six specific functions of academic writing

The Murray (2008) and Murray (2006) readings are book chapters. To locate these, you will first need to find each book in the Trident University Online Library. Simply type the book title into the Online Library Search Engine as shown below and complete the series of steps that follow:


Murray, N. (2008). How should I structure my writing? In Writing up your university assignments and research projects: A practical handbook (pp. 67-77). Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Murray, N. (2008). What are the key functions in academic writing? In Writing up your university assignments and research projects: A practical handbook (pp. 3-43). Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

The Purdue OWL (2014). Sample outlines. Retrieved from


Author Unknown (n.d.). Table 6.1. Basic Citation Styles. Retrieved from

California State University, Chico, Merriam Library (2011). What is a scholarly article? Retrieved from

Green, C.W., & Swygart-Hobaugh, M. (n.d.). A guide to evaluating resources: Scholarly vs. non-scholarly, primary vs. secondary, and Internet/WWW. Retrieved from

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) (2011). Retrieved from

University of Southern California Libraries (n.d.). Organizing your social science research paper. Retrieved from

Murray (2008) outlines six specific functions of academic writing. These include defining, describing, comparing and contrasting, classifying, explaining causes and effects, and developing an argument. These are used at different phases of the writing process. Choose two functions, and, using the Murray chapter as a guide, complete the following tasks relative to those functions. Provide your written responses in a single document file, which you should upload by the end of this module.


  1. Choose 3-4 health science related terms you wish to define.
  2. Break each down into a category.
  3. Note distinguishing characteristics of each.
  4. Use this information to create a sentence defining each term.
  5. Explain how one of these would be used were you to develop a research report (be sure to clarify your own interpretation off the term).


  1. Describe the sequence of steps required to complete a specific task or describe how something works (these should be health-related).
  2. Use complete sentences in doing so with appropriate linking words and phrases between each.
  3. Divide your description into paragraphs if necessary. (“Question for Thought” – Under what circumstances might it become necessary to use multiple paragraphs as opposed to one?)

Comparing and Contrasting:

  1. Compare and contrast two closely related terms/concepts/systems/theories relevant to the health sciences.
  2. Note their similarities and differences.
  3. Use appropriate linking words and phrases.
  4. Provide a brief introductory sentence or paragraph.


  1. Complete Section 1.5, Task 2 in the Murray chapter. Provide written responses to each of the questions posed in the text.

Explaining Causes and Effects:




  1. Use “words and phrases associated with cause and effect” to draft a cause and effect paragraph on your chosen topic (see Section 1.6.1 of the Murray chapter).

Developing an Argument:

  1. Complete Section 1.7.3, Task 2 or Section 1.7.4, Task 3 in the Murray chapter. Provide written responses to each of the questions posed in the text.

Assignment Expectations

Length: The written component of this assignment should be 2-3 pages long (double-spaced).

References: At least four references must be included from scholarly sources. Required Reading is included. Quoted materials should not exceed 10% of the total paper (since the focus of these assignments is critical thinking). Use your own words and build on the ideas of others. Materials copied verbatim from external sources must be enclosed in quotation marks. In-text reference citations are required as well as a list of references at the end of the assignment. (APA format is required.)

Organization: Subheadings should be used to organize your paper according to the questions.

Format: APA format is required for this assignment.

Grammar and Spelling: While no points are deducted for minor errors, assignments are expected to adhere to standard guidelines of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence syntax. Points may be deducted if grammar and spelling impact clarity.

The following items will be assessed in particular:

  • Achievement of learning outcomes for this Case Assignment.
  • Relevance—All content is connected to the question.
  • Precision—Specific question is addressed. Statements, facts, and statistics are specific and accurate.
  • Depth of discussion—Points that lead to deeper issues are presented and integrated.
  • Breadth—Multiple perspectives and references, and multiple issues/factors are considered.
  • Evidence—Points are well supported with facts, statistics, and references.
  • Logic—Discussion makes sense; conclusions are logically supported by premises, statements, or factual information.
  • Clarity—Writing is concise and understandable and contains sufficient detail or examples.
  • Objectivity—Avoids the use of first person and subjective bias.



Paper#2  3 pages, 8 references. Not more than 10% quoted

This component of your paper focuses upon the functions you will employ in your paper as identified in the Case Assignment for this module. For example, will your paper aim to describe, to compare and contrast, to classify, to explain cause/effect, or to present a particular argument? Or will it attempt some combination of these?

Using your approved project topic, present an outline of your paper as a first step toward structuring your writing. Refer to “Sample Outlines” handout from the Background Information page of this module for guidance. The basic structure of your outline should be as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Main Idea #1
  4. Supporting details
  5. Examples
  6. Main Idea #2
  7. Supporting details
  8. Examples
  9. Main Idea #3
  10. Supporting details
  11. Examples


III. Summary and Conclusion


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