PASSIVE OR ACTIVE VOICE?
Climatesnack/WIMEA-ICT writing workshop
A WIMEA-ICT writing workshop took place at Makerere University from April 20-22 2015. It was facilitated by Dr. Mathew Stiller Reeve and Valerie Kumer from the Geophysical Institute University of Bergen, Norway. The workshop was a mix of lectures and practical assignments.
The participants learnt about basic writing skills, including how to consider an audience, using the active voice, cutting clutter in writing and considering flow and structure. There were 20 participants; majority of whom were from Makerere University. Two were from the Dar-es- Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) and one from the University of Juba. Below are some observations from a few;
Good writing is concise
EMMANUEL KONDELA (DIT) “The best scientific writing should be straight forward, concrete, exact, clear headed and concise. We designed sentences where old information came at the beginning and was followed by new information. We constructed sentences by considering an issue, having a development, a conclusion and a point. Thus, by the end of the workshop, most of us shortened our essays almost by half. We gave ideas and constructive feedback to the organizer for a wonderful workshop.”
TRIPHONIA NGALIO (DIT) “Although we were lectured by the organisers, there were group discussions where everyone got the chance to discuss their essays. We learnt to use the cut and clutter skill, to transform our essays and obtain a good flow of our work. It was useful. I got the chance to discuss my essay titled; Statistical Mmodelling of Extreme Rainfall Variability in Tanzania. I realised I had used unnecessary jargon, long phrases and dead words
I had to improve my piece. On the last day of the workshop, we had one-onone discussions about our essays with the facilitators. We got feedback about our strenghts and weaknesses, thus improving our writing skills.”
MS. MARY NSABAGWA (MAKERERE UNIVERSITY) “Science affects people of various fields and categories. It is important that scientific outcomes are communicated in the simplest language possible. Unfortunately, scientific writing has been characterized by technical terms only understood by domain specific people. Writing is one of the best and cheapest ways of sharing scientific information. In order to effectively communicate scientific outcomes, we need to follow best writing practices. The learning curve is gradual and may involve many people giving feedback for improving the writing.”
MR. ISAAC MUGUME (MAKERERE UNIVERSITY) “I felt tuned when the facilitators taught me to read my work several times: they actually suggested that I learn how to read my work aloud to myself until it makes sense to me. I was also happy when they encouraged me to connect with my peers and ask my peers to review my work and take criticisms positively. In light of these suggestions, I am sure this workshop was apt for a PhD student like me. I am thankful and will always be happy to attend or even refer peers to also participate.”
MS. DOREEN TUHEIRWE MUKASA (MAKERERE UNIVERSITY) “I was encouraged that I can become proficient in my writing, taking one lesson at a time and applying it. The essay I wrote was greatly improved and received feedback from the Climate Snack Group. With a little more editing, it will be ready to be published on the Climate Snack website! Thank you WIMEA-ICT for contributing to my process of becoming an excellent writer. It may be a process, but will be worth the effort.”