Academic writing is both an art form and a science. Various conventions of style and argumentation have emerged because they tend to produce clear, effective pieces of writing. To a great extent, the conventions of grammar that we will be covering must be taken as rules that must be followed. But conventions of structure, organization, and argument formation are merely tools that you must learn to make work for yourself. They might sometimes seems overly reductive or formulaic, but it is important to remember that they are only guidelines to help you develop your own personal, authentic critical voice. In the same way that a painter, sculptor, dancer, actor, or architect must practise and refine his or her art, academic writers must practise and refine the art of writing.