Academic writing is a formal style of writing that is used by the academic community. For example, academic writing is used by universities and academic journals. If you want to publish your article in a peer-reviewed journal, you should stick with the academic style. Students need to use the academic style when writing research papers, dissertations, literature reviews, essays, and other types of academic assignments.
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In this article, we will consider some specific features of academic writing in more detail and take a look at the main dos and don’ts of formal writing.
The Key Features of Academic Writing
First of all, academic writing should be unbiased and formal. All your claims must be based on evidence, and you cannot build your arguments around your personal opinions or assumptions. You can make your writing unbiased by presenting research results accurately, acknowledging the limitations of your own research, and addressing opposite viewpoints. The formal style of writing requires you to make your paper consistent in terms of logic and structure. Besides, you should avoid colloquialisms, clichés, and contractions.
Academic writing should also be precise and clear, which means that you must avoid vague phrases and statements that can be interpreted in different ways. Besides, you should avoid words like “perhaps” or “likely” because your arguments should be specific, and you should present them with confidence. We recommend that you read academic journals to familiarize yourself with the writing style and vocabulary.
Last but not least, academic writing must be well-structured and well-focused. Your arguments and all the information that you provide must be perfectly relevant to your general topic. The overall structure may vary depending on the type of paper and word count, but the structure of the content should meet some common requirements so that your paper will be easy to comprehend. For instance, each of your paragraphs should focus on a specific idea expressed in a topic sentence. Use transitional phrases to connect different paragraphs and include transitional words in sentences to indicate the connection between different ideas.
As you can see, academic writing is all about precision, clarity, and credibility. Therefore, you should also select reputable sources. While you might feel tempted to use any sources that support your opinion, you must make sure that your sources are actually credible and relevant. Use your university library and academic databases. Don’t forget to cite your sources according to the necessary citation format.
- Write clearly
Even though your academic papers might be dedicated to complex topics, you should make sure that they are easy to read. Your readers should understand exactly what you’re saying. Always start paragraphs with topic sentences and keep your sentences brief. Avoid complex terms if you can deliver the same information in a simpler way.
- Stay objective
Academic writing must be based on facts and logic. It should also be precise and not influenced by emotions. You need to present information in an objective and impersonal way. To stay objective, you must only use reliable academic sources and support all of your arguments with data. Avoid clichés because they will damage the overall clarity and make your writing less specific. Besides, you should only write in the third person.
- Use various sentence structures
Academic writing can easily become boring, especially when your audience needs to read the same long sentences over and over again. Moreover, long, overcomplicated sentences may make your audience think that you’re unable to formulate your ideas in an easy-to-understand way. In contrast, if you use short sentences only, you won’t let your readers reflect on the overall meaning, creating a sense of a rush. We recommend that you choose a well-balanced approach, using both long and short sentences.
- Use technical vocabulary
All academic subjects have a certain jargon, and you can use it to communicate your thoughts precisely. However, you should only use specific terms when you actually need them. Don’t try to impress your readers with complex words because this way, you will just make your text difficult to read.
- Avoid a personal language
Although you may use the first person when writing admission and narrative essays, the use of the first person is generally prohibited in academic writing. Besides, one of your main goals is to stay objective so there’s no place for your personal perspective.
- Avoid colloquialisms
When writing academic papers, you should be especially careful with your word choice. While conversational English enables you to use some slang words and informal phrases, you should never use them in academic writing. We recommend that you read your paper once you’ve finished writing, and replace any colloquial language with appropriate forms.
- Don’t use the wrong verb tense
Students often change the verb tense by mistake, switching from one tense to another, even though different actions may take place within the same timeframe. You should always be careful with the verb tense because it indicates whether something happened in the past, present, or future. We recommend that you always check the verb tense when editing your papers.
- Avoid inappropriate fonts and formatting
When it comes to formatting, you should follow clear guidelines. There are different formatting styles used in academic writing, such as APA, Chicago, MLA, Harvard, and others. Every style has certain requirements regarding margins, fonts, and other details of formatting. Before you start to write your academic paper, make sure to check the rules of the required citation style and determine what fonts you can use, as well as what your headings, citations, and main content should look like.
Academic writing requires you to stick with the formal writing style and to express your thoughts in the most precise and objective way. All students have to be familiar with academic writing and use it when writing assignments. Even though academic writing is much more difficult than informal conversational English, it’s easy to master once you’ve familiarized yourself with some clear rules. We hope that this guide will help you avoid some common mistakes and write academic papers that will be appreciated by professors.