How is academic or scholarly writing different from promotional writing?

By Priya Chetty on December 19, 2016

One of the most common mistakes writers make is that they assume they can do “any type of writing” because they had written a blog or an essay. Academic writing and scholarly writing is not the same. It is challenging and there are techniques that need to be strictly followed.

Understanding academic or scholarly writing

Academic or scholarly writing involves writing papers such as analytical reports, thesis, dissertations, essays, publications, etc. It is different from developing content for promotions because the readers of these papers are intellectuals or academicians who do not care for unsupported or unverified data. Content development, on the other hand, is mainly done for commercial purposes like websites and blogs. The readers are of very different backgrounds.

Difference between scholarly work and promotional work

Following are the main differences between academic writing and content writing, with a few examples.

  • Style of writing: The first rule of academic or scholarly writing is that it is not free-style writing. Academic or scholarly papers cannot be freehand articles or papers. Words must be formal and sentences must have critical meaning and be backed with proof. Without proof, the statements are useless.
  • Referencing and citation: Like said before, backing all statements with proof is very important, otherwise, the statements made hold no meaning in an academic or scholarly work.  Referencing is done in-text and as an end list, called a bibliography. Promotional writing does not include references, which makes it much simpler and faster to develop. Academic or scholarly writing requires references and there are different styles of referencing. They have different rules about what type of data can be used and how it can be cited.
  • Writing short sentences: In most cases, short sentences carry no meaning or actual analysis. They are just thoughts without any conclusion. In promotional content writing, such short sentences (typically less than 10 words) are accepted, but in academic writing short sentences usually degrade the quality of the paper. Therefore, academic or scholarly work does not involve short sentences.
  • Use of personal opinions: Where there is free flow writing, there is the use of personal opinions. Therefore in promotional content writing, there is no such rule against the use of language showing personal opinions. But in academic or scholarly writing, personal opinion is discouraged except in some sections. There is more interpretation and no personalization of facts.
Difference between academic or scholarly writing and promotional content writing
Difference between academic or scholarly writing and promotional content writing
  • Use of dialogues: Another major difference between academic or scholarly writing and promotional content writing is the use of dialogues to illustrate a point. These dialogues are of famous people and personalities, so writers typically assume that they are important or relevant, but it varies. In academic or scholarly writing, dialogues are discouraged.
  • Following a plan/ structure: Promotional content writing does not usually require sticking to a particular structure for all articles. Every subject or article can be moulded as per the idea of design or perception. But in academic or scholarly writing, a specific structure has to be thoroughly followed in order to make it publish-worthy. Every academic or scholarly paper includes:
    • introduction,
    • discussion and
    • conclusion.
  • Supporting tools: In the case of academic or scholarly writing, since there are so many rules involved (analysis, referencing, etc.) there are many tools available to make your work simpler. For instance, for referencing there are certain reference managers like Mendeley. For analysis of large quantitative data, there is SPSS and E-views, among other applications. In some cases, it is even mandatory to use these tools.

I am a management graduate with specialisation in Marketing and Finance. I have over 12 years' experience in research and analysis. This includes fundamental and applied research in the domains of management and social sciences. I am well versed with academic research principles. Over the years i have developed a mastery in different types of data analysis on different applications like SPSS, Amos, and NVIVO. My expertise lies in inferring the findings and creating actionable strategies based on them. 

Over the past decade I have also built a profile as a researcher on Project Guru's Knowledge Tank division. I have penned over 200 articles that have earned me 400+ citations so far. My Google Scholar profile can be accessed here

I now consult university faculty through Faculty Development Programs (FDPs) on the latest developments in the field of research. I also guide individual researchers on how they can commercialise their inventions or research findings. Other developments im actively involved in at Project Guru include strengthening the "Publish" division as a bridge between industry and academia by bringing together experienced research persons, learners, and practitioners to collaboratively work on a common goal. 



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