Features of Academic Writing

There are different kinds of writings produced in different contexts, for example, a memo, a letter to a friend, a newspaper article, an SMS, et al. Each of these differs in style, language used, the vocabulary and the purpose that it intends to achieve. Academic writing is serious writing guided by certain standard conventions such as:

  • It avoids personal constructions and pronouns like I, you, he, she, him, etc. as much as possible.
  • It relies more on active voice as opposed to passive voice, for example, The CEO reduced the employees salaries during the recession. Active voice is easier to understand, uses fewer words and produces stronger sentences. Passive voice is used in some situations, for example, when one wants to diplomatically point out an error, e.g. The letter was lost (misplaced).
  • It avoids voice contraction or shortening such as cant, shouldnt, etc. but rather uses the complete forms of these words, for example, cannot, should not, etc.
  • It avoids clichés, slung and colloquialism, that is, when you start saying something and someone can readily complete it, for example, as black as charcoal. Slung on the other and is the vocabulary among people of the same age and it is usually ungrammatical. Colloquialism is use of common ungrammatical words such as poor folks, kudos, and other words that are used in everyday communication.
  • It emphasizes on the objectivity of its content, for example, she weighs 130 kilograms instead of she is obese.
  • It uses special vocabulary or jargon instead of general vocabulary, for example, physically challenged versus lame.
  • Originality; A writer should ensure that their voice is evident in their writing so that they make a contribution to existing knowledge
  • Reader consciousness: The writer should be sensitive to the readers expectations to the level of their education, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc.
  • It should be free of any noise, that is, in the vocabulary used, for example, bad grammar. This can be achieved by careful revision and editing of the written work.
  • It acknowledges the ideas of others; one is not expected to present only their own ideas but also to acknowledge information obtained from books and journals.
  • Some features used in formal writings are avoided, for example, idioms, euphemism, proverbs, hyperbole, irony, etc.
  • It is a lengthy as well as a creative process involving various stages such as focusing on a topic, gathering ideas, determining a structure, drawing outlines and drafting, revising, editing and proofreading.

Every instructor has a reason for giving you an assignment. It is obvious that each instructor’s requirements may differ from that of others. It is therefore necessary and mandatory to follow your instructors directions to get the most from an assignment. Otherwise, your work will be rejected if you are working for a client.

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