Academic writing in a report, essay, dissertation or thesis often requires different qualities to other forms of writing. Unlike the average reader who may be reading for pleasure, academic readers read academic writing for facts and evidence. So, an academic writer must adopt a different approach to writing.
Five very clear features of academic writing came out of a conversation in the office. So we thought it appropriate to share our thoughts with you in this article.
Your opinion doesn't matter
First, there is the problem of being too subjective. The personality or opinion of the writer should not come through in academic writing. The purpose is to be objective and allow the evidence and facts to come through and speak for themselves.
Watch those pronouns!
Writing in the first person is another problematic thing to avoid. Academic writing is not about ‘I’ because in order to remain objective, it’s not about what you personally think; you should instead use it, their, they, one. It is important to remove yourself as the writer and let the research make the claims.
Be careful with your personal beliefs
Academic writers must avoid being overly assertive. When you have a personal belief or opinion about something, you are very sure about your ideas and opinions and might overgeneralise. But in academic writing, there needs to be a more tenative tone. An academic writer needs to be careful with any sweeping statements or generalisations, because they must only work with the available evidence; and that might change or be disproven in the future. You need to recognise that the research builds on what was found in the past and it will continue to progress and change in the future. It is important to acknowledge that.
Academic writers must take care not to make statements that are imprecise. Academic writing is all about researching the evidence while finding other authors and studies that support your ideas. If you can’t back up a claim with other authors that support it, then it probably isn’t plausible.
Keep it as formal as possible
Finally, academic writers should take care to avoid being too informal. Never use contractions or slang words. The way you talk and the way you write are very different, and in writing you should always lean towards a more formal tone.