I disagree: they can be identical but don’t have to be. The author will have some view on the topic covered – but he or she doesn’t necessarily come up with an idea of his/her own. Of course they should when publishing an academic/a scientific paper, for the purpose of all academic and scientific work is to gain new insight; yet somehow quite often people manage to have papers published that are actually devoid of any original ideas.


Part of the problem is the training we provide: students should learn to produce new ideas rather than just repeat old ones; to express these ideas clearly; to read other people’s publications critically – and to dare criticise these publications if they show flaws, even if the author has earned a reputation in their field. Instead far too often we just teach them to do as they see – and that is not the same.


I develop and hold workshops on how to use writing to guide one’s thinking and propel one’s research, mainly for doctoral students, post-docs and faculty. To help participants realise that academic writing need not be complicated, one of the tools I use is the David Green grid as referred to in Helen Sword’s excellent "Stylish academic Writing": I ask participants to bring several examples of academic papers that they like as well as of those that they don’t like; then I have them place every paper in a grid of clear language/difficult language, simple ideas/complex ideas. And quite often there will be papers that contain no idea whatsoever… usually hiding the fact in long and winding senctences, complicated wording and an intransparent structure.


The more clearly one writes, the more obvious any intellectual flaws will become. These flaws can then be worked on. So striving to write as clearly and as simply as possible actually improves intellectual content. And that is one of the reasons we should encourage students to do just that: not to copy an "academic style" that actually hinders academic discourse – but to write clearly, in plain words. To dare do differently than what they have to read (i. e. suffer) every day. And to dare speak out if they can’t find or understand a publication.


If we manage to educate for that, to help build up the curiosity and courage necessary for any real academic work as well as the skills, we will contribute to academic progress. And we will help avoid hoaxes like Boghossian’s, Lindsay’s and Pluckrose’s series of bogus papers in different journals, or Christiane Schulte’s "Der deutsch-deutsche Schäferhund". We will help improve discourse at conferences, and avoid hoax talks by actors (the exception), as well as just horribly bad ones (much more common). We may even help work towards a firm democracy: for that needs citizens who won’t be fooled, as L. Susan Stebbing stated in her book "Thinking to some Purpose", published in 1939 (!).


So my advice would be: read thoroughly, think critically – and make up your own mind.


Cheers from beautiful Murnau
(historical home to artists, writers, thinkers and even resistance fighters, like Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, Ödön von Horváth, James Loeb or Christoph Probst),



Dr. Natalie Struve
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Von: European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing - discussions [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag von Dr. Rachel Segev-Miller
Gesendet: Samstag, 5. Oktober 2019 08:50
An: [log in to unmask]
Betreff: Re: Main idea vs. Author's view


Dear Larissa,

They are one and the same.

Another related term, which is not the same as the first two, is the writer's purpose.

I hope the short article attached, which I wrote for EFL teachers after a workshop on the topic, may help you.

Here is the reference:

Segev Miller, R. (2013). Teaching all students how to find the main idea in a text. ETAI Forum, XXIII (2), 35-38.




Dr. Rachel Segev Miller

The MOFET Institute, 

Tel-Aviv, Israel
tel.  0507225822
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On Fri, Oct 4, 2019 at 11:34 AM larisa ulkina <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

A question:

In writing an analytical summary, what is the difference between main idea and the author's view?

I am not native English speaker, so these seem to me very same.

Thank you 



Larisa Ulkina

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