Academic writing and fairy tales

By Gordon Rugg

It’s spring. To some people, it’s a time of flowers and buds and growth and new hope. To other people, it’s the time when they’re trying to write their undergraduate dissertation, and are feeling lost and confused.

This article is intended for people who are grappling with academic writing, and who are having trouble working out what the core concepts are. It has elements of humour in it, but the underlying point is completely serious. It’s about the deep structure and the internal logic of academic writing. Most people are unfamiliar with those two topics in the academic context, but they’re very familiar with them in a different context, which is the core of this article. That context is the fairy tale.

This article goes through the key stages of an academic article, mapping them onto the corresponding stages of a fairy tale, and explaining the underlying logic behind them.

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