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Durham University

Department of Anthropology: Writing Across Boundaries

Hints and Tips for Writing

It is intended that this section will expand with time as students share their experiences of writing qualitative work on the group discussion boards. It is also tentatively supposed that the content contributed here may help fill a need, in that, though there are many publications focussing on creative writing, and, similarly, many that explore the fundamental structures of effective written communication in a variety of genres, there are rather fewer which examine what happens in between : the cognitive experience of the author facing a blank page or writer's block, and the behavioural processes that subsequently ensue.

  • If you are looking for someone who has done it to tell you how they did it, try The Thesis Whisperer. Her pointers in the post 'How to write 1000 words a day' might get you going! If you find 'getting down to it' a problem, the Pomodoro Technique is a great tool, which Ingar covers in , 'Another way to write 1000 words a day
  • Do you find yourself procrastinating amongst friends, all of whom are supposed to be writing? Turn it into a common effort, combine coffee with work and - Shut up and write!
  • Writing is supported by good reading, and good thinking! Writing Across Boundaries received a mention on the Anthropology collective blog Savage Minds, when one of the commentators on a post on the importance of thinking llinked to us. Have a read here.
  • There are already some reflections on "Reflection in the Writing Process" ( a brief annotated bibliography of some less common sources) below. Additionally, Crafting Good Writing offers some thoughts on first sentences, how these may be used to establish the authorial tone of a text, and give signals, implicit or explicit, about the writer's intentions and assumptions; all comments are enunciative, not definitive.

The useful websites to the right deal with more general thesis-writing issues. The collection of links below are gathered from an essay by Ingie Hovland in Anthropology Matters 2007

You may also have wondered what things look like from your supervisor's point of view. Les Back, who has written for our Writing on Writing collection, has created a beautiful website called the Academic Diary. We suggest you browse around, but take a look under Themes for Supervision and Students for some entries that may help you reflect back on who you are writing for, and what help may look like in testing times! 

 

Resources

Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish your Thesis, Book , or Article. Second Edition

Last year, the University of Chicago Press republished Howard S. Becker's classic book on Writing for Social Scientists. Updating chapters on computing and information technology, the new edition also develops significantly in its last chapter Becker's ideas on the role of institutions in setting standards, demanding particular types of writing, and judging students work. Professor Becker will be contributing to the Writing Across Boundaries 'Writing on Writing' series, keep an eye out for his piece!

Don't have Microsoft Powerpoint? Click here to download Powerpoint Viewer 2007 free.