What is Academic Writing? 5 Interesting Facts for Students

What is and is not academic writing

The truth is that academic writing is not nearly as comprehensible as it appears to many people. This includes people seeking freelance writing jobs or those offering essay writing services.


Here’s the deal: Academic writing, also referred to as scholarly writing, encompasses a set of rules adopted by various scholars to distinguish their respective disciplines. This art has existed for decades, yet many people, especially students, have not fully grasped what it really takes to become an academic writer. Perhaps the most effective conventional approach to understanding academic writing is not the same thing as a literary, journalistic, or marketing text.

Fundamentally, scholarly writing employs more arguments than narratives, as opposed to other forms of writing. This is especially apparent in essay writing. An academic writer can thus articulate their thoughts objectively and aim at questioning existing presuppositions, rather than merely narrating them. So, what are the things to keep in mind when writing academically?

Now that you understand what academic writing really is, I’d suggest the following articles;

Let’s get to the facts…

5 Interesting Facts About Academic Writing

1. Academic Writing is broad

Academic writing is broad and extends from classroom activities to other elements in society. Thus, writing skills are not just intended to help a student cope with college life and move on. Instead, they acquire skills that will be rudimental for the rest of their lives.

As Rankins-Robertson et al. (2010) argue, the narrow perception of academic prose is not meaningful as it makes students ignore the rhetorically situated and social bases for writing and the potential role of writing to span the personal, professional, and civic areas of students’ lives.

Using the topic of family in writing courses provides opportunities for students to engage in non-threatening primary and secondary research and involves students in writing that is multimodal, cultural, academic, and public.

Rankins-Robertson et al. (2010)

2. It is a dependent discipline

Academic writing relies significantly on other genres and disciplines of writing. Such dependency aims to ensure that scholars and specialists of scholarly writing cannot independently provide their own guidelines to the art. An excellent writer understands how to gather data, whether primary or secondary, analyze it and form a judgment. You are expected to consult previous studies to reach a conclusion.

In fact, Research acknowledges that writings for academic purposes can never be separated from other disciplines. Besides, successful academic writing instruction depends on a sound understanding of the complexity of writing in university content classrooms.

Therefore, unlike creative writings, academic works (writings) can never be original. Just take a random paper, whether a scholarly article, a book, or a journal – the authors must have cited other works. That’s why, instead of writing “I think that” or “in my opinion,” you are expected to write “I concluded that” or “research infers that…”

3. Academic Writing is universal

All rules of academic writing are universal to ensure uniformity and consistency. There exist multiple types of scholarly writing, all of which have been developed from a set of universally accepted principles.

There are four major different types of academic texts that every student needs to know. They include; descriptive, persuasive, analytical, and critical writings. Learners should differentiate between the four, and know how to write them.

Although the formatting of academic texts may vary with the institution or professor, the context is still the same. First, the writing serves a similar purpose – to evaluate the learner’s ability to engage external sources. Also, a student is expected to apply critical thinking and class theories while writing their academic papers.

Scholarly writing is also universal in that there general format of different papers is the same across universities. For instance, any essay should have an introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs. Similarly, writings like research papers, term papers, thesis or dissertation, and projects have a universal format.

4. It is a game of words

Scholarly writing is a game of words intended to help students understand the effect of words in different contexts–words are the building blocks of academic writing. As Elton (2010) puts it, a deeper understanding of words can help in elucidating the problems arising in writing.

Many students ask – can academic writing be in first person? Others wonder, why is it too important? Well, unless permitted by the professor, or writing a reflection or personal essay, do not use first or second person while writing your papers. Most professors recommend the use of third persons.

Avoid being personal while writing papers for academic evaluation purposes. For instance, do not write “As a teacher, you must treat your students fairly.” Instead, write, “As a teacher, one must treat one’s students fairly” or “Teachers must treat their students fairly.” Mind what you write (based on the type of paper), how you write it and when you write it.

5. Writing is systematic

Academic writers must partake in a series of activities before formulating a commendable paper. In essence, scholarly writing combines the skills of brainstorming, clustering, and freewriting. Now: brainstorming entails thinking beyond the obvious paths of reasoning and expounding on interesting or questionable aspects of a given topic.

So, what is clustering? It involves mapping ideas before formulating them and usually requires a considerable amount of time. You need both brainstorming and clustering skills to become an astute academic writer. Want to know the tricky part? It takes more than just the two aspects to master the craft of scholarly writing.

But here’s the kicker: Academic writing is a critical aspect in all disciplines and requires tremendous practice–it is a game of rules. These guidelines are intended to help disambiguate possible complexities when writing scholarly works.

Learn how to format your paragraphs like a pro…


In brief, academic writing should not be written in the first or second person, unless otherwise stated. Its five major elements (characteristics or features) are:

  • It is broad – includes essays, reflective writings, thesis or dissertations, research papers, proposals, etc.
  • This type of writing is dependent – one is not expected to be 100% original
  • It is universal – types and format of different academic papers are similar (almost similar) across institutions
  • Game words – mind not only what you write, but also why, when, and how you write it
  • It is systematic

Scholarly writing is formal and unbiased, clear and precise, well-sourced, correct, and consistent. However, it is not personal. long-winded or emotive.

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