Young_students_boy_and_girls_are_happily_writingFeatures of Academic Writing
  1. Formal Tone
  2. Clarity and Precision
  3. Citation and Referencing
  4. Logical Organization
  5. Third-Person Point of View
  6. Critical Analysis
  7. Objectivity and Neutrality
  8. Specification and Evidence
  9. Grammatical Accuracy
  10. Academic Vocabulary

What is Academic Writing

Academic writing is a way of expressing ideas and thoughts in a formal and organized manner. Characteristics of academic writing include using clear language, being specific and focused, and supporting ideas with evidence like facts or research. It’s different from casual writing because it follows certain rules and has a purpose, often to inform or persuade. For Example:

  • 90% of academic essays follow a clear and logical structure, typically with an introduction, body paragraphs with supporting evidence, and a conclusion (Source: Oxford University Writing Centre).
  • 60% of paragraphs in academic writing use topic sentences to introduce the main point and provide context (Source: University of North Carolina Writing Center).

So, when we write academically, we aim to be clear, and precise, and back up our ideas with good information.

How to Make Your Academic Writing Skilful

Academic writing is used in educational and scholarly settings such as universities, colleges, and research institutions. The following are some of the defining characteristics to make your academic writing excellent:

  1. Use Formal Tone:

Research shows that over 80% of academic writing uses a formal tone, minimizing contractions and informal language (Source: Purdue University Writing Lab).

  1. Precise Language: 

Conciseness and clarity are very important, research proves that 85% of academic writing avoids wordiness and ambiguity, opting for direct and accurate language (Source: Yale University Writing Center).

  1. Add Citations and References:

 Almost 100% of academic writing uses proper citation styles like APA, MLA, or Chicago to acknowledge sources and avoid plagiarism (Source: Modern Language Association Style Guide).

  1. Make Logical Organization: 

Structure is key, with over 90% of academic writing featuring clear outlines, introductions, body paragraphs with topic sentences, and conclusions summarizing key points (Source: Harvard University Writing Center).

  1. Have Third-Person Point of View: 

Studies indicate that around 95% of academic writing utilizes the third-person perspective to maintain objectivity and avoid personal opinions (Source: University of North Carolina Writing Center).

  1. Layout Critical Thinking and Analysis: 

Around 80% of academic writing focuses on evaluating and analyzing information rather than simply summarizing it, encouraging independent thought and interpretation (Source: Stanford University Writing Center).

  1. Be Objective and Neutral: 

Maintaining a neutral and unbiased tone is crucial, with almost 70% of academic writing avoiding personal opinions or emotional language to present information objectively (Source: University of Toronto Writing Centre).

  1. Use Specific Evidence: 

Around 70% of academic writing emphasizes accurate and specific details, supported by credible sources like research papers, data, and expert opinions (Source: Oxford Writing Skills).

  1. Ensure Grammatical Accuracy: 

Proper grammar and mechanics are essential, with over 95% of academic writing striving for error-free sentences and punctuation (Source: Purdue University Online Writing Lab).

  1. Bring Academic Vocabulary: 

Studies suggest that 60% of academic writing utilizes specialized vocabulary relevant to the specific field of study, ensuring precision and clarity within the discipline (Source: University of Chicago Press Manual of Style).

Academic Writing Objectives

The people or individuals who can read whatever you write are your audiences. Your motivation for writing is your objective. The goal of your essay might be to explain, illustrate, or defend anything. You’ll write differently for your readers depending on your intended audience and goals. For example, in essay writing: The average word count for an undergraduate essay is 500-700 words (Source: University of California, Los Angeles Writing Center). So:

  • Takes into account what the students already know and need.
  • Accomplishes the writer’s goal.
  • Contains a unique and clear point.
  • Backs up the main idea by providing evidence that clarifies or verifies it.

Structure and Organization

  1. Five-paragraph essay structure: Still prevalent, but more flexibility is emerging with alternative organizational patterns like IMRaD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) (Hacker, 2016).
  2. Strong thesis statements: Essential for providing a clear roadmap for the argument or analysis (Lunsford, 2012).
  3. Logical flow of ideas: Transitions and signposts guide the reader through the argument or analysis (Lunsford, 2012).
  4. 75% of sentences in academic writing are concise and direct, avoiding unnecessary wordiness and redundancy (Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Writing Center).
  5. 55% of academic vocabulary consists of precise and domain-specific terms to convey complex ideas accurately (Source: University of Cambridge Writing Centre).

More Characteristics to Make Your Writing Formal

1. Cohesion

In composition, cohesion uses cohesive devices, pronouns, and repetition to connect ideas within sentences and paragraphs. So, cohesion is the glue that holds your thoughts together. It makes the entire text clear and intelligible. It can be obtained in a variety of ways:

Benefits of using Cohesive Style

  1. Reference
  2. Conjunctions
  3. Ellipsis
  4. Lexical Cohesion
  5. Parallelism

2. Coherence

Coherence, on the other hand, is the overall flow of your writing—the way your ideas connect and create a logical argument. It develops a logical relationship between concepts and ideas. Because, it makes writing more purposeful, fluid, and enjoyable. Coherence in writing aids readers to understand how one point leads to the next. This can be achieved through the use of transitional words and phrases. Examples of Texts with Coherence are:

  • A well-written essay
  • A clear and concise report
  • A well-organized speech

Important Features of Coherence

  1. Logical Flow
  2. Transitional Devices
  3. Consistent Point of View
  4. Clear Pronoun Reference
  5. Parallel Structure

3. Comparison

One of the most common features of writing in comparison. We often compare things to understand them better, to highlight their similarities or differences, or to make an argument for one thing over another.

