These resources will likely be useful to you in generating, developing, refining, and revising your written work at St. Edward’s (and beyond).
Your ideas and evidence still have to be substantive and your claims will have to fit the evidence–you can’t just pour discourse into a magic Jell-O mold to get effective writing. BS is still BS. But seeing how others before you have approached your writing situations can help you to decide if you should do something similar or something different.
What is “Academic” Writing?
- Lennie Irvin’s “What Is ‘Academic’ Writing?” gives a good overview of common academic writing expectations, many of which won’t necessarily be explained to you as expressly as Irvin explains them.
- Theresa Thonney’s article “Teaching the Conventions of Academic Discourse” is aimed at writing teachers and informs my teaching. For your purposes, you should learn the six moves she found in academic writing across disciplines and use those in your own reading and writing:
Writers respond to what others have said about their topic.
Writers state the value of their work and announce the plan for their papers.
Writers acknowledge that others might disagree with the position they’ve taken.
Writers adopt a voice of authority.
Writers use academic and discipline-specific vocabulary.
Writers emphasize evidence, often in tables, graphs, and images.
Finding a Way In
- “The Structure of Problems and PROBLEMS” by Joseph Williams (This book chapter gives you an excellent overview of how to set up your writing as an intriguing problem plus your intervention into that problem. Many writing tasks expect you to understand this structure, yet it is often not taught clearly. This resource helps you to understand this crucial, empowering move).
- “The Stases as Research Method” (web page and linked handout from Hunter College Libraries on stasis questions–an ancient and useful system of productive questions and generative arguments)
- Research Interests and Research Questions (be sure that your interest is neither too narrow [you could just look up a fact] or too broad [you can’t answer it in anything short of a series of books or a decade of work])
Working with Source Material
- Reading source material presents several challenges, which Casey Boyle helps us to understand and to overcome, with his six-step reading response, a productive way to manage the reading load while also understanding and using source material well. Here’s a page linking to and condensing his ideas for students.
- Joseph Bizup’s BEAM (Background, Evidence, Argument, Method) heuristic is a powerful way to understand exactly what kinds of source material you need, and how you are to use it. Bizup asks us to understand our (and others’) purposes in using sources, which then allows us to understand what the sources are and how they do or do not support the writer’s aims. Here is a handout on BEAM from Indiana University Libraries.
- Understanding how to integrate source material and the hierarchy of source uses will help you to write effectively and avoid mishandling sources. Here is a handout that I use in teaching these skills.
- Here is a handout on when and why to summarize, paraphrase, or quote, and links to other helpful resources such as precise verbs to help you work with other writer’s words and ideas.
The “Moves” That Academic Writers Make
- “Complicate, Clarify, Extend, Illustrate: key moves in academic writing” by Chris Werry (Excellent overview of the ways in which writers create a space for their own projects, with starter phrases and examples.)
- John Morley’s Academic Phrasebank is a useful compendium of standard moves that academic writers make for particular explanatory, argumentative, or rhetorical purposes. It even offers useful starter formulas, for when you get stuck and just need to get a first version of a move written that you can then refine it. Here is a PDF of an earlier edition, a link to Morley’s website, and a link to where you can buy an updated edition. The PDF is long, but is searchable with the Cntrl/Cmd-F function and the website is broken down by types of moves.
- NB: Morely uses UK spelling and Britishisms that you’ll have to modify in US writing situations.
Examples of Academic Writing “Moves”
The green words and phrases are particularly suggestive and transferable in helping you to generate your own ideas and approach. It doesn’t matter that you are probably not familiar with the specific subject matter of the articles from which I took these examples; what matters is that you start to see the inventive possibilities in particular knowable moves. I have examples from different fields because a) the rhetorical moves are similar and b) I teach the Honors Thesis Prep course, which has students from every school at St. Edward’s. WRIT students will likely find the Humanities examples more germane, but should not shut their eyes to the similar rhetorical tasks in writing in any discipline.
- “Exploring the Multimodal Gutter: What Dissociation Can Teach Us About Multimodality” by Amy Anderson
The question of how we interpret this particular scene from Sherlock points to a larger question about how media interact in multimodal compositions: When two or more media are juxtaposed, how do we make meaning out of the composition as a whole? In this article, I propose that using dissociation to examine how juxtaposed media interact in a space that I call the multimodal gutter helps us learn more about the limitations and possibilities of dissociation, the process of creating closure, and the canon of invention itself.
