“Academic Writing: Mastering Citation and Referencing”, written by Paul Murphy, is Prosperity Education’s latest publication with it being geared towards learners on pre-sessional university courses or for teachers who are teaching the principles of academic writing and skills. The author, Paul Murphy, is a teacher who has taught on various English for Academic Purposes (henceforth EAP) programmes in the UK as well as abroad. Paul has also co-written the “IELTS Academic Reading Practice”, along with Peter Clements, for Prosperity Education.
There are a total of ten chapters within this book, with each unit focusing on a particular skill in relation to academic writing. Prior to the ten separate units, there is an Introduction which guides the student (or teacher) into the intricacies of referencing: in-text citations, reference lists, the different reference styles, as well as the use of sources used in the publication being fictitious (purely used to demonstrate and offer opportunities for the reader to practise academic skills). The topics selected for each unit offer students the breadth of reading that would be expected for undergraduate or post-graduate studies. It is no wonder that Murphy has selected a variety of engaging topics to guide each of the skills, with those including World Languages, Human Rights, Film, or Business.
The introduction to the book is possibly the most important aspect for academic writing as it provides a suitable reminder for the teacher, should they feel a little out of practice about the intricacies of academic writing and style. For the student, it helps explain the rules surrounding in-text citations, reference lists (or bibliographies), as well as the different styles of citation and referencing.
In fact, while preparing for an academic skills lesson, I referred to the introduction as it was logically organised and structured effectively. This helped me develop a lesson and it was a useful source to refer to. What is helpful for both tutor and student is the fact that examples are provided, much like above, with Murphy also including the particular differences, which are sometimes assumed or missed, between the differences and similarities between quotations and paraphrasing, and its implication towards in-text citations. Nevertheless, more detail is obviously provided in the main chapters within the book.
As you will recognise from this publication, the author attempts to present information in a logical and predictable format with more emphasis on presenting key information. After the presentation of this information, the reader is guided into practising that related skill. For example, within the third Unit, about Climate Change, the reader is introduced to reviewing different parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. This leads naturally on to an activity where students must complete a word family table.
The predictable connection with this area of English and, in the context of EAP, is the aspect of paraphrasing and using greater use of noun forms, particularly within an academic context. The following tasks within Unit 3 provide greater practice for the EAP student to look at rewriting a paragraph from an essay on page 41 – something that will aid learners to develop the skill related to paraphrasing sources, which obviously conclude within this chapter.
Each Unit follows the anticipated format with key information being introduced initially, followed by further practice and consolidation of such information. The Units themselves guide the EAP tutor or student through the complexities of academic writing, whether it is using suitable academic sources, paraphrasing sources or referencing using the expected style.
The final chapter, which is connected to the topic of Business, encourages readers to combine all skills, that have been covered previously, so they are able to complete an essay. There are a total of three practice activities before the reader/student is guided to complete an essay. One of my favourite activities within the final chapter must be the referencing unscrambling task, where students have to organise their references by the expected standard – refer to the image on the right.
After the final chapter, there are recommended or suitable answers for all the various tasks throughout all the ten units. Once students have completed their task, they are able to review them using the suggested answers within the final part of the publication.
Some Final Thoughts
The key components that make this a very good book for those involved in EAP include:
- The predictable and logically organised structure
- Various explanations and practice exercises which are provided throughout
- The logical development for the EAP student where they enhance individual skills related to academic writing until they are able to complete an essay
- How the book is suitable for either experienced or inexperienced EAP teachers as well as EAP students
- The possibility of utilising the tasks and activities within the publication during a pre-sessional programmes or academic development courses
However, despite the positives, which there are many, I do hope that there is some development in future editions towards the following:
- A potential Unit on analysing essay questions (i.e., noticing keywords which would aid search skills with synonyms, common question words in essay questions, or developing ideas about the topic of the essay)
- How to plan and structure an academic essay (i.e., the different parts of a paragraph such as topic statement, argument for, argument against, conclusive statement)
- A glossary of terms or language used within an EAP-context, such as common question words used for academic essays or with more specific language used throughout the book (i.e., synonyms, word family, paraphrasing, etc.)
- A short aspect about the grammar of writing within an academic context (i.e., noun phrases, hedging, cohesion, etc.)
Nevertheless, Academic Writing is certainly a useful resource for EAP tutors and students, and it will certainly assist those teachers that are keen to get involved within academic courses at higher educational institutes.
Funnily enough, I decided to trial some of the material within an academic develop class with students from the UK, and the response was immediately positive. Students were required to discover the mistakes with in-text citations and referencing, and attempt to correct this. It certainly helped develop learner awareness and demonstrated that this publication could be suited for not just international students but for UK-based students that are completing academic development courses. Overall, I recommend Academic Writing for those involved with EAP courses and it will provide some inspiration towards developing engaging activities.
Total Score: 4.9 / 5
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