Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問

The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: In writing an argumentative essay objectively, is it acceptable to cite the opinions of unspecified experts?

Let me say at the outset that writing an essay of opinion “objectively” is like whitewashing a fence with black paint. It is, to say the least, difficult. An argument is a clash of opinions. Any writer who tries to be “objective” in entering such an argument can count on losing. Argumentative writing is a subjective task. The goal is to marshal salient, favorable points of argument and to mitigate damaging, unfavorable ones.

Can a writer accomplish this by citing “unspecified experts?” Rarely. An anonymous “expert” has little standing in an argument, so little in fact that the very term “expert” tends to be ridiculed. Even a generic “expert” whose authority is virtually unassailable in other settings (“A mother knows these things…”) lacks convincing credentials as a source in a paper. Anonymous experts are the human equivalent of hearsay evidence and should not be counted on to carry an argument.
引用「不具名的專家」 是否能達成上述的效果呢?--難上加難。無名的「專家」在論述中立場薄弱之至,甚至連稱之為「專家」都顯得不恰當。就算一般常被指稱,在一些情況下不會遭致質疑的專家(如『當媽媽的一定都知道…』),在學術論文裡的說服力也不夠。不具名專家的意見,猶如道聽塗說,不適宜引用於學術嚴謹的證明論述。

It is a matter of persuasion. Facts persuade. Facts from the mouths of identifiable authorities persuade convincingly. It is the difference between asserting that “people love cream puffs” and declaring that “9 of 10 surveyed chefs in Taipei vote cream puffs the No. 1 dessert.” The assertion can be easily dismissed as fanciful, whereas if the survey is disputed, the onus to disprove it is on the disputant. Successful authors of argumentative papers know their sources – and identify them.

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:51 | 0 Comments

This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的

This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的
Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. In this "This is not academic writing" column we examine short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and explain how to correct them.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“To have the voices singing in counterpoint in "Eleanor Rigby" was the bright idea of George Martin, who also wrote music for the two violas, two cellos and four violins that played behind the singers. Martin was more responsible than anyone else for creating the song’s unique sound. The music producer also decided to place the recording microphones right next to the instruments so that the instruments’ harshness wouldn’t be filtered out. In another bold move, he had the musicians play their stringed instruments without vibrating the strings.”

Sloppy wording can convey the gist of a subject, but it cannot communicate with exactness. The foregoing paragraph, which analyzes the recording of a popular song, is an example of poor word choices. “The bright idea,” for example, is an inexcusably colloquial expression. “Wrote music for” is a wordy equivalent of the more concise “composed.” The listing of eight instruments can be expressed economically as an octet. To say the song has a “unique” sound seriously diminishes the restrictive nature of unique. And playing a stringed instrument “without vibrating the strings” is to not make a sound at all—surely not what a writer intends to convey. A more succinct and precise version of the paragraph appears below.
鬆散、模糊的用詞儘管仍能傳達想法,卻無法精準地與讀者溝通。本段文章討論流行歌曲的錄製,其中用詞選字有多處明顯失當。舉例而言,the bright idea太口語,實在不應出現;wrote music for太累贅,不如以精簡的composed呈現;洋洋灑灑列出八樣樂器,不如寫出八重奏octet來的簡潔;告訴讀者曲子具有獨特的聲音,詮釋的方式不當,反而無法凸顯unique本身獨一無二的意義與價值;最後,作者聲稱演奏絃樂器時,不需震動琴絃—顯然表示一聲未出—作者想傳達的本意應非如此。更簡潔、準確的寫法,刊登如下。

Acceptable 認可的文章

“The contrapuntal play of voices in "Eleanor Rigby" is attributed to George Martin, who also composed a score for the string octet that backed the singers. Martin essentially was responsible for the song’s signature sound. The gifted producer captured the raw feed of the instrumentation by placing recording microphones unusually close to the instruments and by having the musicians play their stringed instruments without undulating vibrato.”

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:51 | 0 Comments

12 Recommendations to Help you Submit a Conventional and Acceptable Paper Tip 8: The three structural parts of a well-constructed paper 12個獲得學術認可的論文撰寫技巧之八:完整文章結構三段式

The community of scholars has rules that govern how dissertations, theses and other academic papers are composed and formatted. Academic convention has established what is acceptable and what is not. Following is one of 12 recommendations to help you submit a conventional and acceptable paper.

