How to use academic language?
Also make sure to take enough time to reread your text carefully and correct spelling mistakes. When writing in English, you should also decide whether to use British or American spelling. You can usually choose whichever you prefer but make sure to choose one and use it consistently throughout your text. If you are unsure about the spelling of a particular word, you can look it up in a dictionary such as Longman. Don’t just guess. Spelling mistakes appear sooner than you think and they really affect your credibility. As a final step in your revision process, you can also ask a native speaker to read your text as well.
A scientific text should be written in an impersonal and objective way. If that is not the case, your text will disturb your reader and your research will look much less scientific.
Impersonal language means leaving out yourself as the writer of the text as much as possible. Avoid using ‘I’ or ‘we’ but write in an impersonal way instead. An exception to this is often found in the results which allows the use of ‘we’ as you are discussing the results you and your team have found. In general, however, you should try to avoid these personal pronouns. Also try to avoid ‘one’ which is impersonal but sounds quite stiff and heavy.
Also avoid addressing your reader directly. Don’t ask direct questions and never involve the reader in your argumentation. An academic paper is not a postcard.
In this thesis, we investigate the causes of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa in 2014. Even though one has already described many factors in the literature that have played a role in this outbreak, no clear synthesis is available yet. In order to help you make the right choices in the clinical practice, we provide a short overview of the most important causes below.
This thesis discusses the causes of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa in 2014. Even though many factors that have played a role in this outbreak have already been discussed in the literature, no clear synthesis is available yet. Below, a short overview of the most important causes relevant to the clinical practice is provided.
Objective language is mostly related to the overall tone of your text. Try to use a serene and detached writing style. Avoid using a writing style that is too visual or dramatic. Your paper is not a novel or a poem either.
With global warming, the largest extinction is looming since the extinction of dinosaurs.
Global warming poses a threat to many species on earth. Different sources have already compared the current atmosphere to the atmosphere at the end of the Paleocene.
Leave out your own personal preferences as well. Your research choices should always be substantiated by prior research and should never be the result of a personal idea.
It seems unlikely that chiropterophily plays an important role in this.
Taking into account the diminishing bat population, chiropterophily probably does not play a significant role in this case, which was also suggested by Blumenbach (1997).
Writing a scientific text doesn’t mean that you have to use difficult and complex sentences. Simple sentences are always a better idea than very long but unclear sentences. Don’t make things more complicated than they probably already are.
Avoid complicated sentences
Try to avoid complicated sentences with more than one sub clause because they are simply too difficult to write and read. If you don’t know which structure to use to end your sentence correctly while you are writing, your sentence is probably too long and too complex.
Because of the increase in the number of wind turbines, which is marked, especially since the implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive, in which EU member states were expected to guarantee that 20% of their energy supply comes from renewable sources by 2020, in Belgium, the population has become more aware of a number of drawbacks of this technology such as bird deaths, which is mostly associated with swallows, noise pollution and flickering shadows.
The number of wind turbines has increased significantly in Belgium. This is mainly because of the Renewable Energy Directive which forces EU member states to guarantee that 20% of their energy supply comes from renewable sources by 2020. Despite the noble intentions of this regulation, the population has become more aware of a number of drawbacks of wind turbines such as noise pollution, flickering shadows and bird deaths. A much cited example in this regard is the death of swallows.
Make correct sentences
If you do write complex sentences, make sure they are grammatically correct. Between two sentences, there should always be either a full stop or a conjunction if you want to combine two sentences. Never connect two separate sentences with a comma. You should use a coordinating conjunction (such as and, or, but) for two sentences that can stand on their own and a subordinating conjunction (such as because, before, while, unless) if there is an additional link between the sentences, such as consequence, cause or concession.
A first example is the PID controller, this is one of the most frequent controllers in control theory. This controller contains a proportional (P), an integral (I) and a derivative (D) term; this enables the efficient adjustment of the difference between the desired value and the measured value (this is the error signal).
A first example is the PID controller. This is one of the most frequent controllers in control theory. This controller contains a proportional (P), an integral (I) and a derivative (D) term, enabling the efficient adjustment of the difference between the desired value and the measured value. The difference between the desired value and the measured value is sometimes also called the error signal.
Next to focusing on the overall tone of your text and the connection between the sentences you have written, you should also focus on how to use verbs in an academic text. There are two main points that you need to focus on. Firstly, contractions don’t belong in a scientific text. Your paper is not a text message, email or website. Instead, you should write all verbs in full so don’t use it’s, doesn’t, they’ll, isn’t but write it is, does not, they will, is not instead. Secondly, verb tenses should be used consistently throughout your text. To take away any doubt, you will find a few rules of thumb to keep in mind below:
The present tense is mainly used to provide general background facts and to discuss visuals (figures, graphs, diagrams, tables, etc.)but also to interpret and explain the significance of the results that were obtained in your discussion section.
