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What is academic writing?

Different traditions, conventions and ways of thinking have developed in different areas of knowledge over the years, so you will find that academic writing differs from discipline to discipline. Researchers, when they publish their work, are always putting forward an argument of some kind, but how much this is obvious, how it is structured, what counts as evidence, depends on the discipline or field: whether it is history, zoology, physics or whatever.

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No. Study is hard work – but rewarding, as you get in to your subjects! Researchers spend long hours reading, thinking, and writing many drafts before they feel they've got it right.

Writing helps you think clearly

As a student, in your academic writing you demonstrate your understanding in order to gain a good grade. Equally importantly though, in this kind of writing you are learning how to clarify what you think about a topic, but which does not just depend on your own personal experience. Hence there is the need to use recognised sources of knowledge.

So, writing makes you smarter!

Whether you are writing an essay or a report, you are putting forward and supporting a particular position which is presented as the best of a possible range of positions, based on the evidence.

Have a look at Writing for Subjects to explore some of the differences between discipline areas.

This section will look at some features of academic writing.

  • Authority and credibility
  • Style and clarity
  • Structure
  • An analytical approach
  • Attribution of references
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