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College of Arts & Sciences
Writing Center

Writing in the Disciplines

Discipline-specific writing requires an understanding of conventions that are often unique to a field of study. An engineer, for example, will be expected to follow a different style than a theologian when it comes to the preparation and submission of writing. No matter what discipline you are writing for, you may find the following points to be universal expectations of discipline-specific writing.

1. Be aware of your audience. Are you writing for peers in the classroom or peers in the field? Will your audience be familiar with your subject matter or will it need background? Are you writing for publication or for a presentation? Your content and writing style should reflect your awareness of the audience. We are developing materials to assist you in performing an audience analysis, so please check back later for more information on this topic.

2. Find a niche. Discipline-specific writing needs to be more specialized, so it is important to find a niche, or a narrowed focus within the larger body of work in the discipline wherein you can carve out your own space and add to a larger conversation.

3. Say something relevant. Within the disciplines, it is important to participate in ongoing conversations or to being a new conversation through your contribution, whether it be research or observation.

4. Cite appropriately. In keeping with the convention of being relevant, discipline-specific writers must ground their work in research. The sciences, in particular, value current research highly, so citing current research demonstrates your effort to participate in an ongoing scientific discussion by first preparing yourself to enter that discussion. Citing appropriately will lend your own research and writing added effectiveness. It is important to understand that each discipline expects a writer to use a particular documentation style. For more information on discipline-specific documentation and writing styles, contact the Reference Desk at the library or our Writers' Hotline.

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