How does academic writing differ from other types of writing?

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readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Academic writing does indeed differ from other types of writing. Let me list three ways in which academic writing differs.

First, academic writing is formal in style. Personal writing does not have to be formal and often times it is not.

Second, academic writing is based on extensive research and seeks to prove a point within an academic field. This alone makes it very different than any other type of writing. For example, in academic writing you have to back up pretty much any statement that you make with extensive footnotes or original research or field work, and you need to show that you know the history of the scholarship very well.

Third, academic writing is meant for a specific audience. It is not for the general public. You are writing for your academic peers. So, it will usually be highly technical.

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pholland14 | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Academic writing is written in a voice that is meant for other academics.  The introductory paragraph does not have to be catchy, because one assumes that the reader is already interested about the subject.  The writing is quite formal as well, without colloquialisms and contractions.  Academic writing often uses a certain referencing style, such as MLA for English, APA for social sciences, and Chicago Manual Style for history.  Unlike prose, academic writing often does not tell a gripping story; rather, it is more analytical.  It relies on facts and often uses tables and charts in order to validate the thesis of the author.  Academic writing can also be a study of other people's findings on the subject matter--in history, this is called historiography.  While good academic writing is original just like other forms of expression, academic writing gains more prestige with the addition of research.  

mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Academic writing is different from other kinds of writing in several ways. With academic writing, a person is writing to show what he or she has learned. The person must decide which sources to use and how to interpret those sources. With academic writing, the audience is usually very limited. It may be just the student’s professor for whom the writing is being done. Academic writing is often graded and may lead to a person receiving a degree or a course grade.

Business writing is very different. Business writing may require the writer to follow a specific format. It may be to communicate information about new products or about a new business strategy. It will often have something to do with the company or the business. Usually, the audience for a business writer is larger than the audience for an academic writer.

Personal writing is often less formal in nature. A person may be sharing personal thoughts or feelings. They may not quote any sources in their writing. The person may be writing based on his or her feelings or experiences.

There are many different kinds of writing, and they are very different from each other.

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