Book Review of A Sequence for Academic Writing (5th ed.), by Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen
[Please note: I read the fifth edition, but there is a sixth edition available.]
I picked this book up while browsing in the language arts section of a local discount bookstore, hoping that it would give me some ideas for substantive feedback I could give on theses and other graduate student materials that come my way. It’s a text book meant to accompany a course on writing, probably targeting first- and second-year undergraduates, but students at any level who haven’t taken such a course can probably benefit from its instructional style.
Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rosen begin by sketching out different ways of understanding and interpreting text in a chapter on “Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting,” anchoring this sequence on writing firmly in the process of reading. Academic writing is a form of conversation one has with one’s predecessors in the field, and this book is designed to help the student learn to formulate his or her side of that conversation. The skills of summary, paraphrase, and quotation sound basic, but if a student doesn’t have a good grasp on them early on, there may be problems with how he or she engages with and synthesizes research materials later on. I’ve covered topics in this blog that rely directly on developing these approaches.
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