Academic Writing Resources | Writing Support
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There are various skills you need in order to be able to write good academic English texts. Whether you are writing a simple essay, a report, or a research paper you will find the support and resources you need here.

The Skills You Need

You need good skills to write well. Some of these skills are general ones such as research and planning which you can use in other fields. Others are more specific such as understanding cohesion Concerning the way in which certain grammatical items (such as pronouns) and words can connect a sentence to previous (and, sometimes, later) ones. more..., text patterns Particular organisation of clauses and sentences usually in the form of a paragraph or series of paragraphs which has a particular rhetorical purpose. more... and collocation The tendency of a particular word or phrase to be found in the proximity of another. more... . The best way to improve your skills is to read well-written texts by skilled writers and read a lot in your specialist area of interest or study. But by studying some of the key elements of academic texts you can accelerate your progress. All the examples on this site are sourced from authentic texts Texts written by specialists for other specialists or for the general public, but not for English teaching purposes. more... written by people who are experts in their fields. So you can be sure that the examples are written in good idiomatic Language which is accepted as current usage. more... English.

How to Plan

Planning is essential and in the long run it saves you time. Even if you only need to write a short essay you can speed up the writing process by spending a few minutes sketching out a plan. You can learn about how to plan an essay on the essay planning Go to the Planning page page. You can't plan unless you understand your task. Make sure you can do that by understanding the elements of a task direction Go to the Task Analysis page.

How to Research

If you need to write anything longer than a short essay you'll probably need to do a little research. So you need to improve your research Go to the Research page skills. You should do this in order to be able to find relevant and reliable information quickly.

Learn about Paragraph Structure

All writing has some kind of structure. It helps the reader to understand the flow of your argument and it helps you as a writer organise your ideas. On this site you can learn about common text patterns Go to the Text Patterns page such as problem and solution Go to the Problem and Solution page, cause and effect Go to the Cause and Effect page, advantages and disadvantages Go to the Advantages and Disadvantages page and so on. You can also learn about topic sentences Go to the Topic Sentences page and supporting detail, thesis statements Go to the Thesis Statements page and what to include in an introduction Go to the Planning page or conclusion Go to the Planning page.

Learn about Cohesion

Cohesion means how elements of your text are connected together. Cohesive devices are important in a text. They allow the writer to avoid boring repetition and they provide important pointers to previous parts of the text They also sometimes point forward or indicate relationships between parts of a text.. They are the "glue" which holds the text together. There are various types of cohesive device and you can see how they work on this site. They are reference Go to the Reference page, substitution Go to the Substitution page, ellipsis Go to the Ellipsis page, conjunction Go to the Adverbials page, and lexical cohesion Go to the Lexical Cohesion page. Once you understand how they work you'll quickly recognise them in the texts you read and be able to use them yourself to good effect.

Learn how to Quote and Paraphrase

Often you need to refer to sources you believe are relevant to your discussion and in this case you have to quote or paraphrase See the glossary definition or go to the paraphrasing page information from these sources. You must abide by the style conventions writers use when quoting Go to the Quotations page or paraphrasing See the glossary definition or go to the paraphrasing page. This is important so that readers can locate the sources you refer to, and so that you avoid any suspicion of plagiarism Go to the Plagiarism page.

Learn how to Cite

There are certain style conventions you need to follow when you quote or paraphrase See the glossary definition or go to the paraphrasing page. You need to cite your sources. This often means using in-text citations Go to the In-text Citations page and sometimes signal phrases Go to the Signal Phrases page to introduce your quotes or paraphrases. If you do a lot of writing you'll also need to learn how to use one or two citation or bibliographic tools Go to the Bibliographic Tools page to help you manage your database or sources.

Understand Collocation

If your first language is not English, one of the most important things you can do to improve your writing is to understand collocation The tendency of a particular word or phrase to be found in the proximity of another. more... . This simply means which words or phrases tend to be used with others in particular contexts. There are examples of collocation on the noun phrases Go to the Noun Phrases page page and in the glossary Go to the Glossary page.

Learn about Data Literacy

If you write academic reports you'll often have to understand how data is presented in graphical form such as line graphs Go to the Simple line graph page, bar charts Go to the Simple bar chart page, pie charts Go to the Simple pie chart page. You'll probably also need to write about or comment on data presented in graphical form so the describing graphics Go to the Describing Graphics page page will help you to get familiar with the kind of language used to do this. You can also see how experienced writers use graphics in their articles Go to the authentic graphics page.

Learn how to Review

Writing is a cyclical process. You need to review Go to the review page what you have written in order to improve your text and correct any mistakes. Learning how to review is key to improving your writing skills. This means using checklists Go to the checklists page to review and check your writing, persuading others to review your work, and understanding any feedback See the glossary definition or go to the feedback page you have been given.

Learn some Grammar

You cannot write well without a firm grasp of grammar. We follow the conventions of grammar because it facilitates communication. This is especially important in academic writing where we need to very clear and precise about what we mean. Academic writing is also information rich because it often uses structures such as complex noun phrases Go to the noun phrases page so you need to understand how these work. You also need to understand how information is presented in various types of clause patterns Go to the clause patterns page and why we choose one rather than another (to draw attention to particular information, for example). You should also pay attention to punctuation Go to the punctuation page. Again, because it helps with clarity and precision.

Use the Glossary

There is an extensive glossary See the glossary definition or go to the glossary page of over 600 terms and phrases along with many examples of structures used in academic writing. All the examples have been selected from authentic texts. There are also links to further information elsewhere on the site.