Journal article writing guidance

Language for Academic Journals 

What are academic journals?

Academic journals have been around for a very long time. In fact, the first was published in the 17th century. The first academic journal on the field of science was published by the Royal Society in 1665. They are composed of various scholarly articles written by highly-qualified and competent scholars. Their main purpose is for scholars to share their research and opinions; therefore, they are an important means of communication in various fields in the academic world. Such journals may also contain book reviews. Academic journals can be periodicals, and are therefore usually subscription-based, but some may be available to a wider readership. Many libraries subscribe to academic journals (in printed form and online) and may allow their members access to them. 

How does one get an article published in an academic journal?

Editors of academic journals will require only high-quality articles for their publications. Sometimes, they will invite people (usually those known to be experts in their field) to write articles. This is most likely to happen if they have written articles previously. However, scholars may submit articles themselves, in which case the editors will probably submit such articles for peer review. The peers, who are a team of people, are experts in the topic of the submitted article. Sometimes the editors may reject an article without submitting it to a peer review, or they may even make a decision that is contrary to that of the peers. 

Who reads academic journals?

Academic articles have a specialist audience. For this reason, they are not likely to be read by the general public. In fact, they are not even read generally by all academics, but only by those who specialise in the relevant topic. 

The language of academic journals

As aforementioned, the purpose of academic journals is to communicate information and current developments to academics. This means that the contents of a journal article should be clear, concise and accurate, otherwise they will be ineffective in communication. Moreover, the articles should be written in academic language, in the same way as the language of a thesis or dissertation. Each academic discipline has its own vocabulary and style; for example: science, law, the arts, finance and politics. Therefore, in a journal article, that vocabulary should be used.  

Some tips on writing in academic language 

1. Avoid the excessive use of big words

Sometimes people think that they will impress their readers by using very big words, which they think will show that they have a good vocabulary. Some writers may even look up a thesaurus to find the most-complicated synonym, which may not even be an accurate equivalent of a more simple word. Although articles need to be in academic language, this does not mean that the language should be too complex. The message will be communicated better if it is concise and accurate, while remaining in academic language. 

2. Avoid phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are verbs that are expressed in two words, when one would be sufficient. Examples of phrasal verbs are: to carry out, to go back, to look at, to get by, to keep on. In academic writing, such verbs would be better as: to undertake, to return, to observe, to survive, to continue. 

3. Do not use informal words

Informal words are fine in everyday language, but not in academic language. Examples of how more formal words can be used are: to buy (to purchase), to get (to obtain), a lot of (many or numerous), idea (notion), choose (select)

4. Avoid overused words and potentially meaningless words

Some words can be so overused that they cease to have any meaning. In the past, the word, nice was used to describe, a person, the weather, a book, a car and almost anything else. Its use is much less common today, but it appears to have been replaced by the word, iconic, which is used to describe almost anything. Also, avoid using the word, thing, in academic language, because it can mean almost anything. If you are inclined to use this word, then ask yourself if you can find a better word. 

5. Do not use abbreviated verb forms

Expressions such as don’t or can’t should not be used in academic language. Instead, they should be expressed as do not or cannot. Take care not to confuse its and it’s. The word its is a possessive adjective (or possessive pronoun) and should not have an apostrophe, for example: This is a good book but its cover needs to be repaired. The word it’s is an abbreviated form of it is. In academic language, the full form it is should always be used; for example, it is apparent that……  

6.Ensure that grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct

This is particularly important in academic writing. It would be helpful to hire a professional journal article editing and proofreading services provider.

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