Tip 8–The three structural parts of a well-constructed paper

Having researched a subject and obtained some mastery of the language, an academic writer can begin to write. The writer’s pre-writing activities are the foundation and the framework for the paper. Without the advance work, a paper will be rickety in its presentation and weak in its material content. No successful academic writer ever writes a paper based on shaky knowledge.

Academic papers share a three-part structure with other conventional written media. Essentially, the paper should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, which usually are referred to as introduction, body, and conclusion. These are fundamental to any attempt at communication. Literature sometimes departs from this model, but academic literature has no such license.

The introduction should accomplish two tasks: (1) Present the paper’s general subject and (2) present the writer’s distinguishing proposition or thesis on the subject. An example: Were the subject William Shakespeare, the Bard would be introduced with enough detail to fully identify his work. This would be followed by the proposition that Shakespeare was, let’s say, a fraud.
前言所肩負的兩項任務,包括:1. 提出論文大致主題方向。2. 提出對主題獨特見解或論點。舉例來說,若論文主題為莎士比亞,則應準備充足的細節資料完整帶出這位詩人的重要,以便讓讀者充分理解與認識莎士比亞的各部經典作品,接者再提出作者自己的主張,例如可以說,莎士比亞其實是個騙子。

At once, the reader knows where the paper is headed. Its longitude and latitude are yet to be revealed, but its direction is set. In the body of the paper that follows, the writer then presents the rich lode of material supporting the thesis. This main content should flow naturally from a rough outline developed during the research process, in which both mind and materials are organized.

Having effectively presented in the body of the paper the researched and original material, the writer then must conclude. This is not an insignificant section of the paper. It brings together the paper’s key elements in a few sentences, giving the reader a capsule account. This summary and restatement should affirm all that went before and impart confidence in the integrity of the paper.

The structure of an academic paper is progressive, yet it is circular, too. After reading the conclusion, a reader should be able to look back to the introduction and consider the paper a promise kept. While each section has a separate function, the three sections are interconnected in their purpose and conviction. An irresolute paper is a failure of scholarship and of structure.

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:51 | 0 Comments

0411 TPS Spot the Error Contest-Answer and Explanation 你是挑錯的高手嗎? 正確解答

Answer: “is” should be “are.”

“Neither the commanding centurion, nor the Roman soldiers, are treated unsympathetically by historians of the period.”

Error: The mix of subjects confused the writer of this sentence. The compound subjects “soldiers” and “centurion” are paired unequally, in a sense, because the first is plural and the second singular. The pairing is grammatical, however, and the applicable rule is that the plural subject should be placed next to the verb, with which it should agree. Therefore, the sentence should read, “Neither the commanding centurion, nor his Roman soldiers, are treated…” This writing mistake is No. 4 of 10 Common Writing Errors That Can Spell “Rejection” for Your Manuscript, which are posted elsewhere on The Published Scholar site.
這句話的作者混淆了兩個不同的主詞。Soldiers和centurion並非對等的主詞,因為一個是複數,另一個是單數。但此處這樣列舉兩個主詞並未違反文法規則,正確的寫法應該是讓動詞接在複數主詞之後,以達成正確的主動詞一致。正確的句法為“Neither the commanding centurion, nor the Roman soldiers, are(were) treated…” 這樣的寫作錯誤可參照本專頁所張貼之「10 個導致退稿的常見寫作錯誤之四:Avoid Error of Agreement When Using Correlative Conjunctions」。

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:51 | 0 Comments

TPS Spot the Error Contest-Win Your NTD200 7-11/Starbucks Prize! 你是挑錯的高手嗎? 有機會獲得200元統一超商/星巴克咖啡禮券!


The sentence below contains 1 grammatical, spelling and/or punctuation error. The first three (3) TPS Fans to respond with the corrected sentence will win a NTD200 7-11/Starbucks Gift Certificate. The corrected sentence and the names of the winners will be published tomorrow on this TPS Fans page. Please post your answers below. Good luck!

