Introduction: Academic writing
Academic writing is a formal way of writing which is practiced widely in universities and publications. It is descriptive in nature and purpose is to present an information in a more formalized manner. It is basically used to codify, evaluate and renovate a particular knowledge or learning in an academic discipline. Academic writing is classified into four major types: Descriptive writing, Analytical writing, Persuasive writing and Critical writing. Based on the type it should be precise, focussed, strategic and reader oriented and most importantly backed up with evidences. Summary of a report, findings and conclusion of an experiment, book report, dissertations are some examples of academic writing. Although it inculcates all the standard norms of drafting and documentation discipline, yet there are always new ways to improve academic writing by instilling new techniques and patterns of writing and presenting the topic.
Challenges in academic writing
An academic piece of writing should we well-focused, well-structured and should be written keeping in mind the actual audience, as the reader may be intelligent enough to be familiar with that discipline but may not be aware of the actual subject. Thus, formal sentencing is always a priority. Informal words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ might put the credibility of the writing in doubt. Almost every academic writing has a specified style of formatting provide by the concerned department which is to be strictly adhered. And again, as it is written with the prior motive of explaining and presenting a piece of knowledge it should not be written in contractions and use of abbreviations and acronyms must be avoided. Plagiarism is also one the biggest challenges as it cannot be excused in any way and is unacceptable by all means. And a limited amount of content even if plagiarized must be referenced and backed up.
Aspects of academic writing
The two main aspects of this are writing and reasoning. Writing means the style of writing and the choice of vocabulary to form sentences and reasoning denotes the words written must be backed up with proper referencing and evidences to enhance credibility. Before writing the writer must be empowered with knowledge and mix the knowledge of various sources with the motive to express and not to impress. Both the parts of writing and reasoning or research must be balanced in order to create it more knowledge and readers oriented. Academic writing is basically argument, Instead, of yelling at one other, instead of two opposing sides, argument refers to a skill fully planned discussion presenting a viewpoint that was endorsed, to prevail in the discussion so as to gain the audience’s attention (and even acceptance) of your viewpoint.
Tips to improve academic writing
- Use of active voice – the writing should be in active voice and not passive, as it enhances clarity to the readers and helps in putting emphasis on the subject, the meaning becomes clear for readers and the sentences are prevented from becoming wordy.
- Mixing up with the help of punctuations – as to a writer the audience is standing in disguise and one’s hands are tied behind the back so punctuations are the only way to clarify the meaning of the written language. Using of apostrophe, quotation mark, hyphen. Brackets, parentheses etc.
- Varying the sentence structure – the sentence structure is of four types: simple, compound, complex and compound complex. Thus, each one should be altered so that the sentences work in a given structure. It is necessary to do so to keep your writing lively and reader engaged and to avoid winding sentence.
- Avoiding roughness or choppiness – the sentences should not be considerably small and should connect to each other. The paragraph must contain something else other than a sentence formed using basic words. In order to avoid roughness, conjunctions, appositives and modifying phrases can be used.
- Avoiding repetition – a variety of transition words should be used, as in tautology should be avoided and reading the writing is necessary in order to avoid repetition. It can be avoided by using small words, thesaurus, shortening paragraphs and breaking up sentences.
- Concise and precise sentencing – the writer should be specific and direct, using of one word must be the choice in place of sentence, cutting of unnecessary words, and like sentences must be combined.
- Vocabulary – a familiar vocabulary must be used and also it should be extended at times. Words which are specific to subject or topic of study should be used keeping in mind that the reader understands it completely and clearly. A good vocabulary helps to formulate more eye-catching sentences.
- Formal language – formal language is a must principle of academic writing. Casual, informal and conversational language should be avoided. Formal language establishes a sense of respect for the readers just like a formal tone used by people to show respect to audience. A formal sentence is structured and precise.
- Specified format – a necessary format is to be adhered in academic writings, out of the various formats used. As a specified format helps appropriate communication, conveys professionalism and adds up to the writer’s presentation skills. For example: introduction, review, background, discussion, result, conclusion. The four types of academic writings are a part of formatting.
- Strategic writing pattern – a strategy should be followed throughout the paper, a formal tone, avoiding clichés, avoiding informal phrases, avoid jargons and slang language. The writing must be targeted and goal oriented. It must possess a well thought plan and strategy.
- Deductive as well as analytical – starting with a theory, developing a hypothesis based on that theory and then gathering data to test the hypotheses. Whereas at the same time it must be evaluative and critical, to instigate the significance of the topic in an analytical way.
- Sufficient proof-reading – proof reading is the final stage of writing, it is basically an evaluation of the work done and a final check of grammar, spellings, punctuations, spacings, formatting etc. It must be done after the mechanical correctness is checked. The main purpose of proofreading is to improve the effectiveness of the writing, generalized checking of mistakes. Some famous methods of doing it are reading the paper aloud, making list of mistakes, read slow and clear, proofreading for a single error at a time and habit of double checking everything.
Tips to improve writing skill
- Appropriate use of tense
- Proper use of prepositions
- Adequate use of commas and colons
- Avoiding the confusion of singular and plural
- Use of appropriate and necessary words
- Using formal phrases
- The choice of starting new sentence
- Correct usage of capital letters
- The art of changing paragraphs
- Use of conceivable vocabulary
Tips to improve reasoning/referencing
- An appropriate structure to be followed
- Better referencing techniques
- Backed up speculations and assertions
- Avoid misquoting a universal quote or phrase
- Appropriate use of metaphors
- The rules of grammar and formatting to be followed from header to footer
Things to keep in mind to improve the effect of academic write-up on the reader
- Knowing the audience/reader – must be aware of the reader who will benefit himself from the writing and also assume him to be unaware of any knowledge on the subject.
- Having knowledge of the context – the context of writing must be crystal clear from introduction to conclusion.
- The message to be delivered via writing – a well formatted, strategic and formal message must be delivered to the readers by the writer, via the subject topic.
- Purpose of writing – again, the purpose of writing must be clear in order to come up with the right amount of research and information
- Document or genre to be used – every academic writing has a defined format or genre to be worked on, it must be strictly followed to maintain formalism, professionalism and enhance the presentation skills.
Academic writing has a clear and logical structure, making it perfect for use as a self-study and reference tool for students who must work alone. Whatever the goal is, it is helpful to consider your work’s likely readers. How can the work be properly communicated to them? Academic writing does not have a set standard, yet it is unmistakably distinct from the writing seen in books or newspapers. The standards vary in each writing and some norms and techniques are to be kept in mind to differentiate academic writing from normal content writing.
The sentences must have proper punctuations and vocabulary must be enhanced depending upon the level of writing. Repetition of words and sentences must be avoided. Write up should be active, clear and precise containing the adequate amount of knowledge to be imparted in the easiest form. The purpose of the writer should be to get imprinted in the reader’s mind, with the aim of creating a logical relation between the two with the help of knowledge delivered by the writer and the same deciphered by the reader. Both must be on the same page with needs fulfilled.