Episode 11

David D. Perrodin

My dear fellow applied linguistics researcher friends…

At the end of Episode 10, I asked you to stay tuned for the next episode when I would share with you the challenges of putting more of ME into my academic writing. So, here we go….

I will be the first to admit that my writing still often lacks my ‘voice,’ and sometimes, my writing sounds a bit sterile. I learned how to write academically in a very traditional manner. I remember the ‘do’s and don’ts of academic writing’ being drilled into my mind by academic writing teachers and research supervisors. Like, never use personal pronouns in academic writing; passive voice is perfectly acceptable in abundance; or always begin your research article with a sentence such as “This research focuses on….”

Then three years ago, when I began my Ph.D. journey, I was exposed to a new way of thinking about academic writing. I realized that adding my voice and personalization into my manuscripts helps me connect with the reader and helps the readers connect with my topic. I found that breaking old writing habits can only be done by writing. Thankfully, I have a Ph.D. supervisor who continually reminds me that my paper is still a bit too heavy and that it still lacks my voice.

To be honest, some days, while I am writing, I feel like I am in the original Twilight Zone. I imagine Rod Serling (if you do not know who he is, then I suggest you watch one of the original 1959-1964 episodes) telling me to

Unlock this door of more personal academic writing with the key to your voice. Beyond the door is another dimension: a dimension of your voice, a dimension of your creativity, a dimension of your originality. You’re moving away from a land of sterile heavy academic writing to a land of more reader-focused personalized writing. You’ve just crossed over into… the Personalized Academic Writing Zone.

Then there are the days when I listen to Queen. I remind myself that “I want to break free” from impersonal academic writing habits—[Sorry for the television and music cultural references. I just had a birthday at the beginning of November, so I am feeling a bit nostalgic. Hence my Ron Serling and Queen references]. In my search for a better understanding of personalizing my academic writing, I came across a wonderful book by Professor David M. Schultz. In Eloquent Science, Professor Shultz stated that,

The hunt for new knowledge excites us. We may even think something that no one has ever thought before. But, when we write or speak, we fail to convey our enthusiasm and to personalize our science within a proper context. Purging our personalities from our work sterilizes it. We scientists individually need to find our voices, our creativity, and our originality.

This quote has never rung truer within the heart and mind of a writer. I am currently in the process of writing an academic manuscript, and I am personalizing the text. My ‘voice’ will be communicated in my current article.

I promise myself daily that I will continually improve my ability to communicate my research objectives and my research findings in my writing. I believe my research is necessary, and what better way to disseminate the results from my studies than to speak with my voice, the voice of the reader.

Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘From the Mind of a Developing Researcher,’ when I will share with you the challenges of using descriptive STATISTICS! STATISTICS! STATISTICS!

References

  1. American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th Edition). American Psychological Association.
  2. Deacon, J. (1984). I want to break free. [Song recorded by Queen]. On The Works. EMI Records (UK) – Capitol Records (US).
  3. Schultz, D. M. (2009). Eloquent Science: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker, and Atmospheric Scientist. American Meteorological Society.
  4. Serling, R. (Executive Producer). (1959-1964). Twilight Zone [Television series]. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052520/
  5. Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (2012). Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (3rd ed.). University of Michigan Press ELT.
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