This ‘masterclass’ gave us the chance to appraise our academic writing skills. Or at least, that was the aim. Unfortunately–and predictably–many discussions centred on choice of vocabulary and word-level style. We had to use Helen Sword’s The Writer’s Diet Test and see if our writing was ‘healthy’ or not. Nowhere does Sword claim that this test is any more than a diagnostic tool, and she cautions against expecting more from it. Yet, we did.
Or rather, some of us did. A small core of students recognised Sword’s limited usefulness and attempted to move beyond that onto a more substantial discussion on structure in academic writing, argument forms and so on. The week was too short, alas, and too much time had been spent on the Writer’s Diet for these potentially useful discussions to take much root. The week was intense but ultimately of limited value to me.