How to Get Better at Academic Writing
April 15, 2018| Category: Writing Tips
Good academic writing skills have everlasting benefits. Not only will they make your university life tremendously easier, but they will also prepare you for numerous challenges that will arrive later in the professional environment.
Just like any other skill, good writing is 1% of talent and 99% of work. The more you practice the better your writing skills will eventually become. However, there are some tips that can help you to speed this journey up. Here are seven main ones.
- Keep the Target Reader in Mind
In most cases, academic writing will reach teachers, professors or fellow students. Generally, you shouldn’t expect a person who is not connected with your field of study to end up reading your paper. That being said, remember to avoid unnecessary introductions and explanations of things that should already be obvious to a professional who’s dealing with your writing. Sometimes you might be tempted to include some inconsequential information in your paper just to reach the required word count. In the world of academia, it’s better to say less but to the point than to fill the space with irrelevant material.
- Prepare before You Start Writing
Every academic paper, whether it’s a small essay or a dissertation, requires some research. Before you start putting your ideas into sentences, jot them down as bullet points. If you’re dealing with a more extensive writing, it’s good to study your sources first and make notes. In case you want to base your writing solely on your personal ideas, you also need to dive into them before beginning the writing process. Write them down and brainstorm any possible arguments you can base your assumptions on. Later analyze them in depth and decide which ones you’re going to stick to.
- Stay Clear and Concise
Even if the topic you’re writing on hits home, try to stay objective and impartial. One of the main features of academic writing is its neutrality. You of course need to be a strong supporter of the ideas you are presenting, but a good writer is one who can inform or convince the reader in the unbiased manner.
As far as the language goes, stay formal. There is no place for emotional exclamations, clichés and spoken speech in academic writing. On the other hand, don’t go overboard with different fancy words and scientific terms. An academic paper should be first of all readable.
- Use Different Sentence Structures
Luckily, English has a free word order. Take the advantage of that and implement different kinds of sentences throughout your academic writing. This trick makes the text flow smoother and easier to read. Don’t be scared of short sentences either. Some think that they are the sign of poor writing skills but in reality, short sentences are absolutely necessary. They help to make a text less complex and bring in some variety.
- Stay Focused on Your Topic
Drifting off topic might be accidental or intended but in any case, make sure you never let this happen. If you notice that you’re doing it unintentionally, rewrite your text to avoid it. However, it’s more difficult if you do it on purpose because you simply don’t know what to write on the given subject. In this situation, look at Tip 2 of this article. The absence of sufficient ideas says that you haven’t researched the subject well enough. Every topic has a potential to be developed into a full paper. With some, you just need to make an extra effort to make it work.
- Mention All Used Sources
The biggest crime in academic writing is plagiarism. On your research stage, note down all sources from which you’re getting information and later acknowledge them in your paper. This is extremely important in cases when you refer to numbers or statistics. The reader needs to have an opportunity to check the legitimacy of your words.
- Finish up
If you’ve already reached the point of being at university and writing a paper, it’s probably needless to say that you always have to proofread. However, some students still forget to do it. Proofreading is one of the best ways to improve your writing skills because doing this, you learn not to make the same mistakes. Check not only your grammar and spelling but also the style you’re writing in.
I hope that these seven simple tips will help you to hone your academic writing skills and gain more confidence in the academia world.