Sharon Conwell, contributing author to Successful Student, has developed 9 Practical Tips To Improve Your Skills in Academic Writing. Academic writing is a fact of life for all students, academics, and researchers, and it is simply unavoidable. While people who work in fields like Literature or Languages may find writing comes to them naturally, many subjects are unrelated to writing, and expressing yourself and showcasing your findings can be difficult.
Academic writing is also entirely different to writing for other purposes, as its goal is generally to inform, and it is difficult to keep this kind of writing intriguing and engaging. It’s also not at all easy to condense complex research, studies, and findings into one long essay that reads fluidly, and is easy for everyone to understand. Following the tips below, you may find your academic writing tasks a little less daunting in the future.
1. Set Up A Place To Write
Having a special spot in your home where you work is a vital tool in developing good writing skills. Make sure you have all the software you need on the computer you’ll be writing on, as well as a comfy chair and a clutter-free space.
This shouldn’t be the same place that you eat and watch TV – your brain and body should associate it with work, so it’s easier for you to stay focused and get in the right zone to put pen to paper. Getting up and down for pens, paper, books, or anything else you might needs disrupts your flow – avoid this by having everything you need so you can sit and concentrate.
2. Use Online Classes and Guides
Many students who excel in their own fields won’t have ever needed specific writing classes. A genius in the engineering, or chemistry department could ace all of their tests, but struggle to properly present their findings in a formal paper. It’s unfortunate that many people are expected to automatically be able to write when they have never been taught how to do so. To improve your writing before you start an important paper, free guides are available with Australian Help, or you can really up your game with a full course on writing with Academized.
3. Write to Express Yourself
This means multiple things. First, that above all, you should be clear. Make your points, and make them in a way that it’s easy for the reader to understand. This means that you should be concise and avoid repeating yourself, as this can really confuse your reader and undermine your structure. You should be expressing your points clearly, not writing in circles in order to use impressive language or terminology. Writing a simple sentence, using an appropriate level of language is far better than a text full of overly complicated sentences, that are too long and contain unnecessary language.
4. Use Online Editing and Proofreading Sources
There are many tools online that are easy to use and able to assess and improve your writing. One of these tools is the Hemingway App, which analyses your writing for spelling, grammar, abundance of adverbs, long sentences, and awkward structures. By remedying the faults this app finds, your writing will become a lot stronger. A Readability Score is a great way to assess whether your level of language is appropriate for a college essay, and there is always room for an experienced and professional writer to look over your work.
5. Write Like You Speak
While academic writing is fairly formal, it should still read well. Academic writing doesn’t need to be filled with stuffy language and overly complicated vocabulary – it should be easy for you professor or peers to read. Writing as if you are speaking helps achieve this, and also makes your writing more engaging as it will feel more like a conversation.
Reading aloud what you’ve written is a great way to assess whether or not your writing is clear and concise, and whether it will actually make sense to your audience. While the writing shouldn’t be casual, it shouldn’t be too hard to follow either. One way of ensuring your writing is clear and more like speech is by using the active voice, rather than the passive. This is a much more natural way of expressing your ideas.
6. Never Forget Your Audience
When you are writing for academia, bear in mind who your intended audience actually is. If you’re a student writing for a professor, then you can assume they will not need certain points explained, and will probably not need definitions either. However, if you are looking to write about your field to the general public, or for students just beginning a course, then you may want to alter your language. The audience is the reason for your writing, so they should not be forgotten.
7. Get Rid Of Any Distractions
This is true for all kinds of writing, but especially for academic writing where your subject could be fairly dry. Stay away from you mobile phone, stop checking your emails, and turn off the TV. Focusing for a few minutes on your writing will help you achieve clarity, and will decrease your likelihood of writing long rambling sentences, as you will be aware of exactly what you are saying at all times.
8. Read And Write As Much As Possible
Writing is like any other exercise or skill – practice makes perfect. Sitting down and writing for a little while every day can massively improve the quality of your results, and you will also be aware of the style and structure of academic papers after you have read a few.
9. Vary Your Sentence Structure and Punctuation
This is true for all kinds of writing, but especially applies to lengthy texts like academic writing. It is vital to understand the need to break up your texts and avoid monotony by using different length and structure for sentences, and mixing up our paragraphs with different kinds of punctuation.
Overall, a massive amount of research has to go into academic writing, however following the above tips can be a big help in turning that research into an excellent academic paper.