Nearly three years ago, Boba Samuels from the University of Toronto invited me to be the co-author of a book focused on academic writing. We met with our editor from Sage Publishing in the fall of 2016 to confirm the goal and focus of the book, our writing and submission schedule, and publication details. Boba and I wanted Mastering Academic Writing to target upper undergraduate and graduate students and teach them about academic writing genres, structures, and expectations. As such, the book covers topics such as developing a strong argument, writing a literature review, writing about data, and writing in groups.
We wanted our book to be accessible to an international audience, so we used an informal tone, developed a cast of characters, and included space for readers to brainstorm ideas and write directly in the book. Given our experiences as writing scholars and writing centre advocates, we situated our stories and instruction in writing centres. Further, to achieve our goal of teaching students about academic writing conventions, we incorporated authentic student texts into the book. As a result, each chapter includes the following:
Boba and I reached out to students to request their permission to include their original undergraduate and graduate writing assignments in our book. Student texts in our book come from disciplines such as English, business, and psychology.
The writing process was long, and there were many decisions to be made along the way. The beginning of our writing journey was messy, as it often is, as we had to sort out the structure of each chapter, the inclusion of writing tutor vignettes, and the consistency in our individual writing styles. Luckily, Boba and I are a productive writing pair. Our strengths are complementary. While each of us took the lead on writing four chapters, we relied on one another when we were tired of writing, needed to fill in gaps, or brainstormed activity ideas.
Just weeks before Mastering Academic Writing was published it was adopted as a course text for an American Master of Management program. It was exciting to learn that a group of about 50 international students would read our book and use it in their course about research and thesis writing. Following this, I was invited to work with these students in person during their winter term in Paris, France. It was a pleasure to spend two days working with these students and to help them develop their writing skills.
The next step in this project is to participate in a writing teaching podcast by Roger Graves who is a professor at the University of Alberta. This is especially exciting as he has been a mentor to both of us over the last decade of our careers in the field of writing studies. We also plan to present our work at local and national meetings and conferences. Maybe we’ll write another book, too!
I hope the students and professors will enjoy reading our book and find it to be a useful guide as they meet the demands of academic writing. I hope that students will develop their knowledge about academic writing and I hope professors consider using the book as a resource for their students.
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