5 Tips for Improving Your Academic Writing
Category: Essay Writing
Becoming a student means learning a lot of new skills. Some of them are easier to master than others, but academic writing is a skill that stands out from the list. It is one of the most important skills and also the one that you need to use almost every single day.
Naturally, you learn the basics of academic writing early in your school years and improve it while practicing with different essays and reports. However, not every student knows that there are particular tips that can boost the quality of your academic writing significantly. We have found five such tips and will tell you about them now. Let’s get started.
Always Use Outlines
Outlines might be one of your least favorite steps of academic writing, but it is actually essential. Whenever you start working on your academic piece, it’s important to think through the structure of it and the key points that you want to cover in your work.
Outlines give you an opportunity to plan your work, pay attention to the structure of it, organize the main elements of the paper and their content, and also avoid being stuck midway through your work.
When working on your paper with an outline in your hands, it’s easier to follow the plan and alter the content of your paper according to your plan and your thesis statement. It’s easier to find the needed evidence to support your claims and also easier to work with your sources as you don’t need to jump back and forward with your writing but work step-by-step on it instead.
So, what does a typical outline for a paper look like? Here is how you can structure one of yours:
- Background information
- General information on the topic
- Thesis statement
The body of the paper
- Topic sentence #1
- Evidence to support the claim and the transition sentence (or a concluding sentence). This is where you should use your most strong supporting facts and evidence.
- Topic sentence #2
- Evidence to support the claim and the transition sentence (or a concluding sentence)
- Topic sentence #3
- Evidence to support the claim and the transition sentence (or a concluding sentence)
- Restatement of thesis statement
- Summary of the evidence
When working with such an outline, you can instantly put the key points into their places in your paper. Later, when you start the writing process, you just need to follow the plan that you have created.
You can create typical outlines for each type of assignment – an essay, report, review, etc., and use them every time you need to create a paper by adding the key points and evidence that you have found through your research. You will save a lot of time this way.
When writing an academic piece, especially a big one, it’s easy to start repeating yourself. It might happen due to a lack of ideas, extending word count, or even just because you might forget writing the same thing earlier in the text.
So, what’s important is to be sure to know how to avoid repetitions through the text. This is where you should master the skill of rephrasing and using synonyms to make sure that you don’t use the same words or the same sentence structure over and over again. If you struggle with finding the right synonyms, you should definitely use such service as Thesaurus, but be sure to not overuse it.
When talking about academic writing, the one thing that you will likely repeat throughout your text is definitely your thesis statement. Your work is built around it, so it’s hard to avoid repeating it. For example, you should definitely restate your thesis statement in your conclusion part, but without just copying the whole sentence. Restating means using other words to say the same thing, so be sure to change the statement, for example, by changing the structure of the sentence.
Avoid Contractions and Clichés
Academic writing has its rules, and one of them is that your work should sound formal. So while it’s absolutely normal to use contractions while talking to your friend or colleague, you should definitely avoid them when writing an academic piece.
Contractions are great for informal chatting and saving your time. They make information easier to understand, and that’s why we use them daily. However, this is not the case for an essay or a report. These are pieces that should be much more professional and objective; thus, use more formal language.
So, contractions like “isn’t, there’s, we’re” are pretty well known to be avoided by students in their academic writing. However, there are also lesser-known contractions that you might not pay attention to. For example, the word “phone” is so common that you might not even think of it as a contraction of the word “telephone.” Using the former instead of the latter in your work would be a mistake.
And what about clichés? They are not mistakes in general understanding but might cut off some points of your work due to being overused by students. For example, thinking outside of the box, throughout history, etc. But what you surely don’t want to use something like “Merriam Webster defines X as…” in your piece.
While those expressions might seem like a good fit, they are often too subjective and exaggerating, so they are not proper for academic writing. Besides, your professor has probably seen tons of works containing such expressions.
Proofread and Edit
Polishing your academic piece is as important as writing it itself. Whenever you schedule a time to complete your written assignments, you should make sure to not only schedule the actual time to write is but also time to proofread it at least a few times and make edits.
When you finish your writing, you might feel too tired, so putting your work aside for some time is always a good habit. Then you might get back to it and be able to look at your writing with a fresh eye, catching more errors than if starting to proofread your piece immediately. Check your piece for punctuation, grammar, and style, while also paying attention to formatting and citing, typos, etc.
Many online services are handy at this point; for example, Grammarly can do a great job finding errors in your text. However, only a human can do the best job at proofreading your piece. You have a few options here:
- You can proofread your piece yourself
- You can turn to your local writing center for feedback
- You can turn to a professional team and request proofreading and editing service
Many students prefer having a professional team of writers to revise their work and edit it to make it more suitable for high college standards. It doesn’t cost much and is always useful when it comes to polishing a piece and making it sound professional.
The writing center at your college can also take a look at your written piece; however, they don’t usually proofread it for you, but help you with advice on how to improve particular parts of your work.
Be Objective and Detached
The majority of academic pieces are written in a detached tone. It means that they are focused on proceeding information, concentrating on facts and their analysis rather than on the author’s point of view.
Some particular assignments will require coming up with an opinion or point, or even telling your story. This might be an opinion essay, persuasive essay, or narrative. However, the majority of academic pieces aren’t concentrated on the author and don’t require picking sides.
So, being objective also means being detached in your writing process. Avoid using subjective expressions and exaggerations, such as “very,” “honestly,” “probably,” “great,” “horrible,” etc. Those are words that are more suitable for creative writing but don’t do any good for the reliability of your academic work.
Try to focus on facts solely, use evidence that you find through your research, and don’t make assumptions – they are different from actual summaries and conclusions which you should keep to the point.
Many students face difficulties when it comes to academic writing, even if they are great at creative writing. And it’s not surprising as these two types are very different and require different approaches. However, if you want to succeed in your studies, mastering academic writing is one of the most important tasks for you.
There are many online classes and specific courses that teach students how to write academic pieces. If you struggle a lot with your assignments, you should definitely take such an opportunity to boost your writing skill. Alternatively, if you need some good papers with a decent level of writing and great content, you should turn to our team. We know how much work each paper takes, so we can help you manage your time and concentrate on other tasks and studies.
We hope that this post was useful to you. Good luck with your academic writing!