Characteristics of academic writing

by Arushi Gupta
characteristics of academic writing

Academic writing is a type of writing that is used in writing research papers and academic work with the aim of presenting and communicating knowledge and research findings within a specific discipline. It is very different from casual writing like creative, persuasive or personal writing as the goal is not to entertain or persuade but to inform and engage with intellectual audiences. Academic writing has certain features and standards that distinguish it from other forms of writing. In this article, we will explore the key characteristics of academic writing that sets it apart from the generic forms of writing.

Characteristics of academic writing

Clear and precise languageUse simple, direct and specific language that accurately focuses on facts, evidence, and logical reasoning.Do not use vague, complex or ambiguous language that may confuse or mislead readers.Don’t: The results of this study are very interesting and important. Do: This study reveals that X has a positive effect on Y in Z context.
Formal and objective languageUse formal, objective language. Maintain a neutral tone, one that is authoritative and unbiased, reinforcing the credibility of the research presented.Do not use emoticons, slang, contractions, or abbreviations that may sound casual or too subjective for scholarly audiences.Don’t: The study was a flop. We didn’t get any useful data. Do: The experiment failed to produce any valid, reliable data.
Evidence and citationsUse evidence-based data to support claims. This can be drawn from credible sources like research studies, books, journals, and expert opinions that can prove the validity of your findings.Do not rely on your own opinions or assumptions without providing proper sources or references that can verify or challenge your research findings.Don’t: Many people believe that climate change is a hoax. Do: According to a survey conducted by Pew Research          Center in 2019, 16% of Americans think that there is no evidence for global warming.
Original, authentic well-presented content    Use original and authentic content that reflects your own research and contribution to your field. It should be free of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.Do not use other’s content without referencing the source.  Don’t: In this study, I will argue that bees are vital for nature. (This statement is from: https://www.unep. org/news-and-stories/ story/why-bees-are-essential-people-and-planet) Do: As the UNEP 2019 IPBES report reveals, bees are essential to people and the planet.

Dos and don’ts of academic writing

The following dos and don’ts can serve as a guide to understanding how to create academic content:


Use evidence and citations: Academic writing relies on research and evidence to support arguments. Referencing credible sources strengthens the validity and reliability of the work.

Maintain objectivity: Present ideas and arguments objectively, without personal biases or opinions. The focus should be on factual information and logical analysis.

Structure your writing: Follow a clear structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each section should have a distinct purpose and contribute to the coherence of the paper.

Develop a strong thesis statement: Write a clear and concise thesis statement that states the main argument and guides the entire paper.

Edit and proofread: Academic writing demands accuracy and precision. Carefully edit and proofread your work to eliminate errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.


Avoid informal language: Colloquialisms, slang, and abbreviations are best avoided in academic writing. It is essential to maintain a formal and professional tone at all times.

Steer clear of vague language: Be specific and precise in your language, avoiding ambiguous terms or generalizations that could weaken the impact of your argument.

Don’t rely on personal anecdotes: Academic writing should be based on research and evidence, rather than personal experiences or anecdotes.

Avoid plagiarism: Properly acknowledge and accurately cite all sources used in your work to avoid charges of plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered highly unethical in academic writing and can affect your reputation and credibility as a researcher.

Don’t overlook coherence and cohesion: Ensure that your ideas flow logically and coherently throughout the paper. Use appropriate transitional phrases and clear connections between sentences and paragraphs to maintain a smooth reading experience.

While it can be complex and challenging, academic writing is a skill that early career researchers must develop and nurture if they want to progress in their careers. Hopefully the tips provided in this article will help early career researchers understand characteristics of an academic paper and enable them to produce papers that are clear, concise, and persuasive.

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