Once you receive the first assignments in college, you definitely see the phrase “academic writing” as a critical requirement for your paper. However, not all the principles of this writing are described in detail, so students are frequently left with their personal guesses. That is why we have created a guide to explain to you what an academic essay is and how to write it correctly. 

What is an Academic Essay?

An academic essay refers to the specific type of writing that presupposes providing necessary information, argumentation, or critics on the particular issue, crafter according to the strict standards. The standards may vary depending on the type of paper and institution. Concerning students’ papers, the requirements are usually listed in the official institutions’ handout or specific piece of instructions. Nevertheless, regardless of the paper type and institution the student belongs to, there are many standard requirements for the academic papers that should be followed by everyone.

How Academic Writing Differs from Regular Writing?

There is a massive difference between them. While you are free to use any structure and style in your regular writing, with the necessity to complete an academic paper, you are bound by the specific instructions and requirements. Moreover, creative writing (or any other type of paper) does not have requirements for the sources of information and does not call for strict objectivity and credibility. On the other hand, when preparing an academic paper, you are obliged to use the formal language and follow a specific structure. 

General Requirements to Academic Essay Writing

Although your professor may list specific requirements, it is always a good idea to know the basics of academic writing. This is why we have prepared a list of do’s and don’ts of academic writing.

  • Do write a thesis statement

Always, regardless of your topic, type of an essay, methodology, and many other things, write a thesis statement. It is absolutely necessary for any academic paper, so be sure to include it at the end of your introduction. 

  • Don’t use personal pronouns

We always use personal pronouns in our daily communication; moreover, it seems impossible to build a sentence without it. Nevertheless, academic writing doesn’t allow using personal pronouns unless you are to discuss your personal experience or ideas. 

Wrong: In this paper, I have discussed the main reasons for the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Correct: This paper discussed the main reasons for the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Do maintain the proper structure

Each type of academic essay has a specific structure that should be followed. It may sound boring as that really limits your creativity; however, a regular structure has been developed to help you to articulate your thoughts in a properly organized manner. So, consider structure rather a helping hand than a dull obligation. 

  • Don’t use contractions

Another problem that many students have in their papers is the use of contractions. Again, we are really used to shorten some words a bit, so you might not even notice when you use contractions in your writing. However, it’s an absolutely “no-no” in academic writing, so you should get rid of it as soon as possible. 

Wrong: The pandemic of such a scale didn’t appear previously. 
Correct: The pandemic of such a scale did not appear previously.
  • Do structure your paragraphs as well

Apart from the need to structure the whole paper, you are also to structure each of the essay section accordingly. For instance, your introduction should start with the attention grabber, continue with the proof of relevancy, and end with a thesis statement. Your body paragraph, instead, should have a topic sentence, supporting details, and concluding sentence. 

  • Don’t use colloquialisms 

Colloquialisms are informal phrases or words, such as slang or obscene terms. They shouldn’t appear in your paper unless they are an object of your discussion or analysis. Usually, colloquialisms in academic writing appear in the phrases, so be sure to check them before submission. 

Wrong: The business was forced to knock itself out.
Correct: The business was forced to apply measures to stay profitable. 
  • Do check your grammar

Your academic paper should be perfect in terms of grammar, so be sure to proofread it before submission. Alternatively, you can use online grammar check tools (but they are not perfect, so still proofread the paper) or refer to the experts for help.

  • Don’t use phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are another part of informal language, and informal language should be avoided in academic writing. Moreover, you will sound more academic by using appropriate synonyms. 

Wrong: Many people could not even get out of their homes because of the quarantine. 
Correct: Many people could not leave their homes because of the quarantine. 
  • Do advance your vocabulary

It is always a good idea to go beyond your regular vocabulary: your paper will sound much more professional if you use unusual words. If you are out of ideas, you can always look for synonyms on the Internet: there is plenty of websites that can find tens of synonyms to each word. Just be sure that you know their meaning perfectly. 

  • Don’t use emotional language

Some topics may raise a special concern or interest of yours; however, you are to be objective in your academic writing, so emotions are not needed here. If you want to highlight the importance of the specific topic, use facts and numbers instead of emotional words. 

Wrong: COVID-19 is a shockingly deadly disease.
Correct: COVID-19 is a highly distributed disease with a mortality rate between 1-3.4%, which is at least ten times higher than of the regular flu. 
  • Do refer to sources 

Always back up your ideas and statements with the relevant data. Academic papers are not solely for your thoughts (however, sometimes, the only reflection indeed may be required), especially if you use specific data. Basically, the rule sounds “if you didn’t know that before — cite it.” 

  • Don’t rely too much on passive voice

Even though academic writing is often associated with the formal language, passive voice is now not so encouraged to use. It makes the language dull, making comprehension quite challenging. Use passive voice only if the subject of the action is too obvious. 

Wrong: The severe cases of the virus were first registered in China with further spread all over the world.
Correct: The severe cases of the virus first appeared in China, spreading further all over the world. 
  • Do format your paper

There are several formatting styles you can refer to, but the most common are APA and MLA. They have rather precise prescriptions that you can easily google (just make sure you are checking the latest editions of the manual). However, your institution may have specific requirements for the format as well, so be sure to check them as well. Formatting is the easiest way to receive points for the paper, so it is wise to format your paper properly. 

  • Don’t make it too complicated

Academic language is rather formal; however, it should be understandable for any audience (unless you are writing about a complicated subject that is difficult to explain to the reader without proper background). Don’t use hard-to-read sentences as it won’t make your paper sound more professional — instead, you will receive a deduction in points for the problem with the flow. 

Wrong: What is especially concerning, COVID-19 can be easily spread from one person to another, causing a different range of symptoms that sometimes are hard to determine: some people may not feel any health problems at all, while others require immediate hospitalization, which cannot always be provided by the state.
Correct: COVID-19 quickly spreads from one person to another, causing different symptoms. While one person may not feel any signs of disease at all, another one might require immediate hospitalization. However, not all countries have the resources to assist everyone in need. 

Need Help With Your Academic Essay?

Sometimes it is really challenging to write an academic paper without proper background and knowledge. That is why you can always refer to our experts and ask for professional assistance: we can either craft the paper according to your instructions, or edit the text you have already prepared to ensure that it follows all academic standards.