- “On Circulatory Encounters: The Case for Tactical Rhetorics” by Dustin Edwards
Over the last two decades, scholars have increasingly explored the significance of circulation for rhetorical theory, practice, and pedagogy. Broadly understood, circulation describes how texts, objects, bodies, data, affects, and so on flow through time and space (see especially, Gries). While the scope of circulation research is nuanced and varied, circulation is often positioned as a concern for rhetorical delivery and as a condition belonging to the temporal logic of futurity. … While this focus has been productive, I endeavor here to pay specific attention to how circulation informs rhetorical practice in other ways, and particularly how it may be considered through the canons of invention and memory. My aim here is not to disregard the importance of constructing texts to achieve circulatory success (however that may be defined). What I do want to do, though, is shift the conversation about circulation to include a broader range of rhetorical activity. …
In this article, I challenge the tendency to position circulation as an exclusive concern for delivery and instead frame it as a viable inventive resource for writers with diverse rhetorical goals. To do so, I first connect circulation more rigorously with the canons of memory and invention, framing circulation as a tactical field of encounter that necessitates navigation, adaptation, and reconfiguration. From here, I build a theoretical framework I call tactical rhetorics—what might otherwise be understood as the political art of “making do” (de Certeau) with dynamic and emergent flows of circulation. Through this frame, which is grounded in mêtis and its web of aligned concepts, I explore the inventive and kairotic dimensions of circulatory navigation, adaptation, and forging. Anchoring my discussion in a particular case, a video performance called “Feminists Read Mean Tweets,” I then pay close attention to how tactical rhetorics can perform political work through intervening in the public circulation of discourse and culture. I close by recapping what a tactical rhetorics approach offers for circulation studies.
- “Digging into Data: Professional Writers as Data Users” by Laura Gonzales and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss
Technological and cultural shifts over the last 20 years have shown us that students are no longer unaware consumers of digital information, and that, as Cynthia Selfe and Richard Selfe (1994) so iconically illustrated, technological interfaces were and continue to be grounded in specific ideologies. As we continue looking to the future of digital writing, publishing, and making, we want to emphasize students’ active roles in not only sharing, but also building and putting to use the technologies they and their clients interact with to accomplish everyday composing tasks.
- “Ethos, Hexis, and the Case for Persuasive Technologies” by Steve Holmes
While these criticisms are correct in many regards, I want to entertain the admittedly counterintuitive suggestion that existing criticism of Fogg’s work has missed what may be his most significant albeit unintentional contribution to digital rhetoric. Unlike his critics, Fogg unabashedly refuses to believe that an audience’s embodied habits and behaviors are a priori coercive or nonrhetorical. He therefore offers digital rhetoricians an opportunity to clarify the extent to which we theorize the specifically rhetorical role of physical forces of embodiment such as habit.
- “The Ethos of Mr. Robot” by Andrew Pilsch
This state of affairs, in which a giant corporate entity is using anti-corporatism as part of a rebranding effort, seems ripe for exploring how anti-corporate, resistant ethos functions today. Specifically, Mr. Robot speaks to the increasing complex constructions of ethos in a multimodal media ecology. That there is no position of pure and absolute sincerity, that we are all imbricated in the brutalities of capitalism, is not a novel idea; however, Mr. Robot, as content, seeks to agitate against the very forms of power that enable it to circulate in the first place. In this essay, then, I study the kind of ethos Mr. Robot builds for its viewers. I discuss this ethos in the context of Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack—which conceptualizes the world of ubiquitous computing as an “accidental megastructure,” … and Casey Boyle’s call for a “continuous rhetoric” that …. In doing so, I show how Mr. Robot’s oddly stacked ethos engages both calls within rhetorical theory to emplace ethos and the changing nature of place in Bratton’s Stack. Where I find that Mr. Robot signals the evacuation of traditional narratives of resistance, I conclude by suggesting how we might, instead, use current practices of resistance, taking Black Lives Matter as an example, as a way of theorizing an emplaced, continuous, and generative ethos for the world of ubiquitous computing.
