Academic Writing: Entering the Conversation Adapted from They Say; I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
Entering the Conversation • The best academic writing has one underlying feature: It is deeply engaged in some way with other people’s views. We make arguments because someone has said or done something and we need to respond (Graff and Birkenstein 1).
The order of things… • To keep an audience engaged, a writer needs to explain what he or she is responding to (Graff and Birkenstein 18)! • Either before offering a response. Or • Very early in the discussion
Therefore… • One must summarize what others have said first! • The “they say” idea must come early in your paper. • (Think about the “responding to prompts with terms” slide show) • Benefit: frames and clarifies the issues you’re writing about (Graff and Birkenstein 19)!
Templates (Standard Views) • Americans today tend to believe that… • Conventional wisdom has it that… • Common sense seems to dictate that… • The standard way of thinking about topic X has it that… • It is often said that… • One would think that… • Many people assume that…
Templates (Something implied or assumed) • One implications of X’s treatment of ______ is that… • Although X does not say so directly, she apparently assumes that… • While they rarely admit as much, X often take for granted that…
The Art of Summarizing • To write a really good summary, you must be able to suspend your own beliefs for a time and put yourself in the shoes of someone else (Graff and Birkenstein 29) . • Whenever you enter into a conversation with others in your writing, then it is extremely important that you go back to what other have said, that you study it very closely, and that you do not collapse it to something you already have heard or know (Graff and Birkenstein 31).
Do justice to the author you are summarizing! • Rarely do authors just “say” or “discuss.” • Use vivid and precise signal verbs….
Templates for Introducing Summaries and Quotations • She demonstrates that… • In fact, they celebrate the fact that… • …., he admits.
Verbs for making a claim • Argue • Assert • Believe • Claim • Emphasize • Insist • Observe • Remind • Report • Suggest
Verbs for expressing agreement • Acknowledge • Admire • Agree • Celebrate the fact that • Corroborate • Do not deny • Endorse • Extol • Praise • Reaffirm • Support • Verify
Verbs for questioning or disagreeing • Complain • Complicate • Contend • Contradict • Deny • Deplore the tendency to • Disavow • Question • Refute • Reject • Renounce • Repudiate
Verbs for making recommendations • Advocate • Call for • Demand • Encourage • Exhort • Implore • Plead • Recommend • Urge • Warn
Keep what “they say” in view • Keep in mind what “they say” as you move through the rest of your text (Graff and Birkenstein 25). • Remind your readers about the claims to which you are responding.