

    Lexical units

    Collocation

    Corpus

    Concordance

    Style guides

    Arguments

    RP structure

    Communication moves

    Moves in theintroduction

    Claim

    Hedging

    Data commentary

    Discussion movesConclusion

    Purpose of writing

    Document structure

    Summarization

    Abstracts

    Introductions

    Survival

    Info organizations

    General-specific

    SPSE

    Paragraph development

    Cohesion

    Readability

    Information Structures

    Information Structure signals

    Voice

    Aspect

    Avoiding plagiarism

    Citation

    Using model language

    Paraphrasing

    The Style Dossier

    Working with an editor

    Working with a mentor

    Coded feedback: the 2 page system

    ClarityRhetoric vs. information Parallelism

    Nominalization

    Subordinate clauses

    Eliminating vagueness

    Eliminating ambiguity

    FAEAcademic writing knowledge and skills

    L. Hunter 2017

  • Degree of abstractionDocument structure SummarizingAbstracts and introductions

    AudienceRhetorical modesRhetorical signals (transitions)RegistersFAE (formal academic English)

    ConventionsUsageLexical unitsCollocationCorpusConcordance Style guides

    Purpose of writingArgumentsStructure of a research paperCommunication movesMoves in the introduction Claims and hedgingData commentariesDiscussion sectionsConclusions

    ClaritySeparating rhetoric and informationInformation structures Information str. signalsVoiceAspectParallelismNominalizationSubordinate clausesEliminating vaguenessEliminating ambiguity

    AccessibilityInformation organizationGeneral to specific (GS)Situation-problem-solution-evaluationParagraph developmentCohesionReadability

    EthicalityAvoiding plagiarismCitationUsing model languageParaphrasingThe style dossier

    SurvivalWorking with an editor Working with a mentorCoded feedbackThe 2-page systemNoticing

    Academic writing knowledge and skills

    L. Hunter 2017

  • Main readability problems

    Problems, not errors!

    Please note the difference between 'problems' and 'errors'.

    An error is a failure to obey some rule or to conform to some standard.

    A problem is something else that somehow causes communication difficulty.

    Many times a sentence or paragraph may be perfect grammatically, yet for one reason or more it is not very successful at communicating.

  • Main readability problems1. Subject-verb distance

    e.g. too much subject-verb separation can make a sentence hard to read:

    The most important of all the subprograms that make up a channeling monitor system for implementation in broadband transmission monitoring modules isgenerally agreed to be the clock phase module.

  • Main readability problems1. Subject-verb distance repair

    Repair 1. Make two sentences instead of one:

    A number of subprograms make up a channeling monitor system for implementation in broadband transmission monitoring modules. It is generally agreed that the clock phase module is the most important of those subprograms.

  • Main readability problems1. Subject-verb distance repair

    Repair 2. Discard some of the information, assuming that the reader can imagine it, and move the rhetorical phrase 'It is generally agreed' to the head of the sentence:

    It is generally agreed that the clock phase module is the most important subprogram in a broadband transmission channeling monitor system.

  • Main readability problems1. Subject-verb distance repair

    Repair 3. Even without discarding any information, moving the rhetorical phrase to the head of the sentence makes the sentence much easier to read:

    It is generally agreed that the clock phase module is the most important subprogram in a channeling monitor system for implementation in broadband transmission monitoring modules.

  • Here are 2 writings of the same information:

    1. Although pattern languages are very useful for developing an overview of a

    practical domain such as architecture, they are not sufficiently rigorous for

    ontology work.

    2. Pattern languages are not sufficiently rigorous for ontology work, although

    they are very useful for developing an overview of a practical domain such as

    architecture.

    Main readability techniques2. Topic-stress (positions)

  • Main readability techniques2. Topic-stress (positions)

    Here are 2 writings of the same information:

    1. Although pattern languages are very useful for developing an overview of a

    practical domain such as architecture, they are not sufficiently rigorous for

    ontology work.

    2. Pattern languages are not sufficiently rigorous for ontology work, although

    they are very useful for developing an overview of a practical domain such as

    architecture.

    The 'stress' position in sentence 1 ends with a somewhat

    negative adjective phrase. What overall impression does the

    sentence give about the topic, pattern languages?

  • Here are 2 writings of the same information:

    1. Although pattern languages are very useful for developing an overview of a

    practical domain such as architecture, they are not sufficiently rigorous for

    ontology work.

    2. Pattern languages are not sufficiently rigorous for ontology work, although

    they are very useful for developing an overview of a practical domain such as

    architecture.

    Is sentence 2 a more positive comment about pattern languages? Note

    the presence of the positive adjectives 'useful' and practical' in the

    second half of the sentence, i.e. in the 'stress' position.

    Main readability techniques2. Topic-stress (positions)

  • Main readability problems3. Parallelism (in lists, in comparison)

    Well written parallelism makes it easy for the reader to identify comparisons, contrasts and lists in sentences or paragraphs, or even in a section or a whole document.

    In parallelism we make sure that elements that have the same function also have the same grammatical form.

  • Main readability problems3. Parallelism (in lists, i