What does it mean to write in an academic style?
It doesn't mean using lots of long words and complicated sentences! The purpose of academic writing is to communicate complex ideas in a way that makes them least likely to be challenged. So it's important to avoid any ambiguity. That means that academic writing must be:
- formal, because informal writing is not always understood in the same way by every reader;
- structured, because complex ideas need to be controlled to produce an unambiguous statement;
- precise, so that none of its ideas can be challenged;
- appropriate, so that it communicates to its audience in the most effective way.
Writing should be formal, but it does not need to be pompous.
To maintain formality, there are various colloquialisms and shortened forms to avoid:
Good writing makes a point clearly and may illustrate it to help the reader's understanding. To avoid rambling, plan the points that you wish to convey and the evidence that you will use to illustrate. Include only necessary detail.
When presenting a point of view, such as a line of argument for an essay, decide on the main points that you want to communicate. Plan one main point per paragraph. A paragraph can be planned (like a mini-essay) using the PEAL format:
P: Sentence introducing the point with any necessary detail.
E: Illustration of point using evidence: research example, case study, figures, etc.
A: Critical analysis of point
L: Concluding sentence summing up the point and linking to the question or your argument.
Academic style: Writing and speaking academically (University of Melbourne)
Connecting ideas in writing: How to connect ideas at the sentence and paragraph level in academic writing. (University of Melbourne)
Developing clarity and focus in academic writing (University of Melbourne)
Editing your writing (University of Melbourne)
Improving cohesion (University of Melbourne)
Writing introductions and conclusions (University of Melbourne)
Writing successful essays (University of Melbourne)
There are many ways to introduce an academic essay or short paper. Most academic writers, however, appear to do one or more of the following in their introductions:
Introductions to research dissertations and theses tend to be relatively short compared to the other sections of the text but quite complex in terms of their functional elements. Some of the more common elements include:
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