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Writing at university: tips and tricks 

  • Of course, scientific writing always respects well-defined rules of the game and each discipline has its editorial codes. So as not to lose sight of the north in this exotic jungle, this blog post gives you three points of reference: the structure, the references, and the “academic style”.

     

    Structure your work 

    Scientific articles often impress with their density of information, their complexity, and their sophisticated language. But don't panic: most of these posts follow the IMRED scheme, that is, they have a typical structure that includes an introduction, methods, results, and discussion. Written work at the university follows a similar line:

    • introduction
    • theoretical part (literature review, issues)
    • methodological section
    • analytical part (presentation of results, possibly a discussion)
    • conclusion
    • bibliography

    Depending on the discipline and the research carried out, the order of these different chapters may vary. To find out which parts should be in your work, go to the web page of your discipline and/or follow the instructions of your supervisor.

     

    Quote correctly!

    Giving other authors the credit they deserve for their work is one of the golden rules of science writing. But why is it so important to cite them and how do you go about it?

    Using references helps situate your work in the larger context of your discipline. Thanks to these sources, the origin of your arguments is accessible at any time and in complete transparency. It also ensures knowledge sharing with all members of the same discourse community. Moreover, if you do not cite the references correctly, you risk being accused of plagiarism!

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    All research work, therefore, includes a bibliography listing the books, articles, and other documents used. It is normally placed after the conclusion. The presentation of these references must be precise, follow the codes of your discipline (see the site of your discipline) and remain the same throughout the work.

     

    Develop your jargon

    And what about the “academic style” that characterizes these publications? Do you think that a scientific text should use complicated and difficult-to-access language? Not at all! Fondanèche (2009: 87) sums up very well the very essence of academic language: “(&hellip far from all the verbiage and all the jargons which are prose from specialists to specialists, the“ university-style ”consists of explaining in writing complex things, as simply as possible, as clearly as possible ”.To find this clarity, you can start to develop your "own jargon" (Wolfsberger 2016): write the first draft of your text as if you were giving a presentation to your colleagues at university. Then revise this first draft to arrive at a style that is sustained, simple, and clear.

    And now, take the treasure of these few marbles and… start writing serenely on a topic which is close to your heart.