Academic Writing for International Students of Science


This book is designed to help you, as an international student of science, to develop your command of English language and discourse. It will enable you to produce writing of a high standard, thus helping you to complete written assignments successfully.
You will acquire knowledge, skills and strategies to help you produce writing which is accurate, well-expressed, clear and coherent. You will also reflect on the nature of analysis, argument and critical thinking, all of which give depth to academic writing. In addition, you will learn how to refer to sources effectively, and to employ a range of conventions associated with academic scientific writing.
You will look at the writing process itself, study the mechanics of writing, i.e. grammar and punctuation, and explore the characteristics of academic scientific discourse.


1 Introduction
2 The writing process
2.1 Writing to develop and communicate thinking
2.2 Reflecting on your current approach to writing
2.2.1 Preparing to write
2.2.2 Putting down words on the page
2.3 The importance of redrafting
2.4 Focus on proofreading
3 Academic scientific style
3.1 Clarity
3.1.1 Sentence length and text organisation
3.1.2 Being concise
3.1.3 Being precise
3.2 Language and conventions
3.2.1 What is academic scientific writing?
3.2.2 Common features of academic scientific texts
4 Sentence structure 1
4.1 Subject + verb structures
4.2 Sentence types
4.2.1 Forming simple sentences
4.2.2 Compound and complex sentences Forming compound sentences Forming complex sentences with subordinating conjunctions
4.2.3 Other complex sentences Participle clauses Infinitive clauses of purpose that-clauses
4.2.4 Focus on relative clauses
5 Sentence structure 2
5.1 Combining ideas
5.1.1 Prepositional phrases vi Contents
5.1.2 Sentence connectors
5.1.3 Controlling syntax
5.2 Focus on punctuation
5.3 Lists and parallel structures
6 Paragraph development: achieving flow
6.1 Information structure
6.1.1 Given versus new information
6.1.2 General and specific
6.2 Cohesive devices
6.3 Focus on punctuation
7 Referring to sources: paraphrase, referencing, criticality and the issue of plagiarism
7.1 Using your own words
7.1.1 The issue of plagiarism
7.1.2 Good reasons to use your own words
7.1.3 Good reasons not to use your own words
7.2 Adopting good academic practice: referencing and criticality
7.3 Strategies for paraphrase and summary
7.4 Synthesising information from multiple sources
7.5 Using your reading to build a bank of common structures and phrases
8 Textual development: structure, coherence, argument and critical thinking
8.1 Structure and coherence
8.1.1 Focus on introductions and conclusions
8.1.2 Describing methodology
8.1.3 Describing and discussing results
8.2 Maintaining coherence
8.3 Building an argument
8.4 Focus on defining terminology
9 Academic and scientific conventions
9.1 Referencing conventions
9.2 Incorporating quotation
9.3 Tables and figures
9.4 Equations
9.5 Units of measurement
9.6 Acronyms and abbreviations
9.7 Bullet point and numbered lists
9.8 UK versus US spelling
9.9 Formatting and presentation
Appendix 1 Verb forms and patterns
Appendix 2 Complex noun phrases
Appendix 3 Common areas of difficulty in grammar and punctuation Contents vii
Appendix 4 Model texts

Most example sentences and texts are taken from authentic academic scientific sources, providing you with an opportunity to see how language works in a real-life scientific context. Authentic sources are indicated by references or, in the case of individual sentences or very short texts, by this symbol:
The book adopts a broad view of science which includes the natural sciences, medicine, technology and engineering. Texts have been chosen which are accessible to a general reader. 2 Chapter 1 Introduction
However, it is advised that you use dictionaries and websites to help you with any difficult words, as this will allow you to focus on the nature of the writing rather than individual words.
There are also a number of texts written by students I have worked with at the University of Manchester, all of which demonstrate the improvements they were able to make as they studied some of the things in this book – in conjunction with their own skills and hard work!
There are a large number of practical activities, including:
• explorative tasks, which help you to explore language use and discourse in academic scientific writing, guiding you towards noticing important patterns, and developing a clear understanding of the rules or tendencies which govern these patterns;
• practice activities, which allow you to consolidate your understanding of rules and patterns and put them into practice;
• review tasks, which provide you with an opportunity to revise the points covered in a chapter by producing a short text.


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