From a personal process to a public product: the role of communication in the middle of the & quot; - Academic writing: process, product and practice

From a personal process to a public product: the role of communication "in the middle"

What does "publicity of text" mean? It is important that the very word & quot; public & quot; (public ), undeservedly (and perhaps deliberately) associated in the Russian language with a field of circuses, circuses and theaters, means independent people having their own opinion and own position. Just as we come to the theater, paying our own money and choosing a performance, researchers select special literature, magazines and books that interest them in connection with their own scientific interests. And just as in the theater the performance is viewed simultaneously by many independent from each other people, the scientific text is read by many independent specialists. Each of them will search in a public product exactly what is necessary for him, and the opinion will endure his own. In this respect, it is very, very difficult to expect that your scientific text will be accepted and unanimously appreciated as a contribution to science, and it is not necessary. It will be fine if you satisfy the interests of a number of researchers working on the same topic, and help them move forward more confidently.

In addition, the scientific text will read not just an unfamiliar reader, but a reader remote from the author in space and time. The published text (ie, provided to the public) will be read, perhaps on the other side of the world, and possibly even years after its creation. To foresee a reaction to the text of an international reader or future reader is even more difficult. It is much easier to write for a narrower circle of people - for example, for readers of the Russian scientific journal. Even being unfamiliar with the author personally, these readers have about the same education, they live in approximately the same economic and political conditions and in the same socio-cultural environment. By the way, and to their language they will be less exacting.

The text is also public, addressed to colleagues in the institution, where readers are known by their names. However, this does not mean that they will accept the text and agree with its author. Moreover, the factor of personal acquaintance can play against the author. For this (and not only) reason, the texts intended for the organization or institution are almost never written alone. A project, research or working group is created, the roles are assigned, and the collective product is submitted to the trial of the public collective after it has passed through discussions, disputes and compromises in the team of authors. It is difficult to blame a whole team of qualified employees in creating a bad product, but not so much because they make up a qualified team, but because the text has already been criticized inside this qualified team. One mind is good, two is better, and seven or twelve is just wonderful.

When you are still at the university, the closest readers and critics to you are the other students. You have some general knowledge and interests, about the same experience and age. However, you can have very different value systems, beliefs, preferences, habits and thinking style. In one group students with different socio-cultural backgrounds and financial opportunities can study. All this can not fail to determine their personal vision of the problems discussed in the text, especially if these problems are related to the socio-economic, political or cultural sphere.

Ignoring the opinions of others, even if you consider them unequivocally wrong, will lead to the fact that you will never learn to write. Academic writing is a way of academic, and then scientific and professional communication. Since the main type of communication in the scientific and business sphere is text, it is impossible to explain something to the reader or accuse him of not understanding outside of direct contact with him. It remains to learn to listen, hear, anticipate and persuade.

Let's see how this happens in the practice of teaching letters in the West. The development of writing as a central skill in relation to all other communication and academic skills today is not subject to doubt among researchers and teachers of Western universities. Teachers of different disciplines establish contacts among themselves in order to share their experience in organizing written practices and assignments, approaches to writing development, methods of objective and productive verification of students' work, etc. The most important strategies for working with students are interactive, motivating to reflection, cooperation, joint problem solving and conducting an honest, open dialogue with each other and with the teacher.

Since scientific and academic texts, undoubtedly, have general laws, but there is also a disciplinary specificity, the writing programs are divided into an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary letter (writing across the curriculum , WAC) and intradisciplinary writing , WID. When it comes to interdisciplinary writing, it is important not to confuse false traditions that distort the clarity and availability of texts, with features this or that scientific discourse. So, for example, in the scientific literature on chemistry or physics there are practically no references to the statements of other authors, therefore, such important for social disciplines as citation and paraphrase, there seems to be no need. Nevertheless, the specificity of disciplinary discourse does not mean that a letter of this kind does not obey the laws of transdisciplinary writing.

A transdisciplinary letter has several important advantages. First, the general laws of constructing a scientific text allow you to make any text as understandable to the reader as possible, no matter what scientific field this text refers to. Second, the general laws of letters adopted by the international scientific community, allow to maintain a common approach to international scientific publications and promote effective communication between researchers in different countries. Finally, the general laws of clarity of language and organization of a scientific text, the balance between specific and general academic language are key to the success of interdisciplinary communication and, most importantly, make any scientific text in some way understandable for a wider audience.

Many prominent researchers write about the publicity of scientific texts. Thus, Gerald Graff [7] emphasizes that the availability of scientific research to a broad reader is of particular importance in the field of socioeconomic disciplines. He writes that over the last decades the public has changed: the public began to take a keen interest in everything related to issues of social, cultural and political change. The information in the media is not enough for the reader: he wants to receive it "from the first hand", reading, for example, articles about new methods of treatment in medical journals, about multiculturalism in sociological, about the economic crisis in economic, etc.

