Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Review: A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations

Recently I have published a post about “Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day” by Joan Bolker and today I will talk about something much more serious. The book by Bolker focuses on developing a writing habit of producing some text every day. And “A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations” by Kate L. Turabian has very specific instructions on academic writing and that’s exactly what every academic writer needs.

There are several reasons it is definitely worth buying (it’s better to opt for a paper copy because the kindle version has some navigation problems as the reviews say. Anyway, I have a paperback copy):

  • It Is Compact

It doesn’t have any paper wasted on unnecessary information: everything is concise and each detail plays an important role for an academic writer.

  • It Is Written in Plain English

You won’t have any troubles perceiving the information from the book because the language is simple and clear, so you won’t have to read the sentence twice to get what it is about.

  • It Is Written for People

By this point I mean that this book contains not only technical details of academic writing (how to use abbreviations; how to cite electronic sources; etc.) but it actually gives some tips on how to place the word “research” in your head so that it would acquire the correct meaning. It also helps the process of deciding on the topic for your paper which is one of the most important things in academic writing.

I highly recommend this book to freelance academic writers because it will definitely help you become that professional you want to be. In spite of my 16-year experience I found much useful information in it. This is the most trustworthy resource and it gives you a great deal of confidence because once you write a paper following the instructions from this book, you are certain that you’ve done the right thing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why Do You Need to Use Corpora?

Corpora … It is a strange word that sounds a little bit scary for me because (I don’t know why) it associates with Umbrella Corporation from “Residence Evil”. Well, it doesn’t matter really. What’s important here is that corpora can help you a great deal with academic writing. How? Let’s see.

A corpus (pl. corpora) is a large electronic collection of texts which can specialize in a specific language (Corpus of Contemporary American English), certain dialect (Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech), separate industry (Corpus of American Soap Operas), etc. So what? How can it exactly help you?

Let’s imagine that you are writing an essay for an American student and you are not sure whether you should use the word “offense” or “offence”. So, you go to the Corpus of Contemporary American English and here is what you see:

You need to:
  • Press enter;

  • Type the word “offense” into the search bar;

You will see that the word “offense” has 13634 occurrences and if you want to see it in the context, you just need to click this word.

  • Type the word “offence” into the search bar;

You see that it has only 289 occurrences and it gives you the evidence that “offense” is more common in American English. To compare the results you may also examine the same words in the British National Corpus.

Overall, corpora can be used to check which prepositions are used with this or that word or how some certain phrase is applied in the context. This way or another, corpora are irreplaceable tools in academic writing once you learn their value.