How to be a Better Academic Writer

Many often wonder why good speakers are not necessarily good writers. The fact is that we all have different gifts — there are those who are adept at extemporizing witty lines, others who are better at analyzing and collecting their thoughts, while others are better at technical skills like as Android development training.

Plenty of students struggle to write well. Before trying, many of them deem themselves incapable and resort to buying essays online. But the truth is hard to swallow: anyone can be a good writer if they learn and practice. Essentially, writing is about communicating ideas. Those who possess brilliant minds are caged and limited if they cannot find a way to express their ideas.

Writing is an essential part of one’s education, so here are tips on how to become a better academic writer:

Read more scholarly articles and books

Note that writing an academic paper and a fiction novel is vastly different. While reading novels can help build up vocabulary, its structure is different from academic writing. A structure, or outline, is a general idea that tells where the story or argument is going. A logical structure that contains a thesis, explanation of important concepts and supporting ideas is imperative to good academic writing.

Scholarly articles and academic books also serve as a standard that writers can try to achieve and evaluate their work against. From vocabulary, word choice, rhythm, to grammar and punctuation, there are plenty of examples that writers can take cues from.

Know the audience and purpose of writing

Writers in academia are likely dealing with experts (teachers and professors) and others who have read extensively about the same subject. It would be different from writing to a general audience who are not at all familiar with the topic. The readers may already have expectations in mind. Academic writers have to prove their expertise on the subject, but keeping the audience in mind helps them know what material to include and how to support the argument.

Purpose of writing is another thing writers have to keep in mind. Some assignments call for extensive research and information, while others expect more stories of personal experience. This helps writers to figure out their tone — whether it should be more serious and persuasive, or light and humorous.

Ideas and supporting points come first

Writing is a learning process for writers too. Authors frequently find revelations on the subject they’re researching after writing their ideas down, organizing and analyzing them. After refining and perfecting the structure so that the argument is logically sound, add citations from reputable sources to show in-depth research and knowledge on the subject matter.

It would be unwise to get hung up on the spelling, grammar, mechanics and citation formatting in the initial stages of writing. Many sentences will be altered in the process, paragraphs moved, and phrases done away with completely. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are indeed important in academic writing, but it would be best to leave them for last, when the ideas and supporting points have been finalized.

Practice purposefully

Keeping a blog or a diary and being actively involved in forums are good ways to practice writing on a daily basis. These exercises can help writers improve structure and wordings so the message is communicated clearly to the audience. Receiving feedback, reviewing and rewriting are also part of the practice process.

In the book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, author K. Anders Ericsson argues that to build new skills and abilities, one has to practice purposefully. That means having well-defined, specific goals, be focused. In proving his point, Ericsson takes the example of Benjamin Franklin, who created his own writing exercises to improve the structure and logic of his writing.

Read and reread

Writers tend to think they know exactly what they’ve written and end up skimming through before finalizing their essay or article. Reading this way can cause writers to miss information gaps, as well as punctuation and spelling errors. While they might seem minor, just one mistake could confuse or frustrate the reader.

The Writing Center at The University of North Carolina recommends that writers put themselves in the reader’s position. “Instead of reading your draft as if you wrote it and know what you meant, try reading it as if you have no previous knowledge of the material. Have you explained enough? Are the connections clear?”

Some ways of doing this include taking a break and reading the paper with a fresh mind, outlining (writing down the main points of each paragraph) and reading the paper aloud. Reading the paper out loud is also a good way to catch sentence-level errors. Be sure to leave enough time to reread and revise the writing before turning it in.

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