Academic Writing

Features of academic writing

Objectivity

This means that the main emphasis should be on the information that you want to give and the arguments you want to make, rather than you. This is related to the basic nature of academic study and academic writing, in particular. Nobody really wants to know what you "think" or "believe". They want to know what you have studied and learned and how this has led you to your various conclusions. The thoughts and beliefs should be based on your lectures, reading, discussion and research and it is important to make this clear.

1. Compare these two paragraphs:

The question of what constitutes "language proficiency" and the nature of its cross-lingual dimensions is also at the core of many hotly debated issues in the areas of bilingual education and second language pedagogy and testing. Researchers have suggested ways of making second language teaching and testing more "communicative" (e.g., Canale and Swain, 1980; Oller, 1979b) on the grounds that a communicative approach better reflects the nature of language proficiency than one which emphasizes the acquisition of discrete language skills.
We don't really know what language proficiency is but many people have talked about it for a long time. Some researchers have tried to find ways for us to make teaching and testing more communicative because that is how language works. I think that language is something we use for communicating, not an object for us to study and we remember that when we teach and test it.

Which is the most objective?

2. In general, avoid words like "I", "me", "myself".

A reader will normally assume that any idea not referenced is your own. It is therefore unnecessary to make this explicit.

Don't write:" In my opinion, this a very interesting study."

Write: "This is a very interesting study."

Avoid "you" to refer to the reader or people in general.

Don't write: "You can easily forget how different life was 50 years ago."

Write: "It is easy to forget how difficult life was 50 years ago."

3. Examples

Clearly this was far less true of France than ...

This is where the disagreements and controversies begin ...

The data indicates that ...

This is not a view shared by everyone; Jones, for example, claims that ...

. . .very few people would claim ...

It is worthwhile at this stage to consider ...

Of course, more concrete evidence is needed before ...

Several possibilities emerge ...

A common solution is ...

Exercises

Try the following exercises:

1. Writing formally,
2. Writing formally