Why do we write academically?

Academic books about writing

A big part of academia, whether you are a student or professional, is writing. But is it not studying scientific questions that is our main task, after all? The answer to this is both yes and no. Obviously, there would be nothing to write about if we did not study scientific questions, but we also have to write in order to present our findings to others.

As a student, you might not write and publish a lot of scientific articles, but all the writing you do as a student still serves an important purpose. Firstly, writing is a great way to process information and learn from it. Secondly, writing student texts prepares you for the day when you might have to actually report something you discovered.

In other words, writing is important because it helps us

  • process information and better understand material
  • communicate our findings to other scientists
  • establish us in the scientific community
  • be part of the scientific dialogue, and therefore the scientific community

But why does academic writing have all these rules?

At first glance, it may seem overwhelming or difficult to follow all the rules and genre-related guidelines for academic writing. Why do our texts need to fit the academic genre?

Academic writing has a specific style because

  • when presenting scientific results, it is important to be specific and detailed
  • the reader should be able to replicate your work and get the same results, and that requires detail and clarity
  • following a set of guidelines for genre and style makes the text easier to recognize and read as a scientific text
  • publishers require specific standards for formatting and style

In other words, we write academically because this genre allows us to present information in a way that is logical, accurate and correct. By adhering to academic standards, readers also easily recognize the genre, and know what to expect from the text. In a news article, it might be enough to present the highlights of a study, but when we present to fellow scholars, it is very important to include all the details and all the ifs and buts.

Getting familiar with the rules and guidelines of academic writing might seem like a big task, but it is undoubtedly a good investment in your own abilities, whether you are a student or a professional.
 

Source

Nygaard, Lynn P. (2008). Writing for Scholars. A Practical Guide to Making Sense and Being Heard. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

 

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