Skip to main content

Writing is Discipline Specific

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Writing is Discipline Specific

Sometimes when we think about writing, we think about the aspects that seem the same, no matter what we are writing—grammatical sentences or the use of paragraph divisions, for instance. Many aspects of good writing do transfer between different genres and audiences; however, different academic disciplines define good writing according to the presence or use of specific writing conventions which often arise from what the discipline values. For instance, a discipline that values recency of research may be more likely to use a citation style that foregrounds the date. A discipline that values authorship may emphasize the use of active voice verbs rather than passive voice. Discipline-specific writing conventions can occur at the document, paragraph, or sentence level, and they may apply to global or rhetorical issues, such as indicating a research gap, or to local or sentence issues, such as using direct quotations versus parenthetical citation. Because disciplinary conventions can change over time, writers can use genre analysis to identify what the conventions are for their specific fields at any given time.

This vidcast looks in greater detail at the types of discipline-specific conventions that might appear within a text, but it also provides information on how to use genre analysis and other strategies to identify those conventions and track their use within current research. The vidcast ends with a to-do list of steps that graduate writers can take in order to identify disciplinary conventions within their own fields of study.

Note: Closed-captioning and a full transcript are available for this vidcast. 

Additional Resources

A PDF overview and guide to key questions for Genre Analysis is available here.