Writing for Professors: Get into the Driver's SeatWriter's Web
by David Roberts
(printable version here)

Driving a car may be like riding a bike: once you learn, you never forget; but if you’re driving in an unfamiliar place or in a different kind of car, there are some useful reminders to consider. Similarly, when writing for an academic audience, there are important principles to remember.


You have a destination when you’re driving; realize your destination in your paper.

Method and organization

You know the streets you'll take to get to where you are going; know how you plan to reach your destination in your paper.

Road mapping

You signal turns in your driving; show your audience where you’re going in your paper. See our page about Using Transitions for help.


You drive differently if you’re with your parents or friends; write differently for professors than how you would write for friends.

Think critically and originally

You don’t tailgate when you drive; don’t follow other people’s ideas too closely.

Introducing and supporting ideas

You accelerate smoothly when you drive; don’t suddenly jump into your paper just to idle once you get going. See our page on Writing Introductions for strategies that will help you hone the direction and tone of your introduction.

Focus and concentration

There’s a reason that sports cars don’t have cup holders; don’t get distracted by unnecessary details when you’re focusing on complex ideas.

Knowledge of writing mechanics and paper content

Before a long trip, you make sure your car is in good condition; check your processes and your understanding of the topic before you get underway on a paper.

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