Last week a friend pointed me in the direction of Blogger LinkUp, a free service that, amongst other things, allows you to request guest posts from guest bloggers or offer your own services as a guest blogger. I’m all about the sharing of resources, so I signed up; this is the first guest post that originated.
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How academic writing is different from magazine, newspaper or blog writing
Many students fear making their writing boring. They cannot understand why the rules for academic writing are so stiff and formal, so unlike what they read: newspapers, magazines and blogs. The purpose of academic writing is to show the teacher that the student understands the material of the class at a high level of learning. Entertainment value is only a plus.
Newspaper writing focuses on facts: who, what, when, where, and how. The important parts are in the first sentences, and other information is presented in descending order of importance, so that the story can be cut to fit available space. Analysis is saved for the feature articles or the editorial page. Students are expected to provide more than facts.
Most writing that students have read for pleasure is written in an informal, personal style. The writer wants the reader to imagine a conversation, striving to develop a voice that is friendly, or snarky, or humorous.
Writing for the web in particular requires short paragraphs with bullet points and headings. The reader is skimming, not reading in depth. If the reader is looking for in-depth instruction, the material often has many step-by-step pictures. If the reader is looking for analysis, the writer usually provides academic style writing.
Magazine features tend to begin with a story about one person as a background for the topic of the articles, which gains the reader’s interest and emotional involvement. Often the point of the article is saved for the final paragraph, where conclusion of the personal story drives home the main point or thesis of the article. This is the opposite of the structure of an academic piece, which presents the thesis near the beginning, and then sets out to show that the thesis is valid. The academic reader’s question is not “What happens next?” but “is this idea valid?”
Entertainment value is critical for magazine articles, newspaper features and blogs. The reader is busy and won’t waste time with material that is not easy and fun to read. Magazines are supported by advertising. If the content of the magazine does not appeal to the audience, then the ads won’t be seen. This is also true of many blogs, which purpose is to attract readers for the products the blogger sells or promotes.
The tone of academic writing is unfamiliar to students because it is not conversational. The academic reader always evaluates the article with critical thinking, assessing the logic of the thesis and the arguments, the relevance of references, the depth of research. An impersonal, objective tone supports this analysis. The instructor must look for how well the student understands and can apply the concepts and content of the class.
The rigid structure of introduction, thesis, long paragraphs with topic sentences, and conclusion, makes more sense to show the instructor that the student understands the concepts and can apply them without merely parroting what has been read.
If a student can provide an unusual thesis and back it up with both information and analysis, using well-written and clear sentences, the grade will be good, and the paper entertaining.
Author bio: Matt P. is an experienced copywriter employed by SolidEssay.com, one of the most reputable college paper writing services in the US. At www.solidessay.com students can request help with their assignment which will be taken care of by qualified experts.