Jim Nicell

Professor, Civil Engineering

Q: What can you tell students about how you developed your expertise as an academic writer?

A: I think that my expertise as an academic writer came from years of reading books extensively, both fiction and non-fiction. Academic writing, like any other form of writing, is about telling a story. It is about gripping the reader with the urgency of the issue you are researching, and then bringing them through a process of discovery that mirrors your own experience. Through this process, the reader comes to understand the relevancy of the questions that you have asked, why you have explored them, and how you arrived at your answer. They will understand the strengths of your arguments and, where they may have doubts about your results, if these doubts are taken head-on in your writing, they will appreciate your work all the more. Through a well written academic story, they will learn what you have learned and will be brought to a place where they understand the natural progression that your on-going research will follow in the future. It will leave them waiting for your next piece of work.

Photo credit: Owen Egan