What is academic writing? Is it the same as the pieces we read in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal? Academic writing is not rigid, but there are some ground rules that every student must know. Here are 6 things you need to know about academic writing.
Based on my experience proofreading students’ theses, I notice that some may not know the difference between academic writing and non-academic writing. Especially if you are a young student, you might be excited and enthusiastic about writing on a certain topic. However, as an academic writer, you would still need to maintain a professional and unemotive stand on a particular issue.
So here are some guidelines:
1. FORMAL & LOGICAL
When you are doing academic writing, you need to make sure your writing style is formal and logical. Formal here refers to not using slangs.
Apart from that, you would also need a logical flow of ideas. A lot of students do have some trouble ensuring that their ideas flow well. There needs to a logical sequence of ideas from one paragraph to another to ensure that the argument you are trying to make is coherent.
In order to do that, you can use connecting links between ideas, paragraphs so the reader can follow and understand clearly.
2. NEUTRAL LANGUAGE
Apart from using formal language and ensuring that there is a logical sequence of arguments, you need to make sure to present your ideas fairly and this can be done by using neutral language. Of course, in an academic essay or a thesis, you would need to choose a side. However, you can still do so respectfully.
Unemotive – you should not express certain ideas emotionally but use reason backed up by evidence.
For instance, in academic essays or papers, you would not say “Vaccines are not beneficial because I hate vaccination and do not believe in vaccination programs.”
You could, however, say something like:
Vaccines may not be 100% effective in eradicating a disease because there are other factors that play a role in eradicating a disease. [insert evidence]
When making a claim or argument, you would always need to use facts and evidence to support your argument. For example:
Vaccines may not be 100% effective in eradicating a disease because there are other factors that play a role in eradicating a disease. The CDC states that “recent studies indicate that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the people during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.”
3. NO IDIOMS
What are idioms?
“An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase. Categorized as formulaic language, an idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.” Wikipedia
When writing academic essays, avoid using idioms as these are not suitable for most academic papers because usually, only native speakers would understand the context. Apart from that, the meaning is not clear and straightforward.
4. AVOID ABBREVIATIONS
Abbreviations are words spelled in short form. Academic writing must be clear and concise.
Spell out “for example” instead of e.g
Use punctuations such as commas, full stop (, ; .) properly because if you don’t it can confuse the reader, examiner on what you’re trying to say.
6. CITING SOURCES
Citing sources is probably one of the most important aspect you need to get right when you are doing academic writing because you could be plagiarizing other people’s work if you do not cite your facts properly. If the idea isn’t your own, please cite from where it is from.
Being good at academic writing takes practise but you definitely can do it. One good way to start is buy studying how other scholars write especially the works published in articles, theses etc.
If you are not sure whether you have are doing it right, you can always get in touch with me about academic writing 🙂
Other posts that I write related to academic writing are: