Writing skills are generally pretty useful, but when it comes to academic writing, their importance is further emphasized. Academic writing is any type of writing used in scientific journals, research papers, and other scholarly publications.
Students in college and high school should also write their assignments, essays, and theses in the academic writing style. Since all of these things have a considerable impact on a student’s grades, it is necessary for students to have excellent academic writing skills.
However, that is much easier said than done. To be good at academic writing, not only do you need to have a strong command of English (or whichever language you are writing in), but you also need to have great analytical and reasoning skills.
There is no easy way to develop these skills. All methods will take time and dedication to bear fruit. With that said, let’s look into a few methods for improving academic writing skills.
1. Read Other Scholarly Publications
Imitation and passive learning, are the core ideas that make this tip so useful for improving your academic writing skills.
Essentially, by reading other great examples of academic writing, your mind will start picking up on things that are necessary to write well. You won’t notice this yourself as this is a subconscious process, but you will feel it when you sit down to write.
You will pick up what kind of words to use, the tone you have to maintain in your write-ups as well as what kind of data to include. You may also get an idea about how to present evidence to support your claims.
These are all very important parts of academic writing and knowing more about them will always improve your skills.
2. Avoid Plagiarism like the Plague
If there is one thing that can render all your writing efforts and research completely useless then it would be plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of using another person’s data and words without their permission as well as claiming that the work is yours.
In academic circles, this is a big taboo. Research is sustained by the fact that people build upon the works of others and give them their due credit. When this is not done, it undermines all academic research and calls into question their validity.
Naturally, to avoid this, academic authorities such as colleges, and scientific journals impose severe penalties on those who plagiarize. In colleges, plagiarized assignments can result in a failed grade, suspension, or even expulsion.
In journals, the papers are rejected for publishing and can even result in blacklisting. Additionally, it is a sign of a poor writer when one has to copy others as it implies that one cannot think for them self.
And for those reasons, it is necessary to avoid plagiarism. Avoiding plagiarism is not too difficult. So long as you provide citations to the real authors, you can use their work without plagiarism. However, here is where academic writing ability is required. You cannot just “quote” everything. You need to rely on paraphrasing when you have to use large passages.
The good thing is that you don’t necessarily need great paraphrasing skills, as you can get a similar outcome from a paraphrase tool. By running the content through the tool, you can get a different version of it that you can use and cite.
A paraphrase tool is also very helpful when dealing with plagiarism that occurred due to similar wording. Just run the offending content through the tool and its wording will be altered enough to not count as plagiarism.
3. Format Your Writing
Formatting is an integral part of writing. Depending on how you format your content, the impression it gives to readers, and what message they take away can change. Of course, poor formatting or no formatting actually makes the readers unwilling to read the content. So, the likelihood that no one will read that content increases by a lot.
So do check out new and effective methods of formatting. Depending on different journals and institutes, there can be different formats, but some things are common between all of them. Here are some basic things that you always need to add to your format:
- - Headings
- - Subheadings
- - Lists/bullet points
- - Graphs and tables (if applicable)
- - Clear breaks between paragraphs
Doing all of these things makes your write-up easier to read. It also adds structure which adds an aura of credibility to your work. Your readers get a better impression of it as well.
4. Avoid Repetition
Poor academic writers can fall prey to this bad habit. If they do not understand something completely, they are unable to explain it in their own terms. Whenever they have to refer back to that concept, they use the same words over and over. This results in a lot of repetition.
Another reason for repetition is keywords and important terminologies. If a certain technical term is at the core of your research, you may have to refer to it over and over again. If you allude to it, in the same manner, every time, then it will create a lot of repetition in your text.
Repetition is not good for the writer or the reader. It makes for a boring read and can kill the reader’s interest in the content. That’s why you should learn to deal with it appropriately. One of the best ways of dealing with it is to utilize paraphrasing.
Use a thesaurus or search online for alternative terms. If that is not enough then try to rephrase online. AI rephrasing tools are pretty good at finding the appropriate synonyms for everything. You can count on them to provide a decent rephrase for your repetitive text.
Aside from resorting to a rephrase online, you can also conduct more research to learn more about your topic. That way you won’t face this situation, to begin with.
5. Proofread Your Draft before Submitting
Never underestimate the importance of proofreading. You can write an extremely well-thought-out paper with conclusive evidence and in-depth results, but it all suffers if you forgot to add a citation, cited something incorrectly, or had grammar mistakes.
The errors with citations are particularly serious as they amount to plagiarism which is the ultimate taboo of academic circles. If you do not take the time to proofread your work and check it for plagiarism then such mistakes can cost you dearly.
Grammar errors are not that harmful in scientific writing, but you should still care about them because they can cause confusion among your audience. A simple mistake of missing a period or a comma can result in two sentences combining to make a statement that has a wildly different meaning than the original.
Proofreading also tells you about your shortcomings, which you can work on to improve your academic writing skills.
And those were five things you can do that will improve your academic writing skills. As we mentioned in the introduction, learning and improving upon a skill takes a lot of time and dedication. So, your best friend is passive learning. By applying these tips to your own write-up, you will maximize passive learning and improve your skills unconsciously.
Do not be disheartened if your efforts do not show tangible results in the beginning. As long as you are diligent, you will soon be writing high-quality academic articles