Academic Writing: 11 Fundamentals for Your Success

Academic writing is the art of conveying a logical argument from an objective and unbiased standpoint. It’s used by both researchers, who want to present their findings and interpretations in an academic publication or research paper that peers can review, and teachers, who use it for lesson plans intended for students to learn from.

Academic writing focuses on applying logic and facts to build arguments around issues of interest to develop new knowledge. Academic writing also aims at being informative as well as persuasive—it should inform readers about what has been previously discovered on a given topic while also persuading them that said knowledge is valid or useful for further investigation. When doing academic writing, you should observe the following 11 principles:

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1. Hedging

Hedging is the use of words or phrases that are not completely accurate but help you avoid committing to one side or another. You can also use hedging to communicate that you have done your research and are aware of both sides, even when you ultimately take a stand on one side. For example: “It is unclear whether students should study abroad in college because there are benefits to it but also drawbacks.”

Because hedging can come across as wishy-washy, writers need to use it sparingly and strategically. There are times when hedging isn’t necessary—for example if you’re writing something like an essay about why Pluto should be considered a planet again (and I’m sure this has been written somewhere). If you’re unsure whether or not it’s okay for your paper, ask yourself these questions: Is my topic controversial? Am I writing about someone else’s work? If so, do I need evidence from other sources to make my point? If any of these answers are yes, consider using hedging to express uncertainty without making readers question what kind of writer they’re reading!

2. Complexity

The second fundamental of academic writing is complexity.

In many cases, academic writing is more complex than everyday communication because it requires you to use a more precise and formal language style to maintain clarity and precision. Your writing should be clear and concise but not simplistic. You want your reader to understand your ideas without having to work too hard at them—you don’t want them feeling overwhelmed by complicated language or lost in a maze of unfamiliar terms and phrases. This can be difficult because there are so many different ways writers get into trouble when trying to achieve this goal! Some common pitfalls include:

  • Overuse of idioms (e.g., “That dress is hot today!”) or slang (e.g., “It was super chill last night at the party!”). Idioms are expressions that have their meanings independent from those associated with their words; for example, when someone says “it’s raining cats and dogs outside,” they aren’t literally saying that cats and dogs are falling from the sky; rather, they’re using an idiom (cats + dogs) as shorthand for “very heavy rain.”
  • Slang refers to informal terms used by ordinary people instead of professional ones (e.g., “bite me = go away”). Both idioms and slang tend not only to be difficult for non-native English speakers but also toward being unprofessional sounding.

Therefore, if you find yourself using these types of expressions frequently in your writing—or even just once every few sentences—it would benefit everyone involved if you could come up with better alternatives! For example: If I were going through my article looking for places where I might have overused idioms like these mentioned above, then I probably wouldn’t change anything immediately except maybe replace “cats” with something else since one doesn’t usually associate felines with rainstorms unless they’ve been drowned out there before coming home now wet

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3. Formality

The use of formal language is one of the most important academic writing fundamentals. It would help to avoid slang, jargon, and idioms in favor of standard English. The same goes for contractions (e.g., I’m) and personal pronouns (I, he).

Finally, it’s also important to avoid using simple words and phrases (like “the fact that”) in favor of more elaborate ones (“because”). It would also help avoid colloquialisms like “you guys” or “isn’t it?” as they can make your writing sound informal.

4. Objectivity

Objectivity means you are stating a fact or an opinion without influencing your emotions. When you write an objective sentence, it is not based on your personal feelings or opinions. Instead, it’s based on what you know about the subject matter and what someone else has said.

Objectivity can be a challenge for writers because we all have strong opinions about things and may want to tell the reader what we think right away in our writing. For example, when writing about medical care in the United States, some people might use words like “terrible” or “awful” to describe how many patients have been harmed by doctors’ and hospital staff mistakes.

These types of words are subjective because they reveal how that writer felt as they wrote their sentences; however, writing objectively means that every time you use such words (or any other word), you should explain why those feelings exist for your reader to understand why they’re justified when making a judgment call like this one

5. Accuracy

Accuracy is important for academic writing, but it’s especially important for theses and dissertations. You want to ensure that you are providing accurate information, or you could lose credibility as an author. You also want to ensure that your data is accurate because this can affect how others interpret what you’re saying in their work.

