Throughout my educational journey thus far, as both a student and educator, I have dedicated myself to not only improve my technical writing skills, but also to understand exactly why and how readers interpret information the way they do. Self-reflection of my academic writing provides the opportunity to review my completed work, to seek out what has worked in the past, and to reveal who I wish to become as an academic writer moving forward. Recently, I read through the latest publication manual by the American Psychological Association (2020) and watched Theresa Bell’s (2020) “Writing an Academic Paragraph” webinar to explore which steps I should take to improve my academic writing skills. Upon evaluation, it is clear that my attention is best served strengthening my critical analysis and learning the updated American Psychological Association (APA) style and formatting recommendations to strengthen my academic arguments. Therefore, by formulating a strong argument through the critical analysis of each claim made, and in conjunction with current APA guidelines, my academic writing will be well-structured, comprehensible, and influential to my audience.
APA styling enhances the reader’s capacity to comprehend the material by limiting grammar and punctuation errors and creating format consistency across all APA-style publications: “style guidelines allow readers to dispense with minor distractions, such as inconsistencies or omissions in punctuation, capitalization, reference citations, and presentation of statistics” (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. xvii). If a reader becomes distracted by punctuation errors and other inconsistencies in a piece of writing, they can become disengaged with the content and likely to skip over key elements in the author’s argument. As a result, the reader may disapprove of the paper’s credibility or not fully comprehend the paper’s intended purpose. In addition to grammar and punctuation, APA formatting establishes consistency among scholarly and academic papers that enable readers to quickly navigate material to locate items such as key points, resources, and external sources to understand the author’s perspective (American Psychological Association, 2020). For example, when an academic paper covers complex material such as biological or psychological studies, it is in the best interest of the reader to investigate the paper’s works cited. In doing so, the reader becomes educated on the original research data and is more likely to appreciate the author’s perspective. Although following the current APA guidelines does improve the readability and consistency of academic papers, not all subject matter is easily understood and will require further explanation to become comprehensible for the reader.
The connection made between the research evidence and the claim in an academic paper, through explanation, is essential to the reader’s ability to extract meaning from the content: “Rather than assuming your reader will interpret the research evidence in exactly the same way that you did … [connecting] the research evidence to the claim makes it easy for your reader to see and understand your critical thinking” (Bell, 2020, p. 7). By incorporating explanatory examples into a paper, the reader will be less likely to formulate unfounded perspectives that wrongfully oppose the authors perspective, or to replicate misinformation regarding the subject matter of the paper. For example, let’s say a research study claims that type 2 diabetics, who live in warm climates, can enjoy long, quality-filled lives by engaging in routine exercise, and that this claim is supported through the A1C test results (measures the average blood glucose readings over a three month span) of diabetic individuals living in Florida; would the readers then conclude that type 2 diabetics require warm living conditions to benefit from routine exercise? Unlikely, especially considering the amount of evidence-based literature currently available depicting diabetics as beneficiaries of exercise, but such misconceptions are still possible. The thorough analysis of each claim within an academic paper enables the reader to understand the perspective of the author, particularly for readers with opposing perspectives (Bell, 2020). If the reader cannot envision the perspective of the author, they will be less likely to extract meaning from the author’s argument; therefore, by incorporating well-placed explanatory examples in support of the evidence, the author is better able to influence the reader’s perspective on the subject matter. In other words, supporting claims with evidence and explanatory examples is imperative to present convincing arguments to the reader.
Upon review of this assignment, I am appreciative of the opportunity to re-evaluate my competence as an academic writer. I recognize excellence in writing to be a lifelong pursuit and that even the most gifted authors have room for improvement. Moving forwards, I will use the APA Publication Manual, as well as the Royal Roads Writing Center, to seek out new ways to improve the presentation and readability of my academic works. I will also examine the analyses of established authors to determine how they inject meaning into their writing, so that I can later emulate such tactics in my academic papers. If all of the above statements hold true, I will greatly increase my capacity to write quality academic content that is comprehensible, credible, and meaningful to my audience.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
Bell, T. (2020). Writing an academic paragraph [Webinar]. Royal Roads University. http://media.royalroads.ca/media/Library/writingcentre/Videos/Writing_an_academic_paragraph_full/index.html