Style and Substance: A Guide to Finding and Joining the Academic Conversation
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554815906 / 1554815908
  • 186 pages; 5" x 7¼"

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Style and Substance: A Guide to Finding and Joining the Academic Conversation

  • Publication Date: November 3, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781554815906 / 1554815908
  • 186 pages; 5" x 7¼"

Style & Substance demystifies academic conversations by breaking down the underlying concepts behind good scholarship and the skills involved in research, writing, and presenting.

The author guides undergraduates through the trials of academic writing, from how to form fruitful research questions, to gathering and using the appropriate evidence, and finally to crafting polished, thoughtful responses to the questions that we pose ourselves in good research. Throughout, the author demonstrates how engaging in each step of this process thoughtfully and deliberately is how one joins the academic conversations at the heart of college education.


Style & Substance is an innovative and engaging guide to modern academic writing. Reading it feels like joining a very well-run academic writing class, one with meaningful and lively discussions about the fundamentals of writing, the goals of scholarly work, the skills required for research using both digital and non-digital sources, and, most refreshingly, advice about turning the resulting writing into academic presentations. Students across the disciplines will find themselves inspired by this exceptional little book. It’s the classroom resource I’ve been looking for: a highly practical and entertaining text that makes academic writing understandable, relevant, and even exciting.” — Jan Duerden, Thompson Rivers University

“I cannot think of another book that offers such advice on academic writing, and with clarity and brevity. This will be my go-to recommendation for all of my students in the future—it’s a treasure.” — Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia and author of Outsmart Your Brain

Style & Substance … does a particularly good job of using examples to illustrate the concepts being covered. I would have found this book both thought-provoking and practical when I was a student.” — Ryan Skinnell, San José State University

“This book provides a substantive yet concise look at the research, writing, and sharing processes for any student new to academic genres. John Lambersky offers good examples and touches on pitfalls to avoid, all in a voice that is pitch perfect for our era of misinformation and in a style needed for our overburdened students.” — Matthew Boedy, University of North Georgia

This Whole Book Shrunk to Fit on Two Pages

Chapter 1: Join the Academic Conversation with Grace
Chapter 2: It Begins with Listening
Chapter 3: Quotation Integration
Chapter 4: Basic Source Evaluation—Argument, Reasoning, Evidence
Chapter 5: Putting Ideas in Conversation—with Generosity
Chapter 6: Topics and Research Questions
Chapter 7: A Spectrum of Sources
Chapter 8: Finding the Best Evidence
Chapter 9: Establishing the Credibility of a Source
Chapter 10: Evidence—Kinds of Studies
Chapter 11: Gathering and Organizing Evidence
Chapter 12: The Development of Your Argument
Chapter 13: The Structure of the Paper
Chapter 14: Using Evidence Well
Chapter 15: Making Our First Draft Better—Follow the Basic Rules of English
Chapter 16: Advanced Style Maneuvers
Chapter 17: Sharing with an Audience
Chapter 18: Slide Design
Chapter 19: Defending Ideas
Chapter 20: Conversations about Research, Writing, and Presenting

Appendix A: Important Writers on Style
Appendix B: An Editing Checklist
Appendix C: Important Resources to Have at Hand
References and Further Reading

John Lambersky is Department Head of Canadian and World Studies at Royal St. George’s College.

  • • Encouraging and conversational tone
  • • Boxed asides provide tips and reminders, as well as exercises to sharpen skills
  • • Three succinct areas of coverage: how to research, how to write, how to present
  • • Guidance is focused on showing how to find and add to the ongoing intellectual conversation of scholarly writing, and why this is both a worthy and attainable goal for first-year students
  • • Plentiful examples

Read a sample of Chapter 1 from Style & Substance. (Opens as a PDF in a new tab.)