signposting in academic writing in U.S.: yay or nay?

donnach

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How do U.S. writing teachers feel about it?

I don't think they like it.

Meanwhile, there are handouts all over the Internet from U.K. universities exhorting writing students to signpost.


Signposting example:

Having examined the role of the liver in breaking down alcohol within the body it is now necessary to consider the effects of excessive consumption of alcohol on other parts of the digestive system.

Clearly bioterrorism presents a number of serious challenges for law enforcement agencies in Australia, and these have been outlined above. However, dealing with bioterrorism is even more complex in regions where the impact may affect populations in several countries at once. This requires agreements on jurisdiction and a high level of cooperation between enforcement agencies from the different countries. Issues related to this situation will now be considered, with a focus on Western Europe.
 

Raymott

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It's encouraged in Australia, at least in the arts. Perhaps different disciplines have different rules, rather than it being a country-based thing. I've used countless textbooks from both US and UK over the years, and haven't noticed a difference. Why do you think US teachers don't like it?
It's hard to win if you're a student though. You have to do it, and then you're subject to criticism for needless repetition. It's onerous to follow the advice to "tell the reader what you're going to say; then say it; then tell them what you've said", and do all that within an unrealistic word limit.
 

donnach

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Why do you think US teachers don't like it?

I think I've gotten dinged, as you say, for needless repetition. And I've seen countless handouts, books on writing, and webpages that are adamant about not saying "In this essay, I'm going to talk about...," which I guess is less sophisticated than the examples of signposting in my original post.

One U.K. university handout on the web, though, recommends this signposting statement:

This essay explores theoretical and practical approaches to communication.


It's the same, almost, as "In this essay, I'm going to talk about....", which is a big no-no in the U.S.
 

Raymott

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There's a difference. It seems you weren't told that signposting was wrong. You were told that saying, In this essay, I'm going to...." was wrong. In most academic disciplines, you don't use the first person (singular) in an essay.
 

MikeNewYork

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It is also common in academic writing and in medical reports to use the passive voice to eliminate the excessive use of pronouns.
 

donnach

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No, it's not the first person that's the problem. It's the signposting.
 

donnach

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"There's a difference. It seems you weren't told that signposting was wrong. You were told that saying, In this essay, I'm going to...." was wrong. In most academic disciplines, you don't use the first person (singular) in an essay."

Nope. It's the signposting.
 
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