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Academic Writing by Mind Map: Academic Writing

1. What is Academic Writing

1.1. Writing Academically means writing in such a way that your information sounds credible and authoritative

1.1.1. It does not mean:

1.1.1.1. Using long words

1.1.1.2. Writing complicated sentences with lots of semi-colons and colons

1.1.1.3. Finding more "academic" sounding words in a thesaurus

2. Features of Academic Writing

2.1. Complexity

2.1.1. Academic Writing is more complex, and has longer words. But do not try to sound 'clever'. Your marker needs to understand what you are writing.

2.2. Formality

2.2.1. Words and phrases are more formal. Think about the tone of your writing and make simple changes to phrases.

2.3. Precision

2.3.1. Facts are precise – there is no room for inaccuracy. Check the quality of sources you are using and only use the most reliable

2.4. Accuracy

2.4.1. Writing has to be accurate. You will use a lot of technical language in your discipline and you must make sure that you do not use the wrong terms.

2.5. Structure

2.5.1. Most of you will already have had experience of writing a structured essay. Academic writing requires precise clear structure so the reader can follow the argument as clearly as possible. Remember to include an introduction, paragraphs and a conclusion.

2.6. Objectivity

2.6.1. Depending on your subject, you have to be objective – very little in academic writing requires your personal opinion. Instead you are contributing to an academic debate about something. You have an opinion but this must be expressed objectively. Academic writing has far less emphasis on you and more emphasis on what it is you want to say.

2.7. Hedging

2.7.1. Hedging is quite a difficult feature to understand. In academic writing you have to make decisions about your stance on a particular subject, or the strength of the claims you are making. Be careful not to make strong claims such as ‘This proves..’ Instead, use phrases such as ‘It could be suggested that…’. Please refer to phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk for other useful phrases.

2.8. Responsibility

2.8.1. You also have to take responsibility for what you say, and provide evidence for any claims you make. This means justifying why you do or do not agree with what an author has said as well as referencing correctly.

3. Rules and conventions of Academic Writing

3.1. 1. You must write in sentences

3.1.1. Sentences have the following characteristics: they start with a capital letter; end with a full stop, exclamation mark or question mark; and contain a verb (doing word). Students commonly make the mistake of not writing in full sentences (they fail to provide a main clause in their "sentence") or write very long, rambling sentences that would be better chopped into smaller ones. Short, clear sentences are usually more effective than those which are long and complex. If you are in any doubt, split up any longer sentences into two or three shorter ones. This advice is especially important if you find writing difficult, or English is not your first language. Short sentences will help you avoid grammatical mistakes and make it easy for the reader to follow your line of argument. Each sentence that you write should make sense if it were read out independently of the sentence before and after it.

3.2. 2.Subjects and verbs in sentences must agree with each other

3.3. 3.You must use appropiate puntuaction

3.3.1. If you have any doubt about punctuation, use as little as possible and write short, direct sentences. It is perfectly possible to write a good piece of work using only the comma and the full stop.

3.3.1.1. Commas

3.3.1.1.1. Commas are used to denote a weak pause in a sentence. If you find that you write in long sentences, check whether it might be better create several short sentences replacing commas with full stops. (If you do this you must also check that the verb forms make sense.)

3.3.1.2. Dashes and hyphens

3.3.1.2.1. Try to minimise the use of dashes in your formal work. They can give the impression of a style that is too chatty. They may be used in pairs to insert an explanatory comment or a short list: Each member of staff - from the most junior to the Chief Executive - is invited to comment on the plans. Dashes should not be used as a substitute for parentheses - or mixed with them. Hyphens are used to connect prefixes to words (for example, CD-ROM drives) or when forming compounds such as "second-in-command".

3.3.1.3. Exclamation marks

3.3.1.3.1. Use exclamation marks as little as possible in formal work. They give the work a juvenile and over-excited tone.

3.3.1.4. Full stops

3.3.1.4.1. Full stops are not needed after titles such as Dr, Mrs or Co, nor are they required for wellknown company titles such as IBM.

3.3.1.5. Question marks

3.3.1.5.1. It is unlikely that you should use the question mark in the work you submit. After all, you are meant to be answering the question, not posing any new ones!

3.3.1.6. Colons

3.3.1.6.1. The colon is used to introduce a strong pause within a sentence. It separates two clauses which could stand alone as separate sentences but are linked by some relationship in their meaning. There are four instances in which you might use a colon.

3.3.1.7. Semi-colons

3.3.1.7.1. You should only use the semi-colon if you know how to use it properly. It is difficult to identify when to use it, since it represents a pause that is longer than a comma, but shorter than a full stop.

3.4. 4.You must use the right vocabulary

3.4.1. It is important that you use the right vocabulary in your work. The mistakes that crop up regularly in students' work are usually due to confusion between two words such as:  affect/effect, quote/quotation, practise/practice, license/licence (the first is the verb, the second is the noun);  dependent and dependant (the first is an adjective, the second is a noun);  alternate and alternative, principal and principle (these words have different meanings);  less and fewer (less means less in quantity: there is less water than before. Fewer means smaller in number: there are fewer people than before). Bear in mind that a spelling checker can identify spelling errors in your work, but will not pick up misused vocabulary.

3.5. 5.You must use the apostrophe correctly and with care

3.5.1. The apostrophe has two functions: it indicates the possessive case and contractions.

3.5.1.1. Possessive case

3.5.1.1.1. The possessive case refers to ownership. You can say "the work of the information manager" or "the information manager's work." The use of the apostrophe depends on whether the possessor is singular or plural.

3.5.1.2. Contraction

3.5.1.2.1. In written English words that have been contracted (i.e. shortened) use apostrophes to show where the missing letters would normally appear. This has two main purposes: to avoid confusion with other words and to indicate a different pronunciation for example "we're" is a shortened version of "we are". The apostrophe distinguishes the word "we're" from "were", which has both a different meaning and different pronunciation.

4. Differences between Academic Writing & Other Writing Contexts

4.1. Writing is a skill that is required in many contexts throughout life. For instance, you can write an email to a friend or reflect on what happened during the day in your personal diary

4.2. Academic writing does many of the things that personal writing does not. Firstly, some kind of structure is required, such as a beginning, middle and end. This simple structure is typical of an essay format as well as other assigment writing tasks, which may not have clearly articulated structure.

5. Why we should develop good writing skills?

5.1. Writing skills are an important part of communication. Good writing skills allow you to communicate your message with clarity and ease to a far larger audience than through face-to-face or telephone conversations.

5.1.1. Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

5.1.1.1. Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling are key in written communications. The reader will form an opinion of you, the author, based on both the content and presentation, and errors are likely to lead them to form a negative impression.