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Information & Advice

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Writing 3

Academic conventions and expressing yourself

Please note that advice on ‘study skills’ of all kinds must always be checked against the expectations of your particular course.

 

Academic English: some general points

Contractions are not used (such as don’t, isn’t).
Put do not, is not.

Hesitation fillers are not used (such as you know, I suppose).

Conversational language is not used:
"It is just not on to say this," or
"These arguments should be taken with a pinch of salt."

Subjective vocabulary like nice, wonderful, interesting, normal, natural is not used because the reader's understanding of the word could be different from your intention.

Personal pronouns such as I, you, we tend not to be used. Choose words such as it or there to start a sentence:
"It can be seen…"
"There are a number of…. "
"It is often claimed that…”
(This does not apply if your course requires you to reflect on your practice.)

And’ is not used at the start of sentences.

Numbers are written in full: "One hundred per cent."

Caution rather than certainty: use verbs such as appears to, seems to, tends to, may, might. Add words such as possibly, probably, apparently, generally, seemingly.
Use expressions such as "one of the main arguments," "some writers claim," "some of the evidence shows that.”

 

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Linking phrases

Linking phrases and words are used to make your train of thought clear. Here are some examples of those:

Beginning:

To begin with . . .
Let us begin by looking at the advantages of . . .
In this chapter/section/essay, I shall discuss/describe . . .  [In this essay, . . . will be described]
One of the most important aspects of . . .
In short, the main factor here is . . .

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Moving on:

First, . . . Second(ly), . . . Third(ly), . . .
The next step is . . .
A second/third dimension of this concept is . . .
Another example/ problem/aspect/factor is . . .
This also suggests that . . .
The result of this situation is . . .
On the one hand . . .
On the other hand . . .

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Giving examples or evidence:

As far as . . . is concerned . . .
If . . . is to be taken seriously . . .
If we look at . . . more closely . . .
This last example suggests that . . .
If we return for a moment to the subject of . . .
One particularly striking aspect of . . . is . . .
For example, . . .
For instance, . . .
Consequently, . . .
In the same way, . . .

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Showing another angle:

It is important to contrast . . .
On the other hand . . .
Meanwhile, . . .
By contrast, . . .
However, . . .
Nevertheless, . . .
Hence . . .
In addition, . . .
In contrast to this, . . .
Furthermore, . . .
Conversely, . . .
Although, . . .

Keeping the structure clear:

So far, I have concentrated on . . .
But another point must also be considered . . .
It must be kept in mind that . . .
Turning next to . . .
Two more questions remain . . .
The question remains, does . . .
Apart from this/these, other factors must be taken into account . . .
As I pointed out above/in Chapter one, . . .
The previous section concerned . . . Next, . . .
Whether or not we sympathise with/dislike the idea of . . . the fact remains . . .
There is, however, another vital element in the discussion about . . .

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Coming to the end:

To sum up, . . .
In conclusion, . . .
To conclude, . . .
In this essay, I have looked at, . . .
Finally, . . .
In trying to examine the many aspects, . . .
Thus, . . .
One final and important point, . . .
If we now summarise, . . .
In my view, the central issue is . . .

There are many more phrases like these. You could try keeping a list of your own.

Writing in the third person

If you have to write everything in the 'third person,' mark the phrases which help you to do this such as:

This essay has examined

instead of:

In this essay, I have examined.

Try to remember that academic writing is only a tradition. You may feel that what you have written is no longer your own voice, and indeed in a way it is not. However, writing in this way is like obeying the rules of a club which you have joined. The most important thing is your ideas.

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