On Writing Academic Papers

As you guys probably know since I won’t shut up about it, I am a member of The Writer’s Block. I love writing fiction, and I’ve done my fair share of opinion pieces here on Steemit. I love to write. But when it comes to academic work, boy is it another universe entirely.


Writing political opinion pieces is simple enough. Start with a premise, offer the facts that you want to apply your premise to, and then draw the conclusion. There’s plenty of sub-arguments within the span of your main argument, such as making the case why a term should be defined one way as opposed to another, or establishing that part of your premise is true because X, Y, and Z. But ultimately, it’s just a giant syllogism: A is C. B has all the qualities of A. Therefore, B is C.

For rigorous academic writing, the kind that you publish in journals, it’s significantly deeper than that. All the same rules for making an effective argument are still there, but, to put it how my jurisprudence teacher puts it, “no one wants to know what you think.” For legal writing, you need to cite every assertion you make that isn’t your own, and you are not expected to make any assertions yourself outside of your premise and your conclusion. Most of my opinion pieces are based in logical reasoning, to avoid citing to authority and thus undermining the strength of my argument on its own. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury here.

It’s also a different style of writing. In fiction writing, it’s important to show, not tell. Academic writing is the exact opposite. Illustrative facts are really just facts recited from other sources that support your premise. That’s it. Aside from a clever hook at the beginning of a law review article, the roadmap, and the conclusion, everything else is recitation of evidence that supports your premise. Prose doesn’t have much of a place here.

While it is rewarding to make a well-documented piece of work, I’m less enthusiastic about it than good ol’ writing from the hip.


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Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

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