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Key Elements of Academic Language

September 17, 2018| Category: Writing Tips

When using academic language, it is extremely important to remember that it has to be straightforward, formal, precise, as well as analytical and objective in its nature. Frequently, students assume that academic language presupposes flowery phrases and complex syntactical structures, but this is an erroneous conception that can lead to a number of flaws in writing. In reality, academic language is characterized by conciseness and clarity that help to get your point across in the best way possible.

The following guidelines elucidate the major features of academic language and enlist the corresponding language skills necessary to comprehend the essence of academic language and learn to incorporate it in formal writing.

  • Formal

Formal style of writing requires a high level of proficiency in order to create full-fledged sentences and paragraphs, as well as make sensible arguments that facilitate easier understanding of a text. Generally speaking, this presupposes that you should omit colloquial English and any other informal linguistic units; factual data and figures should be introduced in a succinct manner as well. Moreover, accuracy is crucial in academic texts. Select words precisely and thoroughly to help the reader accurately understand the terms and concepts described in the text.

Also, keep in mind that academic texts are intended for an academic audience, and, thus, your writing style has to adhere to the conventions of the field of knowledge you are engaged in.

  • Analytical

In academic writing, critical analysis is integral, as it helps to unravel the complex nature of the subject matter. This can be achieved by asking questions, as well as by analyzing and assessing. Critical analysis enables you to look at a subject from a fresh perspective, not just rephrase what has already been written.

The use of the analytical approach in the academic text should be reflected in your language. To be analytical partially presupposes that you compare and contrast, appraise, and look at an issue from different angles. Additionally, it requires that you provide explanations and reasons, come to conclusions, offer suggestions and recommendations, and support your position by means of credible evidence.

  • Objective

In academic works, research serves as a framework for drawing conclusions, not the writer’s point of view on a topic in question. When you mind objectivity, you should be focused on facts and factual data; you also should not let your personal feelings and biases cloud your judgment. When introducing an argument to the reader, make it reasonable by showing both sides, if possible, and try to avoid subjective evaluations.

Also, at some stage of your research, you may need to conduct an analysis and include a discussion, in which case it is recommended to state your position. To express your opinion in an elaborate way without resorting to hackneyed phrases like “I think”, you might want to incorporate words such as arguably, evidently, apparently, strangely enough, ideally, notably, etc. Remember that the opinion you are trying to articulate should stem from the evidence you provided rather than from your personal convictions.

  • Explicit

Explicitness of academic papers can be achieved in several ways. Firstly, the presentation of the material, i.e. ideas, arguments, and evidence, should be clear, well-organized, and straightforward. A paper has to have a logical structure that enables easier comprehension for the reader. One of the techniques of ensuring clarity and coherence of the structure of your paper is through the application of signposts in the text. Signposts refer to words and phrases that navigate the reader through the text. Signposting can further fall into two different categories, namely, major signposting and transitional words and phrases.

Common setbacks that non-native writers face and how to avoid them

If English is not your mother tongue, you are likely to experience some difficulties when writing in academic style. In that case, identify your problems and look for recommendations in our other articles to overcome them and generally improve your writing competence.

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