Substantive Prose is a style of academic and professional discourse.
Prose that is characterized as substantive tends to be
- evidence based
People who can produce substantive prose are thought leaders, knowledge workers, rhetorician, symbol analysts.
Key Words: Inductive and Deductive Reasoning
Substantive Prose tends to
- be grammatically correct
- use an appropriate level of diction for the text’s audience
- use the genre conventions expected by the text’s intended audience.
However, those stylistic attributes are not what actually defines Substantive Prose. In fact, substantive prose can have stylistic infelicities.
Instead, what defines Substantive Prose is its focus on
- quality content—the author is sensitive to what the reader does and doesn’t know. Rather than go over boring old ground, the author presents findings from new research and uses methods in new ways.
- logical reasoning—contrary to marketing language that appeals to emotion, substantive content is grounded in empirical observation (e.g., qualitative or quantitative methods), textual research, rhetorical reasoning..
- evidence for claims—
Thus, when people are describing a work as substantive, they are discussing what it says as opposed to how it says something.
Attributes of Substantive Prose
- an interesting, engaging thesis and/or research question
- concrete & sensory language as opposed to vague language, generalizations.
- evidence is provided for claims, and the evidence passes the CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose)
- evidence is varied and grounded in the values and assumptions of the discourse community/community of practice being addressed, including, e.g.,
Rhetors develop substantive prose by engaging in information literacy, invention, research methods, and writing processes. Because how something is written affects comprehension, rhetors also need to consider stylistic principles.