What is academic writing not about?
A myriad of articles have been written about academic writing and its principles, guidelines, and purposes in terms of structure, layout, format and style.
This article, however, addresses the issue of academic writing from a different angle: what is academic writing not about.
The article basically dispels some misconceptions that are widely held by many MA & PhD students about academic writing.
Why academic writing?
Before we delve into the substance of this article, it is worth identifying briefly why academic writing, which is predominantly undertaken in the English language, exists.
In the world around us there are a huge number of fields, subjects, activities, areas, specialities, etc. Each sector or sub-sector has its own specific language or, you can say, discourse.
This is the language which those involved in each of these fields, activities, sectors or areas use and understand best amongst themselves.
Take lawyers for instance, they have their own specific legal terminology and language which they have to use when they draft a contract or a legal document or any official papers for court purposes. Their English writing has to abide by the convention developed and accepted over the years in their own field.
Similarly, for students studying at an MA or PhD level, there is a specific discourse or language that has to be used to meet the criteria of academic writing, which they exercise in the form of essays, dissertations, theses, critiques, research proposals, peer-reviewed journals and other scientific and scholarly papers.
For a start, academic English writing is not about complexity. When you are asked to submit an assignment or write an essay about a specific subject, your tutor or supervisor would not be expecting you to write a piece of work that is hard to decipher and understand.
He or she would like to have an academic manuscript that is written in an understandable and easily digestible style and English language. Highly complex English language, tone and style will make your text difficult to read, understand and digest.
Use non-complex and clear language and style while writing your essay or dissertation. This will be much better received by your supervisor.
There are generally accepted and commonly applied rules regarding the length of your essay or dissertation, depending on whether you are studying for a master’s or doctoral degree and depending on your university and arrangement with your supervisor.
But there are never any rules that academic writing has to be done in long or excessively long sentences and paragraphs.
Just put yourself in the shoes of your reader, in this case your academic assessors or tutor, and see what you will think if you are faced with a text full of very big blocks of text, very big paragraphs and excessively long sentences.
Only in legal context, perhaps, a slightly long sentence is accepted, and this is because of the nature of the legal field itself.
However, in academia, always opt for concise, succinct and short sentences and use small paragraphs. Your manuscript will read better, will be easier on the eye and will definitely be much clearer in terms of meaning and ideas for your reader.
Using ultra long sentences and big chunks of text will make your academic manuscript un-readable and hard to understand.
Structure and substance
Many students dwell completely on issues like layout, structure, format etc in their academic writing and completely lose focus on the key and important thing: substance and content.
This, by no means, suggests that you should ignore any guidelines about how you structure or lay out your essay, dissertation or thesis. No, you definitely need to follow convention and style requirements here, but the key thing is that do not let this distract you from focusing on the key thing. You need to undertake great efforts to ensure that content and substance of your academic writing is as required by your tutor or supervisor.
A well-structured, well-written essay with no compelling or sufficient substance will be just a waste of time.
Always do both: focus on substance of your academic writing and focus on your English language, style, tone and format AT THE SAME TIME.Need any help with your academic paper? We provide outstanding dissertation/thesis proofreading services UK-based.