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An Introduction to College Writing

This set of six videos is aimed at first-year students at Caltech who are making the transition to college writing, but it could be of use to anyone interested in learning more about academic writing. Special attention is paid throughout this video series to writing in STEM fields and the differences between high school and college writing.


Academic Writing: Why It Matters to Scientists and Engineers

Caltech faculty and students explain why writing isn't only important in the humanities.

Tutorial I

Making an Argument

If everyone already agrees with you about something, there's not much point in writing about it. Caltech students and peer tutors Lori and Ellen discuss one of the most important aspects of academic writing—making an argument. Download the accompanying handout on making an argument.

Tutorial II

Organizing Your Writing

You can have all the great ideas in the world, but if you don't present them in a way that makes sense to your readers, you will lose their attention and good will. Xiaomi and Michael explain how to think about organization. Download the accompanying handout on organizing your writing.

Tutorial III

Working with Sources

In any field, new knowledge emerges when smart, hard-working people build upon the ideas of their predecessors and peers. Thus, working with sources is fundamental to knowledge production and academic writing. Katie and Anna help us avoid common problems student writers have with working with sources. Download the accompanying handout on working with sources.

Tutorial IV

Writing with Clarity

Academic writing asks a lot of readers. The ideas are new and often challenging, and a great deal of knowledge may be required to understand key ideas. For that reason, in most situations academic writers strive to write as clearly as possible. But what creates "clarity" in writing? Edward and Vivian explain. If you have a draft, you can follow along and edit it for clarity. Download the accompanying handout on writing with clarity.


Doing the Work of Academic Writing: Advice from Caltech Faculty and Students

Sitting down and doing the work of writing is a challenge for everyone, even the most experienced and prolific writers. This video presents Caltech faculty and students sharing their thoughts about how to get the hard work of writing done.