The Dos and Don'ts of Academic Writing | English Editors

The Do's and Don'ts of Academic Writing

Academic writing is formal writing for a school, university, or scholarly journal. You typically start writing in this style in high school and continue throughout your academic career. Examples include term papers, essays, dissertations, research papers, books, and articles for professional journals.


Academic writing and editing is challenging for students and professionals. There are specific requirements for content, structure, and style. It is challenging to write in a formal style without overdoing it. These important "dos and don'ts" will help you avoid common mistakes and create readable, properly formatted, and successful academic papers, essays, and articles. When you need help revising academic papers, contact one of our professional writers or editors. How Much Does Academic Editing Cost? provides more information on academic editing service rates. 


The Dos of Academic Writing

Here are the steps you should take to improve your essay or article. 


1. Do Use the Right Sources

Thanks to the Internet, there are numerous sources you can use for citations and referencing in academic writing. Unfortunately, not all sources are appropriate and acceptable. Relevant sources include factual and verifiable information and can be relied upon in a real-life situation to solve a problem. Here are some examples:


  • History and general information books such as encyclopedias and history books
  • News and current events sources such as established, respected newspapers and media publications with credentialed journalists
  • Discipline-specific information such as reports from research companies and the government
  • Scholarly material, such as journal articles, books, and research papers


While the sources you choose may be appropriate, they may contain outdated information if they are too old. You also need to check the publication dates to ensure the data you use is up to date.


2. Do Be Clear and Precise

Academic writing presents facts and ideas about a well-defined thesis. Your readers will find answers to questions that address your thesis. You need to write clearly so your readers can understand your ideas and arguments. Also, you should be precise and straightforward. Avoid flowery language and complex word formations and vocabulary. However, you can use vocabulary common in the field of writing.


3. Do Write Objectively and Use Supporting Evidence

Academic writing requires factual and logical information. You shouldn't appeal to the reader's emotions or let bias dictate your arguments. When writing an academic paper, you should remain objective and impersonal. The reader will expect you to state the facts you discovered in the research process as plainly as possible without any personal ideas, opinions, or feelings. For every claim you make in the essay, you should use evidence from data you collected or appropriate sources for support. Finally, you need to cite the references for any facts and critical information you use.


4. Do Vary Sentence Structure

Using a series of long sentences, especially in long scientific papers, will make your essay sound overly complex and may confuse or bore readers. In the same way, using a series of short sentences will make the essay feel repetitive and rushed. The best approach for academic writing is always to vary the length and structure of your sentences to ensure that your essay flows and is easy to read.


The Don'ts of Academic Writing

Here are the mistakes you need to avoid in your essay or article. 


1. Don't Make Generalizations or Exaggerations

Generalizations and exaggerations are often a way of making an emotional appeal or trying to convince the reader to agree with a questionable idea. Generalizations and exaggerations are always hard to prove because you cannot use clear supporting evidence. Also, they will often be irrelevant to the subject.


2. Don't Address the Reader Directly or Use Personal Pronouns

Academic writing is meant to focus on the presentation of facts and information. You should not use any personalized language, including personal pronouns or any phrases that are intended to address the reader directly. The use of "I," "we," "me," and "us" makes your tone sound too personal. In addition, invoking your reader's attention will often involve the use of overused scholarly phrases like "In this essay, we will…" or "In conclusion…" These phrases merely state the obvious and are unnecessary in the context of academic writing.


3. Don't Use Informal or Colloquial Language

Colloquial language or colloquialisms are informal words or phrases. Examples include slang, clichés, and qualifiers that are commonly used in spoken English. Examples include qualifiers like "really" and "surely" or clichés like "read between the lines." While these words are appropriate for conversations, they are inappropriate for academic writing. You can go through your paper after you finish to remove any colloquialisms that might have gone unnoticed.


4. Don't Use Inappropriate Fonts or Text Colors

Along with writing style and structure, you should always ensure that your essay is presented in a formal and well-structured way. This includes the type and style of font. Avoid using fancy and sometimes difficult-to-read font styles. Instead, use the fonts recommended in your study guide or the common font styles used in academic and report writing, such as Arial and Times New Roman.


How to Get Academic Writing Help

Academic writing can be challenging whether you are a professional researcher or a student. These dos and don'ts of academic writing can help you get started, but if you want to be confident about the quality and content of your essay, you can get professional editing help.

Having another set of eyes review your paper is always helpful, especially if it is someone who knows what they are doing. The professionals at Editor World can provide insights and ensure that your essay includes all the dos and avoids all the don'ts of academic writing. Editor World is also available for academic rewriting and paraphrasingacademic editingdissertation editing, thesis proofreading, and so much more!