Common problems in academic writing

"Well, there's yer problem!"

“Well, there’s yer problem!” by Meg Lauber, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

This post entitled Why is academic writing so poor? by Stephen M. Walt makes some key points I think are important.

  • That academic writing is not a “story”. The order things happened is not usually the best order to tell the reader about it. You need to think of the order that works best for your reader.
  • That academic writing is about making an argument and the best writing conveys a coherent argument, supported by evidence, all the way through.
  • That academic writers often assume they need to use big words to convey their meaning when ordinary words would do. This is not to say that the proper use of technical terminology is not appropriate. But if there is an ordinary word that means the same thing, then use that. For example don’t use “post-treatment” when “after treatment” would do.


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