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50 Steps to Improving Your Academic Writing
By Chris Sowton
50 Steps to Improving Your Academic Writing addresses the challenges facing every student beginning a program of academic study. This comprehensive guide gives you everything you need to write well-constructed academic essays. It is packed full of information that is critical to attaining better marks, including:
- how to apply critical thinking skills
- how to strengthen your arguments
- how to include paper referencing
- how to avoid plagiarism
50 Steps has been developed to mirror best practice in academic essay writing: researching, planning, writing and then proofreading an essay. Multiple entry points allow you either to work through the book in chronological order or to dip in and out depending on your needs.
The book contains a detailed answer key, a full glossary of terms, plus comprehensive reference material that provides study templates and useful hyperlinks, as well as additional examples and information about academic writing.
A. Understanding Academic Convention
How is writing different from speaking?
How is academic writing different to other forms of writing?
What is plagiarism?
How can I use other people's ideas in my own writing?
How can I reference properly?
B. Researching your Essay
How do I choose my source material?
How should I use the Internet for research?
What critical thinking skills do I need to develop?
How can I read more efficiently?
How can I take notes effectively?
C. Preparing to Write
How does my mother tongue affect my writing?
How can I manage my time effectively?
How can I understand my title?
How can I brainstorm ideas and develop an outline?
What is a thesis statement and how do I write one?
D. Organizing your Text
What different types of academic writing are there?
How is text organized in academic writing?
What are the characteristics of a good paragraph?
What should be included in my introduction?
What should be included in my conclusion?
E. Making your Writing more 'Academic'
How can I make my essays more 'formal'?
Should I use 'I' in my writing?
When should I use cautious or tentative language?
How can I make my writing more complex?
How can I strengthen my argument?
F. Developing your Writing Style
How can I write a good sentence?
How can I make my writing more emphatic?
How can I make my writing more coherent?
How can I make my writing more cohesive?
What kind of linking devices can I use in my academic writing?
G. Using Functional Language in your Writing
What is the best way of reporting others' words?
How can I show cause and effect?
How should I define unfamiliar words and phrases?
How can I compare and contrast different ideas?
What language should I use to interpret tables and graphs?
H. Enriching your Vocabulary
How can I stop repeating the same language?
How can I stop using vague and unnecessary words?
What are 'collocations' and how can I use them?
What phrases are commonly used in academic writing?
How can I use prepositions effectively?
I. Improving your Grammar
What tenses should I use in academic writing?
How can I use modal verbs correctly?
How can I punctuate correctly?
How can I use articles?
How can I use adverbs effectively and accurately?
J. Finalising your Writing
Why is proofreading important?
What proofreading strategies can improve my final draft?
What language/grammar mistakes are particularly common?
How do I write a good abstract?
What final checks do I need to make?
"an extremely useful book...answers all those questions other textbooks leave unanswered."
- Anne Marie Bradley, Lecturer in EFL, University of the West of Scotland
Starting study at an English medium university can be a frightening prospect for students for whom English is a second language. 50 Steps to Improving Your Academic Writing takes away one area of concern by providing students with a step-by step guide to academic writing, ensuring they are able to write well-constructed academic essays. The book addresses the challenges facing every international student beginning a programme of academic study, and it is packed full of information that will be invaluable to students striving to achieve better results.
One of the reasons this book works so well is that the ‘50- step’ approach enables students to focus on those areas of academic writing they struggle with the most. The ‘steps’ take them right from the basics of academic writing, dealing with questions such as How is academic writing different from other forms of writing? to more advanced topics, such as plagiarism, the use of I in an academic essay, the use of unfamiliar words, vocabulary and collocations, grammar usage and final checks and submission.
The real beauty of this book is the flexibility it offers both students and teachers. It can be used in the classroom, in small study groups or as an independent self-study resource. Students of all levels, from presessional to those studying for a PhD, will benefit from it, as will the teachers preparing students for academic study, who can utilise the practical exercises in the classroom.
Overall, this is a comprehensive and incredibly useful book that I can highly recommend to teachers and students alike. The material is accessible and will ensure that this is not just another book bought at the start of term and never looked at. Students will want to refer to the text time and time again and will view it as an invaluable aid to their academic career.
-English Teaching Professional: July 2012, Issue 81, Myrtle Harber, Swindon, UK
"What I liked about this book was the sheer amount of information it provides, and the wide range of topics addressed. Yet despite the breadth of coverage there is also depth. For example, in discussing the use of reporting verbs for sources, three aspects are considered: denotation, connotation and the strength of the verb. This is followed by a page-long table analyzing various reporting verbs according to the three criteria. All in all, this is a very practical book, and a very useful addition to the library of those learning to write and also to teachers of EAP. The latter group will find this text most helpful as a classroom resource for additional explanation and practice."- Rosemary Wette, for TESOLANZ, December 2012
"Speakers of other languages are able to focus on their specific needs and goals in order to improve their academic writing and the book is a great academic aid for students and teachers alike."- Kayla Noel for Teflnet, January 2013
"It is clear that Sowton is an experienced and knowledgeable teacher of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Each step is written as a question and you can imagine students asking them. His steps are well chosen and, from my perspective, he has really tapped into what a student needs and wants to know about academic writing".- Meredith MacAulay, for English Australia Journal, Vol. 28, No 2, 2013
Contains full colour tables and illustrations