Academic writing is one of the types of writing that anyone pursuing higher education has to partake in. High school students and mainly college students are the ones who have to use academic writing. In college, it takes the form of research papers and/or a thesis. In high school, it can take the form of assignments and maybe a research paper.
The point is that it is a sort of writing that cannot be escaped so it is best to learn how to do it efficiently. In this article, we are going to teach you some things that will help you to improve your academic write-ups.
Research Using Different Resources at Your Disposal
Academic writing always involves research, that’s because it is a sort of writing in which the writer has to argue some point of view using facts and logic. The facts and logic are gotten from other reputable sources which help the writer to argue in favour of their point of view.
This is the first hurdle that many academic writers face. They do not know where to start researching. The point here is to understand that there are in fact, many different sources available at any point.
For college students, the following are great resources for research:
- The college library. The libraries of colleges are always subscribed to scientific journals. They have many books and journals that cover a wide range of topics. Reading about your topics in the library is a great way to start research.
- The internet. The internet is the biggest resource available to any student. It can provide you with blogs, online journals, and even other forms of content that can help you with research.
- Interviews and research diaries of famous scientists can be found both on the internet, at bookstores, and even be gotten from your professors. These can often be a source of inspiration or niche information that you may require.
Some of these resources may cost you money, but most of the time they can be received for free, especially anything in the college library.
Utilize these resources to gain all sorts of information about your research topic. The more information you have, the better your academic write-up will be. That’s how it is, plain and simple.
Branching out a little from the second point i.e., ‘The Internet’, here are some popular sources that you can use:
- Google Scholar
You can find thousands of research papers from these sources. The best thing about using these platforms is that you don’t have to worry about the authenticity and credibility of the published material. Plus, you can easily create citations and feature them in your write-ups.
Divide Your Time Responsibly
Another reason that academic writing is difficult to do is due to the incredible amount of time it requires. It is not an easy task to conduct research, gather information, and then sift through it all to see what can and cannot be used in your final write-up.
It takes many, many days to write the first draft of a research paper, so it is not advisable to use your time inefficiently. This is where you need to manage your time.
Time management skills have been proven to be useful in improving academic self-efficacy. You can read studies about it to find out more. So, here’s what you need to do, make a plan for dividing your time efficiently.
The plan can look like this:
- Roughly demarcate how much time you have. Let’s assume you have six months.
- Allocate these six months into three periods; research, writing, post-editing, and polishing.
- Research takes the longest time, so maybe dedicate three months to it.
- Now take the three months of research and further divide them according to resources i.e., you are going to take a few weeks for tackling the library, another few weeks, for tackling the internet, and maybe some time to consult with your professors or student counsellor.
- Then divide the time that is left in two almost equal halves, and devote one for writing, and one for post-processing/editing.
This is just one general method of dividing your time. Of course, it will be meaningless if you cannot stick to it, so it would be wise to set up some accountability measures as well. If you are someone who has trouble accounting for themselves, then get a responsible friend or family member to be accountable for you. Their job should be to remind you that you have work to do, and levy punishment if you fail to do so. That will help you stick to your schedule.
Start Writing When You Have Enough Information
When it comes to academic writing, people can start dawdling because they get scared. Well, that’s not uncommon, many people go through the same experience. This is known as an “Essay writing phobia” and it extends beyond just essays. Rest assured; academic writing is a prime candidate for inciting an essay writing phobia.
There are many different ways to deal with it, but the best solution in our opinion is to just start writing without thinking about the writing quality. Some people are scared that they will write very poorly, so they try to delay the inevitable until it’s too late, and their writing suffers tremendously as a result.
So, just start writing when you have all the information you need. Just know that it is all right to create a poor first draft. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best writers, so even if you make the same mistakes, it is nothing out of the ordinary. Besides, if you did divide your time, then there will be ample time for you to fix everything during editing. So, just start writing, and finish your first draft, the more time you have for editing the better your academic writing will be.
Consult Your Professors and Peers
It is very common for people who are researching for the first time to feel lost. They don’t know where to start or what to read. In such cases, it is completely okay to go to your professors for help. Ask them what could be some starting points that you could start learning about.
Professors are also doing their own research. If your interests align with their topic, then it is also possible for them to hand over a part of their research to you. This is really helpful as it immediately gives you direction.
Similarly, you can also consult your seniors and/or your peers. They could offer you incredible insights into your research topic, which definitely helps with improving your academic write-up.
You can also take to online forums and ask professionals and experts about good places to start writing the paper as well as some other pointers for making the content look academically suitable. Places like Quora and The GradCafé are some good places to start:
Editing and Post-Processing
The best way to improve any sort of writing including academic writing is to do lots of revisions. Never be satisfied with your first draft. We have already mentioned that first drafts are usually terrible. So editing is necessary to make them good again.
Now, there are a few things that you need to look out for, but the most important one is readability. Your writing needs to be:
All academic writing is supposed to educate its reader using evidence, so it is a requirement that it should have the listed qualities. So, most of the editing required is just paraphrasing. You have to paraphrase stuff like:
- Long-winded sentences.
- Wordy sentences.
- Difficult vocabulary (except technical terms).
- Unnecessarily long passages.
To paraphrase all of this stuff, you need to use techniques such as “synonym exchanging,” “rephrasing,” and using words to replace phrases and vice versa. If for some reason you are short on time (maybe you didn’t manage it well, or you had extenuating circumstances) you can utilize online tools for paraphrasing such as the one provided by Editpad or Wordtune.
By paraphrasing your academic write-up during editing and improving upon its shortcomings you will be able to enhance it.
Do not Over Encumber Yourself
Last but not the least, do not pile too much work on yourself. It is a healthy mind that writes good quality work. If you put too much stress on it, you’re writing quality will suffer. So, remember, when the going gets tough, take some time off, and enjoy yourself. Go out to eat, read a book, or just chat with friends about mundane things.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA),
“…taking a break from work to do something that you enjoy improves well-being, and reduces stress.”
Less stress leads to better productivity, and in this case, that means better academic write-ups. So, just take a break and do something that you enjoy, of course in moderation. Too much of anything is bad for you after all.
And there you have it, six tips to make your academic writing better. These are all actionable tips, as you can start acting on them in reality. These tips are not discussed in any particular order, so you can start acting on whichever tip fits your current description. Hopefully, these help you out and improve your academic writing.