This is a comprehensive and engaging book for self-study. It has introduced me to the basis of good academic writing, in particular because it uses simple language to explain the many steps taken while reading and writing critically. It goes from reading widely, planning, developing your own voice, critically organizing thoughts to writing a dissertation and proofreading. In other words, I would say that this book goes from A to Z. I feel as if my anxieties, doubts and insecurities with regard to writing have been clarified by a friend. I wish I had read this book before taking a Master’s course.
Notes on Specific Chapters
The book is very well organized giving very clear steps to writing your own essay.
The top tips in boxes are important as they draw your attention to relevant points that might otherwise not be noticed if they were in middle of the text. In the same way, the Key Fact, which gives a brief explanation, helps foreign students in particular to understand the basic terminology used in the academic field.
The examples given to illustrate the explanation are very useful because they show in practice how to apply the explanation.
Another strong point of the book is its reference to the chapters, in order to gather more information about what has been explained. In this sense, this book covers all the points that enable students to become effective critical readers and writers. The interesting point is that when you start to read, some questions may be raised but they are then answered through your reading on, so it can be suggested that the book engages in a conversation with you.
It brings to our attention the number of times that an article is cited, which is an indication that the article is relevant academically.
The chapter on criticality, an area which most students find challenging, gives a clear explanation of how to apply critical thinking constructively. It differentiates between the subjective role of the reader and the reader’s ability to offer objective criticism.
Although planning your essay beforehand is one of the most important steps, it can be quite tricky but in chapter 4 the book gives a clear idea of how to plan and from where to start.
Writing Chapter: The relevance of the introduction and its connection with the conclusion are given. What I find extremely useful is the guide to writing a strong conclusion, in that it explains that the information contained in it is a reiteration of the points mentioned in the introduction, but with critical engagement. Moreover, the example of subheadings, writing a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph in the main body of the essay, is a useful guide as this has clarified to me how to organise my arguments in a more coherent fashion.
The activity proposed in the reference chapter is useful as it checks our understanding and draws our attention to the most common mistakes made while citing.