Producing written work as part of a university exam, essay, dissertation or other form of assignment requires an approach to organisation, structure, voice and use of language that differs from other forms of writing and communication. Academic writing is a language that no one is born speaking. Understanding more about the conventions of your discipline and the specific features and conventions of academic writing can help you develop confidence and make improvements to your written work.
Academic writing is part of a complex process of finding, analysing and evaluating information, planning, structuring, editing and proofreading your work, and reflecting on feedback that underpins written assessment at university. There are lots of resources available to help you develop your skills relating to all stages of the process, for example: The Conventions of Academic Writing
Academic writing is defined by conventions rather than rules. This means that they are flexible and adaptable. The point is not for you and your peers to produce identical pieces of work, but to provide a shared framework of communication that allows specialists within a field to access information, ideas and concepts quickly and easily. The following resources are designed to introduce the main conventions of good academic writing and to provide you with ideas and techniques to apply to your academic assignments. Academic Writing: Interactive Digital Workshop
This interactive digital workshop provide you with ideas and strategies to develop your independent learning skills to help you to get the most out of your study time.
Please explore the tabs below for more information on different forms of online communication. Academic Language
It goes without saying that academic writing uses a more formal register than everyday communication. The following are four important conventions to follow that will help you to hit the right level of formality in your writing: 1. Use ‘Latinate’ verb forms and avoid casual language
Academic writing tends to adopt formal language derived from Latin, rather than Anglo-Saxon roots. This distinction is particularly evident in the use of verbs in academic language. In general, phrasal verbs are used when speaking (e.g. in presentations), whilst Latinate verbs are used in academic writing (e.g. essays). Phrasal language is more informal, whilst Latinate verbs sound ‘posher’ and more academic.
Phrasal verbs tend to come in two parts: they use a verb together with an adverb or preposition. There is often a one-word equivalent, which usually comes from Latin root, reflecting the origins of formal English among educated Romans and the Church.
Examples include: carry out = perform
talk about = discuss
look up to = respect
Why is this useful? Latinate verbs use fewer words, so can help you develop a more concise writing style. Latinate verbs can also be more specific than their phrasal equivalents, for example, the phrasal verb ‘set up’ has several Latinate equivalents: A room: I’m going to arrange the room for the meeting An experiment: The experiment was prepared An organisation: The NSPCC was established in 1884 It is okay to use […]