Academic Writing Explained: 10 Tips to Improve Your Skills
Updated on May 3, 2022 by Team ShineSheets
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Academic writing often has the reputation of being very formal. It is intended as a means to communicate ideas, information, and research to a wider academic community. If you are a student, you will be required to tackle term papers that follow this style on an everyday basis.
Needless to say, getting your academic style just right can be a demanding process. So, to help you improve, we have put together a few tips that can add to the quality of your writing in short order.
Find out What’s Expected
One of the first steps to excelling in academic writing is understanding whom you are writing for. In the case of students, the target audience might vary from one assignment to another. For instance, if it is an essay, you are likely to be writing for the eyes of your professor. On the other hand, in assignments requiring you to practice your memo-writing skills, you would be addressing a hypothetical group of colleagues or even a client.
Understanding your audience allows you to determine what you should include in your paper. If the readers are already experts in your field, you need not elaborate on the basic concepts. However, if you are writing for an untrained eye, you will need to explain more. This will include the tone and structure of the writing.
Refer to Samples
If you are having a tough time getting started, referring to other academic papers related to your field might be helpful. While doing research allows you to find them, the easier alternative would be to get a paper sample tailored to your assignment.
You can now order term papers from professional writers on the same topic and even with the same word count. Such services where you pay for papers can save you time and a bit of effort. Furthermore, referring to sample papers will provide you with ideas on structuring your document and backing it up with evidence.
As you would know by now, academic writing has to be structured and focused. This requires you to be through with your literary review. Here are some points that you can bear in mind when doing research.
- Start broad before diving into specifics. Research can be overwhelming, so it would not be wrong to do a basic Internet search to get a grasp of the topic before you consult academic journals on the subject. While the information might not be accurate, you will get a basic overview of the subject and the key points.
- Recognize quality sources. Not every source you come across will be reliable. Therefore, you need to know how to find the right sources. Consider whether the author is an expert and whether their point of view conflicts with others.
- Verify your sources. Most websites do not evaluate their content for accuracy. Unless you stick to peer-reviewed papers, you will need to make sure that the information you found is true by finding multiple sources that confirm it.
These tips will help you sort through the labyrinth of research available on the web and make sure that what you include in your academic paper is provable.
Use Library Resources
The Internet might have the answer to everything, but in some cases, you might not be able to find authentic academic papers to back up your assignment. Not to worry, one advantage of being a student is that you will have access to school and university libraries. These are bound to have collections that are more specific to your topics.
This does not mean that you should visit a library. In fact, most colleges have digital versions of their libraries that will give you access to specific databases that might be inaccessible to you otherwise.
Create an Outline
Once you have assembled all the required research, it is crucial that you work on an outline for your paper. This will help organize your research and make sure that the information you collected is easily accessible when needed.
If you are in a hurry, creating an outline might seem counter-productive. However, setting up the structure of your paper can help you save time in the end. You can do this by plotting out the key points and getting a sense of the word count you need to assign to each segment.
You might not get a clear idea of how to proceed after one point, but an outline will indeed give you a direction to proceed.
Work in Chunks
It is unlikely that you will be able to complete your paper in one sitting, especially if it is more than 1,000 words. Instead, you can start by setting achievable goals such as 250 words an hour. If you are able to complete this without difficulty, you can increase your target words.
It would be better to set a time at the beginning of your writing session so as not to lose track of time. Taking frequent breaks will also help you regain focus and approach the paper with a fresh perspective. The aim is to get the words on the paper; you will have time to edit later.
Support Your Argument
In an academic essay, you should always have your main argument in mind when writing. This is because all information you provide should serve as supporting evidence to the topic.
When writing, ask yourself, does this evidence support my thesis? If not, then it would be better to exclude it. This will help make your paper clear, thorough, and concise.
Don’t Dilute Your Writing
In most forms of creative writing, there are a lot of words that serve the purpose of being fillers. While some of these might make the narration better, they might not contribute anything new to the paper. For example, avoid words such as just, at all, basically, etc.
However, in academic writing, such words will not be of any value at all. On the contrary, these can make your writing come across as diluted and weak to the reader.
Read It Out Loud
After you have completed the draft, it is time to start proofreading. The best way to ensure that your paper has a flow is to read your writing out loud. If it sounds clipped, you might have to add a few transactional sentences to break out the monotonous beat.
If you find yourself stumbling over some sentences, they might be too complex and require rewriting. In case you are not sure about the grammatical errors, you can also use tools such as Grammarly to make sure that your paper is on point.
Practice and Practice
No matter what your writing goal is, the ultimate way to improve your skills is to learn from practice. The more you write, the more you will find yourself learning from your mistakes. Eventually, you will be able to understand the errors, and your writing will become more natural.
As a student or a researcher, you will not be short of opportunities to practice academic writing. And remember that while you might not be able to excel in the first academic paper, you will definitely improve with focus and patience.
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