A transdisciplinary letter allows one more important type of communication to be realized - the cooperation of teachers. Every student and even a schoolboy knows how different the programs and methods of different disciplines are, how different are the requirements of the teachers and their criteria for evaluating the work. On the discrepancy between methods and criteria for assessing the essay even for the same discipline, teachers of one subject and one department are evidenced by numerous experiments.

The author of one of the most popular books on the methodology of writing & quot; Fascinating Ideas & quot; ("Engaging Ideas") American scholar John Bee [2] gives examples of such discrepancies and encourages teachers to harmonize and measure their assessments, which too often in isolated conditions become biased and depend on the teacher's personal preferences. Today, not only writing centers for students are being created in some US universities, but special units of transdisciplinary writing (WACDepartments ), which unite teachers of disciplines and professional teachers of writing.

Sharing experience between teachers of departments and various disciplines in the field of writing makes it possible to make the learning process not only objective and open, understandable for students. Even when the teaching of the letter is organized almost perfectly, some students do not apply the methods and technologies they learned in writing courses to an essay on the specialty, mistakenly believing that in this discipline it is customary to write a deliberately boring and confused language, and the text is organized according to a template. Bee emphasizes that only the interaction of teachers of all disciplines and the use of uniform methods and technologies of writing can provide universities with the production of academically literate researchers who can write genuinely public scientific texts.

Let's turn now to what happens in the teaching of the letter itself. American teacher and methodology of transdisciplinary writing Art Young [23] considers teaching a letter in the student group as "middle pad" (middle ground), where novice authors can combine already available knowledge and research methods with new knowledge and new experiences that they acquire during the course development, and generate texts for the & quot; audience of their colleagues in the group.

What happens? The author learns to turn his personal, personal letter into a product intended for the real reader; he prepares to discuss it with the group and with the teacher, take lessons in criticism, persuade, argue and agree, rework the text and bring it to the discussion again and again until it receives public recognition. So the university audience becomes a place where the skills of personal, personal letters turn into writing skills of the public (Table 1).

This movement from a purely personal, internal voice, talking to oneself, to the official text addressed to a critical, unknown and multi-faceted reader, is a completely natural process. Every thought, genius or just necessary to people, always originates in someone's own, deeply internal process of cognition or reflection. Young writes: "Every letter is in a sense personal, and every letter, when it is read by others, is publicly" [23, p. 37].

& quot; Middle Playground & quot; helps not only learn to write publicly, it helps to avoid one of the most terrible consequences of an unsystematic, intuitive self-learning letter - imitation. Until the student became a real scientist, he can not think and write like a scientist. When he is required to write in the manner of scientists, he produces an artificial, false text [23, p. 36]. Writing such fakes is fixed by years of practice, and when a person grows into a real researcher, he continues to write this artificial, faceless, alien language for him.

Pretended knowledge leads to feigned communication. A letter addressed to peers who are equal, alive and familiar, avoids this pretense and avoids falling into the rut of a false academic tradition that generates hard-to-read, heavy-handed texts that are devoid of the author's live voice.

Imitation of foreign (and alien) voice is especially noticeable among Russian students when they imitate the texts of scientists of past centuries, which abound in the programs of the first courses and which constitute a significant part of the school curriculum. In addition, the school still teaches that the only correct answer to the question is the goth the teacher expects to hear. This is not a Russian problem, but an international one, but it does not get any easier. Of course, writing academic texts in the language of the blogosphere is unacceptable, but also "sticking" the beard of the venerable thinker of the century before last is also ridiculous. You need to look for your own voice in the spider, but modern and lively. For this we need a good writing program that will ensure a natural and purposeful transition from an individual, private letter to a truly public discourse, but not at the expense of imitation, but by understanding the goals and nature of such discourse.

Look again at the Young table: the column & quot; Personal discourse & quot; well familiar to each of you, and so can (and indeed does) write. Jump to the column & quot; Public Discourse & quot; immediately, without special training, is impossible. Even if you have something to say to scientists, you can do it only in your own language. By the way, so they will understand and accept you more quickly, rather than you refer to them with a language you can not speak. In addition, as we have already said, it is impossible to learn to write by reading other people's texts, writing skills need to be developed separately, through our own practice, and the Yang system allows it to be done as best as possible.

Work "in the middle", as do Yang and his colleagues, as well as individual Russian enthusiasts of academic writing (still scattered and unsystematic), allows students to develop their own "voice" and sharpen the language skills at the same time with the skills of critical thinking and analysis. Communicating with the same young authors as themselves, arguing, clarifying, explaining and rewriting their text, students gradually develop the ability to persuade. In terms of the methodology of writing, the ego means that in the process of such a repeatedly played dialectical language communication, cognitive and social practices work for a single result - the education of independent thinkers and open-minded authors-researchers.

