Authentic writing and academic voice

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A meeting with my supervisors this week to discuss some of my work. A good meeting – they like my writing, they’re confident in my ability to finish writing up this PhD.

Then Vic speaks. He tells me that he likes my writing style, that he finds it easy to read … and I can hear the “but”  hanging in the air between us.

So is this the style of writing you are going to use for the final draft?

He asks. Or words to that effect. I say that it is, that this is my voice, and that authenticity is a value that runs throughout my thesis.

He nods. I know that he agrees with me, but that “but” still hangs in the air. I say that I’ll put something into my introduction to justify my use of my voice. He nods.

Back home, I search for “academic voice”. I find this:

We use the term academic voice to talk about distinguishing between your thoughts and words, and those of other authors.

So far, so good – I don’t want to be accused of pretending that other folks’ words are mine – I have plenty of words of my own. But how, exactly should I do that? I find this:

When writing a research paper and other academic writing (what is called academic discourse) you’ll want to use what is called the academic voice, which is meant to sound objective, authoritative, and reasonable.

No, no, no. I really do not want to use that voice. That’s not me, that’s not my thesis. This is more like my voice:

Academic voice is a formal way of writing and speaking that is clear, straightforward, and professional without sounding fancy or using unnecessarily complicated vocabulary words.

Clear – I hope so. Straightforward – that would be a goal. But what does it mean to sound professional? I suspect we’re back to that objectivity malarkey again.

It would be awful to get right to the end of this process and trip up because I’ve used the wrong voice.

But this is my voice, and it would be even worse if I stopped myself from speaking authentically.

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4 Responses to Authentic writing and academic voice

  1. dogtrax says:

    Not a fan of academic voice …. I am a fan of your voice. For what it’s worth …
    Kevin

  2. Kathrine says:

    I think the best academic writing is engaged and engaging. Of the top of my head I think of an academic voice as being self aware, reflective/transparent, offering readers guidance and structure, being informed about what has gone before and actively positioning themselves in relation to it.

  3. lenandlar says:

    I know your voice will make it through and it will be as authentic as ever. Keep speaking

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