Successful Academic Writing

Academic writing

Academic writing

Write well

An academic writing style is different from the way you would usually write, in the same way that a text to a friend is different to an email you'd send at work, which is different again to a journal or any other kind of writing.


An academic writing style:

  • Uses an academic tone
Third, not first person, e.g. I think that vs. It can be argued that
Formal, not slang. It was fab vs. It was successful
Full words, not the short form, e.g. can't vs. can not 

  • Be objective, not personal
Avoid I, me, my, we, us, our, you, your.
Talk about the evidence, rather than your feelings about it, e.g. ‘There is a lot of evidence for…’

  • Write simply and clearly
Use short sentences over long complex sentences.
Use short words over longer words where you can:
Long word: supernumerary, incorporate, accommodate, remunerate
Short word: extra, use, hold, pay

  • Use tentative language
Leave room for doubt, such as possibly, probably, may, could, etc. rather than definitely, certainly, must, obviously.

Similarly with linking expressions:
Definite: It is proven that, It is always the case that, This is an important factor, Everyone knows that
Tentative: It may be shown that, It is often the case that, This seems to be an important factor, It is possible to believe that


Now, learn what the common mistakes are so that you can avoid making them.