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Capstone Multilingual Writing Tips: Blog

December 2018: Rhetorical Structure

by Paul Lai on 2018-11-20T15:53:00-06:00 | 0 Comments


When writing a dissertation/doctoral study/project study in American academic English, it’s important to follow the expected rhetorical structure.

To organize the document as a whole, remember to follow the appropriate premise guide, prospectus guide, and checklist for your program. Also, be sure to use the program-specific study/dissertation templates.

To organize the document in sections and paragraphs, keep in mind that the United States tends to be a writer-responsible culture. American readers do not want to work too hard at understanding the meaning of the document; in other words, it is your job as the writer to make the writing clear and straightforward.

American academic writing tends to follow what is called a linear structure where the writer is responsible for the clarity and the cohesion of the writing. Relationships between ideas are explicitly stated. 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.

If you come from a culture that does not write in such a linear way, it might be a challenge to make this rhetorical shift. In some 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. There may not be explicitly stated topic sentences in paragraphs, and the thesis statements might appear for the first time at the end of the document.

Remember, however, that your American readers (and maybe your committee) will be confused if your writing does not follow a linear structure.  

For help with writing in a linear structure, these resources may be helpful:

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