Define ‘Scholarly’

Chris Nitz Photo: Crushed by Knowledge If we objectively define ‘scholarly’ as “concerned with academic learning and research” (,  2012), we find ourselves with a vague definition. We may be tempted to immediately think of left-brained academics. However, discrepancies in what must be considered academic may change that definition. If, for example, we define academics as pertaining to sciences or literacy, we end with a very different result than if we define academics as pertaining to any subject which facilitates the further development of a particular skill. Sir Ken Robinson (2006) notes that a major short coming of academics now is that we define academics much like the former, but would be served better to treat it as the latter.

Chris Nitz: A Keyboard Kind of LifeHowever, in writing, the target audience is the one that matters. As such, if you are writing to a group of social scientists, the expectation is that the prescribed protocol will be followed (Polkinghorne, 2007), and so on. In this way then, scholarly writing should be defined more along the lines of writing which facilitates the communication of critical thinking and rhetoric within a given field, using the prescribed masteries of that field. This allows for all subjects regardless of the paradigm currently subscribed to in academia.

References: (2012). ‘Scholarly’. Retrieved from:

Polkinghorne, D. E. (2007). Qualitative inquiry: validity issues in narrative writing. Qualitative Inquiry13(4), 472.

Robinson, K. (2006, February). Ken robinson says schools kill creativity.. Retrieved from

Argumentation Fuels Learning

Argumentation fuels learning. Weston (2009) states “Argument is essential, in the first place, because it is a way of finding out which views are better than others,” that “… argument is a means of inquiry” (p. xi).

Regardless of topic, the argumentation requires an understanding of the power of words and their structure. Just as Prose (2006) came to understand the value of close reading through an examination of Oedipus Rex, so too can we come to appreciate the richness of specifically chosen words through reading and analysis; learning.

Aggressive-ArgumentationBecause there are those who assume that we will mindlessly follow them and their causes, we must be adept in weighing empirical evidence, analyzing analogies, and considering reputability. In order to do this, we must develop and maintain the ability to research topics and understand principles of rhetoric. It behooves us to dive into the meaning of the words used, beyond the celebrity of the speaker, and consider every angle of that which we are exposed to.

Whether crafting a response to a political platform, commenting on the value of a product, or encouraging the patronage of a local business, the words we choose are compelling when used properly. Global activism thrives on powerful communication taking a variety of forms, but starting with purposeful words (de Jong, Shaw, & Stammers, 2005). It is up to those of us who are apt to share information and challenge assumptions, choosing our words carefully, and presenting a comprehensive examination of our view.

Weston (2009) says “Real argument… takes time and practice. Marshaling our reasons, proportioning our conclusion to the actual evidence, considering objections- and all the rest- these are acquired skills” (p. xii). Arguing requires learning.


de Jong, W. de, Shaw, M., & Stammers, N. (2005). Global activism, global media. London; Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press.
Prose, F. (2006). Reading like a writer : a guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Weston, A. (2009). A rulebook for arguments. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub.