Stylish Academic Writing Hardcover – 3 Apr 2012
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"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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Top Customer Reviews
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!Read more ›
This is not really a writing guide, it is rather a sociological or anthropological study of academic writing habits in a few disciplines and takes, as a special focus, bad examples. Sword writes as if she is an outside observer: 'I assembled a data set of one thousand academic articles from across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities'. Frequently it sets out its case statistically: '8 percent of the computer scientists include at least one "engaging" element in their titles, such as a quote, a pun, or a question'. On the other hand, its writing advice is banal, suggesting academics hold out for 3 'ideals': 'communication, craft, and creativity'.
I bought this book in order to reflect on my own writing practice. I learned, by reading against the argument of this book, that a good and well-thought-out argument is indispensible. Because the content of this book was so scanty and mean, I can't agree it is, itself, well written.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dis buk is ded gud I red it in a fort-night and wud defo recommend it 2 evri1 dat no's me. Wiv dis buk by mi side mi fesis will b amazin. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Andy Hardcastle
One Size Fits All?: A Review of Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword
Helen Sword invites us in Stylish Academic Writing to open our windows wide to let the light in,... Read more
Nice general advice but clearly not specific enough for scientific/engineering writers.Published 13 months ago by esbolico
Good read, especially if read together with other insightful books on better academic and related writing.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
Brilliant source for anyone who wants to make their academic writing informative, as well as thrilling. Read morePublished on 16 May 2014 by Aliya Amirova