Language checklist: Words and phrases to dodge in your academic writing

Academic writing is different than the generic writing. It follows a formal approach and does not encourage the use of (unless you are including quotes or data collected via interviews) informal, vague, unsophisticated, subjective or exaggerated expressions. 

How does academic writing sound like?

If the language in academic writing isn’t concise and neutral, then even the most rewarding idea will be disregarded by the research community. Some of the characteristics of academic writing are:

  • Formal tone

  • Precise wordings

  • Minimum use of emotional phrases or flowery words

Some of the words & phrases that must be avoided to maintain the clarity and conciseness of your academic writing are as mentioned below. 

        1.Avoid  clichés 

Many words that are used in everyday speech does not fit-well in academic writing. Such words are exaggerated, too casual and do not provide preciseness to the writing. Clichés include, on the other hand, easier said than done, at the end of the day, etc. For example, collecting data using interview was easier said than done

          2.Avoid slang 

Just like clichés, slang does not go well in academic writing. Although some clichés ( for instance, plastic was dumped in the river) are still acceptable, slang should be completely avoided. This is because slang does not include original meaning outside its usage. For example, the doctors were worried that the patient would bounce back.  

         3.Evade subjective words

Some phrases or words expresses your bias. Presenting your viewpoint in some sections of academic writing is not recommended. Words that are too subjective include beautiful, good, wonderful, bad,  of course, natural and obvious.

For example, the key findings obviously indicate.                 

4.Elude rhetorical questions   

A rhetorical question is simply a question which doesn’t expect any answer. It is written when the writer assumes that the reader is aware of the answer or the writer wants to explain the answer. Such questions do not present a strong point/argument. For example, industries pollute the environment, but why do we still have them

         5.Avoid contractions 

Contractions are abbreviated from two words. Such words make your writing an informal one and hence must be avoided in academic writing. Examples include can’t, don’t, shouldn’t, etc. 

        6.Avoid run-on expressions 

It is recommended to complete the sentence rather than using run-on expressions in your academic writing. These phrases include ‘and so on’, ‘ and so forth’, ‘etc’. For example, doctors must consider allergies, medical history, etc. while prescribing medicines. 

Although communicating with the reader is vital in academic writing, using informal language can result in a casual conversation and shroud the main idea of your study.

Category : Writer's Block
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