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National College of Ireland


Academic Writing Skills Guide: What is Academic Writing?

Why Bother with Academic Writing?

Academic writing requires skills you may not have developed in your education to date so you should be prepared to learn some new techniques. This type of writing looks to convey information as efficiently and accurately as possible and on most courses, writing remains one of the main ways you will be assessed in college, so it is an important skill to understand.

Academic writing has a number of features which mark it out from other types of writing and if adopted, can improve the quality of your writing and your assignment grades. Getting to know these features will help you to communicate your ideas and arguments in a clear, convincing and professional manner. Lecturers are looking for clear and accurate expression of ideas, not jargon or confusing language; they want to see evidence that you can express yourself clearly, concisely and logically.

While academic writing is an important part of assessment in college, your lecturers understand that it is something which you develop over time and you are not expected to be an expert at the start of your course.

What is the Purpose of Writing Assignments?

The purpose of written assignments in college is to give you an opportunity to demonstrate several things:

  • Your knowledge and understanding of a topic
  • Your ability to research the topic
  • Your ability to organise that supporting information and evidence within a structured piece of academic writing

The quality of your assignment relies heavily on the way you phrase your argument - how you say it, can be as important as what you say. The key features of academic writing listed below can help to improve the quality of your writing and your grades.

Key Features of Academic Writing

  • Being Accurate & Specific
  • Being Concise
  • Being Critical
  • Being Formal
  • Being Objective/Impersonal
  • Planning & Logically Structuring
  • Using Academic Phrasing & Vocabulary
  • Using Evidence
  • Using Hedging Language

Get to know these key features of academic writing in the next section: Key Features of Academic Writing.

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