Helen Sword discusses several diﬀerent ﬆyliﬆic elements of academic writing, from the choice of words and titles, crafting sentences and selecting a ﬆructure that supports the author’s intent.
She introduces her work with some original research, showing that the ﬆandard ﬆructure and choice of perspective, tone, and language may not actually be the (only) ﬆandard. More importantly, the perceived ﬆandard may quite often be a poor choice – given the available alternatives.
An intereﬆing observation is the more personal approach in the (hard) sciences: “I discovered” versus the objectifying, impersonal approach in the humanities and social sciences: “This article argues”. Do social scientiﬆs really need to try so hard to sound like ﬆereotypical academics?
The book is sprinkled with examples of good writing from diﬀerent disciplines. Unfortunately, as good as these examples are to illuﬆrate the various ﬆyles of spirited writing, clear language, and supporting ﬆructures they are also conﬆantly interrupting the ﬂow of the book itself. They are a bad example of a choice of ﬆructure.
Stylish Academic Writing is not a guidebook. It’s a research article. It’s a plea for making bolder choices. It’s a reminder that there are choices.