Special place in & quot; median & quot; Yang's pedagogy is occupied by a teacher. In recent years, the role of the teacher in Western pedagogy has changed radically. First of the & quot; wit on the stage & quot; (sage on the stage) the teacher turned into a "guide on the side" (guide on the side), and then completely penetrated into the student group, becoming an active participant in the learning process, which studies with students, but knows how to learn better and is an example of how you can develop your own knowledge. On the & quot; middle pad & quot; the teacher is a more experienced researcher and an academically literate writer with whom students communicate alongside each other and who can be contacted in case of difficulty.

This is a very important moment for our course, where the teacher has to learn to write academically and look for his own "voice" to a much greater extent than American or Western European teachers who have passed a serious school of academic writing, rhetoric and composition.

& quot; Rhetoric & composition & quot; (rhetoric and composition) is a discipline that represents the following in the American system, after the academic letter the level of development of skills in text construction. We will pay attention to it, since it leads the author into the practice of writing in full accordance with our infinite spiral of development, of which we spoke above. Moreover, rhetoric and composition is based on three aspects of the scientific text that will help us organize work with this textbook.

The fact is that under the actual academic letter, American scientists understand a set of basic knowledge and skills, i.e. a system of elements and laws for constructing a text, to the study of which we are just beginning. However, their academic writing begins literally from the kindergarten (where, when they barely learn how to write, children even write reviews of each other's work) and end up around the age of 12.

After that, writing skills continue to be practiced at school and abroad, in colleges and universities, but already as rhetoric and composition. Steven Lynn, the author of the textbook, which is called "Rhetoric and Composition" [13], addressed him to teachers of all disciplines who seek to help students express their own ideas and build informed evidence. This transdisciplinary science has become the cornerstone of the baccalaureate programs of many universities, and allows researchers to be trained in a wide variety of fields of knowledge.

The best American universities have special writing centers, where any student can individually address their individual text and individual problems. It is assumed that the author is already well acquainted with the writing system, but to get off on a worthy "spiral coil" in the creation of the text can not always. It happens that one text is easy to give, and you are torturing yourself with another and, after all, you are going for advice to the tutor (today in the United States there is even such a specialty in education - composer , although as an ordinary tutors often work well writing magistracy students). This is where the interesting and highly individual work begins, which in our terms can be called the support of writing practices.

Such a system was developed hard and long, for about 40 years, and the process of the formation of the writing and preparation centers for certified composers is still going on. Of course, in America itself not every university and college has such resources, and not all students are so advanced. However, do not forget that higher education in the US has the highest quality rating, and there are many students from all over the world. Not all of them have a decent training in academic writing (as, by the way, not every graduate of the American school). In the US, there are weak schools, and not too strong universities, and colleges. In order to cover this gap and provide an opportunity for all to learn to write academically, there are university courses for foreign students and even writing courses for everyone in public colleges ( community colleges).

Without going further into the discussion of the organization of writing programs in the United States, I note one very important point: university writing centers (and they exist in Europe) operate on the principle of "hands off the author's text" ( hands-off approach). The essence of this principle is best formulated in the 1980s. Stephen North [17]: work on the perfection of the writer , and not the text. Discussing his text with the tutor, answering his questions, reading out not entirely successful fragments and trying to explain that in the text is not so, the student himself analyzes and, as a rule, he himself solves his problem. This remarkable approach really helps a person to develop independently and expand the practice of writing. What he himself guessed is not forgotten. The Indian proverb says:

"Tell me - and I'll forget, show me - and I can not remember, let me do it myself - and I'll understand."

Teaching academic writing from a young age, aimed at developing critical and analytical thinking and conveying one's own thoughts to the addressee, the work of teachers with students on "median sites" and the tutoring activity of American and European university writing centers shows that it is impossible to learn how to write a public text in isolation without discussing it with living, real people.

The text as a public product should be honed for the needs of the public through communication with the public, criticism, answers to questions, cooperation and joint reflection of the problem. It is not only possible, but it is also necessary to discuss it with a group, teacher or supervisor (as a more experienced writer) at different stages of creation, from the first draft to the final editing. It is customary for scientists to give the text to at least two colleagues before sending it to, for example, a scientific journal or to their management. You will never see the error as others see it.

Let's hope that in the Russian universities, someday there will be such & quot; median area & quot; and letter centers. Naturally, as long as we do not have refined the program a letter of at least high school, we will have to impute to these centers integrated functions, including both the development of basic letters skills and tyutorskuyu practice and training of tutors and methodological assistance to teachers of subjects . While we only pave the way for such a system, but if the US and European universities, it took decades, we can significantly reduce this path, if we use their experience.

At this stage, we are interested in the basic skills of academic writing, however, since each starts his own way from the individual point of the developmental spiral and wills to move on with his own speed, we will not only keep in mind the rhetoric and composition, but also include in our work items of this level.

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