題目Contest Sentence:

“Neither the commanding centurion, nor the Roman soldiers, is treated unsympathetically by historians of the period.”

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:52 | 0 Comments

What does that mean? 你真的瞭解這個慣用語嗎?

Imagery buries itself in language and takes on new meaning. The transplanted and transformed sets of words are called “figures of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“A study of 150 mothers revealed that 25 percent of the women exclusively breastfed their babies and genuinely enjoyed, like clover by a beehive, the sweet maternal connection.”

“Like clover by a beehive” is an allusion to the pollination activity of bees in fields of the legume called clover. The interaction of plant and insect helps the plant to bear fruit or establish itself and the bee to collect nectar necessary to make honey. The mutually beneficial natural activity has several derivative benefits for people, including regeneration of soil-renewing stands of clover and widespread availability of sweet, sweet honey.

As used in an academic paper about a study of satisfied breast-feeding mothers, the simile denotes the natural synergism of mother and child. Like a clover plant, a breast-feeding mother naturally offers her child the nectar that produces growth and induces further bonding. The writer additionally expressed the character of the relationship using the clover-bee analogy by calling breastfeeding “the sweet maternal connection.”

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:52 | 0 Comments

This month only! TPS offers FREE EDITING to the first 20 fans to apply! 免費潤稿服務—開放前20位粉絲報名!

Dear TPS Fans,

Need another pair of eyes for your essay?
Dearly hoping for another brain to evaluate your writing?
Willing to sacrifice an arm and a leg for professional feedback on your paper?

Spare those limbs!

For a short period of time, The Published Scholar is offering FREE professional editing of up to 300 words. The first 20 TPS fans who contact us between now and the end of April with an editing request will have their electronically transmitted papers professionally reviewed and edited—and it won’t cost you a dollar, pataca, or pound. You may be thinking, "How do I take advantage of this great offer?" It's simplicity itself! 1) Leave a message here on our Facebook Page confirming your interest. 2) Send an email to with your paper attached (please do not post any personal information on our Facebook Page.) It's that easy! So come on, be the first to take advantage of this LIMITED offer. Apply now!
即日起至四月底止,英文學術發表專家將提供300字免費專業潤稿服務,開放給前20名幸運的TPS粉絲報名體驗。只要在此訊息下方留言,提出潤稿需求取得優先名額,再將你的英文論文/文章與姓名,E-mail到,我們會安排美籍編輯顧問立即審閱並編輯你的作品,保證,完全不花你一毛錢。名額有限(Limited offer),歡迎立即報名。

The Published Scholar makes it its business to review and edit all compositions we receive with care and speed, while still respecting your ideas and deadlines. It’s our mission, our interest, and our field of expertise.

Try us. For FREE!

TPS Team

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:52 | 0 Comments

This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的

Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. In this "This is not academic writing" column we examine short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and explain how to correct them.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“Over-fishing of coastal waters brings lots of tragic consequences. The environmental impacts are extraordinary, including a dramatic reduction in the kinds and types of fishes in areas where commercial fishermen used to count on catching them. Natural development of species can be altered when only the biggest specimens are pulled from the sea. The environment in the water isn’t helped either when imbalances are created that gum up the natural order of things.”

This writing is marked by imprecision. The impact of over-fishing is couched in such vague terms as “lots of” and “extraordinary” and “dramatic reduction.” Rounded expressions of scale are dangerous because one man’s “lots of” is another man’s “few,” particularly without supporting data. The results of over-fishing are called “tragic,” but beware of universal assertions. A vegetarian in the Tibetan mountains might think over-fishing an interesting topic, but would he see it as tragedy? Do you see other glaring examples of poor academic writing?
這篇文章充滿許多模糊的字詞表達。過度捕撈所造成的影響,在lots of、extraordinary、dramatic reduction這些含糊的字眼下反而顯得柔弱無力。這類描述程度的籠統字眼非常危險,尤其在沒有數據佐證下, 一個人認定的lots of對另一個人而言可能不過是few而以。作者以 “tragic(悲劇性)” 形容過度捕撈的結果,但千萬小心這類在世界上普遍存在的宣言。居住於西藏山區的素食主義者也許會認為過度捕撈是個有趣的主題,所以在他眼裡這不見得是悲劇一件。大家不妨仔細觀察,你是否也找得出其他明顯的不恰當字眼呢?

