An Introduction to Academic Writing

An Introduction to Academic Writing

By academic writing, we usually mean all kinds of writing assignments that we need to work on during our academic years.

They can be reports, essays, dissertations and other academic works that follow a certain style, content and structure. Academic writing has a set of special features:

  • There is a certain structure for each type of academic writing
  • You need to express your own ideas, but it is necessary to support them with the existing body of knowledge in regards to the researched subject
  • In most cases writing has a formal tone
  • When writing academic papers, you should address them to intelligent readers

Here are the 6 rules that you have to follow when working on academic works:

1.Structure

If your paper does not have a clear and cohesive structure, your message might get lost along the lines and may not be understood by your readers. Structures differ depending on the type of assignment, so every time you get a writing assignment, you need to make sure that you follow the structure guidelines for it.

2.Referencing

Citing the work of other writers that you are using in your paper is an indispensable part of any academic writing. When working on academic papers, it is necessary to express your opinion, but you get the real credit only if people see that it is based on lots of researches and relevant data from other people. It will show that you have spent enough time studying this matter and your opinion is grounded in thorough research. You need to understand that “independent work” is different from “original work.” The latter requires you to express only your own ideas, while the former requires comparing your ideas with the findings of other experts. In academic environment, you need to do independent work.

3.Abstract thought

Even if you are working on such topics as Zoology or Design, you will require looking into philosophies, concepts, theories and abstract ideas that are connected to the subjects, which you are researching.

4.Academic Tone

In terms of tone, as far as academic writing is concerned, you should make sure that it has the following characteristics:

  • It is objective – it is not based on personal opinions and feelings. On the contrary, it is objective and is grounded on actual information.
  • It is relatively formal – it should not include contractions (like ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘can’t’), slang and exclamation marks.
  • It is concise and precise – vague language is not acceptable in academic writing; therefore, all clumsy sentences should be removed or rewritten. Words like “really” or “very” should also be avoided because they are not precise. Being concise and precise is not always easy and can involve a lot of re-drafting, re-thinking and re-visioning, but it is very rewarding in terms of your work’s quality.
  • It is modest – words like “definitely,” “obviously” and other similar words should be avoided.
  • It avoids judgments – words like “wonderful” or “brilliant” are nice, but inappropriate in terms of academic writing.
  • It is balanced – meaning that in includes all sides of the argument, while being focused on the main idea that you are projecting throughout your work.

One more important thing that should be mentioned as a part of discussing this matter is that in order to maintain an objective tone, it is better express your personal opinions rarely and make the evidence speak for you. It is acceptable to use phrases like “I will investigate…” or “I have investigated…” in the introduction and conclusion, but you had better keep the personal pronoun “I” to a minimum in the body of work.

5.The Audience

When it comes to academic writing, it can be difficult to identify who your audience is, because if your tutor knows it all, then whom should you write it for? As we have already mentioned in the beginning of the article, writing your work, you should focus on a genuinely interested and intelligent reader, who already knows something about the subject.

Even if you cannot get rid of an impression that you are writing for your tutors, do not write to educate them, but rather to show what you have learned. Do not think that your readers already know it all, because it will weaken your work. Walk your audience through your work in a convincing and logical manner.

6.Punctuation and Grammar

Even if your work has a stellar content, grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors may kill all your aspirations and effort. In order to avoid them, you must proofread your paper at least two times after you consider it finished. Good ideas deserve good presentation, do not they? Would you eat your favorite cake from pig’s bathtub? It is the same with your academic works – they need a good frame.

Follow these six rules and all your academic papers will impress both your tutor and you.