Academic Writing

Academic writing contains an argument that is credible.  It’s argument is logical and has evidence and reasoning that backs up the argument.

In, “Men’s Search for Meaning: The case of Legos,” the title is clear and the source is stated.  The three authors names are front and center with their schools right under their names.  The date this article was received, revised and accepted is under the academic information of the authors. All of this supplies the reader with credibility.  The reader is now privy to an, “abstract,” which gives the reader a short preview of what is to come with a result to back up their study.  The paper is written in outline style using Roman numerals.  The purpose of their study is clear, “In this article, we focus on minimal perceived meaning by the labor producing force and investigate how it influences labor supply in controlled laboratory experiments.”  Their intention is stated, “Our intention is to compare situations with no meaning (or as low a level of meaning as we can create) with situations having some small additional meaning.”  We immediately know that they are going to focus their study on, “The least common denominator of meaningfulness that is shared by virtually all compensated activities.” They then focus on, “Recognition and Purpose.”

In their evidence presentation they quote other sources that they used for their findings, “Frankl, Loewenstein, Preston and Leete,” who have done other studies on the same topic.  they explain in detail, the three conditions for their study so that the reader has a clear picture of what is happening.  The results are presented in each experiment.  They provide a colorful bar graph to expound on what their experiment entailed.  The results of each experiment are revealed along with numerical formulas, “The Spearman correlation between the number of Bionicles produced an average speed of building them is 0.838 (p<0.001) in the meaningful condition and 0.251 (p=0.29) in the Sisyphics condition.”  In their conclusion, they sum up their findings with data.  They  end their article with acknowledgements and a long list of references.

This news release has a title that is catchy, “What Managers  Can Learn from Legos,” but there is also credibility established by telling the reader that there is a, ” News Release,” and it comes from the, “Duke, Fuqua School of Business.”  Enough credibility has now been established for the reader.  The team of Ariely, Kamenica and Prelec state their purpose, “Set out to understand how perceived meaning affects a person’s willingness to work.”  They define meaning so that the reader fully understands what is happening in their findings.  The experiments are explained in detail with results being explicit.  Their message to managers, “Managers who wish to have motivated employees must recognize the work people perform.” So the purpose of the experiments and the results show managers what they can do to increase employee performance.  This news release does not meet the criteria for academic writing.

By establishing the purpose and presenting the evidence, the credibility of this experiment was proven. In the video, Dan Ariely: “What makes us feel good about our work? ” has interactive talk and is presenting to a local audience.  The written introduction tells us, “Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes, towards meaning in our work.”  The credibility is presented and established.  The viewer wants to learn about what makes us feel good about our work.  Ariely goes on to explain exactly what makes us feel good with the evidence and findings on the experiments conducted.  He takes the audience through the results, thus providing evidence. In the TED video, we can only imagine and visualize the experiment.  It is not academic writing and doesn’t meet the criteria to qualify as academic.

Specifically pertaining to academic writing, the News Release is not near the caliber of the Academic Journal.  The news release is more for entertaining purposes. The news release did not provide the credibility that the academic journal did.  The news release did not clearly state its purpose.  Evidence was not fully provided and it did not back up the intent.  the academic journal, even though it was lengthy, provided credibility and had all the elements necessary of academic writing.  It stated the purpose and appealed to the ethos by providing sufficient statistics.  Its results were provided.   According to an article on academic writing, by L. Lennie Irvin, professors at George Mason University were asked to outline three major characteristics of academic writing.  This is what they state, “Clear evidence in writing that the writers have been persistent, open-minded and disciplined in study.  The dominance of reason over emotional or sensual perception.  An imagined reader who is coolly rational, reading for information and intending to formulate a reasoned response.”

One Response to Academic Writing

  • richardcolby says:

    You focus on the rhetorical features of these pieces, mainly ethos, which is a great application of the course concepts. What is confusing about your approach is that you name the three pieces in inconsistent ways. The journal article is written for an academic audience, but the news release and the TED lecture are not for an academic audience. If you were more explicit about what naming each piece, it would have made for a clearer blog post. This might mean always calling the video the TED lecture, or the news release the news release. For example, in your third graf, you say “in their evidence presentation.” Why not say, “academic article” or “journal article.” Finally, I would like a bit more about how evidence is specifically different between the three pieces. BTW, the use of an outside source (the one by Levin) was fantastic.

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