- “What’s (Not) in a Name: Considerations and Consequences of the Field’s Nomenclature” by Charlotte Hogg
I demonstrate how the labels most commonly associated with the field—women’s rhetorics and feminist rhetorics—can be as problematic as they are productive and reveal tensions that can undermine our goals of capaciousness. I then survey our naming practices by what terms we use through book mentions in Google’s Ngram Viewer as well as titles for journal articles, conference papers, and courses to view the signals sent to various audiences. Finally, I suggest possibilities for more consciously and accurately representing the field in offering an alternate moniker of “women’s and gendered rhetorics.”
Sciences and Social Sciences
- “The brain adapts to dishonesty” by Neil Garrett, et. al.
Dishonesty is an integral part of our social world, influencing domains ranging from finance and politics to personal relationships. Anecdotally, digressions from a moral code are often described as a series of small breaches that grow over time. Here we provide empirical evidence for a gradual escalation of self-serving dishonesty and reveal a neural mechanism supporting it. Behaviorally, we show that the extent to which participants engage in self-serving dishonesty increases with repetition. Using functional MRI, we show that signal reduction in the amygdala is sensitive to the history of dishonest behavior, consistent with adaptation. Critically, the extent of reduced amygdala sensitivity to dishonesty on a present decision relative to the previous one predicts the magnitude of escalation of self-serving dishonesty on the next decision. The findings uncover a biological mechanism that supports a ‘slippery slope’: what begins as small acts of dishonesty can escalate into larger transgressions.
- “Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science” by Alexander A. Aarts, et. al.
No single indicator sufficiently describes replication success, and the five indicators examined here are not the only ways to evaluate reproducibility. Nonetheless, collectively these results offer a clear conclusion: A large portion of replications produced weaker evidence for the original findings despite using materials provided by the original authors, review in advance for methodological fidelity, and high statistical power to detect the original effect sizes. Moreover, correlational evidence is consistent with the conclusion that variation in the strength of initial evidence (such as original P value) was more predictive of replication success than variation in the characteristics of the teams conducting the research (such as experience and expertise). The latter factors certainly can influence replication success, but they did not appear to do so here.
Reproducibility is not well understood because the incentives for individual scientists prioritize novelty over replication. Innovation is the engine of discovery and is vital for a productive, effective scientific enterprise. However, innovative ideas become old news fast. Journal reviewers and editors may dismiss a new test of a published idea as unoriginal. The claim that “we already know this” belies the uncertainty of scientific evidence. Innovation points out paths that are possible; replication points out paths that are likely; progress relies on both. (<—what a great sentence!) Replication can increase certainty when findings are reproduced and promote innovation when they are not. This project provides accumulating evidence for many findings in psychological research and suggests that there is still more work to do to verify whether we know what we think we know.
- “Shaping attitudes about homosexuality: The role of religion and cultural context” by Amy Adamczyk and Cassady Pitt
These findings suggest that we may need to reorient our thinking about the relationship between religion, and tolerance for unfamiliar groups. Economic and political stability is likely to make all people within a nation more tolerant of non-normative groups and ideas. However, as economic and political stability contributes to a self-expressive value orientation, religious attitudes may not become more liberal. Rather than religion having less of an influence on attitudes as nations develop, shifts from survival to self-expression are likely to provide a greater role for religion to influence attitudes. This study can help explain why religious beliefs in countries like the United States continue to have an important effect on people’s moral attitudes, even as the larger culture becomes more liberal. Likewise, this study offers some insight into what we might expect as countries further industrialize and develop –namely increasing tolerance for homosexuality, but also a stronger relationship between religious beliefs and disapproval of homosexuality.
- “The role of administrative data in the big data revolution in social science research” by Roxanne Connelly, et. al.
The term big data is currently a buzzword in social science; however, its precise meaning is ambiguous. In this paper we focus on administrative data which is a distinctive form of big data. Exciting new opportunities for social science research will be afforded by new administrative data resources, but these are currently under-appreciated by the research community. The central aim of this paper is to discuss the challenges associated with administrative data. We emphasize that it is critical for researchers to carefully consider how administrative data has been produced. We conclude that administrative datasets have the potential to contribute to the development of high-quality and impactful (<–that’s a weak word; choose another) social science research, and should not be overlooked in the emerging field of big data.
Getting Started on Revision
- A reverse outline is a powerful tool for seeing what you actually have on the page; comparing that to your goals, the assignment, and any feedback you’ve gotten; and making a plan for revision. See this handout to get started.