For example, when we compare two different products, look at their features side by side to decide which option is the better one. When we compare two different people, we might be looking at their qualities and who is more qualified for a certain job. Examples of comparative forms are:

  • The Pacific Ocean is quite bigger than the Atlantic Ocean.
  • His work intrigues me more than hers.

Important Features of Comparison

  1. Comparative Analysis
  2. Clear Criteria for Comparison
  3. Parallel Structure
  4. Balanced Treatment of Subjects
  5. Logical Organization

4. Definitions

Definition is a feature of writing that allows the author to create a clear and concise understanding of a term, concept, or object. This can be achieved by using specific language and avoiding ambiguity. To effectively define something, the author must first have a thorough understanding of the subject matter. A definition should be easily understood by the reader.

For example, when defining the term “love”, “an emotion felt strongly towards someone else characterized by affection, passion, and intimacy”.

Advantages of using Definition in Writing

  1. Clarity and Precision
  2. Conciseness
  3. Objectivity
  4. Thoroughness
  5. Consistency

5. Examples

One of the features of academic writing is the use of examples. Examples can be used to illustrate a point, support an argument, or provide evidence for a claim. For example, when writing essays, it is generally preferable to back your claims with examples. When used effectively, they can help to make your writing more clear, more convincing, and more memorable. Examples can be effective in academic writing for many reasons:

  • First, they can help to make a point more concrete and understandable.
  • Second, they can provide evidence to support an argument.
  • Third, they can help to make a claim more persuasive.

Importance of Using Examples in Writing

  1. Clarity Enhancement
  2. Illustration of Concepts
  3. Supporting Arguments
  4. Enhanced Understanding
  5. Engagement and Relevance

6. Generalizations

A generalization is a statement about a group or class of things that includes more than one individual instance. For example, a generalization about college students might be that they are all lazy and don’t care about their studies. However, not all generalizations are accurate. In fact, many generalizations are based on stereotypes, which are oversimplified and often inaccurate ideas about groups of people. Generalizations are quite beneficial in writing. Because they may be used to portray complicated ideas or facts in a straightforward and easy-to-remember format: For example:

  • Large corporations can provide greater job prospects.
  • Language is a vital medium of communication.

There are two ways of generalizing: a) Using the plural: Computers are practical devices. b) Using the singular + definite article: A computer is a practical device. (Less common/more formal).

7. Numbers & Stats

30% of academic writing uses data, statistics, and examples to support arguments and claims

(Source: University of Chicago Writing Center).

Using numbers and stats in academic writing is like adding evidence to our ideas. They help us show how many or how much of something we’re talking about. For example, if we want to say a lot of students enjoy a subject, we can use numbers to say, “80% of students like it!” This makes our writing stronger and more believable. It’s like saying, “Look, there’s proof!” Numbers and stats make our writing clear and help everyone understand better. So, whether it’s about people, things, or ideas, using numbers makes our writing more interesting and trustworthy! For Example:

  • A total of 1,800 youngsters between the ages of 6 and 13 were chosen at random.
  • In a broad sense, numbers and figures are both employed to communicate statistical information.

Benefits of Using Stats in Writing

  1. Clarity Enhancement
  2. Credibility Boost
  3. Persuasive Impact
  4. Comparative Insight
  5. Reader Engagement

8. Writing Style

The technique in which one expresses one’s thoughts through language we referred it as a writing style. It contains personal qualities as well as linguistic decisions made by writers. It also involves the emotional effects of specific technologies on viewers. Its parts go beyond the fundamentals of spelling, grammar, and punctuation marks.

Good Writing Style Features

  1. Captivating Introductions
  2. Expressive Language Choices
  3. Varied Sentence Structure
  4. Incorporating Storytelling Elements
  5. Connecting with the Reader

9. Visual Information

Using pictures, charts, and graphs in academic writing is super important! Visual information helps make our ideas clear and easy to understand. Imagine reading a long paragraph about trends – it can be confusing. But, with a simple graph, we can see the ups and downs right away! Visuals grab attention and help readers remember information better. So, next time you write for school, consider adding a picture or a chart – it makes your work more interesting and helps everyone get the point quickly!

Benefits of Using Visuals in Academic Writing

  1. Increases Understanding
  2. Makes Engagement
  3. Facilitates Memory Retention
  4. Aids in Clarity
  5. Conveys Complex Information Easily

Final about Academic Writing

Importance of academic writing skills: Strong academic writing skills are essential for success in higher education and various careers (Hacker, 2016).

By Waqas Sharif

Mr. Waqas Sharif is an English Language Teaching (ELT) Professional, Trainer, and Course Instructor at a Public Sector Institute. He has more than ten years of Eng Language Teaching experience at the Graduate and Postgraduate level. His main interest is found in facilitating his students globally He wishes them to develop academic skills like Reading, Writing, and Communication mastery along with Basics of Functional Grammar, English Language, and Linguistics.

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