There are different kinds of academic writing in English. Some of these differences arise from the different disciplines and the ways in which they create and share knowledge; some relate to the audience (reader); and some to the use of which the text will be put.
The rules and definitions are very complicated.
Yet we can easily recognize the difference between informal and formal (academic) writing.
Linguists were and remain convinced by Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who discovered that however disparate human languages seem, all share a common, basic structure, seemingly hardwired into the brain.
* Identify three features of this sentence that you think are academic.
Vague vocabulary, such as ‘way’, ‘say’ and ‘a lot’ – lack of precision.
Directly addressing the reader, ‘you’ – conversational style
Simple sentence structure.
16/Nov/2008, Sun KSV MPhil - D.P.Barad
Levels of formality in academic and non-academic writing
After distinguishing some features of academic and non-academic writing, let us now recognize levels of formality
16/Nov/2008, Sun KSV MPhil - D.P.Barad Academic Non-Academic Reader Academics Family & friends Content Serious thought conversational Style Complex sentences showing considerable variety in construction Mostly simple and compound sentences joined by conjunctions such as and or but Organization Clear and well planned Less likely to be as clear and as organized Grammar Likely to be error free May not always use complete sentences Vocabulary Technical and academic language used accurately Use of short forms, idioms and slang
Read the following sentences and tick A(academic) or N(non-academic) 16/Nov/2008, Sun KSV MPhil - D.P.Barad Sentences A N Notes I couldn’t finish the interview on time. The initial tests were completed and the results analyzed by June 2008. I’d like to start by drawing your attention to previous research in this area. In the 1990s, some researchers started to point out the problems with this theory. He agreed with me that this procedure didn’t make much sense. We’ll repeat the test sometime next year. While it is still too early to draw firm conclusions from the data, preliminary analysis suggests the following trends are present. In addition, the research attempts to answer two further related questions.
16/Nov/2008, Sun KSV MPhil - D.P.Barad Check your answers: compare and evaluate Sentences A N Notes I couldn’t finish … N Use of “I”; and short form, ‘couldn’t’ The initial tests … A Use of passive voice; ‘were completed; use of precise vocab, ‘initial’ I’d like to start … N Use of ‘I’ and ‘Your’; short form ‘I’d’ In the 1990s, some… N In an academic work we would expect some bibliographic references after ‘some researchers’ He agreed with me … N Use of ‘me’; short forms; vague vocab, ‘much sense’ We’ll repeat … N Use of short form; ‘We’ll; vague While it is still too early… A Complex sentence In addition, the research… A Use of connector, ‘In addition’; impersonal style i.e. ‘the research attempts’ rather than ‘I’ or ‘we’