Further MSE1 Reminders

By , February 22, 2010 8:43 am

Hopefully you’re all revising meaningfully, truly re-seeing your large-scale “global” issues such as argument clarity and synthesis and metadiscourse as well smaller-scale, “local” issues punctuation and word choice.

To help facilitate revision, here’s a short list of suggestions I hope you’ll consider:

“I believe” or “I feel” language is never appropriate for academic discourse. When you couch your arguments in “It is my belief”-type statements, you limit your ability to persuade. In essence, you’re not trying to persuade, you’re only sharing your opinion. You want your argument to be forceful and compelling, not limited by “I believe” talk.

Avoid gerunds–which are verbs that end in -ing but behave like nouns. They’re very passive. Don’t begin a sentence with “Having” or “Seeing” or “Making:” such language stunts your ability to write actively. This is something we’ll work on all semester, but I just want to put it on your grammar radar.

Keep working on synthesis. There are really two sites where synthesis can happen, so as you revise, closely examine and consider them:

1. Second quote intro: When you introduce your paragraph’s second quote, you should use a verb of attribution that expresses that quote’s relationship to the first. There are a lot of relationship-verbs out there, so use as many as your vocab allows:
further contends
provides additional proof
(and a lot more that I won’t just hand over to you.:))

2. The second site of synthesis comes after your second quote. Once both of your quotes are clearly introduced and incorporated into your paragraph, it’s time to put them to work:

Mention your sources again by name, explaining their interaction in terms of supporting your argument:

“Both Smith and Jones share a common concern about childhood obesity’s long-term effects on America’s health care system…”

“Smith’s findings, coupled with Jones’ data, provide a harrowing picture of a future generation of socially awkward twentysomethings…”

When I read your final drafts, I’ll be looking at your second quote intro and, especially, the ends of your body paragraphs and CA for clear interaction between your sources and a clear explanation of how that interaction helps uphold/”prove” your paragraph, and then how that paragraph helps uphold/”prove” your thesis.

Be direct in your language and be explicit about your synthesis.

If you feel like you’re overexplaining, you’re probably on the right track.

Email me any questions, as always.

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