Acceptable 認可的文章

“Over-fishing of coastal waters brings significant consequences. The environmental impact is evident, including a measurable reduction in fish variety and population in formerly reliable commercial fishing grounds. Natural development of species is retarded when selective netting culls only the biggest specimens from schools. Undersea ecology is altered as well when imbalances are artificially created that interrupt systemic and interconnected processes.”

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:52 | 0 Comments

12 Recommendations to Help you Submit a Conventional and Acceptable Paper Tip 7: Wanted: Formal, unambiguous expression 12個獲得學術認可的論文撰寫技巧之七:寫作要求-正式、明確的表達

The community of scholars has rules that govern how dissertations, theses and other academic papers are composed and formatted. Academic convention has established what is acceptable and what is not. Following is one of 12 recommendations to help you submit a conventional and acceptable paper.

Tip 7 –Wanted: Formal, unambiguous expression

This is the third tip devoted to language. To “precise word choice” and “appropriate voice” is added another writing consideration: tone. The word refers to the type or manner of expression required in academic papers. In a word, the tone is to be “formal.” Another word for it might be “professional,” in the sense that a writer conforms to a standard of the academic profession.

“Formal writing” does not imply the use of pretentious language, which can be characterized as stilted or pompous or stiff. Rather, formal writing acknowledges a paper’s seriousness of subject and gravity of purpose. Formal language does not pretend to do anything beyond communicate clearly. Adjectives that merely adorn are unwelcome; florid prose is particularly inappropriate.

Informal writing violates these principles because its purpose is entirely different. Informal language entertains, or casually conveys a message. It exaggerates for literary or humorous effect and otherwise embellishes a central thought with whimsical flourishes. All of this is laudable when in character. However, it is entirely out of character for a purposeful academic paper.

Nor is scholarly writing marked by emotional intrusions. Scholarship, after all, is an intellectual exercise. Academic papers are dedicated to ideas, not feelings. Thinking, not emoting, should drive a serious academic writer. The language employed in the paper should have the tensile strength of a tempered thought, rather than the ductile strength of an emotional appeal.

As a rule, shorthand expression is not acceptable in an academic paper. Therefore, contractions are out. Abbreviations should be avoided. Jargon is inappropriate, whether elevated, as in specialized technical language, or demeaning, as in a pejorative gibe. Any truncated or colloquial expression invites ambiguity. For a paper to endure, it must be expressed in enduring language.

All of this should come naturally for a writer whose sole purpose is to honestly share insight and discovered truth. The substance of a paper should be enough to induce in a reader the hoped-for sense of pleasure and revelation. Attempts to artificially convey such sensations through artful word choice usually boomerang. Clear, unadorned writing lets a reader see a paper’s real worth.

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:52 | 0 Comments

0328 TPS One Word Away From Confusion Contest-Answer and Explanation你能找出混淆字嗎? 正確解答!

Correct Best Answer: Replace “versatile” with “variable.”

“Successful classrooms are so variable that it is difficult for researchers to distinguish crucial factors separating learning students from failing ones.”

Words that look alike, sometimes even sound alike, can pop into the mind while composing a paper. Conveyed from the mind to the computer screen, a word can continue to look correct, but, in fact, turns meaning on its head. In this instance, successful classrooms may be “versatile,” but versatility does not obscure truth. Whereas successful classrooms being “variable” in their make-up does cloud the issue for researchers, who are trying to sort out what does and does not contribute to learning environments.
有些字拼法相似,甚至連讀音都相近,很容易在寫作時一起從腦海裡冒出來。從腦中的印象到電腦螢幕上打字出來,一個字看起來可能依然言之有理,但其實已扭曲了文章的意思。以這個例子而言,成功的課堂學習方式也許可以用“versatile(易變的、反覆無常的)” 來形容,但這個詞並不會模糊對事物的理解。如果說要達到成功的課堂學習,其方法各有不同 “variable”,就可以意會到研究者的困惑,那就是不同的因素太多,難以分辨哪些對促進學習環境真的有貢獻。

Last Update at 2011-04-28 PM 2:53 | 0 Comments