Academic writing follow-up post 5

Thanks for introduction to Aaron’s work. I like the compactness and clarity of the CCCs. I wonder though if this:

“As an academic writer, you’ll always be communicating within a writing situation: the requirements and options that determine what and how you write. Considering your situation will tell you a great deal about how to proceed.”

is entirely useful?

On the surface, advice like this seems plausible. However, when writing for a journal, the variables in play have an enormous scope. Unless a journal dedicates an issue to a particular level of reader (e.g. an introduction to gender awareness in language education), writers still don’t know if their readership is expert, non-specialist expert, or novice. Writers don’t know to what extent language is accepted as technical, jargon, obvious, or redundant. In other words, only under specific situations will an analysis of the situation really help a reader.

There is a tension between an article needing to be self-contained and the assumptions underpinning language itself. How much of what kinds of text need to be glossed or not? Of course, there is no direct and simple answer to these questions. It is the questions themselves that are important. MAP-CCC is useful in setting up questions in the writer’s mind, but like Sword, Nation’s Range, Flesch Grade Scale and the Flesh-Kincaid Reading Ease and any other tool, they can provide no answers.

As doctoral level candidates, I urge us all to go beyond simple formulae. Good writing is difficult, and the issues involved are complicated. Engaging with that complexity is a challenge, but a rewarding one.

Eventually, I hope to read the writing of everyone in this room in a journal here or there. This week has been fun, and I’ve enjoyed meeting all of you.

Jim

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About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a private university.
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