  • Statistics: Statistics are used frequently in academic writing to provide objective information about particular topics. For example, if there is a statistic that shows that more people prefer one brand of shoes over another, this would be useful information for someone writing about the topic of shoe brands and how consumers perceive them.
  • Data: Data is another type of piece of information commonly used in academic writing; however, it differs from statistics because it does not take into account numbers but rather raw facts such as dates or names without any statistical analysis attached to them (e.g., “On June 10th, 2018 at 7 pm…”).
  • Examples: Another popular way to present facts within your research paper or thesis/dissertation is by using examples from real-life situations which illustrate how certain principles might play out when put into practice (e.g., “In our experience at Company X, we found that customers were unsatisfied with service level due…”).

6. Precision

A good writer is precise. It’s the difference between saying “I hit a tree” and “I hit the trunk of a maple sapling with my front bumper, causing it to collapse flat on the ground.”

The first sentence is vague; no one can tell exactly what you mean—do you mean that you ran into a tree or that there was some other obstacle in your path? The second sentence is more specific; it provides details that help readers understand what happened.

7. Explicitness

Since you’re asking someone to read your writing, you must make sure they understand what’s going on and where. A good way to do this is by being explicit about things. This means explaining concepts and ideas that the reader may not be familiar with, providing examples of them, and giving evidence for your claims (and reasoning behind them).

  • Explaining Concepts: What does this mean? How does it work? Give examples!
  • Providing Evidence: Here are some concrete facts about X. This analysis shows that Y happens because of X.
  • Explanation of Relationships: How does one thing relate to another? What are the causes and effects? What happens if we add a variable to our equation here?

8. Logic

You need to be able to support your arguments with logic. You also need to avoid logical fallacies and use strong evidence to back up your claims. This will help you make a strong impression on the reader, who you will convince that your argument is sound, even if they disagree.

When paraphrasing someone else’s work, always use your own words (unless otherwise stated). When summarizing an author’s argument, provide quotes from their text so that readers can understand exactly what the author was saying at any given time in their discussion. It is also important not only to cite sources but also to give credit where credit is due by citing quotations directly from the source material when possible and appropriate instead of just listing them as citations at the end of each paragraph or section in which they appear within an essay or research paper.

If possible, try using clear, concise language when writing and avoid unnecessary jargon so as not to confuse non-experts but still give enough detail for experts to understand what has been written


9. Responsibility

There are many ways to show your responsibility in academic writing. You can produce a good piece of work by taking time to plan and organize your thoughts, following instructions carefully, checking sources for accuracy and relevance, and researching thoroughly. In addition to these practical aspects of academic writing, there is also an ethical dimension that requires you to be responsible for what you say and do.

This means providing accurate information based on good research, avoiding bias or prejudice in your writing (or any other media), being clear about who has contributed what when using the work of others as sources or inspiration for your work; being honest about what you don’t know; giving credit where credit is due; respecting intellectual property rights; maintaining confidentiality; avoiding plagiarism; owning up when mistakes are made—and so much more!

10. Non-discrimination

In academic writing, you should avoid discrimination. You should not discriminate based on gender, sexuality, race, or religion. Instead of excluding people from your writing, you should include them and be inclusive. For example, instead of “a good writer,” say “good writers” or even better: “they (plural) are good writers.”

You can also use in-text citations to make sure that you are inclusive by using pronouns like they or they’re instead of he/she/his/hers when referring to persons who could be either females or males, depending on the context they appear in. This way, you are not making assumptions about a person’s gender based on their name, which might lead someone astray while reading your paper!

Using third-person pronouns is another way to make sure that everyone will feel welcomed when reading your work because there would be no sense in feeling left out if one doesn’t identify with second-person pronouns such as “you”/”your.”

11. Context

Context is the background information you will use to build your argument. It may include the current situation and events that led up to the topic of your paper, or it may be a specific historical event that affected how we think about this topic today. Context is important because it helps explain why certain ideas were explored, who was involved in exploring them, and what happened after you explored them.

You should always include a paragraph or two in which you discuss the context within your paper before getting into any other part of it (unless there are no relevant events for context). Either stating can do this: “The following discussion considers [event/idea/concept], which occurred before [occasion] and has since been significant in shaping today’s view on [topic].” Or, if you prefer less formal language: “For this essay, I will examine [event/idea/concept] as it relates directly to how people think about [topic].”

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that academic writing is an art form. You need to take the time and practice it and ask for help when you need it.

You will find many examples online, including this article and others linked throughout this page. You can even ask your professor for a sample paper that shows how they want their classwork presented.

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