Writing, writing and more writing is what will take place in a doctoral program! The fact is that it is not just writing for everyday use, Academic Writing is the expectation for a doctoral program. The challenge then becomes what is academic writing? Even professors cannot agree on what academic writing is and is not. Personally, I have had a professor tell me that in academic writing adjectives and descriptive words are not used, which can be confusing to the writer. There are some basic guidelines for academic writing and in this month’s blog would like to address a few tips for academic writing.
One strict guideline for academic writing is not writing in first person or using pronouns of we, us, you or other like words. Academic writing is third person writing, using research to show an understanding of a topic. Many students struggle with not being able to write in first person and want to share about personal experience versus supporting work with research. In a doctoral program, research is the focus of writing and when writing most sentences will have citations.
One of the best tips received from a professor in regards to academic writing was to avoid using the words: so, but and because. This sounds like an easy task although for this writer it has been a serious struggle at times to avoid these three words. Academic writing is formal writing and typically not a writing style taught in our younger years. As a professor, many undergraduate students struggle with academic writing and not having a clear understanding of the expectations of academic writing.
Academic writing is a skill to continue working on, which is a task I do myself. As a doctoral student in my dissertation process, my focus daily is to work on my academic writing. There are a few times when in my daily writing, I revert to writing in first person, most of the time though my focus is to write academically. The chart above references a few tips with regards to academic writing. In reviewing the Do side of the chart, you will notice the one thing that is clear and that is word choice. In working on my own dissertation, word choice has been a key element of my challenge. A couple of times I utilized words that were vague or left out words that would make my thoughts clear. Proofreading has been a great tool in assisting me with my academic writing. The one technique I use is to read my work out loud, set the paper aside for a few hours or as much as 24 hours and repeat my process.
Academic writing is not a normal formal of writing for most individuals, it can be done well with time and practice. When starting a doctoral program, please know that the expectation will for academic writing. My husband just began his doctoral program this year, adjusting to academic writing has been his struggle as well, however his writing is improving. As with anything it takes time and practice, keep positive and do not give up, you will master Academic Writing.