Books about writing
It is a good plan to start off by reading a book about academic writing for a general understanding of the art.
What is an academic text?
An academic text consists of systematically collected knowledge, based on empirical findings. It is grounded in theory and displays a conscious choice of perspective. If it is a study, it should be possible to replicate and must be able to withstand critical evaluation.
What does it mean to write an academic text?
Before you start writing, make sure to outline your text. A scientific text consists of:
- Introduction – Present your subjects and define the terms. Present your theories, purpose and research questions. Your research question should be based on previous research.
- Method – Present and motivate your choice of method for data collection.
- Results – Present your findings.
- Discussion – Analyse and review your results, the basis for your conclusions.
- References – For all the sources you have used.
Some education programs provide templates for their student theses. You will find templates for essays from University West here.
For inspiration, you can look through other theses in your field in the digital repository DiVA.
Objectivity and source evaluation
A scholarly text should express a critical perspective. That means that you should be objective and avoid expressing your own opinions. On the other hand, you should be able to motivate your choices of e.g. subject, method and theory.
It is necessary to examine and evaluate the sources you use in your undergraduate thesis and academic writing. No matter what kind of source you use, you must critically examine its relevance and accuracy.
Consider also different types of academic formats. Academic texts can be divided into primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are first-hand information about research such as articles published in academic journals, dissertations and conference papers, et cetera. Secondary sources are based on someone else's research, for instance reports, course literature and popular science articles.
When writing an academic text, it is necessary to be distinct. It is also important to use an academic style of writing and avoid colloquial language. That does not mean that a scientific text has to be complicated. Remember to adapt your text according to who your reader is so that the reader will be able to understand.
The text should be exact, objective and coherent. Work with the structure of your text and make sure it is logical all the way through.
Contact the Language Resource Centre when you need guidance in your writing.
- Don't forget to save your text often and make backup copies!
- Start off by writing without thinking about the language. It is easier to rephrase afterhand.
- Read other student texts and analyse how they differ.
- Let someone else read and comment on your text, for instance a fellow student, friend or tutor.
- Let your text rest for a while, to view it more objectively.
- When you have started writing you might want to know how to make page numbers and table of contents in Word. You can find tutorials on Youtube and ask in the library if you need any help.
RESOURCES, HANDBOOKS AND OTHER TOOLS
We have collected some useful links for writing academic texts.