on 23 April 2009
Through running workshops and courses on writing and presentation skills for graduate research students and research staff in universities and research institutes, I meet so many people who need help in building an argument in their academic writing and presentations. A colleague introduced this book to me recently. I bought it, and now recommend it to everybody I meet through my work.
What the book provides is a straight forward approach to using rhetoric in evidence-based academic writing. One of its strengths is in its structure: you can, as I first did, read it cover to cover, or you can dip into sections in almost any order you like. Alistair Bonnett even gives the hurried reader a formula for reading only the very critical bits of the story which makes it a very practical book indeed.
It's a good read, written with a significant understanding of the student position and with an empathy for the challenges faced in developing the ability to communicate ideas, knowledge and discovery. Although aimed at a general student audience, I find that graduate students - both on masters and doctoral programmes - really appreciate this book. One section that resonates with researchers is the account of different ways to write and to what extent argument, as opposed to description, is necessary to support the approach to be taken.
For me, and the people I work with, this stands out from the herd in its value. There's no shortage of books that prescribe writing for academics, but this gives more than prescription by stimulating and encouraging the reader to think about their craft. It fills an important gap with its six chapters: Getting started; Structuring your argument; Arguments for all occasions; how to criticise arguments; Arguing out loud; How to be original.
I have recommended this book over the years to any number of my former students doing either a critical thinking or a university course and all the ones I have met since and did make the purchase made the point of how useful a book this is. It is clearly written and easily applicable to building logical, not just academic, arguments. The latest copy I bought for my daughter. It is still the most useable guide I have come across and I am happy to carry on recommending it.
on 26 October 2008
This has probably been superceded by a new 2008 edition; however, as a teacher returning to study after a xx year gap, this has been an invaluable resource. My course has involves an enormous amount of reading, and I kept getting swamped by information, and couldn't see the woods for the trees when it came to writing my essays. I haven't read this book from cover to cover, but when I have been stuck I return to key chapters and dip into other sections - it has been very useful and helped me to kick start my essay writing. It is very accessible and I recommend it to anyone writing essays that require a sustained arguement.
on 5 March 2011
I noticed this book when browsing in a shop and the final chapter explaining key terminology was highly interesting e.g. 'tautology' a posh way of saying circular argument (many people will know that already but perhaps they wouldn't be browsing this book!). Clearly, you could look any of these things up on the internet and chapters on presentaion skills can't help but preach an element of how to 'suck eggs'. Also, you can't really expect that by reading one small book on persuasion, reasoning and presentation, that you could somehow develop the oratory skills to overcome the prime minister at question time, or bring a despotic ruler like Gadaffi to his senses through reason alone. Nevertheless i found it an intelligent read.