The article Writing geology: Key Communication competencies for geoscience was written by three authors, Simeon Yates, Noel Williams and Ann-Florence Dujardin. It was published in 2005 in such journal as Planet. This article analyzes the most common writing mistakes, made by the students of geoscience, and proposes methods of improving writing strategies of students. We can advance a thesis that this study raises very important questions about causes of poor academic writing among students but it has some limitations, especially the fact that this research was prompted by speculative observation rather than verifiable evidence.
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In the introduction the authors argue that modern students have to spend a substantial time on the correction of stylistic or grammar mistakes because they do not view academic writing skills as an essential part of being a scientist (Yates, Williams, Dujardin, p 36). This argument seems to be rather reasonable but the scholars do not give any statistical evidence supporting this argument. They compared writing style of undergraduate students with that one of experienced scholars (Yates, Williams, Dujardin, p 36). In particular, they focused on the students’ ability to follow scientific style of geological report writing (Yates, Williams, Dujardin, p 37).
Their main assumption is that undergraduate students do not fully understand the requirements set for this specific genre of academic writing (Yates, Williams, Dujardin, p 36). Other researchers support this argument and say that students should pay more attention to the analysis of different scientific texts in order to improve their writing skills (Bruce, 3). Thus, this study raises very important questions and the findings of this study can be important to be both teachers and students.
There are several limitations of the study that attract attention. One of them is inaccurate references: many in-text citations do not specify page numbers, and this is not very convenient for people, who may want to refer to these sources (Yates, Williams, Dujardin, p 36). Still, these sources used by the authors are quite reliable since they were published in peer-reviewed journals. Secondly, some sentences of this article sound too informal, for instance “The study described here developed out of my personal awareness of this issue” (p 36). Moreover, it suggests that the study could originate out of personal observation rather than some evidenced-based research.
Thus, one can argue that this research aims to resolve very important problems related to students’ academic writing but it has such short-comings as lack of verifiable evidence and slightly inaccurate citations. Yet, these limitations do not diminish the scientific value of this study as it can give accurate linguistic description of learners’ errors and help them improve their writing style.
Bruce Ian. Academic writing and genre: a systematic analysis. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008 Print.
Emerson Lisa and Hampton John. Writing guidelines for science and applied science students. Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia, 2005. Print.
Owtram Nicola. The Pragmatics of Academic Writing: A Relevance Approach to the Analysis of Research Article Introductions. Peter Lang, 2010. Print.
Yates Simeon, Williams Noel, and Dujardin Ann-Florence. Writing geology: Key communication competencies for geosciences. Planet 2005 (15), pp 36-41.