Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 5

The Odds and Ends

This is the last post in the series, and I’ll be honest – this one is the odds and ends that didn’t fit elsewhere 🙂

Proof, Scientists, and Studies

Although we tend to talk about studies “proving” this or that thing in everyday life, in reality, things are not so defined. The Greeks thought they had “proved” that women were affected by a condition called “hysteria,” which resulted from a womb, untethered by pregnancy, floating about their bodies and causing problems. Academics learn to be wary of “proof,” and this was one of the most frequently mentioned problems from the people that contributed to this post. Likewise, avoid stating that something is “a fact.”

Researchers don’t “look at” their research. They “study,” “examine,” or “test.”

As I will discuss in an upcoming blog post on what we are actually doing when we use peer-reviewed research, who conducts the research and how is just as important as the findings. Science relies on reputation, accurate reporting, and replication, so that information should be included.

Credit the researchers or the organization rather than writing “studies examined” or “the article says” (studies can’t act—researchers do; likewise, articles are written by someone or some agency that produced the information)

Be careful with how you report the results, especially if they were not conclusive. Don’t assume that they were “trending toward” being significant; this is a claim that you can’t support.

This should go without saying, but it was suggested as a problem: do not claim that “researchers” or “scientists” say if you don’t have proof. If you can’t find it, don’t make the claim.

Issues with writing and research skills:

I will address some of these issues in upcoming blog posts, but some of these issues are beyond the scope of this blog. Libraries and writing centers are wonderful places, and I urge you to find out where and how to access these tools, and make friends with the staff!

  • Cheating (upcoming)
  • Not knowing how to paraphrase (upcoming)
  • Knowledge dumps: ideas/knowledge dumped on the page with no organization or connecting ideas
  • No structure; no paragraphs; just a chunk of text
  • Lack of analysis/explication/no idea how to use evidence or how to cite it (upcoming)
  • Missing in-text citations, missing bibliography/reference list/works cited list (upcoming)
  • Overly formal or informal tone, awkward tone, inappropriate language (do not curse!)
  • No header info, no pagination (upcoming)
  • No title or a vague title (upcoming)
  • No thesis statement
  • Verb tense problems
  • Overuse of sentence fragments
  • No variance in sentence openers
  • Using the same paragraph openers over and over
  • Awkward or missing transitions

This is the last of a series of posts about common writing errors.  I will be addressing some of the concerns in the list, above, in future posts – if you want to see them, please subscribe using the button to the left!

Have you received feedback from a teacher that you didn’t understand? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can help!

Read previous post in series: Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 4

Read previous post: Citing Sources: Why Do We Do It?

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