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Becoming an Academic Writer

Becoming an Academic Writer
50 Exercises for Paced, Productive, and Powerful Writing

Second Edition
Additional resources:

March 2016 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Winner of the 2018 Textbook & Academic Authors Association's Textbook Excellence Award

With its friendly, step-by-step format, Becoming an Academic Writer helps writers improve their writing by engaging in deep and deliberate practice—a type of practice adopted by expert performers in areas such as sports or music. Featuring 50 exercises, this practical, self-paced guide is flexibly organized so readers can either work their way through all of the exercises in order or focus on the specific areas where they need additional practice building their skills. The Second Edition is enhanced by a new appendix on literature review, new feature boxes, and new chapter summaries. 

Chapter One: Get Ready to Practice
The POWER Model  
Practicing Academic Writing  
Part I: Practice Becoming a Productive Academic Writer
Chapter Two: Establish and Maintain the “Write” Habit
Think About It . . .  
Seeing Yourself as a Writer  
EXERCISE 1—Schedule Your Writing Sessions  
EXERCISE 2—Increase Your Writing Time in No Time  
EXERCISE 3—Write Quickly, Edit Slowly  
EXERCISE 4—Organize Messy Drafts  
EXERCISE 5—Keep and Share a Writing Log  
EXERCISE 6—Read About Writing  
EXERCISE 7—Document Your Writing Projects  
EXERCISE 8—Write to Learn (Anything, Including How to Write)  
Chapter Three: Practice Building Academic Vocabulary
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 9—Increase Your Vocabulary One Word at a Time  
EXERCISE 10—Use New Academic Words  
EXERCISE 11—Build Your Own Professional Dictionary/Glossary  
Chapter Four: Polish the Grammar
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 12—Learn From the Masters  
EXERCISE 13—Identify Patterns of Problems  
EXERCISE 14—Practice Grammar Rules  
EXERCISE 15—Copy  
Chapter Five: Get Feedback
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 16—Get Feedback on Early Drafts  
EXERCISE 17—Get Feedback on Middle Drafts  
EXERCISE 18—Get Feedback on Final Drafts  
EXERCISE 19—Get Feedback Regularly  
EXERCISE 20—Schedule Reading Appointments  
Chapter Six: Edit and Proofread
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 21—Tighten the Paragraphs  
EXERCISE 22—Make It Flow: Organize  
EXERCISE 23—Clear Out the Clutter  
EXERCISE 24—Use a Thesaurus and a Reverse Dictionary  
EXERCISE 25—Pay Attention to Word Placement  
EXERCISE 26—Cut It in Half  
EXERCISE 27—Read Aloud  
EXERCISE 28—Copyedit: Proofread Line by Line  
Part II: Practice Writing Sections of Journal Articles, Research Reports, and Grant
Chapter Seven: Exercises for Writing Introductions, Purpose Statements, or Specific Aims Sections
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 30—Dump  
EXERCISE 31—Craft the Purpose Statement  
EXERCISE 32—Develop the Rationale  
EXERCISE 33—Present the Literature Review  
EXERCISE 34—Lay Out the Theoretical Framework  
EXERCISE 35—Check It  
Chapter Eight: Exercises for Writing the Methods Section
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 36—Practice Describing  
EXERCISE 37—Describe the Research Design  
EXERCISE 38—Describe the Sample  
EXERCISE 39—Describe the Measures  
EXERCISE 40—Describe Data Collection and Data Management Procedures  
EXERCISE 41—Describe the Data Analysis  
Chapter Nine: Exercises for Writing the Results/Findings Section
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 42—Picture the Findings  
EXERCISE 43—Describe the Most Important Findings  
EXERCISE 44—Summarize the Least Important Findings  
Chapter Ten: Exercises for Writing the Discussion or Conclusion Section
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 45—Question the Results/Findings  
EXERCISE 46—Connect the Dots: Other Research  
EXERCISE 47—Connect the Dots: Relevant Theory  
EXERCISE 48—Guide Your Reader Into the Future  
EXERCISE 49—Confess Limitations  
Chapter Eleven: Exercise for Writing Abstracts
Think About It...  
EXERCISE 50—Write an Abstract in 20 Minutes  


Student Study Site

Visit the open-access Student Study Site to find links to selected resources in Appendix B and templates for your writing!

"The integration of the practical experience, research base, and theory provides all the elements necessary for an academic writing course. As addressed throughout the text, academic writing is challenging and often frustrating. Pat Goodson’s informal yet informed voice throughout provides needed encouragement for the frustrated academic writer."

Erin McTigue
Texas A&M University

"The number one strength of the book is Goodson’s voice and the clarity with which she writes. My students appreciated her straightforward approach and could relate to the book.”

Tracy R. Nichols
University of North Carolina at Greensboro


“This book makes the reader want to write! I found myself reaching for my calendar and penciling in writing sessions for the rest of my week after reading the first chapter. The techniques and exercises are effective and easy to implement; they fit with any writing project, in any stage of the writing process.”

H. Elisabeth Ellington
Chadron State College
Key features

  • A new appendix, Reading & Writing: How to STOP Making the Literature Review an Excuse for Not Writing, provides a strategy for reviewing the literature more efficiently without impeding the writing process.
  • New POWER in Practice boxes include encouraging testimonials by successful academics who have adopted the strategies proposed in the book.
  • New chapter-ending one-page summaries help readers recollect and retain each chapter’s most important elements.
  • The end-of-book list of tools and resources has been updated to reflect the latest information to best equip readers. 

  • A focus on practice for improving academic writing helps readers hone their skills and increase their productivity.
  • Exercises tailored to specific segments of academic papers and reports allow readers to easily identify and practice a particular area.
  • Research Shows… boxes highlight research on various facets of academic writing for expanded and enhanced understanding.
  • Tips for ESL Writers boxes provide guidance specific to writers for whom English is not their first language.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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