With many students transitioning to university and A-level, the need to develop an academic undertone throughout their work is fundamental to achieving top grades. An academic-style is commonly misinterpreted as complex sentences, with flowery language. However, the main aim of academic writing is to communicate advanced ideas and concepts in a concise, clear, and structured manner. This allows the writer to aid the reader’s understanding and convey academic arguments. Certain characteristics of academic writing should be adopted including the following:
Formal in tone and style
All academic literature needs to use appropriate language. This language does not need to be overly grandiose, but casual everyday language such as really or maybe should be avoided. Students constantly communicate with colloquial texting language in their daily routines, resulting in abbreviations and figures (e.g. 2 written as opposed to two) often creeping into their academic writing. Students should be cautious that these habits do not creep into their educational writing.
Correct use of grammar and punctuation is key when maintaining a formal tone and style, demonstrating that students have shown care and diligence when writing academic literature. Errors to specifically look out for include incorrect use of semi-colons, colons, apostrophes, and inconsistent use of tenses. Grammarly and other proofreading software can be useful in reviewing spelling, grammar, punctuation, and clarity whilst offering appropriate suggestions for the mistakes identified. However, students mustn’t overly rely on proofreading software as in exam settings they are unable to access this software.
Effective use of structure ensures that ideas are clear, allowing a comprehensive argument to be formed. Different forms of academic writing will require different structures such as scientific reports requiring set headings and a given order. Whereas, essay writing has a more fluid structure with the students being required to filter the content they want to include and determine an order relevant to the question provided. The form of academic writing needs to be taken into account to enable it to be focused and relevant in nature.
The majority of academic literature requires an introduction and conclusion. Students commonly overlook the importance of these aspects as they are often unsure as to what an introduction and conclusion entails. The introduction provides the reader with an overview of structure ensuring that they are aware of what to expect throughout the writing. In comparison, the conclusion draws together all the points presented without introducing new concepts or ideas.
The order of information presented should be logical, ideally following a train of thought with each paragraph presenting a singular point or argument to the reader. Students need to appreciate the shift between breadth and depth, often higher-level academic writing has a greater focus on depth of ideas.
Precise and Evidenced
With many assignments at university having strict word counts, it is imperative that students don’t write convoluted sentences. These sentences shouldn’t include overarching statements. For example, the results are really large, these should be replaced with specifics to support the valid points made.
Evidence should be provided throughout to support arguments and points made, adding substance to the piece of literature. Evidence can include quotations, data, statistics, research, models, and theories. Websites such as Google Scholar, Mintel, and online libraries are valuable resources to source evidence, allowing informed thinking and a comparison of how student’s academic ideas compare to other academics. All evidence used (regardless of whether it has been paraphrased, summarised, synthesised, or quoted) needs to be referenced if it has been incorporated into students writing at a University level. Each university will have a preferred referencing style which can be standardly located on their website and will be given to students.
A key pitfall students often struggle with, is making sure that they essentially answer the question or task asked as opposed to presenting absolutely everything they know about a topic. It is recommended that students re-read their academic writing constantly asking themselves whether the writing meets the task.
It is important to note that each subject discipline will have specific writing expectations, and students need to be proactive in asking subject teachers what the relevant characteristics are for their area of specialism. At Crescent Tuition, we can provide supplementary tuition and guidance with the key focus of developing an effective academic writing style.