Can I write this like this? How to find the right style for your homework is explained by author Stefan Kühtz
How to find the right style for your homework is explained by author Stefan Kühtz
Somehow, as a student, you have a sense of what the finished scientific text should sound like. But when your own text has to be written, the uncertainties begin: Can I put it that way? Is my style too colloquial? Which formulations are allowed?
The right language packaging
Often it is not the professional content that makes academic writing a problem, but the search for the right linguistic packaging. And that’s exactly where a lot can go wrong: Some chores sound as flowery as a report from last summer’s vacation, others are as brittle as a tax return.
Fear as time-eating
The crippling fear of not getting the right tone is, above all, a time-waster! Some postpone the annoying paperwork forever, and eventually resort to boring standard phrases under pressure of time; others work on every single word for weeks on end and find no end.
Style follows function
Before tapping into the writing fright trap, it can help to make you aware of what function your scientific text should and should not do. Basically, a scientific text is intended to accurately and unambiguously present subject-specific content or findings of an expert to other experts in the field in order to ensure a smooth exchange of information.
Focus on the subject matter
The style must therefore be neutral and relevant, because the subject matter is the focus. Inappropriate is everything that gives the text a narrative or reporting tone. As a rule, you should therefore avoid formulations in the tense of the past or in the ego form. Definitely unsuitable are all phrases or filler words that are more typical for spoken language. Your homework should not sound like a chat in the cafeteria.
1. Find the right level
It is always unfavorable when the reader of a term paper – the teacher – does not feel taken seriously as an expert, because the text sounds as if it were written for a primary school child. From the beginning, use the usual terminology and explain no banalities. For example, in a paper about Goethe’s late poetry, you do not have to explain what a rhyme is. You can confidently assume this expertise. Explain or define only those terms that are central to the work, that allow for different definitions or that are not part of the standard vocabulary of your subject. In case of doubt: ask!
2nd way with the filler words
Let go of everything that makes statements inaccurate or relativized. Expressions such as> more or less <,> about <,> about <,> on the whole <,> halfway <or> somehow <act as if you are not so precise about precision. This impression may under no circumstances arise!
3. Pay attention to nuances
When choosing words, you should pay attention to the side meanings, because some words are not value neutral. For example, a company – formulated neutrally – can seize the opportunity for expansion. On the other hand, when you speak of a “chance to expand,” the matter becomes additional meaning to the “good opportunity,” and then you subliminally incorporate your personal rating. This is only possible if it is clear that at this point in the text should really be a subjective assessment. This can be clarified, for example, by a corresponding chapter heading.
4. Stay factual
The claim to neutrality, objectivity and precision logically also excludes other creative modes of expression, which can be found above all in essayistic or feuilletonistic writing. This includes
- irony and sarcasm,
- bold metaphors and comparisons as well
- word and language games
And that’s the good news
When formulating science, you do not have to formulate it creatively or aesthetically, but most of all, you have to be functional. Literary quality is not expected here. Some writing rules that you still know from school, therefore, no longer applies without restriction: You have learned in English essays that you should avoid repetition of words. This is not always the case with scientific writing because, for some scientific facts, there is only one specific word that can not be replaced by another without being inaccurate. If you are writing a thesis on inheritance law in Jura, for example, then this word may very often appear in the text because there is no other word for it. That’s not very elegant linguistically, but it can not be changed.
Easy-to-understand sentence structures
And then there’s the thing with the sentence structure: obstinately holds the misconception that you can accommodate complicated issues even in complicated sentence constructions. The opposite is the case. When it gets complicated in content, the information should be packaged in easy-to-understand sentence structures so that the reader can focus on the content rather than deciphering the sentence structure. It is important to clarify the meaning of meaning between the information. This is done with transitions such as “This results in …” or conjunctions such as “so that”, “by” or “provided”. If you tend to produce tapeworm sentences, you can easily control yourself: as soon as a sentence of more than three lines covers a normal font size, you should become suspicious. Often you can then break the sentence down into several individual ones and thus significantly increase the intelligibility and readability of your text.
Fellow students as test readers
You have reached your goal, if your text is quickly readable, without the reader stumbles over linguistic adversity. You can test this by asking classmates to read the text on a trial basis. It is best if the test readers are not very familiar with the topic of the work, because otherwise they would be tempted to pay attention primarily to the content.
Practice creates masters
And finally: Scientific writing is always a matter of practice. So do not fret if it takes a bit longer in the beginning. It will be easier and faster every time, because during the course of your studies you will acquire a basic set of phrases that you will quickly get ready for next time.
Box set of horror
On the whole, the point is the following: The interpretation of Goethe’s later poetry requires basic knowledge of the complete work, whereby it must be remembered that in connection with the epochal peculiarities an intensive examination of all those other authors is necessary, the references and parallels to explicitly analyzed set pieces, such as … Well, only understood station? So please do not.