Write Like an Academic Writer

Academic writing can seem daunting, but following these eight simple tips can improve your chances of being published in peer-reviewed journals:

  1. After quoting another author, don’t move on to your next point. Explain in your words what the author said and why it’s important to your argument.
  2. Join a conversation and move it forward rather than simply dismissing previous work.
  3. Be specific. Don’t just say scholars argue — instead restate what scholars said exactly.
  4. Be careful with your words — precision is your friend. Don’t write something unless you’re willing to defend it for the next 20 years.
  5. Assume readers are indifferent to your case — make your argument matter to them.
  6. Avoid normative claims and assumptions. If you’re using the word clearly, then you may be speaking about opinion, not fact. Don’t assume others share your train of thought.
  7. Never miss a chance to make an argument. Academic reading is intermittent — keep reminding the reader where you are and where you’re going. Always connect the pieces.
  8. When in doubt, fall back on the old writing maxim: Tell them what you’re going to tell then, tell them, then tell them what you told them.


© Matt J. Duffy, PhD and Oxford Editing, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matt Duffy, PhD and Oxford Editing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.