Practical Academic Tips is a new fortnightly research service from the Asian Social Institute’s Research Office.This service is intended primarily to assist ASI graduate students in honing their research capabilities and writing skills. The idea for this research service sprang from the challenges faced by first year graduate students who do not have yet the experience or background in research writing. Since research methodology and thesis writing subjects are taught in higher years, Practical Academic Tips will serve as a bridging tool. Researchers who might find something useful in this service are welcome of course to use it.
The English dictionary shows that the word ‘cohesion’ comes from the Latin word cohaes, meaning ‘cleaved together’. To cleave means to hold, cling or adhere together. The word ‘coherence’ is similar in meaning to ‘cohesion’. Coherence comes from the Latin word cohaerent, which means ‘sticking together’. But, the parts that stick together have a logical relation to each other. Thus, cohesive and coherent writing implies a quality that allows your readers to understand you because your sentences ‘hold’ together logically and deliver your meaning unambiguously.
In the previous issue, we discussed the punctuation marks used as middle stops. These included brackets, colon, comma, dashes, ellipsis or dots, and semi-colon. In this issue we will discuss the end stops or marks to end sentences, marks within words, and capitalization.
Punctuation is the art of using conventional marks, such as comma, period, and apostrophe, to separate elements in written texts and to render their meaning clear. One author likens punctuation marks to road signs that guide readers on “how to arrive at the writer’s meaning” (Woods, 2006, p. vii). Another author compares them to musical notes that “direct a musician how to play” (Truss, 2004, p. 20). Imagine, then, what would happen if there were no road signs or musical notations, or if they were posted in the wrong places. The roads would become dangerous and the orchestra would be playing discordant music. Similarly, if punctuation marks were omitted or placed erroneously in the text, the reader would end up confused. Sentences would be convoluted and their meaning misunderstood.
All of us write in one way or another. We write e-mails, reminders to ourselves, daily journals or diaries (among the digital savvies, it’s now called blogs). We write essays, reports, office memos, and others. Even when we send a brief SMS or text, we write. So what makes ‘writing academically’ different from writing an e-mail or a report? Well, the first difference is, academic writing is formal. When we write e-mails or texts, we tend to be informal and casual. We shorten words, change spellings, abbreviate, and even create new words that become part of the everyday texting or digital writing lexicon. For example, ‘later’ becomes ‘l8r’; ‘laugh out loud’ abbreviates to ‘LOL’; ‘by the way’ changes to ‘BTW’; ‘you’ becomes ‘u’. Notice that there’s a certain ‘playfulness’ in the way I wrote the phrase ‘you becomes u’. That playfulness is called tone or register. What about reports? They’re usually more formal than e-mails, but, do you write an office report using an academic style? I bet not.
Do you know that MS Word has a referencing feature that will help you generate your bibliography in your class report, research paper, or thesis?
If you don’t, this is the time for you to master it before you even begin writing your research. Impress your professors by submitting academically referenced papers and reports. You’ll not only get higher marks, you’ll also sharpen your skills in using Word’s referencing program for social science research.
In the academic world, ‘argument’ does not have a negative connotation. However, in the everyday sense of the word, we equate arguments with disagreements.