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 or scholarly writing is not the same. It is challenging and there are techniques that needs 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 a very different background.
Difference between a scholarly work and promotional work
Following are the main differences in academic writing and content writing, with a few examples.
- Style of writing: First rule of academic or scholarly writing is that it is not free-style writing. Academic or scholarly papers cannot be a freehand article or a paper. Words must be formal and sentences must have critical meaning and 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 holds no meaning in a academic or scholarly work. Referencing is done in-text and as an end list, called 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 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 of interpretation and not personalization of facts.
- Use of dialogues: Another major difference in 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 to stick to a particular structure for all articles. Every subject or article can be moulded as per the idea of a 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:
- discussion and
- Supporting tools: In 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.
Further read about
Here are few more articles to help you understand academic or scholarly writing:
- How to become a professional academic writer?
- 5 steps to boost your academic writing skills
- New methods to improve academic writing skills
- Simple academic writing rules to improve your writing skills
- List of references in an academic paper