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.
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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.

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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.

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If you’re starting out with academic writing or need some guidance on the often-complex author guidelines, turn to Paperpal. This all-in-one AI writing assistant, built on millions of language corrections by professional editors and 21+ years of STM expertise, provides precise suggestions to help you enhance your content in minutes. One of the most popular features is Make Academic, part of Paperpal Copilot’s generative AI toolkit, which can transform your phrasing and sentence structure to ensure it aligns with academic writing conventions. With one click you get correctly rephrased scientific text with critical elements like units of measurement, equations, statistics, etc. accurately presented in the final output.  

How to use Paperpal’s Make Academic feature?

Save time and effort with Paperpal, which effortlessly converts generic text into polished academic writing without changing the intended meaning. Follow three simple steps to transform your writing. 

  1. Sign up or login to Paperpal: Sign into Paperpal and open a new online document (you can also install the Paperpal Word Add-in).  
  1. Select text to rephrase: Highlight a sentence or paragraph, go to Copilot in the right panel, and click on Make Academic under the Rewrite tab to rephrase text in a more formal tone. 
  1. Review and refine paraphrased text: Make sure to check and verify the generated text and make the necessary edits to maintain authenticity and retain your own unique voice. Remember to add citations where needed.  

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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 above will help you understand the characteristics of academic writing; be sure to explore Paperpal to achieve and academic tone and produce writing that is clear, concise, and persuasive. 

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster. 

Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed. 

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