Research Tips

Research & Academic Writing

Rules of Academic Writing

If you haven’t been accustomed to academic writing in recent memory, it can seem a very daunting prospect! And even if you have, impostor syndrome befalls all of us…

It’s important, before you begin, to understand/ reacquaint yourself with what exactly constitutes academic writing. How does it differ from the writing you might find on a blog, on social media, or in a news article? I assure you, these styles of writing will, most of the time, be substantially different from academic style!

Indeed, this is the key to academic writing: it has a particular style. Broadly-speaking, there are rules to employ when you engage in academic writing:

  • Write formally
  • Avoid colloquialisms
  • Avoid contractions (don’t, can’t, won’t)
  • Avoid conversational style
  • Adopt the terminology of your discipline

Truly, the best way to acquaint yourself with academic writing is to read it! So, if you haven’t yet done this – I encourage you to peruse your Library database or Google Scholar, and find a few journal articles or book chapters related to your interests. Read these through ask yourself a few questions:

  • How does this writing differ from what I’d find in a blog, etc?
  • How is it different from conversational writing?
  • What key terms or phrases do I see used repeatedly by authors on this subject?
  • How is are the articles/book chapters organised structurally?

After you’ve done this, you can start use the words and structures you’ve noticed within these sources to help you further develop your own academic writing. Also, feel free to consult the additional resources below to help you:


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