Many online courses and exercises are available to help improve writing. Some of the useful tools are:
- Coursera offers regular free online writing courses at a variety of levels.
- Exercises at Grammar Bytes (Simmons, Robin (2011) has short exercises. Useful to test and exercise your writing. It covers most of the material referred to in notes on clear and coherent writing such as comma splices & fused sentences – fragments – irregular verbs – commas – parallel structure – misplaced and dangling modifiers – apostrophes – pronoun agreement – pronoun case – pronoun reference – subject-verb agreement – word choice
- Hong Kong Polytechnic (Virtual Language Centre). The site offers short practical exercises with immediate feedback with a focus on meaning and how small words link sentences and paragraphs to create meaning.
- Cambridge’s principles of science writing. Provides notes which are part of the web site of SCITEXT CAMBRIDGE, an editing service for scientific documents based in the University city of Cambridge (UK). The information provided is at the research level and useful.
- University of Technology Sydney Grammar book : a great resources if you want to remind yourself of basic grammar rules.
Piled higher and Deeper’ by Jorge Cham
Writing tools for working with words:
- Morley, John (2012) Academic Phrasebank . Provides examples of sentences that operate as ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing.
- Acronym Finder (n.d.) A website to find what any acronym and abbreviation stands for.
- Likert-Type Scale Response Anchors provides some ideas on what words to use when developing Likert Scales.
- Euphemism list – can be useful to understand some euphemisms used.
- Springer examplar shows how a particular term or phrase is used in scientific literature. Great if you are unsure about a word use.
- Tables and figures: Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Making Tables and Figures
- Wise Old Sayings and Quotes: wise quotes, proverbs and sayings gathered from all over the world.
- Word usage in Scientific writing lists words that are commonly misused or produce ambiguous statements.
- Wordnik online dictionary.
- Wordnet, a lexical data base.
For composing text and structuring ideas
- Chandler, D. (1995) Writing Strategies. Aberystwyth University. This page offers some metaphors on how writers go about to put together a text.
- Levine J. (2014) Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation, Michigan State University – a thorough extensive online book on thesis writing.
- Walsh, Mary (2011) Structuring a humanities’ PhD thesis. These clear notes were developed by prof Mary Walsh.
For staying focused and motivated
- Doctoral writing SIG (Special Interest Group), a blog on writing.
- Gardiner, M and Kearns, H. (2011), ‘Turbocharge your writing today’, Nature 475, 129-130.
- Lupton, Deborah 30 tips for successful academic research and writing
- Sword, Helen (2012). ‘Narrative trust’, Times Higher Education 6 September 2012,
- The writing cooperative, a blog for Helping each other write better.
- O’Brien, D., Fitzgerald, A., Fitzgerald, B., Chisholm, S., Coates, J. & Pappalardo, K. (2007). Copyright Guide for Research Students: What you need to know about copyright before depositing your electronic thesis in an online repository. Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology. 26.
To test your writing
- After the Deadline, a language checker for the web
- Grammarly – a proof-reader as well as a grammar coach and plagiarism detector. Free 7 days trial is available. Cost for using is $30/month or $140/year.
- Intelligent editing is another proofreading software . A free one month trial is available. Cost is about $100.
- Readability tests – try a readability test: it is a free to use test which combines a few existing tests. Note that the test focuses on sentence length and complexity of words, but not internal logic of meaning.
- Writer’s diet offers a tool to check clarity of your writing.
If you are not sure about these, check out the blog about writing and grammar correction tools
Piled higher and Deeper’ by Jorge Cham