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Academic style


Many students are not familiar with this concept. This short video explains what is meant by academic style and how this relates to your academic writing. It gives you practical guidance on how to write your assessment tasks in the correct style expected by your lecturers.

Students are often told by their lecturers that they need to write their assignments in a more academic style. But what does this mean? The academic style is characterised by several features that makes it very different from speech-like writing or journalistic writing.

One of the main features of the writing is that it is more formal. Formal language means that you must use full words in your writing. When we speak, we use contractions such as “don’t” and “doesn’t” and “can’t”. When we write, we must use the full version and write “do not”, “does not” or “cannot”. Personal pronouns such as  “I”, “we”, or “you” are rarely used. And, of course, you should never use slang.

Using tentative language in your writing. Another feature of academic style is the use of tentative language. This is when you write about something without 100 percent certainty, leaving room for doubt. You should use words such as “tends to”... “suggests that”... and “appears to”.

Also, be concise in your writing. Use one word instead of lots of words to say the same thing. 

Finally, be specific! Choose the best words for your meaning. Like in this example, the word students is more specific than people. Look at this example and think about how it could be rewritten in a more academic style:

Worked example: In recent times, there have been more people coming to Australia because life is though, and these people come from places in close proximity to wars. At this moment in time, I think it’s really bad for them here if they want to work in low level jobs and don’t have skills or qualifications. I think it’s really because the jobs in factories that these people used to do are not around as much.

Possible version: There has been increased migration to Australia due to poverty and war overseas. Traditionally, many new migrants work in unskilled employment in order to establish themselves. Currently, it appears that unskilled low wage workers have particularly suffered due to a decline in the available of unskilled employment.

Thanks for watching.


Writing clearly
Strategies for writing clearly in an academic style. Examples and activities about getting your meaning across using coherent, cohesive and concise writing.