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Academic writing

Academic writing is:

  • Being clear about your purpose

    • Be very clear about the specific purpose of the writing task – what have you been asked to do?
    • Seek clarification if in doubt
    • Ensure that you are following the instructions of the task strictly and carefully
    • See Academic writing process for more information on how to interpret an assignment question
  • Being clear about your audience

    • The most obvious audience for your assignment is the marker. Do not leave out any basic or essential information because you think it is too obvious for the marker. The marker expects you to show that you know the material and the subject matter, and that you are able to perform the task at hand
    • Imagine that you are writing for someone in order to teach the person about the topic. Consequently, you need to be explicit and clear
    • See Academic writing: paragraph level and Academic writing: sentence level for more information on how to write clearly
  • Achieving the right tone

    The right tone in your writing depends on your understanding of the:

    • nature and purpose of the task
    • lecturer’s requirements
    • assignment type – e.g. case study, report, reflective journal, literature review. Each assignment type has different requirements in regards to the structure and appropriate language
    • social distance between you and your reader, which will dictate whether you should use a personal or impersonal tone, and an informal or formal writing style

Find out more about academic writing:

Types of academic writing

Adapted from the following source:
Morley-Warner, T. 2009, Academic writing is… A guide to writing in a university context, Association for Academic Language and Learning, Sydney.


What is academic writing? (PDF 172kB)

More information

click to open and closeUTS faculties writing guides
click to open and closeExternal online resources

Academic writing style

  • UniLearning, UOW - Introduction (opens an external site)

  • UniLearning, UOW - Words (opens an external site)

  • UniLearning, UOW - Structures (opens an external site)

  • UniLearning, UOW - Conventions (opens an external site)

Writing effectively


Editing and proofreading