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Academic Writing Guide

Using this Guide

This guide provides an overview of the writing process. This guide can help you

It also provides resources for finding help with your research/writing.

The library also has research guides to help you with writing:

University Philosophy of Writing

Our philosophy holds that while texts and processes may differ across different contexts -- whether those be the undergraduate or graduate writing classroom, the workplace, or popular spaces of communication – a sound theory of writing can transfer into whatever space a student finds themself so that they can communicate effectively.

Effective writing does not just relate to things like grammar and citations. While those are important, other qualities such as logic, organization, and audience awareness separate effective from ineffective writing.

Franklin University believes that written texts can be understood in light of four central qualities: reasoning, genre competency, reader engagement and style. See the box below on this page for a discussion of these four central qualities of writing.

Four Central Qualities of Writing

What is reasoning?

Reasoning includes the overarching logical structure within a text.

Whatever overarching lines of reasoning writers follow, they must carefully select the content they provide to a reader as they develop that line of reasoning.

Content serves several purposes within a text—helping the reader understand a topic or idea, supporting claims made by the writer, and providing necessary information to allow the reader to respond appropriately and effectively to the text.

How do I evaluate reasoning?

  • Appropriate content is used to develop a coherent, sound, and well-evidenced line of reasoning
  • Line of reasoning is sufficiently developed and appropriately crafted for the genre and audience
  • The line of reasoning relays a novel, original, and/or unique argument, explanation or narrative that allows the subject to be seen in a new light.


What is genre competency?

Any individual text belongs to a genre, a broader type of text that has a set of features (or, “conventions”) that serve particular purposes.

Genre conventions result from the practices of a given community. Readers approach different genres, and the various components of that genre, with a set of expectations. The savvy writer crafts their work with these expectations in mind.

How do I evaluate genre competency?

  • The form and structure of the text aligns with the conventions of the given genre and the reader’s expectations for these conventions.
  • The writer has realized the conventions of the genre such that readers experience the genre in a meaningful way that is not hackneyed or stereotyped.


What is reader engagement?

All writing is produced for particular readers to produce a response from those readers. Effective writing is crafted with the needs, expectations, and values of an audience, and sometimes multiple audiences, in mind.

What works for one audience may not work for another. And what is considered appropriate, acceptable, or even desirable by one audience may be considered inappropriate or ineffective by another audience. Effective writers not only consider their readers as they write, but make deliberate choices about their texts based on their readers.

How do I evaluate reader engagement?

  • The text has been crafted to help develop the reader’s understanding of the subject as the writer sees it.
  • The text has been crafted in a way that accounts for the given audiences values and expectations.



What is style?

A text is composed of elements – written and visual -- and the presentation of these elements affects the way the reader experiences the text.

In the written and visual elements it contains, effective writing realizes key virtues of style:  clarity (permits reader to see central ideas as the writer does), cogency (directs reader to the central line of reasoning), and correctness (meets the required grammar and citation standards).

How do I evaluate style?

  • The elements of text – written and visual – are elegantly composed and facilitate a meaningful reader experience of the text.   
  • The design of the text is polished and visually appealing
  • The text is free of grammar errors and demonstrates appropriate citation practices.


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