Writing for Social Sciences
21 May 2020
Yaya’s Writing Journey
Looking back at this semester, I’ve seen a difference in my writing. From actually coming up with titles to making sure I cut down my wordy elaborations, this class has helped me improve my writing significantly. With our big assignments like our field working interview, online community essay, literacy research, and countless other smaller examples, I have had multiple chances in improving my writing and helping others improve theirs as well.
What is writing? Well to me, writing is a form of expression where someone can convey their beliefs in an academic way. I have always known what writing meant to me in high school, however after taking this course, it’s developed another meaning. My thoughts on writing evolve to more of an ethnographer’s mindset. I was able to insert myself into my papers, something I didn’t do in a while, and put my honest thoughts and reactions of the people of the community that I was observing. This evolved my belief about what writing is. It did because prior to taking this class, I felt like the only time I was talking directly to the reader was through my analysis, however now I am aware of a writing style that stresses the thoughts and biases of the writer in their way in telling a story.
There are many objectives in this course that required their students to focus on. Looking back at these objectives, I have noticed my strong suits and objectives where I have a hard time in mastering. For instance, an objective that I feel like I have achieved to an extent is the first objective. This standard exemplifies the knowledge of other writers in order to make your writing more transparent. I have done this multiple times throughout the semester, a prime example is with my interview with my classmate Jing. Initially, I did not know much about the Chinese culture, however Jing introduced me to her culture, as well as explaining her transition to New York City. An example of this was when Jing explained a Chinese holiday.
“Qing Ming was one of those holidays for Jing; it is a festival commemorating one’s ancestors; you would burn offerings to the dead and the offerings would go up to the heavens, she described.”
Moreover, feedback was also shown when Professor Harris grouped us to peer edit each other’s assignments. I have noticed that each person I have collaborated with has their own skills that they are great at. For instance, one person I collaborated with was great at spotting grammatical errors while another person made sure that I was not repeating myself and adding too much “fluff” in my writing. Thus, this semester has taught me the importance of collaborating and having different viewpoints in your writing.
I also feel like I did a good job formulating and articulating my arguments in my writing. A great example of this is in my Flat Earth Society essay, where I spoke about the community, their beliefs and how they are perceived in the outside world. Their perception to the outside world was a stance that I highlighted critically and expressed my disappointment in. While arguing my stance, I was able to strengthen my source use practices. I was able to effectively paraphrase different posts that I have documented from the community and was able to summarize it by integrating it neatly into my essay.
“Another thread I have come across is a Flat Earther asking, why do “Round Earthers” adamantly believe that the Earth is round? Flat Earthers responded by saying that Round Earthers were guppies because they did not see the truth and became humans like Flat Earthers. Another responds, “sheep” because they do not think outside of the box.”
Thus, I was able to support my writing by choosing evidence that will express my points to its fullest ability, and placing it meaningfully in my essay.
Another objective that I did well on was using various library resources and databases for my writing assignments. The standard was shown vividly in my last piece, “ The Heritability of Substance Abuse: Environments and Genetics.” I was able to find sources that supported my paper through a strategy Professor Harris suggested, the Boolean strategy. This strategy helped ease the research process by limiting the amount of results to journals that will actually benefit my paper. For instance, I was able to find sources that supported my argument about the two factors that predict if a teenager will be a risk for abusing substances. The sources I have chosen supported each of my arguments thus making my writing stronger.
Although I believe that I have good editing skills, I am not great at looking for grammatical errors and revising drafts on my own. As a result, I often ask my teachers or peers to look at my work so I can find any errors. Thankfully, Professor Harris focused class time on pure reviewing which greatly reduced the errors in my papers. Some of the edits that I am most proud of are in my first and second essays. The first drafts of these papers were not the best, but after reviewing them with the help of my peers and Professor Harris, I was able to edit my papers and make them even stronger.
Additionally, I feel like I didn’t demonstrate standard five to the best of my ability. In the beginning of the semester, I have had a hard time thinking like an ethnographer. It wasn’t something that I was used to; I was used to writing argumentative papers, and literary analysis, where it was uncommon to insert yourself into your writing. So, writing like an ethnographer was very foreign to me. However, Professor Harris assigned us multiple examples of good ethnographic to help me start thinking and ultimately writing like an ethnographer.
Lastly, I feel like I did not demonstrate the third objective to the best of my ability. I tend to have a hard time coming out of the vision I have pictured my essay to sound like. This is a problem because sometimes my vision is hard for the reader to understand. Additionally without someone peer reviewing my writing, I wouldn’t notice this problem until after my teacher comments on the issue. Thus, this objective is something I should work on in order to become a stronger writer.
To conclude, this class has evolved my knowledge of writing dramatically. Becoming an ethnographer gave my writing a different meaning because I was able to use my voice to guide the reader’s experience. From my three major writing assignments to the numerous in class writing prompts, I was able to focus on problem areas in my writing, for instance grammatical errors, as well as working on areas that I was already good at, such as choosing supportive evidence. Therefore, I was able to see improvement in my writing style, which will help me become a stronger writer in the future.