A Blog of Writing Resources from The University of Scranton's Writing Center

Tag: discipline writing

Academic Word Lists

Academic Word Lists

Most freshmen find out the hard way that academia feels like a whole new language, and while it’s technically still English, the scholar-specific vocabulary may be unfamiliar and difficult to navigate. Terms that are common topics of conversation in college classrooms—like ideology, cognitive, intrinsic, longitudinal, seminal, and salient—may pose barriers. It may be even more difficult for students to adopt this academic language into their own writing. For that reason, we recommend you check out this webpage. Try not to get overwhelmed when you click the link, because it has several word lists and it may feel like you’re scrolling forever.

However, there’s two portions of the page you should check out and explore the links:

  • Academic single word lists: general purpose
  • Academic multi-word lists: general purpose

Here you will find multiple lists of frequently used academic terminology as well as phrases, transitions, connectors, idioms, formulaic expressions, and words that are commonly used together in academic settings. It’s a wealth of knowledge, and though the webpage can be a little hard to navigate, it’s worth exploring. These terms can help you feel more comfortable with academic discourse, and they can elevate your academic writing when you weave them into your own work.

Here’s the webpage.


Writing in the Sciences vs. Writing in the Humanities

by Stephanie Lehner and Caitlin Doughton

As Biology and Philosophy double majors in SJLA, we have gained experience writing both scientific and humanity-based papers; however, we recognize that transitioning between the two often can be difficult. We would like to provide a guide on how to tackle this task. While it is true that the two writing styles vastly differ in some regards, they also share similarities! As in all writing, it is important to have a clear purpose, and thus, pick a specific topic to discuss. For example, rather than writing about Plato’s Symposium in its entirety, the specific topic of Eros (Love) in the Symposium can be analyzed. Similarly, rather than writing about cells in general, the specific topic of embryonic stem cells can be researched.

When writing scientifically, it is important to have succinct sentences and strong verbs that convey the topic at hand. Although long and flowy sentences may sound better from the writer’s perspective, such a structure may force readers to analyze each sentence multiple times before they grasp the true meaning! Therefore, it is essential that sentences only include information that is necessary for properly interpreting the topic. Including and referencing experimental and statistical data also improves a scientific paper, for readers can better understand a topic when evidence is provided. In scientific writing, a certain format is often followed: abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion. This outline allows for a smooth progression of thoughts, moving from general information about the topic to specific information about data. It is also vital to conduct research on other literature regarding the topic at hand to provide background knowledge. Doing so will increase the paper’s credibility if similar results have been obtained in other experiments. We find PubMed, Google Scholar, and Science Direct to be useful websites for obtaining peer-reviewed articles and would recommend them as a strong starting point.

Conversely, when writing in the humanities, students often have more creative liberty and can use a variety of adjectives and adverbs to convey imagery. Yet, students should also be cognizant of speaking succinctly because the inclusion of “fluffy” words or sentences detract from a paper’s purpose. Although humanities papers often display more linguistic creativity than scientific papers, it is important to recognize the fine line between words that add to versus words that take away from the paper’s message. In the humanities, a specific structure is generally utilized when writing papers: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Just as the abstract summarizes a scientific paper, an introduction gives insight into a humanity paper’s central discussion. Thus, it is vital that papers have strong thesis statements, so readers have a clear direction. In fact, a thesis statement may cause readers to decide if they do or do not wish to continue reading your piece! Lastly, resources, such as the library’s database and collection of books, along with Google Scholar, are helpful for humanities papers. We also find Purdue’s OWL’s Sample Papers to be an extremely helpful resource for better understanding how to properly format a paper.

As always, it is important not to worry oneself when writing a paper or to overthink when starting the writing process. We always find it helpful to write down preliminary ideas and goals for a paper in the format of an outline. Doing so allows us to have a clear focus regarding the paper’s topic and helps the writing process to go much more smoothly. At The Writing Center, we have benefitted from making appointments with other writing consultants to help with our own papers. As such, we understand the importance of helping other people with their writing too. If you are ever having trouble starting, working on, or finishing a paper, The Writing Center has numerous resources to help!

Good luck and happy writing!


A Quick Resource for Writing in Specific Contexts

A Resource for Writing in Specific Contexts

The way that we write—the tone, the style, the formatting, and the organization—depends on the context. It’s likely that the five-paragraph-essay from high school will simply not work in most situations that require writing, especially when you need to write strictly-structured pieces, like an abstract, a cover letter, or lab report. There are so many types of assignments that you’ll need to create during your college career, like annotated bibliographies, literature reviews, and poetry explications. Your instructors will rarely include sample papers or detailed formatting guides, so it can be overwhelming. On top of that, each discipline has their own conventions, style, and citation format. The use of personal pronouns might be recommended in for your philosophy essay, but those same pronouns will probably cost you points in an essay for your upper level nursing course.

Knowing how to respond to different writing situations comes with experience and exposure to each field.  However, this resource is a great guide to get you started in understanding special formats and discipline specific standards: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/

Benefits of this resource: It walks you through specific writing assignments, step by step.

Drawbacks of this resource: You’ll notice it has other topics about writing, citations, and sentence-level concerns. While all this information is useful, I’m not sure it’s the best resource for citations or for revising sentences.

However, I would say it’s one of the most user-friendly resources  with quick guides in discipline-specific writing and  examples of specific writing formats.

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