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Does writing style in B.A. thesis influence postgrad acceptance? Watch

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    Hi,

    recently I researched for a paper and stumbled across several theses/dissertations on the subject. They where so vastly different from each other that I started to wonder how important stylistics is in terms of grades and possible postgrad acceptance.

    The one that impressed me the most was methodically impeccable and comprehensible, but all the methodical stuff was embedded in a very interesting and easily readable essay. The guy had done quite some field work, written down almost as a reportage, with interviews, personal accounts, pictures and all, and kind of linked his clean cut quantitative work with that. It was like a National Geographic feature and an in-depth OECD investigation melted into one. A potential high class reporter was jumping at you from every page there.

    But is this something to strive for? Is this style, clearly bordering on the popular and accessible, ok to employ academically, or would it be considered too flashy and anecdotal? Maybe it is even required to keep it lean and dry: numbers and figures and technocratic reasoning?

    I wonder how especially the better UK universities, with their distinct academic culture, would review such a piece of work from a Politics/Social Science applicant, respectively how they would grade it when submitted in-house.

    And yes, this is in part to lay out an early strategy for my own undergraduate studies, in order to get into one of my desired Master programs later on, some of which are at the "better household names".

    Any insight, thoughts, or just hefty debate?
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    (Original post by Hanse)
    Hi,

    recently I researched for a paper and stumbled across several theses/dissertations on the subject. They where so vastly different from each other that I started to wonder how important stylistics is in terms of grades and possible postgrad acceptance.

    The one that impressed me the most was methodically impeccable and comprehensible, but all the methodical stuff was embedded in a very interesting and easily readable essay. The guy had done quite some field work, written down almost as a reportage, with interviews, personal accounts, pictures and all, and kind of linked his clean cut quantitative work with that. It was like a National Geographic feature and an in-depth OECD investigation melted into one. A potential high class reporter was jumping at you from every page there.

    But is this something to strive for? Is this style, clearly bordering on the popular and accessible, ok to employ academically, or would it be considered too flashy and anecdotal? Maybe it is even required to keep it lean and dry: numbers and figures and technocratic reasoning?

    I wonder how especially the better UK universities, with their distinct academic culture, would review such a piece of work from a Politics/Social Science applicant, respectively how they would grade it when submitted in-house.

    And yes, this is in part to lay out an early strategy for my own undergraduate studies, in order to get into one of my desired Master programs later on, some of which are at the "better household names".

    Any insight, thoughts, or just hefty debate?
    Your prospective Masters uni will never see your undergrad dissertation (not unless they specifically ask you to send it, which would be unusual). Entry for a Masters is judged on a) your final degree grade, b) the strength of what you write in your application and c) the strength of your academic references.

    Your dissertation contributes to your final degree grade, and will also inform your referees as to how well you are likely to perform as an independent researcher. So your dissertation will help your Masters application indirectly, but will not influence it as directly as you are thinking.

    During your degree you will receive guidance and coaching on how to turn out the best possible dissertation in your uni. The required writing style will very much be dictated by what your department and/or supervisors wish to see. Your uni library will hold a selection of example dissertations, so you can see what previous students have produced. My undergrad university looked for clarity and direct language and penalised what they saw as pretension. My Masters was much more geared to a florid 1950s academic writing style. Part of developing academically, is learning to adjust to different requirements and deliver accordingly.

    Don't over-plan now. Wait to find out.
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    I would consider and remember the variety of styles you see and then focus on what your uni asks of you for your actual dissertation. They will be very clear about what is considered appropriate for your subject. E.g. at my uni the physics department was very prescriptive but the maths department was pretty flexible.

    When you apply for postgrad your dissertation won't be finished but they'll often ask for academic writing. I sent an essay on the history of maths and a statistical report to show a variety of skills (mostly because my statistical reports had no referencing and I wanted to show I could do that). If you end up doing assignments in different ways you may wish to send two examples saying "this is my formal writing" and "this was aimed at X audience, I thought you might like to see how I can adapt to different situations".

    I second the comment suggesting you try to avoid overplanning at this stage but keeping your eye out for different possible styles is always a good idea.
 
 
 
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