Academic Writing

Mind map of top level disciplines and professions by Useamuse is licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


Humanities and Social ScienceNatural Sciences
Formal SciencesProfessions and Applied Sciences
Academic Fields

Academic writing refers to

  • texts composed by writers — especially academic fields
  • the writing style that academic writers share across academic fields, including Humanities and Social Science; Natural Sciences; Formal Sciences; Professions and Applied Sciences
  • the name of a common undergraduate course in U.S. colleges and universities. During their general education coursework, students may select from a variety of courses that introduce them to academic writing, including Writing Across the Curriculum or Writing in the Disciplines

Related Concepts: Academic Writing Prose Style; Style; Writing Styles

What is an Academic Writing?

Works that are characterized as having an “academic style” tend to have the following attributes:

  1. Research-based
  2. Thesis-driven & deductively organized
  3. Thoughtful, well reasoned, detailed
  4. Reflective, self-critical
    • Academic writing may be persuasive yet even so writers are careful not to overstate claims and to be self critical about methods. Writers relate their work to the work of past investigators and clarify the contribution to the field.
  5. Formal in style and tone
    • Academic writing tends to avoid contractions, colloquial expressions, sexists use of pronouns. Because it is written for specialists, some jargon is used, but not unnecessarily.
  6. Respectful of copyright and intellectual property
    • Academic writers tend to contextualize secondary sources, clarify the ebb and flow of scholarly conversations, and carefully follow academic styles for attributions.