"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


on writing well

Chris Blattman has a great post on writing essays, including a link to Henry Farrell's wonderful piece on writing for political science. Farrell put his essay up as a PDF with a creative commons license and I will be referring students to it as research paper deadlines approach.

If I had to pick one of his point to emphasize, it would be this: get to the point. Essays that begin, "Man has fought man in conflict since the dawn of time" or otherwise state the obvious drive most professors crazy. Good writing gets to the point, has clear organization, and shows that the researcher had an original thought or two.


Blogger ColoredOpinions said...

thanks for the links. worth while.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 12:32:00 PM

Blogger Our Man in Africa said...

Hmmm. My old African studies tutor, a leading Africanist at a leading university, said he published perhaps one, at best two, original pieces of work in his whole career. Perhaps originality is too much to ask for even from doctoral students.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:01:00 AM

Blogger Rachel said...

"Man has fought man in conflict since the dawn of time"

HAHAHA I love that. It made me laugh. But maybe it would be good to reference that even before we-the-human-race evolved, apes and our other great ancestors fought each other too. Just a thought.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:14:00 AM

Blogger Lil said...

Great links thanks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 8:07:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

OMIA, I should clarify. I don't expect undergraduates to have truly original thoughts, but it's nice when they put things together in their own words. A paper that's just a series of quotes is just as bad as a disorganized one because it shows no attempt at originality.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:00:00 PM


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