What are some similarities and differences of academic and non-academic writing? 

2 Answers

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Academic writing is typically considered a formal mode of writing intended for an educated audience.  As such, it is generally written in a 3rd person or objective voice, and tends to rely heavily on research, factual experimentation and evidence, and the opinions of other educated scholars and researchers, rather than on the opinions of the author.  The range and variety of subjects within academic writing are as vast as the number of subjects anyone could study within a scholarly context, but in any academic piece, the topic (or argument) is very clearly stated and maintained throughout.  Some common examples of academic writing include essays, theses, dissertations, and lab reports.

Non-academic writing is any other mode of writing that is not directly intended for an academic or scholarly audience.  Non-academic writing can be more informal in tone, and may even rely more heavily on emotional appeal or the opinions of the author.  Non-academic writing samples could include things like journal articles, opinion pieces, and letters (even to an editor).  Additionally, novels and most non-fiction books could be considered non-academic in nature.

hannahhunt09's profile pic

hannahhunt09 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Academic and non-academic writing usually differ in format, purpose, and tone.

Popular forms of academic writing include essays, themes, research studies, and similar structured pieces. Academic writing includes an introduction, an overview of the topics discussed within the writing piece, and a conclusion which wraps up any final thoughts. In scientific fields, including social sciences, writing is often in the form of research papers, and may include an abstract which summarizes the thesis and findings of the research which it discusses. Non-academic writing does not need to cohere to these standards of layout, and may take any format.

The purpose of academic writing is usually to inform the reader, providing non-biased facts and backing up claims with evidence. In the field of literature, an academic may write an essay based on a theory, but shows how the theory can be proven with evidence from the literature he/she discusses. The purpose of non-academic writing may be to entertain its audience or to persuade the reader.

Finally, the tone differs. In academic writing, the tone should be formal and professional. There are guidelines such as keeping the writing in 3rd person and eliminating contractions. Again, the writer attempts to present a point without bias or opinion. In non-academic writing, the tone may be informal. Non-academic writing does not have to cohere to the guidelines of formal writing and may include humor, opinion, or other elements not present in most academic writing.

Although these guidelines are not concrete, and depend largely on subjective differences, academic and non-academic writing usually differ in format, purpose, and tone.