Academic writing is a formal writing style employed in institutions and intellectual journals. It will appear in academic journal articles and books, and you will be expected to write your essays, research papers, and dissertation in academic style.

Academic writing follows the same writing process as other types of texts, but it adheres to specific content, structure, and style conventions.

Academic writing consists of…

Academic writing isn’t easy…

• Objective and formal

• Clarity and precision

• Well-organized and focused

• Well-researched

• Consistent and correct

• Personal

• Long-winded

• Grandiose and emotional

Academic writing styles

Journal articles, reports, books, and chapters in edited collections are the most common types of texts written by academics. The most prevalent sorts of academic writing tasks are given below for students.

Definition of academic text type

Essay

In response to a question posed by an instructor, a reasonably short, self-contained argument, often employing references from a class.

dissertation

A more in-depth investigation based on individual research, usually in response to a student-selected question.

Thesis/dissertation

The significant final research project completed at the conclusion of a degree, usually on a topic chosen by the student.

Proposal for research

An outline of a proposed dissertation or research project topic and plan.

Examining the literature

A critical synthesis of prior research on a topic, frequently produced to inform a new piece of research’s methodology.

laboratory report

A summary of a lab experiment’s goals, procedures, findings, and conclusions.

Bibliography with annotations

A list of source references, each with a brief summary or evaluation.

When it comes to writing, different subjects of study have distinct priorities. In scientific writing, for example, it’s critical to report methods and results clearly and accurately; in the humanities, the emphasis is on constructing persuasive arguments through the use of textual evidence. Most academic writing, on the other hand, adheres to a set of core rules designed to assist present information as efficiently as feasible.

Effective writing is a necessary talent whether you want to pass your degree, apply to graduate school, or develop a career in academia.

Academic writing consists of…

• Objective and formal

The goal of academic writing is to deliver information in an objective manner. The idea is to build arguments around the data rather than the author’s assumptions. Not only asserted, but all claims should be substantiated by appropriate evidence.

It’s critical to describe the work of other researchers and the findings of your own research fairly and properly to avoid prejudice. This entails outlining your methodology and being open about your research’s limitations.

The formal style of academic writing guarantees that research is presented consistently throughout publications, allowing studies to be objectively examined and compared to other research.

As a result, it’s critical to strike the appropriate tone with your language selections. Slang, contractions, clichés, and colloquial phrases should all be avoided:

• In addition, many of the findings are suspect.

• Furthermore, many of the conclusions are suspect.

• Clarity and precision

To guarantee that your reader understands exactly what you mean, use clear and precise language. This entails avoiding unclear terminology and being as specific as possible:

• This topic has piqued people’s interest for quite some time.

• This phenomena has piqued the interest of scientists for at least ten years.

Hedging your remarks using terms like “maybe” can convey the appearance that you’re not sure about your arguments. Consider your word choice to make sure it accurately and clearly delivers your message:

• This could perhaps imply…

• This suggests…

In academic writing, which is primarily aimed at other academics in related disciplines, specialist vocabulary or jargon is widespread and often required.

Jargon, on the other hand, should be utilized to make your writing more concise and precise, not to complicate it. When the following situations apply:

• It provides information more precisely than a non-specialist word of similar meaning.

• The term is likely to be familiar to your reader.

• Other researchers in your field use the word frequently.

Reading papers by other academics and paying attention to their terminology is the best approach to become familiar with the jargon used in your field.

• Well-organized and focused

An academic writing must have a clear goal, not just a collection of views about a topic. Begin by formulating a focused argument around a meaningful research topic or thesis statement. Include only information that is pertinent to your main goal.

To arrange your thoughts, you’ll need a consistent structure. Pay attention to the structure of the content on three levels: the overall structure, paragraph structure, and sentence structure.

• Always include an introduction and a conclusion in your overall structure.

• Use unambiguous titles to divide lengthier documents into chapters or parts.

• Ensure that the material is presented in a sensible sequence.

• When you switch from one thought to another, start a new paragraph.

• Start each paragraph with a topic sentence to establish what it’s about, and make clear transitions between paragraphs.

• Make certain that each paragraph relates to your argument or inquiry.

Transition words are used to express the relationships between distinct ideas within and between sentences.

• Avoid sentence fragments and run-on phrases by using proper punctuation.

• Vary the lengths and forms of your sentences.

• Well-researched

Sources are used in academic writing to back up statements. Other texts (or media items such as images or films) that the author analyzes or cites as proof are referred to as sources. Academic writing is collaborative and builds on past research, therefore many of your sources will be produced by other academics.

