Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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Coherence in Academic Writing (University Preparation Tip #3)

Here is a short comic.  The hairy character is called Irwin and the woman he's telling his story to is Broom-Hilda.

Broom-Hilda by Russell Myers
I hope you see there is a problem with Irwin's story, specifically about the structure and about the topic of the story. If you don’t see the problem, read the story again. Look at each picture and try to answer this question: What is the main focus of the story in part 1, in part 2, in part 3, etc?

Do you see the problem now?

Part 1 is about the Young Princess, whereas Part 2 is about Uncle Hernando and Part 3 is about the Great Depression. The story has no focus... no coherence.

Make sure you don’t have this problem in your writing by:
  1. Deciding on one specific topic. 
  2. Making sure the topic and conclusion sentences of each paragraph tries to connect the paragraph’s idea to your essay topic. 
  3. Re-reading your work several times to make sure you have clear coherence in your writing. 
  4. Getting a friend/colleague to read your essay and asking their opinion about the coherence of the work. 
If you want a bit more help understanding this topic, you might want to take a look at an earlier article I wrote - Cohesion and Coherence.

Enjoy,

Gordon

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