Adapting to Your Audience

Academic Audiences

Assuming you are writing a paper for a class, ask yourself who is the reader? The most important reader is probably the instructor, even if a grader will look at the paper first. Ask yourself what you know about your teacher and his or her approach to the discipline. Do you know, for example, if this teacher always expects papers to be carefully argued? Has this teacher emphasized the importance of summarizing cases accurately before referring to them? Will this professor be looking for an "argument synthesis," showing how the cases all support one point or will this prof be more interested in seeing how the cases complicate one another? In other words, take the time to brainstorm about what you've learned about the teacher to help you meet his or her expectations for this paper. You probably know more about the teacher than you think, and asking questions about how the teacher treats this material in class will help you remember those details to help you shape your paper.

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