Write Better

A fundamental part of an MIT education is the belief that education is not a passive activity: We believe in the application of the skills and ideas you gather here, and it is only by doing that you truly learn.

The ability to communicate your ideas and research is as important as the ideas and research themselves. After all, what good is knowledge if you can't share it?

Essay Writing

Study Materials used in
Contemporary Literature (21L.488, Spring 2003)

Description:

This version of the course deals with Irish literature, focusing on poetry and prose of living Irish writers. Included on the Study Materials page is a collection of advice for writing about literature, including sections on developing a thesis, general advice, literary analysis, and the dangers of paraphrasing.

Instructor: Professor John Hildebidle
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Description:

This class introduces students to the methods and perspectives of cultural anthropology using case studies in very different settings (a nuclear weapons laboratory, a cattle-herding society of the Sudan, and a Jewish elder center in Los Angeles). The lecture notes for lecture seven are titled "Writing and Pain" and include tips for making writing a less painful experience. These notes cover common errors and bad habits to look out for, focusing on careful word choice, as well as tips for grammar, metaphor, tone, structuring, and argument.

Instructor: Professor James Howe
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Description:

This course will focus on issues that arise in contemporary public debate concerning matters of social justice. Topics will likely include: euthanasia, gay marriage, racism and racial profiling, free speech, hunger and global inequality. Included on the Assignments page are links to online writing resources: "MIT Writing Center: Citation" has links to many online style and citation guides, "Paper Writing Tutorial" is a guide through several drafts of a philosophy paper, and "Some Rules of Thumb for Writing Papers" presents general writing advice with a focus on philosophy papers.

Instructor: Professor Sally Haslanger
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Study Materials used in
Relativism, Reason, and Reality (24.03, Spring 2005)

Description:

This course treats a number of important philosophical questions in some depth. What are persons? Soul pellets, living bodies, brains, or what? Are moral standards absolute or in some sense "relative"? Is the truth about external reality absolute or relative to one's point of view? Included on the Related Resources page are links to writing resources, including Jim Pryor's "Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper," a large document with a good amount of general paper writing advice, and Richard Holton's "How to Build an Argument and How to Write an Essay," which presents examples of a good and a bad philosophy paper as well as a document on structuring arguments.

Instructor: Professor Stephen Yablo
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Description:

The causes and prevention of interstate war are the central topics of this course. The course goal is to discover and assess the means to prevent or control war, and thus the focus is on manipulable or controllable war-causes. The Assignments page contains a Writing Tips document which provides a good overview of standard essay format, with sections on the introduction, the conclusion, argumentation, and tips for writing and organization.

Instructor: Professor Stephen Van Evera
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Description:

This course provides the opportunity for students to engage with social and ethical issues that they care deeply about. Through discussing selected documentary and feature films and the writings of such authors as Maya Angelou and Charles Dickens, students explore different perspectives on a range of social problems such as poverty, homelessness, and racial and gender inequality. The Related Resources page contains links to several writing resources at MIT, including the MIT Writing and Communication Center and a list of Writing Resources on the World Wide Web.

Instructor: Professor Andrea Walsh
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Study Materials (PDF) used in
American Consumer Culture (21H.206, Fall 2001)

Description:

This course examines how and why twentieth-century Americans came to define the "good life" through consumption, leisure, and material abundance. It explores how such things as department stores, advertising, mass-produced cars, and suburbs transformed the American economy, society and politics. The Study Materials page contains a document designed to help students write papers and overcome what Professor Jacobs refers to as the "blank-screen syndrome."

Instructor: Professor Meg Jacobs
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Technical Writing

Description:

This course is a series of seminars focusing on common writing problems faced by professional engineers and scientists. Participants will tune up their writing skills and prepare a pair of technical documents under the guidance of the instructor. Included on the Study Materials page is an introduction to technical writing called "It's not just salad dressing," which covers organization and structure, style concerns (with many examples of original and rewritten sentences), use of graphics, and tips for oral presentations.

Instructor: Professor David Custer
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Description:

This course is designed to serve as a basic introduction to the practice of technical writing for those who work as scientists and technical researchers. Because scientific and technical fields are becoming more interdisciplinary and more globally connected everyday, it also considers intercultural communication issues at some length. Included on the Related Resources page is a guide to writing research proposals from the University of Michigan, as well as "Stephen's Guide to Logical Fallacies," which describes common errors in logical argument.

Instructor: Professor Kimberly De Vries
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Description:

This course is designed to help develop skills for producing clear and effective scientific and technical documents. It focuses on basic principles of good writing and on types of documents common in scientific and technical fields and organizations. The Related Resources page contains links to TechComm Web, the online companion to the textbook used in the course; the Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing; the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL); and the MIT Libraries Writing page with links to online writing guides.

Instructor: Dr. Donald N. S. Unger
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Rhetoric, Web Design, Short Stories

Study Materials used in
Rhetoric (21W.747-1, Spring 2006)

Description:

This course is an introduction to the history, the theory, the practice, and the implications (both social and ethical) of rhetoric, the art and craft of persuasion. The Study Materials page contains tips for writing persuasive essays from a rhetorical perspective, and the Related Resources page contains a wealth of resources for rhetoric and writing.

Instructor: Dr. Steven Strang
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Related Resources used in
Communicating in Cyberspace (21W.785, Fall 2003)

Description:

This class covers the analysis, design, implementation and testing of various forms of digital communication based on group collaboration. Students are encouraged to think about the Web and other new digital interactive media not just in terms of technology but also broader issues such as language (verbal and visual), design, information architecture, communication and community. The Related Resources page contains a link to "Writing for the Web," a guide to writing online content.

Instructor: Professor Edward Barrett
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Writing and Reading Short Stories (21W.755, Fall 2006)

Hand-drawn diagram outlining a plan for a short story.Description:This class focuses on the craft of the short story, which is explored through reading great short stories, writers speaking about writing, writing exercises, and conducting workshops on original stories. Included is a set of helpful lecture notes, along with five examples of short stories written by students in the class.

Instructor: Shariann Lewitt
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Additional Resources

Description:

This course explores the scientific publication cycle, primary vs. secondary sources, and online and in-print bibliographic databases; how to search, find, evaluate, and cite information; indexing and abstracting; using special resources (e.g. patents) and "grey literature" (e.g. technical reports and conference proceedings); conducting Web searches; and constructing literature reviews. The Tutorials page contains six Flash tutorials covering these topics, with a focus on finding, evaluating, and citing information online and in print.

Instructors: Ms. Angie Locknar, Ms. Patty Durisin Barbera, Professor Donald R. Sadoway
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Study Materials (PDF) used in
Projects Laboratory (2.672, Spring 2004)

Description:

This is an engineering laboratory subject for mechanical engineering juniors and seniors. Major emphasis is on interplay between analytical and experimental methods in solution of research and development problems. The Guides page features a document with tips for delivering effective oral presentations.

Instructors: Professor Wai Cheng, Professor Douglas Hart
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