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

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Academic writing is generally formal and written for a scholarly purpose; examples of academic writing include class essays, dissertations, and reports. Non-academic writing is less formal and not necessarily intended for an educated audience, and it's often more emotional or opinionated; examples of such include letters, blog posts, even fiction novels.


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Academic writing is often published in regards to a particular discourse; thus, it has a specific audience implied. Non-academic writing, on the other hand, can include a variety of genres and is often not audience-specific. For instance, academic writing related to the discourse of English literature would interest an audience in its field, which might include teachers and professors, students of the discipline, and so on.

A specific type of academic writing is scholarly articles. A scholarly article often elaborates on a specific topic of original research for an academic audience. Generally, a scholarly article is peer-reviewed before being published in a reputable journal. Non-academic writing, on the other hand, might attract a broader demographic. Fiction, being a popular type of non-academic writing, is not limited to an audience in a specific discourse and is enjoyed by people all over the world. In addition, non-academic writing, such as a piece of prose or poetry, is published or edited but not always peer-reviewed.

Despite the differences, however, it is interesting to note that both these types of writings can be produced using a similar writing process. For instance, writers (both academic or non-academic) might freewrite or similarly brainstorm their ideas, despite differences in their content, style, or type of writing. Alternatively, they might use similar approaches, such as internal or external revision, to revise or further edit their work.

For further reading on the similarities in the writing processes of both academic and non-academic writers, one could refer to various articles by scholars like Christina Grant or Russell A. Hunt in the discourse of writing studies.

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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.

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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.

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