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: A couple of my friends here in school have read my papers and each has said that the papers seem “inconsistent.” They can’t very well explain what they mean and I am left to wonder where I am going wrong. Any ideas about that?

Friends can mess with your mind. An honest appraisal from someone you trust can knock the struts out from under you. I can’t fault your friends for being frank, but they might consider a more constructive approach to friendship. Still, their comments can be useful to you if you are genuinely interested in improving your writing of academic papers. The perceived inconsistency of your papers could be the result of any number of academic writing errors. It might be something you are doing, or not doing.

Do you switch willy-nilly from first person to third person? Changing perspectives can jar a reader. Do you pick your words less carefully the longer you write? Such sloppiness, usually from haste or laziness, is noticeable. Do you get off track? Readers lose the thread of wandering presentations. Are your papers inconsistent in tone? Perhaps you begin in a formal way, then slip into a more casual mode, then return to a formal, didactic voice before ending with a blatant plea for acceptance of your argument. Horrors!

Any of these misguided approaches to academic writing reflect ignorance of the purpose of a paper. Do you remember what that is? The purpose is to professionally argue the case for new understanding of a subject via fresh information, preferably unearthed by you. If your writing is not consistent with this central purpose—from beginning to end—and is not coherent both in its information and its written delivery, you probably are guilty as charged by your friends.

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