Academic writing vs. Blog writing

Why does academic writing have to be so damn hard?

There’s all of these requirements. The least annoying one is the tone and register … I’m an English teacher so sounding pretentious comes easily. It’s the structure and the content that’s driving me mental right now.

I always just wanna blog about what I do in my class and what I’d like to do … how my students respond to certain activities/tasks and how I expected them to respond. I wanna right blog posts like that everyday.

But instead, I gotta right this damn Research Proposal with its lit review, methodology, analysis, budget … blah, blah.

OK … sorry to those who saw my title and thought they’d get some useful, quality post and not my drivel.

UPDATE 1: For those of you who have come looking for tips on Academic Writing, check out these sites provided by my lecturer Rachel Wilson: Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) ; Sydney University – The Write Site ; Sydney University, Faculty of Education & social Work – assistance with academic writing 

UPDATE 2: For those of your interested in why I DO bear a grudge with academic writing in terms of style (which actually wasn’t the focus of the post, well not really), it’s worth checking out these three reflections on writing:

Englishmen in New York: Redefining Academic Publishing in Digital Spaces Sarah Thorneycroft

Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problem with using long words needlessly Daniel M Oppenheimer (via Tim Hunt)

Politics and the English Language: George Orwell

But in a year or two I’ll look like Mrs Barf, below. Hasn’t academia changed a lot in Australia since 1890? Um … no.

Jane Foss Barff (nee Russell), educationist, 29 November 1890

To the books!


10 thoughts on “Academic writing vs. Blog writing

    • Sorry to disappoint you, Daniel. It is easy to forget that your blog can pop up in google search results 😛

      I’m actually writing a Research Proposal for a unit of study that prepares me for my actual research and dissertation. The problem isn’t the lack of writing ability (I don’t think so anyway, lol) but the expected content and structure – things like literature reviews, data analyses and conceptual frameworks … they are frustrating to write.

      I prefer to write freely and openly … explaining my rambling post.

  1. The difference is (as I am sure you know really) that when writing a blog post you are free to express whatever opinion you like.

    In contrast, academic writing should not be opinion, it should be verifiable fact, and it should move knowledge (human knowledge, not your personal knowledge) on from where it is now. Hence, the literature review, and hence the need to give details of your methodology and so on. So that your readers can verify and evaluate your claimed finding.

    You only have to read a bit about psychology, research methods and evidence to realise how easy it is to be mislead by ‘evidence’, whether maliciously or accidentally. A good read of the subject is Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.

    • Hi Tim 🙂

      Yes, you’re right – I am well aware of the objective/subjective distinction between the two forms. I guess my point was that I prefer the fluidity of the blog post … yes, being opinionated is probably a terrible trait for a budding researcher 😉

      I do plan to blog ALL of my research … I guess it’ll be a contrast to my usual ‘blogging’ style of voice … not sure though. I support Open Access.

      Content will be presented objectively as much as possible, promise.

  2. When I started blogging about 6 years ago it felt very liberating – this is the kind of academic discourse I wanted! My academic publications have reduced since, partly because blogging scratches the writing itch. But it is worth keeping your hand in – there is a selfish motive in that, whether we like it or not, formal publication is what counts for promotion and recognition. But it is also a good discipline – it does make you justify arguments, back up claims, have proper methodology, etc. So I try not to look at it as an either/or now – we have alternatives to traditional publications in blogs,for which I’m grateful and the two can be complementary

    • Yes – I do hope that more education researchers begin blogging their research. I think it is quite possible to have a personal voice and still explore/explain research methods, study results and implications … I feel that academics swiftly get swallowed up in the mire of pretension required of publication in journals. Of course I’m sure all academics are currently experiencing the ‘pay to publish’ and ‘pay to access’ moral dilemma at the moment. If not, shame on them! It is Open Access Week after all!
      I am hoping that I will be able to self-publish all of my research on my blog and maintain some of my personal writing style (a style I developed under the tutelage of Mr G Orwell) whilst also being ‘published’ in the more traditional journals. We’ll see.
      I suppose I am a lucky researcher in that I am a teacher … a practising educator who has undertaken research to better her field 😉
      Thanks so much for your comment!
      Hope reading my blog doesn’t disappoint at a later date!

  3. Pingback: Englishmen at Ascilite – call for participation. « Mind the Gap

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