There are some features that are common to all good writing whether academic or casual-writing clearly, having an interesting premise and arguing persuasively to defend that point. But other features are distinctly different between academic versus casual writing. Knowing these differences will lead to success as an academic writer.
Academic Writing is Scholar to Scholar
It doesn’t matter what your educational level. If you want to be considered an academic you must write like you are one. This means you must write using a specific style.
- You won’t use the first person point of view so common in casual writing. You won’t say, “I saw, ” or “We saw.”
- You will never use the second person point of view like I am as I write this article. “You” and “your” are distinctly casual and have no place in academic writing.
- You also won’t have the privilege of saying, “I think,” or “I believe.” Scholars say, “Research suggests…” or “So and so writes…”
- You don’t use words that suggest your opinion on the topic such as “unfortunately” or “obviously.” In academia nothing is obvious and nothing is fortunate or unfortunate. Everything is presented in a neutral tone, leaving the reader to draw conclusions.
The list of rules goes on, but these are the most important ones. You don’t have as much freedom when you are writing for fellow scholars. You can’t include scenarios or anecdotes. You aren’t writing to entertain or teach. You are writing to an audience that has already proven it knows how to learn. It may seem a bit stuffy, but success demands you think like a scholar and write like your audience is also other scholars.
Academic Writing Is Focused on the Academic Community
Casual writing allows you to focus on anything that interests you. When you are writing for an academic audience, you have to write on a topic that interests your specific academic community. Or you have to address a question that is important to a specific academic arena.
This differs from casual writing. You have to identify something that is relevant and appropriate to a specific academic field.
Academic Writing Requires You to Present an Informed Argument.
While academic writing doesn’t allow you to express your opinion about your topic, you still have to start with one. You must decide what you want to know about a subject based on your initial opinions. You start with a thesis, then go in search of evidence.
You may find along the way that you have to change your thesis because the research doesn’t support your starting opinion. That’s okay. The process still helps you to put together a paper that accomplishes the two primary goals of an academic paper-to inform and to argue.
Once you have learned how to write for an academic audience, you will find writing for a casual audience is much easier. The ability to write on a personal level, especially the ability to use first and second person approaches, gives you more freedom in how you approach different topics. At the same time, the discipline needed to be a successful academic writer will improve your ability to writer persuasively and informatively. It is a skill worth learning well.