Writing

Two students with a laptop
When you have chosen a topic and formulated the research question it is time to start writing. To facilitate the writing you should have a thorough plan of what you are going to write and what structure is the most logical.

Planning

By making a clear plan, or outline, of the text you make the writing easier. The plan allows you to always have an overview of the whole, while you concentrate on one part at a time. The outline is based on the parts of text that should be included in the text. The parts vary between different types of text, but as a rule of thumb most texts contain introduction, body and conclusion.

Tip!
To set aside time for writing in your calendar and to give yourself short breaks between the parts will help you get started.

There are several ways to draw up an outline. Some may prefer a list of headlines with a short text under each headline on what should be included there, and possibly references to different sources you are going to quote or refer to. For others, a mind map with different branches or different levels gives a more clear structure. You could try different ways to write your outline to see which way suits you best.

Outline example 1: List of headlines

Example of a list of headlines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outline example 2: Mindmap in levels

Example of a mindmap

There are also several different ways to organize texts, e.g. chronologically, logically or by setting opposites against each other. It is of course for you to decide which model suits you and your text, but some models are more or less well suited for some text types.

The most common academic text type is the academic report, such as a thesis. It has a fixed structure with parts that are connected. Here you can read more about which parts an academic report consists of.

Tip!
The more thoroughly you formulate your outline, the easier it will be to write, but do not hesitate to revise your plan if you find something you decided on earlier no longer works.

Writing a draft

When it is time to start writing the text, as a general rule, it is often better to put something on paper than to try to find the perfect wording. You can always change formulations and add or remove text once it is written. Set aside time for revising and editing the text, and remember that sometimes you need to take a pause from the text before you start proofreading.

Important!
Start writing in good time, not the night before the assignment should be submitted!

Structure

A text should be seen as an opportunity for communication. The purpose of all texts is that they should be read and understood. Therefore it is important to make the text as clear as possible for the reader; by making sure that the structure works. A common mistake when you start to write formal texts is that you make the text complicated by using difficult words, and long, complex sentences.

Important!
Your text should be possible for others to understand at a first reading through.

Formal language is created by, as far as possible, excluding personal pronouns such as “I”. It is often unnecessary to comment on something with “I think/consider” as this is understood. Furthermore, the passive voice is often used, where the subject is often excluded or added at the end, and the verb phrase will include a form of be, such as am, is, was, were, are or been. In an active sentence, the subject (the ‘writers’ in this example) that performs the action comes first. The recommendation today is to use a more active language to make the text more readable. It is important to find a nice balance. Here are some examples of active and passive voice:

Examples of active and passive voice

Passive: The passive voice is often used in formal language.

Passive: In formal language, the passive voice is used by many writers.

Active: Many writers use the passive voice when they write a formal text.

Structure is created on several levels; the text as a whole has a structure, but also each paragraph and each sentence must be structured. The whole text is given structure when the different parts of the text function, and are organized according to a plan that suits the text type. You create the structure by planning the text before you start writing it. See the part about planning. However, you may discover later that some part ought to be moved, in order to create better coherence in the text.

Dividing a text into paragraphs is important for the understanding of the text. When paragraphing, it is important to keep in mind that the first sentence of a new paragraph should describe what the paragraph is about. This creates clarity for both the writer and the reader.

Paragraphing example: Blank line

Picture showing an example of paragraphing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ståhl, Björn (2013). Monitoring infrastructure affordances. Diss. Karlskrona : Blekinge tekniska högskola, 2013
Available: http://www.bth.se/fou/forskinfo.nsf/all/09b6191d640a65c4c1257ad7003ab469?OpenDocument

Remember also to choose a model for paragraphing and to follow it consistently throughout the text. You mark a new paragraph either by leaving a blank line between the paragraphs (as in the example above) or by making an indent at the beginning of the line where the new paragraph begins.

Important!
A paragraph may not consist of one sentence only.

Finally, remember that connective words are also important for achieving clarity in the text. The words connect words, phrases or sentences and signal in what way they relate to each other. They are also called connectives or transitional words. Suggestions of such words, and other useful phrases for academic writing is available in the Academic Phrasebank at the University of Manchester.

 

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