7 Skills Required for Writing an Academic Paper

fr31f134341Academic writing stands unique among all other types of writing, yet the term is often mistakenly used to describe pieces that fall far away from being academic. Unlike most types, academic writing has its own specific protocols, and to stick to these protocols one must develop a set of skills without which their writing could not be deemed “academic”.

These are 7 skills that are essential to any successful attempt of academic writing:

1. Articulateness 

While writing an academic paper, you do not have the luxury of rambling on about random topics while trying to prove a certain thesis, let alone disregarding the thesis altogether even if for an instant and speaking of an unrelated peripheral issue or talking like you would in a conversation. It is a pity many people misconstrue this trait as only applicable in verbal communications but clearly, nothing can be further from the truth.

Academic writing is not about making an amusing piece as much as a piece that delivers just the knowledge needed to back your thesis and construct a solid argument. However, your articulation should not be comprehendible exclusively by those who belong to your discipline or field of study. You should be able to deliver the premise using terms that are fathomable across various disciplines. (libguides.usc.edu)

2. Precision

In an academic paper, everything you write and every statement you make should be easy to trace back to your thesis. That is particularly when you are borrowing evidence from a discipline different than yours.

A person, for example, reading about your academic paper on sociology should not feel that your political or religious references are taking them off the topic, but should be rather able to build a relationship in their mind between these references and their sociological implications.

Roaming from one line of thought to another is perhaps okay in an editorial article, but is not acceptable in academic writing. The geenral rule is to keep it short enough to arouse the interest and long enough to cover the essentials.

3. Comprehensiveness 

Even though you have a thesis in mind that you aim to push through your academic paper, you should nonetheless display as many arguments and counterarguments throughout your paper. You should not stick to one line of argument and keep citing its advocates, but rather show the reader the soundness of your approach to the premise against opposing lines of reasoning.

Comprehensiveness should also apply to the aspects of the issue itself. The display of statistics and sources that show one side of the issue might end up embracing your opinion, but this is an approach that lacks integrity and fails to inform the reader of the other side that might lead to a different conclusion if added to the formula. (lshtm.ac.uk)

4. Critical Thinking

Unlike any other type of writing, respectable academic writing cannot afford including loopholes and logical mistakes. Ideas need to be creatively thought of even before they can be put down on paper [or another medium for that matter]. Before embarking on writing an academic paper, the writer should be able to closely scrutinize every source, argument, and the statement they plan to include in the paper.

Most people do not fail to think critically about opinions they do not support, but fail to this with sources or lines of reasoning they stand by. An academic writer, on the other hand, should eliminate any irrational thinking and logical fallacies.

5. Impartiality 

Tribalism or personal feelings, as it were, has no place in academic writing. Although you might have a specific opinion on the subject of your paper, you should leave that out while writing. That is especially if you hold your opinion strongly.

A professional academic writer should be able to rise above all biases and write on the issue as an outside observer and examiner, rather than an advocate of one side, action or conclusion over the other. An academic writer should let the conclusions draw themselves, rather than jump towards them. According to cheapessay.net, it may not be a crime to hold certain views but when it comes to laying them down in an academic paper, you should always adopt a neutral point of view as your paper may be destined for people on the extreme end as far as your beliefs are concerned.(Whitaker, 2009)

6. Being methodical 

The structure is one of the most crucial elements of a successful academic paper. You can have every viable source on an issue, and have your argument lined up clearly in your mind, yet without a proper structure, this could all go to waste. The classic method for academic writing goes: “introduce – expand/justify/ conclude”. This method is still widely adhered to by many academic writers, and it seems to yet remain the most organized way for laying down a thesis. (Radu, 2012)

7. Diplomatic style

Academic writing should not provoke grievances. A person from the left side of the political spectrum should be able to read an academic paper from a right-wing think tank without feeling like their thoughts or beliefs are being ridiculed or intentionally misinterpreted. An academic writer should have the ability to touch upon all aspects of an issue, display every possible opinion on the issue or the particular aspect, yet seem impartial and as critical of their own line of thinking as they are of the others. In a nutshell, no one should read an academic paper and feel the slightest offense being aimed at their viewpoint.

References:

Whitaker, Anne. “Academic Writing Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Academic Papers.” City University of Seattle (2009): n. pag. Web.

Peironcely, Julio. “5 Tips To Improve Your Academic Writing .” N.p., n.d. Web.

Radu, Thaler. “Guidelines: How to Write an Academic Paper.” Philipps-Universität Marburg (2012): n. pag. Web.

Murray, Rowena. “Writing for an academic journal: 10 tips.” The Guardian. N.p., 6 Sept. 2013. Web.

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