Advice for Academics

10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Researcher writes down main points

Writing skills are an important asset in the academic world. Many academics overlook the importance of these skills, focusing on other components of their job, such as teaching or research. This article explores ways that you as an academic can improve your writing and academic editing skills and, as a result, accelerate your career.

  1. Read more academic articles and books in your field. The more you read, the more familiar you will become with the techniques and styles associated with the type of academic writing you strive for.

  2. Practice your academic writing. Work on developing your academic style by continuously practising your writing. Do this by setting daily or weekly writing goals for yourself and stick to them.

  3. Get feedback on your academic writing. Share your academic writing with other academics in your field, and encourage candid feedback. You might consider starting a writing group in your specific academic field or an interdisciplinary group, where members can share their writing and receive feedback. As academics, we can sometimes be too close to our own work; an outside perspective can prove to be very valuable, including when it comes to developing your writing and editing skills.

  4. Ensure that your academic paper has a purpose. Every academic paper should have a central message highlighting the significance of your work. Make sure your central message is clearly stated in the introduction and conclusion of your academic paper.

  5. Write for your audience. Make sure your academic paper speaks directly towards your preferred audience, usually the academic community in your field.

  6. Keep it simple. Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying, "If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough." Take this sentiment to heart and build your writing around this concept. The rule-of-thumb is that academic writing should be clear, concise and well-constructed.

  7. Make sure your tone is consistent and use the active voice. In your writing, avoid repetition, colloquial phrases, contractions, run-on sentences and embellished language.

  8. Understand the importance of references and quotes. Make sure every source you include in your paper is credible. All studies that are referenced in an academic paper should be peer-reviewed, fairly recent (+- 10 years), and published in a trustworthy journal. Use citations strategically to support your argument in an academic paper. Furthermore, avoid over-quoting in an academic paper; it detracts from the author’s voice and the critical argument being constructed.

  9. Download editing applications on your computer. These programs can help you improve your writing. One of these, which I use regularly as an academic editor is Grammarly. Grammarly provides free writing and editing assistance, whilst for a small fee, Hemmingwayapp helps tighten up your writing and keep it simple. Another, slightly more expensive application worth checking out is WordRake, which helps tighten, tone and clarify your writing.

  10. Be thorough. Read and reread your academic paper before submitting the final draft. Academic proofreading is important, so check and recheck the spelling and grammar of your whole text.

Receive a quote today for academic editing