Academic Writing Guidelines

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Academic essays should be written in a formal, academic style. This style includes:

1.Employing tentative rather than assertive language. Do this by:

▪ using possibly and probably in front of verbs and noun phrases; e.g. 'This is possibly caused by...' or   'This is probably the most important factor.'

▪ using the modal verbs may and might; e.g. 'This may be the most important factor.'

▪ using appears to and seems to; e.g. 'This appears to be the most important factor.'

▪ avoiding always and every, and replacing them with often and many/much

1. Using formal vocabulary e.g. discuss rather than talk about. One way to do this is by replacing phrasal verbs with more formal ones.

2. Use more formal grammar, for example:

▪ Use 'There' as a subject; e.g. 'There is a serious risk of...'

▪ Use 'It' as a subject; e.g. 'It is very difficult to...'

▪ Use 'One' as a subject; e.g. 'One may ask whether...' ('One' is a formal version of 'You' [plural] in general)

▪ Use the passive voice; e.g. 'Many things can be done in order to...'

3. Avoiding the use of personal pronouns such as you and we to address the reader

4. Avoiding short, disconnected sentences

5. Avoiding the use of rhetorical questions such as “Did you know that spoken and written languages are very different?”

6. Avoiding the use of contractions such as won’t, didn’t, we’ll

7. Avoiding the overuse and misuse of certain logical connectors, especially besides, furthermore and moreover. Besides is too informal, and both furthermore and moreover mean that the following information is more important than the information before, which is usually bad organisation. Use In addition or Also instead

8. Ensuring that grammar is accurate, that ideas link together smoothly and that a full range of grammatical structures is employed, such as relative clauses

9. Referencing correctly, in both in-text references and bibliographical references.
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