The aim of scholarly writing is to present substantiated ideas that contribute to a given body of knowledge. As a medium of sharing knowledge, therefore, scholarly writing need to be presented in a factual, clear and concise, yet comprehensive manner to a selected audience (Shimomisse, 1996). Most importantly, it refers to the three components of scholarly writing, namely: sound evidence, specific audience and scholarly tone. With reference to the given text, the paper examines the author’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of scholarly writing, bias, opinion, quality of evidence, and appropriateness to its target audience.
The author’s scholarliness is reflected in the introductory sentence, as it provides the major thematic concern, i.e. the availability of personal computer. Additionally, the author explains why the achievement is significant, especially in the fields of education, commerce, and people’s lifestyles.
Nonetheless, the author fails significantly by ignoring the major elements of scholarly writing that defines a well researched, documented and clearly presented text. The text lacks substantiated evidence to support most of the stated claims. Thus, it is not clear whether the claims are personal and generalized opinions resulting from casual observations. The author’s claim that “there has been a widespread availability of personal computer in the past 50 years” is not supported with any research or authoritative source. To make a valid and scholarly claim, the important strategy is “establishing support by invoking an authority- calling in as evidence the thinking or research findings of an expert in the subject area” (Rosenwasser and Stephen, 2008, 117). Similarly, the reference to ‘an article in the Business Week’ as evidence that more than 80% of high school students had access to a computer is not an authoritative source, since it is not indicated whether it was an article expressing a person’s opinions, or the findings of a research study. In this regard, the author fails to fulfill one of the most central requirements of scholarly writing.
The author’s opinions seem to be biased and subjective due to the apparent lack of a scholarly tone. The rhetorical pose on the lack of discussions about the “digital divide” between those who could afford computers and those who could indicates the author’s lack of a scholarly approach to academic discourse. The question “And, in fact, why would there be?” clearly portrays a casual and informal perspective that appeals to personal opinions. Moreover, the use of a slang expression “plugged in” to mean access to computers is informal and devoid of a scholarly tone (Moser, 2009). And yet, as Eiichi Shimomisse observes, scholarly writing should be objective by comparing stated claims “with the neighboring or similar thoughts, or opposite ideas, so that you are prepared to show that these thoughts did not come to your mind out of the blue, but came through long, careful deliberation” (Shimomisse, 1996).
Another visible weakness of the text is the wild generalization of the stated claims. The accessibility of the personal computer is presented as a universal phenomenon. It does not specify the scope of the report contained in the Business Week to indicate its degree of representation. It should avoid assumptions by being concrete and particular, as opposed to abstract and universal. The clarity of scholarly writing is achieved when it specifically “tells who, what, where, when, and how” (Harris, 2006, 138). The author neither specifies where a study was conducted to reveal the increased access to personal computer, nor identifies who carried it out, and the reliability of the source.
Finally, the author fails to address a specific audience. Scholarly writing targets a particular audience in the subject area of interest, which guides the author in choosing an appropriate tone and relevant content (Richards and Miller, 2005, 195). In this text, the author does not indicate whether the audiences are computer manufactures, IT specialists or students. On the contrary, it addresses the general public, which is not a characteristic of scholarly writing.
In conclusion, the text does not reflect adherence to the tenets of scholarly writing. Despite a clear introduction, the attempt to provide evidence is shallow and un-authoritative. Furthermore, the author lacks a scholarly tone by being biased and subjective, besides failing to identify a specific audience.
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