In general, the past tense is used to describe things that happened in the past. In a scientific paper, you use the past tense to discuss your methodology, the results that were obtained and also to summarize your findings at the beginning of your discussion.
Present perfect There is also a third tense that has a specific use in scientific texts, namely the present perfect (for example: they have studied). You use this tense to report research that has been done in the past, which means you will mainly be using the present perfect in your introduction and in your literature review
Ranji et al. (1931) suggested that the Schnapps reaction occurred via a concerted mechanism. Our previous article, however, showed that this reaction occurred via a two-step mechanism instead. For this reason, we determine the kinetic parameters of both steps, as can be seen below.
Ranji et al. (1931) has suggested that the Schnapps reaction occurs via a concerted mechanism. Our previous article, however, has shown that this reaction occurs via a two-step mechanism instead. For this reason, the kinetic parameters of both steps were determined, as can be seen below.
Reference words such as ‘it’, ‘their’, ‘this’ or ‘that’ are very useful to avoid unnecessary repetition in a text. However, you need to make sure that these words make your text easier to read instead of more difficult because it is unclear what your reference words are referring to.
Clarity comes first
It should be clear in every sentence what you are referring to so that it is still easy for your reader to follow complex argumentations and conclusions. If you use a reference word to avoid too much repetition in your text, always check whether your reference is clear. Only use a reference word if you refer to something that was said in the previous sentence.
Particle size and VAC-concentration are strongly correlated with the water concentration of the sludge. However, high concentrations have a high number of process-technical disadvantages and lead to a low quality of both the produced packaging and the end product. This can only be prevented by monitoring these parameters during its production.
Particle size and VAC-concentration are strongly correlated with the water concentration of the sludge. However, high VAC-concentrations have a high number of process-technical disadvantages and lead to a low quality of both the produced packaging and the end product. This can only be prevented by monitoring the water concentration during the production of the packaging.
Your research can sometimes be very technical. This inevitably leads to difficult terms and concepts that you mention throughout your text. Don’t be afraid to use those terms. Using the correct jargon is crucial to show that you know what you are talking about but also make sure to bring clarity.
Use the jargon of your research field if that is possible. If not, choose a different word and keep using it throughout the rest of your text. Avoid synonyms. If you decide to use the word ‘function’ in your text, keep using it and don’t switch to ‘application’ or ‘interpretation’ in the middle of your argumentation as this might confuse your reader.
Be careful with abbreviations
If certain abbreviations are very frequently used in literature from your field, it’s a good idea to also use those abbreviations in your text. Yet, it is important to do this in a very structured way. Only use abbreviations if you can find them in scientific journals and don’t invent your own abbreviations.
Also bear in mind that every chapter should stand on its own. For this reason, you always mention the term in full first, after which you can introduce the abbreviation of that term between brackets. This way, every reader knows exactly what you mean with the abbreviations you use. Afterwards, you can immediately use the abbreviation.
LCA and HACCP are used to determine the durability and safety of this food respectively. On the one hand, the life cycle analysis showed that the food storage is very energy-intensive (tab. 1). On the other hand, the HACCP analysis, i.e. the hazard and critical control point analysis, indicated that the long term food storage can lead to high mold concentrations (tab. 2).
The life cycle analysis (LCA) and the hazard and critical control points analysis (HACCP) are used to determine the durability and safety of this food respectively. On the one hand, the LCA showed that the food storage is very energy-intensive (see table 1). On the other hand, the HACCP indicated that the long term food storage can lead to high mold concentrations (see table 2).
Use correct collocations
An academic paper should not be written in everyday English. Instead, you should use formal and preferably academic words throughout your text. First of all, you need to use the academic equivalents of common words. Don’t go for words such as ‘to get’, ‘to keep’ or ‘almost’ but go for ‘to achieve’, ‘to maintain’ and approximately’. If you find this challenging, have a look at this overview with the most frequently used academic words and exercises to practice.
Once you know what words to use, also make sure to use those words correctly in a sentence. This means that you should use the correct preposition for example. Think about ‘analysis of’ or ‘to respond to’. You also need to think about collocations. You don’t say ‘to do research’ but ‘to conduct research’ for example.
If you are unsure about certain words or combinations, you can always look them up in a dictionary such as Longman or go to Google Scholar, type the words between citation marks and see whether they are frequently used in articles. You can also leave out one of the words you are looking for, replace it by an * in order to see suggestions in scientific literature.