What are the characteristics of academic writing styles?

I. The Big PictureUnlike fiction or journalistic writing, the overall structure of academic writing is formal and logical. It must be cohensive and possess a logical flow of ideas,

What are the characteristics of academic writing styles?

I. The Big Picture
Unlike fiction or journalistic writing, the overall structure of academic writing is formal and logical. It must be cohensive and possess a logical flow of ideas, which means that the various parts are connected to form a unified whole. There should be links between sentences and paragraphs so the reader is able to follow your argument.

II. The Tone
Throughout your paper, it is important that you present the arguments of others fairly and with an appropriate tone. When presenting a position or argument that you disagree with, describe this argument accurately and without loaded or biased language. In academic writing, the author is expected to investigate the research problem from an authoritative point of view. You should, therefore, confidently state the strengths of your arguments using language that is neutral, not confrontational or dismissive.

III. The Language
Clear use of language is essential in academic writing. Well-structured paragraphs and clear topic sentences enable a reader to follow your line of thinking without difficulty. Your language should be concise, formal, and express precisely what you want it to mean. Avoid vague expressions that are not specific and precise enough for the reader to derive exact meaning ["they," "we," "people," "the organization," etc.] abbreviations like 'i.e.' ["in other words"], 'e.g.' ["for example"], and contractions, such as, "don't", "isn't", etc.

IV. Academic Conventions
Citing sources in the body of your paper and providing a list of references are very important aspects of academic writing. It is essential to always acknowledge the source of any ideas, research findings, or data that you have used in your paper. To do otherwise is considered plagerism.

V. Evidence-Based Arguments
Your assignments often ask you to express your own point of view on research problem you are discussing. However, what is valued in academic writing is that your opinions are based on a sound understanding of the pertinent body of knowledge and academic debates that are currently being debated in your discipline. You need to support your opinion with evidence from academic sources. It should be an objective position presented as a logical argument. The quality of your evidence will determine the strength of your argument. The challenge is to convince the reader of the validity of your opinion through a well-documented, coherent, and logically structured piece of writing.

VI. Thesis-Driven Analysis
The writing is thesis-driven, meaning that the starting point is a particular perspective, idea, or thesis on the chosen research problem, such as, establishing, proving, or disproving solutions to the questions posed for the topic. In contrast, simply describing a topic without the research questions does not qualify as academic writing.

VII. Complexity and Higher-Order Thinking
One of the main functions of academic writing is to describe complex ideas as clearly as possible. Often called higher-order thinking skills, these include cognitive processes that are used to comprehend, solve problems, and express concepts or that describe abstract ideas that cannot be easily acted out, pointed to, or shown with images.


Academic Writing. Writing Center. Colorado Technical College.

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