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Video Transcripts

Academic Writing for Multilingual Students: Write in a Linear Structure

Last update 7/7/2017

 

Visual: Walden logo at bottom of screen along with notepad and pencil background.

Audio: Guitar music.

 

Visual: The video’s title is displayed on a background image of a dictionary page. The screen opens to the following slides: Write in a Linear Structure

  • Linear versus circular
  • Expectations for the reader versus the writer

Audio: In American academic writing, it is important to write in a linear structure and follow the expectations for the reader and the writer.

 

Visual: As the speaker continues, the following are added to the slide:

  • Writer = clarity & cohesion
  • Relationships = explicit
  • Ideas = clear

Audio: American academic writing tends to follow what we call a linear structure where the writer is responsible for the clarity and cohesion of the writing. Relationships between ideas are explicitly stated. The reader should not have to work too hard to understand the ideas and the relationships between the ideas in the text.

 

Visual: As the speaker continues, the following are added to the slide:

  • Thesis statements
  • Topic sentences
  • Transitions
  • Cohesive devices

Audio: In this type of writing, there are clear thesis statements, clear topic sentences, transitions, and other cohesive devices to guide the reader from one idea to the next.

 

Visual: As the speaker continues, the following are added to the slide:

  • Reader responsible for understanding meaning
  • Complex writing to read = strong writing

Audio: In some cultures, more of a circular structure is followed. In these cultures, the reader is responsible for deducing the meaning of the text, and when the reader needs to work to understand the meaning of the writing, it reflects strong writing.

 

Visual: As the speaker continues, the following are added to the slide:

  • No explicit topic sentences & paragraphs
  • Thesis statement in the conclusion

Audio: There may not be explicitly stated topic sentences in paragraphs, and the thesis statement might appear for the first time in the conclusion of the text.

If you come from a culture that writes in a more circular structure, it might be a challenge to make this shift. Remember, however, that this is what your American readers expect, and they will be confused if your writing does not follow this more linear structure.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following: Linear Structure Example

  • The introduction gives the reader background about the topic. The introduction is often organized from more general to more specific, leading to a clear thesis statement or controlling idea.
  • Paragraph 1 begins with a topic sentence, written in your own words, clarifying the main point of the paragraph and relating back to the thesis statement. Each sentence in this paragraph relates back to the main point of Paragraph 1.
  • Paragraph 2 begins with a topic sentence, written in your own words, clarifying the main point of the paragraph and relating back to the thesis statement. Each sentence in this paragraph relates back to the main point of Paragraph 2.
  • Paragraph 3 begins with a topic sentence, written in your own words, clarifying the main point of the paragraph and relating back to the thesis statement. Each sentence in this paragraph relates back to the main point of Paragraph 3.
  • The conclusion summarizes the main points of the text, in this case, the main points of Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3. No new information is introduced in the conclusion.

Audio: Let’s take a look at an outline that illustrates this linear structure. In this example, there are a total of five paragraphs though this does not mean that every assignment requires five paragraphs. There are sometimes more and sometimes less.

Begin with an introduction that gives the reader background about the topic. The introduction is often organized from more general to more specific, leading to a clear thesis statement or controlling idea.

 

Visual: As the speaker continues, an upside-down triangle is shown with an arrow pointing downward to help illustrate the concept of an introduction paragraph.

Audio: It might be helpful to visualize this as an upside down triangle, with the first sentence of the introduction being more general and being the widest part of the triangle, leading to the thesis statement being more focused and placed at the tip of the triangle.

Paragraph 1 then begins with a topic sentence, written in your own words, clarifying the main point of the paragraph and relating back to the thesis statement. Each sentence in this paragraph must relate back to the main point of Paragraph 1.

Paragraph 2 begins with a topic sentence, written in your own words, clarifying the main point of the paragraph and relating back to the thesis statement. Each sentence in this paragraph relates back to the main point of Paragraph 2.

Paragraph 3 follows the same structure. Paragraph 3 begins with a topic sentence, written in your own words, clarifying the main point of the paragraph and relating back to the thesis statement. Each sentence in this paragraph relates back to the main point of Paragraph 3.

Finally, the conclusion summarizes the main points of the text, in this case, the main points of Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3. No new information is introduced in the conclusion.

When writing in a linear structure, it might also be helpful to think of the analogy of a sandwich. There is a piece of bread on top that is the introduction. There is a piece of bread on the bottom that is the conclusion. And in the middle are the meat and cheese and vegetables, all held together by two pieces of bread. I hope you are able to use these tips on writing in a linear structure to better follow the writing expectations at Walden and at other American universities.

 

Visual: The screen changes to end with the words “Walden University Writing Center” and “Questions? E-mail writingsupport@waldenu.edu.”