Preface to the second edition
This book is written for university undergraduates in a wide range of disciplines within social sciences, sciences, engineering, arts and humanities. It will be valuable for students writing at university level for the first time as well as those in their final undergraduate year. It will also be useful for postgraduates on taught courses who have had little recent experience of academic writing. The book focuses on coursework assignments, but the principles of good writing apply to examination answers, so the lessons you learn from assignment writing can be used to help prepare for written examinations.
The book works on the principle that academic writing, like other forms of writing, needs to be tailored to its specific context - its purpose and audience. Nevertheless, there are general principles that apply to many kinds of academic writing. Using examples, reflections and self-study activities, the book takes you through the various aspects of academic writing one step at a time. It includes examples from a wide range of disciplines so that you should be able to find some that meet your disciplinary requirements, as well as others that give general principles that you can apply to your discipline.
You do not need to read through this book from beginning to end. Some of you will want to. Others will want to dip into it according to need. Whatever your preference, there are certain chapters and sections that are more vital than others. I suggest that you read Chapter 1 first, as it sets the scene for the rest of the book. All the other chapters assume that you are familiar with the content of the first chapter. Chapters are divided into numbered sections to assist you in navigating through the book.
Most of the book is written in a relaxed style as though I, the writer, am helping you, the reader, work step-by-step through various aspects of academic writing. The writing style is different from that of academic writing itself and is more like a conversation a tutor might have with you when discussing your writing. Although the style is quite casual, it is nevertheless rigorous. For example, I will use appropriate conventions for citing and referencing, so demonstrating the practice expected of you in academic writing. A summary of key points is given at the end of each chapter, along with a list of references cited in that chapter plus any suggested further reading and answers to self-study activities. A glossary of terms and a complete listing of references are given at the end of the book.
This second edition builds upon the first. While keeping most of the structure of the first edition, it has been updated and contains a wider range of examples and activities, including focusing more on creativity and criticality. It takes more account of those for whom English is a second language and those with distinct learning preferences. The second edition has a stronger visual emphasis.
Most of us learn best when we have to apply what we are learning to specific assignments or activities. So, I would expect many of you to read and reread some sections of the book. You may not fully grasp the meaning of certain concepts until you have tried to apply them more than once. You are at university to learn and learning does not happen overnight. This book is intended to help maximise your learning from each assignment you write. I hope you enjoy the journey.