Joining the Academic Conversation
At one time or another, we’ve all asked ourselves, “Who am I to engage with—let alone contradict—this bigwig who’s published a book for every year I’ve been alive? What can I possibly contribute to this field?”
Questioning ourselves is simply human; even the subject-matter experts question themselves. In fact, they probably do so more than most: questioning our thoughts and beliefs is essential to critical thinking.
The bottom line, though, is that a good idea is a good idea no matter where it comes from, and the "academic conversation" is simply an ongoing conversation to which people from all over the world and across time contribute knowledge.
They don't necessarily talk to each other in person, although sometimes they do. You don't have to have a special ID or credential to take part. Simply by participating in the conversation—talking in class, writing papers, and possibly even publishing—you become a part of that conversation.
To that end, adapted from Dr. Zach Shore's method, our Strategic Reading infographics will help you comprehend and synthesize authors' arguments efficiently:
- Part I explains how to quickly extract an author's argument and structure from a text.
- Part II walks through the steps of critiquing a text.
Interested in a guided tour of these techniques? See the video versions of part I and part II.
For a full, NPS-specific overview of these ideas, take the next "Debating with Your Sources: They Say/I Say" workshop. Workshops are offered in the first four weeks of each quarter; you can sign up during workshop season through WCOnline.
Joining the Academic Conversation Links
- Video (0:58): "Using Sources," Hartness Library, Community College of Vermont / Vermont Technical College
- Video (7:30): “Working with Sources,” Caltech Hixon Writing Center
- Book: They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, 3rd ed., Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, W. W. Norton
- Book: Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills, 3rd ed., John Swales and Christine B. Feak, University of Michigan Press
- Book: The Little, Brown Handbook, 12th ed., H. Ramsey Fowler, Pearson