Let’s be honest, most people would just think about something boring, something they would do their best to avoid. What is more important, they know that there are rules that they have to follow and requirements to fulfill, but they don’t feel like learning what those rules are. And still, every educated person needs to know the basics of the academic style. So what are the basic to pay attention to?
The main feature of academic writing is that it is impersonal, and if the author has a point he wants to make, it should always be followed by supporting arguments. Supposing your assignment is to judge a situation, in this case the facts should be listed without bias and the judgmental aspect has to be explained from a neutral standpoint.
Unless the assignment requires you to tell a personal story or a personal opinion, you should not use the pronoun “I”. Even if you need to specify your point of view about this problem, it means mentioning yourself only in one or two sentences.
Just compare these two sentences and think which one suits better for an academic style essay:
- I think that air pollution in the big city negatively affects lungs.
- High level of air pollution may cause different lung diseases.
As you may see, your point of view does not change this well-known fact.
First of all, the formal language you should use must be direct. It should carry the idea without any unnecessary details. Each word you choose must have only one meaning and give a clear understanding of the situation to the reader. Do not use a simple word “good”, when you can specify the aspect you mean. For example, there is a wide range of synonyms for you to choose from: tasty, acceptable, excellent, exceptional, positive, satisfactory, advantageous and so on.
- Mint tea is good for your nerve system.
- Mint tea is beneficial for your nerve system.
Active and passive voice
Passive voice is a helper when you need to avoid mentioning the “doer” of the action. It keeps the sentence precise and makes it sound formal without unnecessary details.
Compare these two examples:
- People need to drink five glasses of water a day to stay healthy.
- Five glasses of water a day prevent dehydration.
Since any academic paper requires research and providing specific facts, you should use precise words and at least general data that shows that the research has been made.
Here is an example of how to do this:
- In China there are a few Buddhist mountains.
- The Five Great Mountains or Wu Yue are situated in the Chinese provinces of Shandong, Shanxi, Hunan, Shaanxi and Henan.
The second thing to remember is to avoid the verbs with a wide range of meanings, such as “have”, “get”, “make”, “do”.
Compare these sentences:
- Scientist have got information about a new star.
- Astronomers received evidence about a new star.