In previous articles, I had dealt with the basic writing styles and formats. In this piece of writing, I would like to put forward the most prominent aspect which is in need in today – academic writing. This can be called the “The Forgotten Writing.” Academic writing is mainly conducted by the universities and sometimes by colleges. We, of course, know today that most of our university students could not write even a paragraph with its appropriate conditions – indentation. So, how could it be possible to write up research paper? Quite implausible, really.
Nevertheless, in Somaliland, there is an added advantage for both students and teachers. This means that teachers will give further explanation to students and students will make use of this to write the academic writing genres such as: paper, essay, research paper, discursive/argumentative essay, analysis paper, informative essay, technical report and so on.
It is a challenging task that many students come across when writing up the thesis book – that is, they could not prepare for a single research paper because the lecturer had not taught them before. Argumentative essay is sometimes asked to Somaliland National Exam candidates in writing section.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies failed to give notes and summary notes or tutorial papers to students to write the essay. In turn of this, they do not set the correct marking criteria for such essays. We, as English Writing Experts, could simply grasp the talent of those teachers, who mark and prepare the marking scheme. Therefore, with sincere advice, I would request to completely quit the writing task in Somaliland National Exam until the aforementioned provisos are fulfilled. All these genres share common features:
Clear Goal – it is important to answer the question you posed as your topic. Your question gives you a purpose. The most common purposes in academic writing are to persuade, synthesize/analyze, and inform.
Analytical purpose – In analytical academic writing, the purpose is to explain and evaluate possible answers to your question, choosing the best answer(s) based on your own criteria. Analytical assignments often investigate causes, examine effects, evaluate effectiveness, assess ways to solve problems, find the relationships between various ideas, or analyze other people’s arguments. The “synthesis” part of the purpose comes in when you put together all the parts and come up with your own answer to the question. Examples of these assignments include analysis papers and critical analyses. This is what our renown universities such as University of Hargeisa and Amoud universities need to attain sooner rather than later. Some may claim that they had already taught the analytical purpose, but how? Fruitful or fruitless, without retort it there are no fruits ripening.
Informative purpose – In informative academic writing, the purpose is to explain possible answers to your question, giving the readers new information about your topic. This differs from an analytical topic in that you do not push your viewpoint on the readers, but rather try to enlarge the readers’ view.
Some assignments will have a pre-determined purpose (see the examples above); for other assignments, you will have to choose a purpose when you choose a topic(research paper, term paper). And some assignments may have two purposes. In all cases, the purpose will be clear at the beginning of your paper, and your paper must achieve its purpose in order to be successful.
Audience Engagement. As with all writing, academic writing is directed to a specific audience in mind. Unless your instructor says otherwise, consider your audience to be fellow students with the same level of knowledge as yourself. As students in the field, they are interested in your topic, but perhaps not so interested in reading a paper. So you will have to engage them with your ideas and catch their interest with your writing style. Imagine that they are also skeptical, so that you must use the appropriate reasoning and evidence to convince them of your ideas. In Somaliland, the problem most that most students complain is that teachers directly read the whole book and translate into Somali without shooting the target. Soon, most students get bored and start yawning.
Clear Point of View. Academic writing, even that with an informative purpose, is not just a list of facts or summaries of sources. Although you will present other people’s ideas and research, the goal of your paper is to show what you think about these things. Your paper will have and support your own original idea about the topic. This is called the thesis statement, and it is your answer to the question.
Single Focus. Every paragraph (even every sentence) in your paper will support your thesis statement. There will be no unnecessary, irrelevant, unimportant, or contradictory information (Your paper will likely include contradictory or alternative points of view, but you will respond to and critique them to further strengthen your own point of view).
Logical Organization. Academic writing follows a standard organizational pattern. For academic essays and papers, there is an introduction, body, and conclusion. Each paragraph logically leads to the next one.
The introduction catches the readers’ attention, provides background information, and lets the reader know what to expect. It also has the thesis statement.
The body paragraphs support the thesis statement. Each body paragraph has one main point to support the thesis, which is named in a topic sentence. Each point is then supported in the paragraph with logical reasoning and evidence. Each sentence connects to the one before and after it with an appropriate Transitional Device that I had mentioned in my previous articles. The readers do not have to work to find the connection between ideas.
The conclusion summarizes the paper’s thesis and main points and shows the reader the significance of the paper’s findings.
Strong Support. Each body paragraph will have sufficient and relevant support for the topic sentence and thesis statement. This support will consist of facts, examples, description, personal experience, and expert opinions and quotations.
Clear and Complete Explanations. This is very important! As the writer, you need to do all the work for the reader. The reader should not have to think hard to understand your ideas, logic, or organization. English readers expect everything to be done for them; your thoughts and thought processes should be clearly and completely explained.
Effective Use of Research. Your paper should refer to a variety of current, high-quality, professional and academic sources. You will use your research to support your own ideas; therefore, it must be integrated into your writing and not presented separately. That means that source material will be introduced, analyzed, explained, and then cited. There are different ways of writing the bibliographical style, but here in Somaliland I think it is better to use the APA style.
Correct APA Style. The in-text citations, the reference list, and format must be arranged properly. What I am driving to home is that lecturers who teach Research Methodology should teach students this area. On the contrary, many students copy down pre-written thesis and change the cover and name. With due laziness, the so-called lecturers in some of our universities award the student his/her full mark. As a result the coming nation will have no longer research anything, but get slumber and go to bed.
Writing Style. Because this is your work, you should use your own words whenever possible. Do not try to write like a boring, overly formal scholarly article. Use the natural conversational style that you would use in the classroom. Your writing should be clear, concise, and easy to read. It is also very important that there are no grammar, spelling, punctuation, or vocabulary mistakes in academic writing. Errors convey to the reader that you do not care. And finally, this rule will override all the principles:
ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS OF YOUR INSTRUCTOR. Every instructor has a reason for giving you an assignment, and each instructor’s requirements may differ. Follow your instructor’s directions to get the most from an assignment. To sum up, all our university lecturers should teach students the Research Methodology in the most alluring way. This will utterly change Somaliland Nation and will be a step ahead.
To be continued……..
Gulaid Mohammed Yassin “Dalha”