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Stylish Academic Writing Hardcover – 3 Apr 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (3 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674064488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674064485
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.8 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"As an academic staff or student wouldn't you like people to enjoy reading your work? In Stylish Academic Writing, Helen Sword offers dozens of suggestions as to how you might improve your work, get your argument across in a more appealing manner, and attract more readers. We can all learn something useful from this book, and it won't involve a lot of effort."--Malcolm Tight, Editor, Studies in Higher Education

"Dare to write clearly and engagingly whatever the audience, Helen Sword urges junior and senior scholars alike in a myth-busting guide to good academic prose. You have nothing to lose but your enunciatory modality" --THE, Thursday 6 September 2012

About the Author

Helen Sword is Associate Professor in the Centre for Academic Development at the University of Auckland.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Duncurin VINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wow, can this girl write. 'Spellbound' would be the word that springs to mind: for Prof. Sword has a beautiful turn of phrase, that I accept I will aspire to all my life, but will be unlikely to ever attain.
The book impresses on so many levels. Firstly: it's a beautiful book, nicely bound, lovely graphics on the cover, precisely printed with amazing, effortless punctuation and precise placing of each word. Secondly: though one could argue that it's a dry subject, Prof Sword handles it beautifully, entertainingly and with alacrity. Thirdly: though it is American spelling throughout: the text is crafted with clear and concise prose that is a delight to read.
What struck me on watching one of the latest Hollywood blockbusters last weekend, was just how quickly the American language is diverging from classical English: for it no longer comes down to the spelling of color or colour, but also the very basis on which our sentences rest. The film was intriguing in the sense that it had some wonderful dialogue on one hand, and on the other, whole strings of words and sentences that were unintelligible! This is a shame: for surely it must be the first duty of any author or writer to communicate with his/her audience. ( I am certain that many Americans would have the same view of some English writers).

The NHS is presently going through a drive whereby patients can request copies of clinic letters. This, at first glance is a good thing. My problem, which the author highlights unequivocally, is that often clever, learned people hide behind impenetrable jargon and see no need to explain it to their audience - in this instance my patients!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan Barker on 4 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a guide for the willing. If you seriously want to make your thesis, dissertation, paper or journal article more readable, you'll find plenty of inspiration here.

"Elegant ideas," says Helen Sword in the preface, "deserve elegant expression." She subscribes firmly to the style-and-substance view of language: style clothes ideas.

Ms Sword may be writing diplomatically. She carefully distances herself from any hint that poor writing might be a symptom of poor thinking. Her book, she suggests, serves two types of writer: those who want to write engagingly and accessibly all the time; and "those who opt to cross that bridge only occasionally."

Academic writing, then, doesn't have to be stylish.

Ms Sword's book is welcome principally because it's based on quantitative research. Ms Sword offers us help in creating eye-catching titles, first-person anecdotes, attention-grabbing opening paragraphs and more. She offers `Things to Try' at the end of each chapter and, interspersed through the text, intriguing examples from writers she likes.

But it's the chapter on citation systems that contains the real bombshell.

Sword quotes from an article by psychologists Richard Madigan, Susan Johnson and Patricia Linton, who declare that a student following the American Psychological Association citation style "comes not only to write like a psychologist but to think like one as well."

With these words, the gaff is well and truly blown. Style-and-substance is a chimera. Thinking happens in language; the style of our expression delineates the very contours of our ideas.

And that, finally, is why this book matters so much. An intellectual who can't write or speak clearly is an intellectual who can't think clearly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. F. Stevens HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 17 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a textbook on how to write. But what an entertaining textbook! And it is not just for Academics; the rest of us can also benefit. Yes, it has many wordy examples of what is bad, and others of what is good, but knitting it all together is Helen Sword's light and engaging narrative.

We might skip the less interesting examples, and we don't often need to follow any of the copious references neatly linked from the text, and the Things To Try are analogous to the 'exercises' we used to find at the end of each chapter in the Maths book, except, delightfully, many of these TTT are interesting and fun.

Her opening paragraph in Chapter One mentions my heroes Strunk and White and immediately I warmed to her. Reading on, so many times in the book she picks up on things I have also fought against when preparing technical documents; she is always hammering her points about simplicity, use of good English, avoiding convoluted hanging clauses, and cutting out jargon. She reinforces these themes with surprisingly detailed and rigorous analysis and relevant examples.

This is the first time I have actually enjoyed reading something I should class as a textbook. In several places I felt myself cheering her on. I have been working on trying to improve my writing style for several years, and had dribbled to a halt, but this gives me new ground to cover and with any luck it might take me on to a another level. To my surprise, I think I might have just become a fan!

Thank you Vine for giving me the opportunity to benefit from reading this.
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