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Academic writing

What is academic writing?

Academic writing is clear, concise, focussed, structured and backed up by evidence. Its purpose is to aid the reader’s understanding.

It has a formal tone and style, but it is not complex and does not require the use of long sentences and complicated vocabulary.

Each subject discipline will have certain writing conventions, vocabulary and types of discourse that you will become familiar with over the course of your degree. However, there are some general characteristics of academic writing that are relevant across all disciplines.

Characteristics of academic writing

Academic writing is:

  • Planned and focused: answers the question and demonstrates an understanding of the subject.
  • Structured: is coherent, written in a logical order, and brings together related points and material.
  • Evidenced: demonstrates knowledge of the subject area, supports opinions and arguments with evidence, and is referenced accurately.
  • Formal in tone and style: uses appropriate language and tenses, and is clear, concise and balanced.

The following pages will look at all these characteristics in detail.