Monday, September 8, 2014

University of Manchester's Academic Phrasebank

One consistent problem I find in undergraduate writing is a tendency towards flowery prose. I think it is one of the reasons that APA style can be so difficult to teach: The less-is-more approach to concise writing is not a lesson that they are necessarily getting from other classes. To further muddy the waters, students really don't have any experience writing about numbers/data/statistics/results in a way that a) doesn't convey too much certainty in data or b) imply causality when not appropriate.

That is why I love the Academic Phrasebank. It provides lists and lists and lists of concise, accurate ways to describe research findings. For example, how to write up statistical results:
In addition to providing examples for wording in a results section, they also clarify the type of  guarded language that should be used in a discussion:
Another non-statsy/researchy aspect undergraduate writing pet peeve of mine is when student do not connect their sentences and paragraphs into a cohesive narrative (full disclosure: This is something I struggled with in graduate school). This site has a whole section devoted to connecting paragraphs, sentences, ideas together.

While this collection isn't explicitly APA-compliant, I would say that it embraces the spirit of APA style.