It’s crucial to think about whether sources are trustworthy and appropriate for academic writing. Citing Wikipedia, for example, is usually frowned upon. Use academic databases and your university library to obtain trustworthy sources rather than relying on internet.

In academic writing, you must always cite your sources. This involves including a citation in the text and a reference list at the conclusion of every time you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work.

Example of APA citation

Citation in text

It has been claimed elsewhere that the approach is “the best currently available” (Smith, 2019, p. 25).

Bibliography

Statistical analysis methods, J. Smith (2019). (2nd ed.). Norton, New York, NY.

There are numerous citation styles, each with its own set of restrictions. APA, MLA, and Chicago are the most prevalent styles. Make sure you stick to the stylistic requirements of your institution. If you don’t cite correctly, you could face plagiarism charges.

Using our Citation Generators, you can effortlessly write precise citations in APA or MLA style.

Citation Maker for APA

Citation Maker for MLA

• Consistent and correct

In addition to obeying the rules of grammar, punctuation, and citation, it’s critical to follow stylistic norms in the following areas:

• Numbers and how to write them

• Abbreviations are introduced

• Using different verb tenses in certain areas

• Term and heading capitalization

• Differences in spelling and punctuation between British and American English

There are various appropriate techniques in some circumstances; the most essential thing is to apply the same principles consistently and to edit your work thoroughly before submitting.

Academic writing isn’t easy…

• Personal

Academic writing strives to stay away from becoming too personal. Although information about the author may be included at times (for example, in the acknowledgements or a personal reflection), the writing should primarily focus on the research.

Avoid using the second-person pronoun “you” to address the reader directly. For generalizations, use the impersonal pronoun “one” or a different phrase:

• You must treat your students fairly as a teacher.

• As a teacher, you must treat your students with respect.

• Teachers must be fair to their students.

In academic writing, the use of the first-person pronoun “I” was once frowned upon, but it is now widely accepted in many fields. If you’re not sure whether to use the first person or not, consult your field’s conventions or contact your tutor.

It should be for a good cause that you refer to yourself. You can discuss what you did throughout the research and position yourself, but avoid introducing your personal views and opinions at random:

• My personal opinion is…

• I believe…

• I enjoy/dislike…

• I held interviews with…

• I contend…

• My ambition is to…

• Long-winded

Many students believe that their writing isn’t academic unless it’s overly complex and lengthy. This isn’t the best strategy; instead, try to be as brief and direct as possible.

It should be cut or replaced with a more straightforward term if it can be done without compromising your meaning. When feasible, replace phrasal verbs with one-word equivalents in your writing to avoid duplicate phrasings:

• In 2018, interest in this phenomenon remained high.

• In 2018, interest in this phenomenon remained high.

Repetition is inevitable in academic writing—for example, in the conclusion, summarizing prior information—but it’s crucial to prevent needless repetition. Check that none of your sentences repeat a point you’ve already expressed in a different way.

• Grandiose and emotional

A literary, journalistic, or marketing text is not the same as an academic text. Even if you’re still trying to persuade, many of the strategies used in these styles are inappropriate in an academic setting. You should avoid emotional appeals and exaggerated assertions in particular.

Even if you’re writing on a sensitive or significant topic to you, the goal of academic writing is to effectively explain ideas, information, and arguments, not to elicit an emotional response. Avoid using subjective or emotional language:

• This terrible disaster was unquestionably one of the worst in construction history.

• The accident’s injury and fatality rates were among the greatest in construction history.

Exaggerated, unsupported statements and flowery language are occasionally used by students to build their case for their topic. Stick to particular, well-supported arguments that you can back up with proof, and don’t exaggerate:

• Charles Dickens is the greatest Victorian author, and his influence on succeeding literature has been significant.

• Charles Dickens was one of the most well-known Victorian writers, and his works influenced the development of the English novel.

Checklist for academic writing

Check whether you followed the rules of excellent academic writing using the checklist below.

Academic writing checklist

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• I avoid abbreviations and colloquial phrases.

• I avoid pronouns in the second person (“you”).

• I avoid using overly emotional or dramatic words.

• I avoid using words and phrases that are redundant.

• I eliminate jargon where possible and define terms when necessary.

• I provide facts in the most precise and accurate manner feasible.

• I use proper transitions to explain how my concepts are related.

• My text is ordered correctly using paragraphs.

• Each paragraph focuses on a single theme, which is stated clearly in the main sentence.

• The entire essay is connected to my key thesis or research issue.

• I provide evidence to back up my claims.

• In each section, I use the correct verb tenses.

• I always use either British or American English.

• I consistently format numbers.

• I use a consistent citation style when citing my sources.