What is Academic Writing?
Academic writing essentially means writing produced for an academic purpose, such as for a university assignment or for a scholarly research journal. In this sense, any writing students produce for GSA assignments is ‘academic writing’. However, the phrase ‘academic writing’, or ‘academic style’, is often used to describe what a piece of writing is like—its quality, or characteristics. This means that sometimes students’ written work is described by tutors as ‘not academic enough’.
This might give the impression that there is some mysterious ingredient to writing that raises it up to the level of ‘academic’. Or you might think that ‘academic writing’ means using long and difficult words in a detached and impersonal way.
A more helpful definition of ‘academic writing’ is writing that communicates ideas and research, and does so in such a way that this knowledge can be built on by others.
On these pages we expand on this way of understanding academic writing, with a list of key features of academic writing. We give tips on appropriate and effective academic style in our list of Academic Style Dos and Don’ts, and discuss the use of the first-person ‘I’ in academic writing.