Academic writing has its own style and format that create the distinguishing characteristics of a well-researched paper. A quick tip list helps new writers.
Style and Clarity in Academic Papers
Formal academic writing uses precise language. The style is intended to make points with the utmost clarity, so the reader can understand the topic and the points made. A formal style of writing avoids confusion by not using imprecise language, multiple meaning words, and idioms. Sentences should be complete and constructed following the standard rules of grammar. Contractions are avoided and the words are spelled out. For example, instead of the word “there’s,” which is more informal, an academic paper should use the two words, “there is.”
How to Use Acronyms in Formal Language
Formal language does not use slang or current texting abbreviations. Acronyms identifying public places and institutions are commonly used.
When acronyms are used, they are first introduced with the complete name and the acronym in parentheses. For example, the following sentence introduces an acronym.
- The National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) publishes a magazine and books for science teachers.
After this first introduction the acronym NSTA may be used without the complete name of the organization. However, consistency of use throughout the paper is important. Do not use acronyms in one part of the paper, then change to the longer name in another part of the paper.
What Does Formal Language Look Like?
Formal language is usually written in the third person. It’s never written in the more personal first person point of view. It does not include personal viewpoints or opinions, other than the thesis. The writing is objective, leading the reader to make his or her own conclusions about the issue or topic.
It also uses precise verbiage. When writing an academic paper, one should choose verbs that are precise and accurate descriptions of the action. Instead of using the words “look at,” the writer might choose to use the word “inspect.” Instead of “do,” the words “perform” or “investigate” might be more accurate. Use of a thesaurus to find the perfect verb is essential.
As an example, the following sentence is written in formal language.
- Recent study results in the area of neuroplasticity indicate that the daily practice of intentional gratitude increases the cortical layers of sections of the brain associated with rewards and happiness.
The next example is written in informal language.
- I found it’s possible to be happier and friendlier by focusing on positive things every day. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Writing with a Clear, Logical Progression
The thesis of the paper introduces the topic. Everything in the paper should relate to the thesis. The succeeding sections of the paper should all address a different point to be made regarding the thesis.
Within each section, each paragraph should focus on the key elements being expressed. Academic writing clearly informs the reader of the paragraph topic and then provides pertinent details, examples, and explanations. The last sentence in the paragraph either ties it to the next with a transition statement, or summarizes the paragraph.
A Short Checklist for Editing an Academic Paper
The following checklist will help anyone writing in formal language to refine an article or paper.
- Point of view should be impersonal.
- Acronyms and technical abbreviations are first introduced, then used consistently.
- No slang, idioms, colloquialisms, or contractions are used.
- Each sentence is grammatically correct.
- Each paragraph has a clear topic with details.
- The paper has a clearly defined topic. It follows a logical progression to the conclusion.
- Resources are clearly cited, using one citation style consistently.
In summary, the main points to remember about academic writing are that it is written in an impersonal style, void of opinions, it uses precise words, and it avoids slang and colloquialism. It also follows a clear and logical progression of well described ideas, and it has an overall consistency in the use of language.
For ideas on thesis statements for essays, Persuasive Essay Topics for Academic Writing may help.
- Monash University Language and Learning Online http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/general/academic/index.xml