How to write an academic
When I use a word, it means
just what I choose it to mean –
neither more nor less!
What is academic writing?
- focuses on the information / ideas being
- conveys the information / ideas from writer
to reader with a minimum of confusion
Clear writing Include all
straight forward necessary details! Concise
Functional Never vague or
conclusion writing abstract but
Correct simple words;
… word usage Considerate be precise /
… grammar awareness of readers not use slang
… punctuation language;
… spelling non-
1. Clarify the task
Make sure you know what you are looking for:
Examine title carefully: what exactly is required?
Write one line to sum up your basic opinion or argument
Brainstorm or make pattern notes to record what you know
What do you need to read or find out?
2. Collect and record information
Be selective: you can‘t use everything
write a set of questions to guide your research then look for the answers
check word limit
keep asking yourself 2 questions:
- Do I need this information?
- How will I use this information?
3. Reflect and evaluate
What have you discovered?
Has your viewpoint changed?
Have you clarified your argument?
Have you enough evidence / examples?
What arguments or evidence oppose your point of view?
Is the subject clearer to you now than it was at the beginning?
4. Use source materials
Do not simply state your own opinion or say what is in your head!
5. Compare and contrast
Read different opinions and weigh them!
6. Follow an argument
7. Show awareness of complexities
Demonstrate awareness that answers are not always clear-cut!
8. Follow a set structure
- Use of numbered headings
9. Be discursive
10. Be emotionally neutral
Avoid the use of random points!
Stand back and analyse
Link your points! dispassionately!
Write as an objective on-looker!
All chicken have wings
All winged things can fly
Therefore all chicken can fly
1. Premises are false!
2. Formula is valid
anecdotes Structure of an essay
historical background definitions
narrational story telling
topic sentence / argument
restatement of thesis
Checking your draft essay
1. Introduction: Does your introduction …
accurately outline your definition of the question?
state your thesis or focus?
clearly indicate to your reader the stages by which you develop your
argument of exposition, and
intrigue your reader?
• What is the structure of your essay?
• Does your structure logically and effectively develop your thesis or focus?
• Is there a balance between your main points?
• Are the main points clearly linked?
• Does each paragraph within the body of the essay contain only one key idea,
and is this idea clearly relevant to the material it is supporting?
• Have you clearly connected your paragraphs using transitional words, phrases
3. Conclusion: Does your conclusion …
reinforce the thesis or focus of the essay?
relate to your introduction?
finish the essay smoothly, and
suggest any further areas or questions to be followed up, without introducing
any major ideas?