The 13 types of student writing that our research has identified are often referred to as genres or genre families.
The 13 genre families we have identified are:
- Case Studies
- Design Specifications
- Empathy Writing
- Literature Surveys
- Methodology Recounts
- Narrative Recounts
- Problem Questions
- Research Reports
They can be related to 5 primary purposes as explained earlier.
|Primary Purpose||Genre Family|
|1. Demonstrating knowledge and understanding.||Explanations; Exercises|
|2. Building research skills.||Literature Surveys, Methodology Recounts, Research Reports|
|3. Developing powers of independent reasoning.||Essays; Critique|
|4. Writing for oneself and others.||Narrative Recounts; Empathy Writing|
|5. Preparing for professional practice.||Case Studies; Design Specifications; Problem Questions; Proposals|
Try Task 1 to familiarise yourself with this classification.
This means that:
- In a Case Study, you focus on a particular organisation, industry or person (such as a patient) in order to describe it from a range of perspectives. You will conclude with recommendations for future action. Case Studies are particularly common in medicine and health disciplines, and in disciplines which involve business studies (for example agriculture, business, engineering, and hospitality, leisure and tourism).
- In Critiques, you will be expected to evaluate something such as a theory, a book or a piece of equipment. This will enable you to answer the question, "What is the value of x?" Critiques are common across the disciplines, to evaluate the writer’s own work, and the work of others.
- In Design Specifications, you are expected to demonstrate your ability to develop a design for a product or procedure that could be manufactured or implemented. Design Specifications are particularly common in computer science and engineering.
- In Empathy Writing, you will communicate your specialist disciplinary knowledge in forms such as newspaper articles or information leaflets. You will be expected to write in registers suitable for general rather than academic audiences. Empathy Writing is particularly common in the Sciences, but can be given as a writing task in any discipline.
- In Essays, you are expected to develop ideas, make connections between arguments and evidence and develop an individualised thesis. You will usually write these in response to a question given by your lecturer. Essays can be given as a writing task in any discipline.
- Exercise genres give you the opportunities to demonstrate your understanding, usually of basic skills and concepts. They are typically short numbered responses to questions. Exercises can be given as a writing task in any discipline, and are common in disciplines where students are required to perform mathematical calculations.
- In Explanations, you are required to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding and to answer questions. They are generally longer than exercises and additionally expect you to explain how something works or functions. Explanations can be given as a writing task in any discipline, but are particularly common in the Sciences.
- For a Literature Survey, you have to read what other people have written on a given topic and present evidence of your reading. This could be in the form of an annotated bibliography, an anthology or a literature review chapter. Literature Surveys can be given as a writing task in any discipline.
- A Methodology Recount will expect you to present an account of the procedures you followed and your findings from an experimental study. A typical example is a laboratory report. Methodology Recounts are particularly common in disciplines where experimental work is undertaken, such as biological science, engineering, food science, physics and psychology.
- Narrative Recounts include personal accounts of your learning such as a literature search or team work, and chronological reports on events such as accidents or disease outbreaks. You may be expected to assume a personal and reflective angle. Narrative Recounts are particularly common in creative disciplines where students write about the behavior of others or their own creative process, and in the applied disciplines such as business, education and health where students reflect on their professional practice.
- In Problem Questions, a situation is described and you will have to analyse it from a professional perspective and reach a conclusion. Problem Questions are particularly common in law and in disciplines where legal issues are discussed.
- The purpose of a Proposal is for you to demonstrate your ability to make a plan for future action. This must be detailed and realistic. Proposals can be given as a writing task in any discipline, to plan for research or professional practice.
- Research Reports are generally the longest assignments you will write and are designed to demonstrate your ability to conduct a complete piece of research. An example is a final year project or dissertation. Research Reports can be given as a writing task in any discipline, particularly in the later stages of a programme of study.
In Tasks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8, you can spend more time familiarising yourself with our genre types and how we classify them.
The purpose of these exercises is to familiarise you with the five primary purposes of academic writing and the 13 genre families associated with these social purposes. We hope it will help you to select the most appropriate genre family for your writing task.
Further sections of this site will help you to write these texts, but the present purpose is simply to familiarise you with these genres.