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Writing Tip #22 - How to Write Like a Scholar: Academic Writing

Academic writing is unlike any other writing that you will participate in in life. It is very different from casual or even business writing. Academic writing is not difficult, and it is an excuse to show off your writing and critical thinking skills.

If you are not sure exactly what academic writing sounds or looks like, read some scholarly-written articles. They are not hard to find. Any peer-reviewed journal in any library (ground or online) will be filled with them; EBSCOhost and ProQuest are two enormous online library databases.

Read until you find yourself speaking like a scholar. This practice is much like language immersion courses. Instead of learning a new language, you are learning an upgraded version of the English language that you already know. Wow your friends and classmates with your newfound vocabulary and beautiful cadence. You may find a difference in the way you write and the grades you receive. Think like a scholar and be a scholar!

Recommended Reading

Related blog article on Chronicle.com: How to talk like an intellectual

Or on Education-Portal.com: Learn to read like an academic

And even McSweeney's Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do

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Writing Skills

Published on by bcalvano.

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Writing Tip #11: Passive voices in the night

When you receive your papers back from grammar checker software, do they contain many passive voice admonitions? I, like many other writers, am guilty of using passive voice. The problem is that I like the way the passive voice sounds! The other problem is that it is inappropriate for most academic writing.

Don’t despair; passive voice has its place in other forms of writing. Active voice is the opposite of passive and what we need to be considered effective scholarly writers. In active voice, the subject is executing the action. In passive voice, the subject is incurring the action by the verb. The subject is said to be passive in this case.

So, by writing in passive voice, we are not giving the subject its due! Instead of writing: “The iPod was crushed by the truck’s tires.” write: “The truck crushed the iPod.” Save the drama for your creative writing class or journal!

Happy Halloween!

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Published on by bcalvano.

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"There is no place for clichés in writing." Wise words from any English instructor. Clichés may be commonly used in conversation, but the use of clichés is not respected in academic or professional writing. If you don't understand what a cliché is, it is best to find out because educators, writers and business professionals find clichés highly irritating and consider it poor writing.

What is a cliché?

Clichés are phrases and expressions that were once popular but have been overused over time. Merriam Webster's definition is: "a trite phrase or expression; a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation; something that has become overly familiar or commonplace." The definition of 'hackneyed' is: lacking in significance through having been overused. Hence the negative connotation of the word cliché.

Why are clichés bad?

Clichés are considered short cuts and writers who use them may be viewed as lazy because they haven't done their due diligence as a writer to find a more appropriate term. Educators will often point out that there are better ways to phrase it.

Examples of clichés

Take the expression, 'upper crust', for example. This cliché originated in the 1500s when bread was divided by working class. (www.joe-ks.com) Hundreds of years later, it is no longer a current way of doing things, so a more appropriate term may be "upper class" or "higher social status."

Some more examples of clichés are:

  • Greek to me
  • Over the hill
  • In the dog house
  • Back against the wall
  • Under the gun
  • Better safe than sorry
  • Last hurrah
  • Between a rock and a hard place
  • Beggars can't be choosers

See more in the WriteCheck Writing Center

Related: 681 Cliches to Avoid in Your Creative Writing

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Writing Skills

Published on by tiimarketing.

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