Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Academic Writing Conventions

I was marking a student's research proposal the other day, when I came across this sentence in their literature review: "In this research paper Jenny and Charles interview 24 students from 15 countries".

Treating this as a learning moment, I began to write some fairly normal feedback about academic conventions, saying "It is ‘normal’ to use surnames when we are writing up the views of experts. So we would say 'Lee and Rice'". But I stopped short at this point, because that was when I started thinking.

I started thinking because it suddenly occurred to me how jarring it is in New Zealand whenever we read, hear or use surnames instead of first names. It is completely NOT 'normal' for Kiwis to use surnames. In fact, the use of surnames borders on the overtly rude in Kiwi society.

Yet our academic writing and referencing in New Zealand has been almost entirely driven by what happens in the USA, and this reflection of academic culture has been adopted here without question, as it has been globally.

It is a very interesting aspect of what is 'normal' in academia, and not something that I had ever thought about before.

It sparked lots of questions for me. Should we continue to do this? Should we try to stop doing it? Is it necessary? If so, WHY is it necessary?

Something to think about.



  1. I think this is among the most significant info
    for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things,
    The website style is ideal, the articles is really great
    : D. Good job, cheers

  2. Very energetic blog, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

    1. Good point: you have reminded me! Look for part two in July 2018 :-)

  3. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site?

    My blog is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would
    really benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Thanks!

  4. Saved as a favorite, I really like your website!

  5. Can you tell us more about this? I'd love to find out more

    1. Thanks Anonymous. I do a few updates from time to time. Try the following search for more info:


Thanks for your feedback. The elves will post it shortly.