Technological Support for Academic Writing

Activity Theory revisited the artefact-mediated nature of human actions (Roth et al., 2009; Nicolini, 2012). All human activities are a combination of tools and body. There are differences between writing a report through a word processor on a laptop and writing it on a note with a pen. Of course, even if individuals use the same tool, the difference in usage makes systematic changes. Therefore, when internalizing a professional practice, we must be careful of ‘what to use’ and ‘how to use.’

Academic writing is a purposely devised activity to communicate academic knowledge. Ph.D. students have learned academic writing via apprenticeship for a long time. However, nowadays, digital technologies help this internalization process or even automate it. Again, how to use these tools also matters—using tools responsibly.

Below are several tools can differently mediate your activity.

1. Citation/bibliography generator or citation machines

Citation and bibliography are essential but labor-intensive tasks. You can automate these processes using tools, but be aware of the citation style you want to apply. Please read the article ( for more information.

2. Proofreading/rewording tools

Minor grammar errors and inefficient writing always happen. Before requesting proofreading from your friend or purchasing editing services, you can check your words/sentences via a proofreading/rewording tool. However, be cautious of the ‘suggestion’ of the machine. It is not superior to your and other human’s thoughtful recommendation. Please read the article ( for more information.

3. Academic sentence search engine

Academic writing is style. One way to learn this style is by reading and paraphrasing previous sentences in an article or
dissertation. Not only expression but also the context of expression does matter. You can explore Ludwig (


Roth, W. M., Lee, Y. J., & Hsu, P. L. (2009). A tool for changing the world: possibilities of cultural‐historical activity theory to reinvigorate science education. Studies in Science Education, 45(2), 131-167.

Nicolini, D. (2012). Practice theory, work, and organization: An introduction. OUP Oxford.

Written by YangHyun Kim (

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