Academic writing follow-up post 10

I enjoyed your response to L and myself. I’d like to address the many points you bring up, but I’ll content myself with only two here. The first is that you’re right; Sword’s advice is useful in certain contexts. However, if we consider the notion of clarity in wider field of academic writing, i.e. precision in argument presentation, Sword’s techniques can be viewed as trivial. I see a couple of interpretations for the placing of Sword’s video as the base for this week’s discussion. The first is that it is a springboard for more appropriate discussions or a substantial discussion on its own merits depending on the student make up of this course. At this level of study, it is inconceivable that students will be marked down for taking the topic away from Sword if that is felt a worthwhile move by those students. At the same time, those students who may benefit from Sword’s advice may pursue that as they wish. The second possibility for working with Sword for the week may be based on an attempt to frame the identity of the EdD candidate as a practitioner researcher who will most likely need to deal with non-specialists more than not after graduation. Neither the video nor any of Sword’s papers refers to the distinction between PhD and EdD, but its positioning in this masterclass may be about a possible subtext of identity formation underscoring how UoL see our future roles. I’ll forgo commenting on this possibility.

My second point addresses your earlier question;

“As doctoral practitioners, is more emphasis placed on a frenetic regurgitation of references or should there be increased efforts toward improving academic writing practice?”

This is a highly pertinent question. Lynette offered one answer. I’d like to add my opinion. Here is an extract from the introduction of a study I read in Module 2.

“Furthermore, the model lends itself to a number of theoretical perspectives, including cognitivism, phenomenology, and adult learning (Holman, Pavlica, & Thorpe, 1997). Moreover, numerous studies lend empirical support to the model (e.g., Abdulwahed & Nagy, 2009; JilardiDamavandi, Mahyuddin, Elias, Daud, & Shabani, 2011; Massey, Kim, & Mitchell, 2011)” (Manolis, Burns, Assudani, & Chinta, 2013).

Following the references in the paper, none of the references cited in this opening paragraph reappeared later in the text except as a verbatim repetition of the first wording. One study tells us that the model (Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model) can be viewed from different perspectives. I fail to see how this cannot be trivially true for any phenomenon. And three studies present support for the model without attempting to explain how the model is supported. Nothing new is given and what is presented is minimal. I presume this is what you mean by “frenetic regurgitation of references”.  My question to you answers yours by rejecting meaningless referencing and adds a comment about editorialising while citing.

You comment that I’m “ready to burn Sword”. I felt that I was suggesting that we move on from her “as a starting point” (as I wrote in my earlier post). In other words, my initial meaning has been distorted significantly. (I’m not in any way annoyed. In fact, I’m happy to have the chance to use this as an example.) Following Kuhn (1963), writers recognise that perfect impartiality is theoretically impossible. Yet an attempt must be made to retain as much as possible the spirit and meaning of the original. Both the author’s integrity and the writer-reader trust are at stake when citations are made out of context. However, academics generate new knowledge by building upon and altering the work of others. To what extent are ethics jeopardised during this process, and what are acceptable uses?


Kuhn, T. S. (1963). The function of dogma in scientific research. In A. C. Crombie (Ed.), Scientific change (Symposium on the history of science) (pp. 347–369). New York and London: Basic Books and Heinemann.

Manolis, C., Burns, D. J., Assudani, R., & Chinta, R. (2013). Assessing experiential learning styles: A methodological reconstruction and validation of the Kolb Learning Style Inventory. Learning and Individual Differences, 23(1), 44–52. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2012.10.009

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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