Writing: Academic Writing

The phrase "academic writing" makes most students shake with dread. If personal essays and one-page stories strike fear into their hearts, academic writing causes them to look over their shoulders for the hazy shroud of Death himself. They may not know what "academic" means, but they're certain it isn't good. And for students who haven't been properly trained, that's true.

For those who know how to collect their thoughts, organize sentences, and make a point, academic writing elicits little more than a shrug before they get to work. Not that they'll never have difficulty, they'll just be equipped to overcome it.

Academic writing (essays, research papers, and the rest) is nothing more than writing that interacts directly with ideas or facts in a serious way. Scholars will protest that this definition is too simplistic, but complexity is no guarantee for clarity, and most of their protests are designed to preserve the aura of mysticism they so often cast over their efforts.

Every student can learn to write well. Some may lack what others have in creativity, others will be stronger in mechanics, but there isn't any element of academic writing that can't be taught and learned. That doesn't mean all instruction in academic writing is good, but that's a different issue.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviewshere.

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