Talking about research

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Jul 232012

“Research” is an uncountable noun; this means you cannot say:

“Many researches” or

“ Smith did a research”

You should write :

“A lot of research” or

“Smith did some research”

“Research” is a high-frequency word i.e. you are going to use it frequently in your academic writing.
[see High-frequency vocabulary]

For this reason, it is a good idea to use synonyms e.g. “investigation” or “studies”. These nouns are countable.

E.g. “ Many studies/investigations”

“Smith conducted some/several/numerous investigations/studies.”

You can therefore say “An investigation/study into….”

Although you can use the verb “to do” with research, there are better alternatives that sound more formal:

“ Jones et al. conducted research into the phenomenon of….”

“ Simpson (1999) carried out an investigation into….”

Jul 162012

It is very easy, when writing in a second language, to worry about communicating your ideas in accurate language. What very often happens is that students focus on this, but then they forget to connect the ideas. As a result, they write lots of short sentences that don’t appear to have any logical connection with each other. Continue reading »

Jul 092012

When we speak to people, we choose our words carefully to suit the occasion. If you want to borrow money from a bank, and you have an appointment with the bank manager, you do not say to him, “Hi mate! How’s it goin’?” This would be inappropriate because it is too informal.

Similarly, if you meet your friends in Starbucks for a coffee, you do not say to them, “Notwithstanding the unseasonably high temperatures, I will nevertheless elect to consume a hot beverage.” This too would be inappropriate, as it would sound too formal. Continue reading »

Jul 022012

When International Students write Academic English, they generally write sentences that are too long [my record was a sentence by a Spanish girl that was 85 words long!]. Of course, this can confuse the reader [never a good idea !] and mean that your ideas are unclear.

Other students do the opposite, and write sentences that are too short; this has the effect of making your English [and your ideas] seem basic, and not well-developed. Continue reading »

Jun 252012

Let’s think about it. How often do we listen to someone’s ideas for hours on end? We may listen to a lecture for an hour, and we might have to listen to friends and family members talk endlessly, but the fact is that we get bored very quickly when we have to listen to someone’s ideas for hours.

So, what has this got to do with academic writing? Quite a lot, actually. If you have written a dissertation of 15,000 words, your reader is in the same position as the person listening. They have to absorb your ideas for a long, long time, and this can be boring. It becomes worse than boring if the English is poor, the ideas are not clear and the arguments are difficult to follow. Continue reading »

Jun 182012

This means the words/phrases that you are going to use with high frequency [ i.e. very often ] in your essay/dissertation/thesis.
If you are writing a long academic document and you frequently mis-spell or mis-use a word/phrase, then your marker/supervisor is going to think, “This student hasn’t even bothered to get the basic right!” Believe me, when you are marking a 15,000 word dissertation on “E-commerce in the USA” and the student has written “USA” instead of “the USA” at least 50 times, you get annoyed! Continue reading »