Using Academic English in Academic Writing – Principles and Concepts

In this article, we are going to discuss the basic principles and concepts related to the field of academic writing in English.

We will start by providing a brief introduction to the field of academic writing and answer the following questions:

  • What is academic English?
  • What is academic writing?
  • What are the main characteristics of academic writing?
  • Why is academic writing important?

What is academic English?

According to Dr. Karen O’Conell of the Cambridge University Language Centre in collaboration with the team at WritePro, at its most basic, academic English is the variety of the English language that we use to share research. Research refers to the process of answering a research question by creating an argument that is supported by critical analysis and the use of evidence. We use academic English to reach a wide general academic audience in an attempt to persuade them that the argument we have created to answer our research question is an effective one.

What is academic writing?

There are two varieties of academic English:

  • Spoken academic English
  • Written academic English

Let’s get a closer look at the second variety. When most people think of academic writing, they think of thesis papers composed by graduate students and research articles written by professional scholars. Well, these are two great examples of academic writing. The concept can be applied more generally to include a much wider variety of tasks and objectives.

As we mentioned previously, academic English is a variety of English used to convey research, so academic writing is the variety of academic English used to convey research in writing. That means that there are many different kinds of academic writing, from literature reviews to research papers to abstracts and lab reports.

While trying to compare and contrast all the many different types of academic writing, the most important thing to remember is that generally, each kind of academic writing has its own rules and conventions. As such, it is important to identify the rules and expectations for a particular genre of writing, before starting to write.

What are the characteristics of a piece of academic writing?

The characteristics of academic writing may differ, depending on type. There are few traits that are common to most academic writing.

A.) First, there are focused and specific expectations when producing a piece of academic writing. Academic writing is used to answer research questions. These questions are either provided by a course instructor or developed by the writer or researcher. Good academic writing starts with focused and specific questions to be answered.

B.) Second, academic writing emphasises logical reasoning over emotional or sensory perceptions. Facts are more important than feelings. Writing clearly means thinking clearly. Academic writing demonstrates clear critical thinking and the ability to make arguments stronger, by supporting then with evidence.

C.) Third, academic writing must be clear. English is both a low context and reader responsible language. By this, we mean readers will depend on what’s been written and believe it is the writer’s job to make his or her argument as comprehensible as possible.

D.) Fourth, academic writing must be coherent. This means that there are logical connections between sentences. One way to do this is to begin sentences with information that relates back to the previous sentence. It also means that paragraphs are unified around a single idea and that all the information included in a piece of writing helps to create an effective argument used to answer the research question.

E.) Finally, the most effective academic writing follows a process. While each writer will eventually develop their own unique process, there are few steps that most people follow when producing a piece of academic writing. These steps include:

  1. Analising the task. This involves clarifying your purpose for writing and identifying your target audience.
  2. Planning your argument. Next, you need to develop the main claim and decide how you will support this claim using evidence.
  3. Research. This is necessary in order to gather quality, fact-based objective evidence that you need to create the argument you will use to support your main claim.
  4. Start writing and engage in the drafting process. No good writing is done overnight. It is important to produce multiple drafts and to both edit and proofread your writing. While it is important to consider things like punctuation and proper spelling, it is even more important to see how well you structure your argument and the information in your writing. To do this, it is a good idea to ask fro comments from peers and colleagues.


Why is academic writing important?

Finally, there are many benefits of investing your time and energy in becoming a proficient academic writer. Academic writing is an important skill to master for a wide variety of professional and personal reasons.

A.) First, it allows writers to make individual contributions to the ongoing dialogues in their fields. It allows individuals a greater voice and ability to participate in conversations about topics important to them.

B.) Additionally, by mastering the skills necessary to become an effective academic writer, a person also becomes and effective researcher and critical thinker.

C.) Finally, academic writing is a markable skill that improves ones’ professional qualifications and makes one a more attractive candidate for a potential employer.

So, in the end, we see that academic writing is about much more than just the act of writing, which is by itself not simply a skill, but a collection of skills. In addition to putting your thoughts on the page, effective academic writing involves critical thinking, the ability to create a convincing argument, and good research skills.

We hope this article will help to improve your understanding of what people mean when they talk about academic writing. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment below!

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