What is academic writing?

The term 'academic writing' comprises many different types of text, ranging from a research article written for publication in an academic journal to a MSc dissertation to an essay written for a university course. Moreover, the text types are constantly evolving as our universities and society change.

However, there are certain features which appear to be typical of academic writing. For example, academic texts answer a specific question, or questions, using a set of well-structured, logical arguments. The arguments are often based on research carried out by the writer or other researchers. Academic texts contain references to previous research, which are documented at the end of the text. Academic texts are written in an impersonal, objective style, and are characterized by certain language features such as the avoidance of personal and contracted forms, a high lexical density, frequent nominalisations and the use of the passive.

What topics are covered by this site?

This site aims to cover some of the language features essential for good academic writing in English:

  • Cohesion, the term commonly used to describe the mechanisms which help to make a text clear, logical, unified and reader-friendly.
  • Certain aspects of grammar which can cause difficulties to even highly-proficient writers.
  • Punctuation, the symbols which help to organise and clarify texts.
  • Considerations of style which affect the word choice and structure of academic texts.
What are the technical requirements?

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  • Netscape 4.7 or above
  • IE 5.0 or above

If you experience any problems, or have questions or comments about any of these exercises, please click on the icon in the left-hand corner at any time during an exercise to send an automated email message to a teacher.