There is a clear difference between good academic writing and bad. Writing that is non-academic is informal, imprecise and clumsy. It is useful, therefore, to do an academic edit of your work to bring it to the highest level. Here we offer 5 tips that an academic editing service uses while editing your work.
1. Be precise
The most important part of a good academic writing is precision. A reader should be able to understand exactly what you mean and what you are referring to. This means removing fluffy words. You should be specific about what you mean and mean everything that you say. An academic editor will remove words; like really, pretty, a lot, some, sometimes and quite; which you might leave behind. These are imprecise terms that can be replaced with exact amounts or more specific adjectives. This precision will add clarity and formality to your writing.
2. Remove phrasal verbs
One of the first things to be edited in an academic research paper is the choice of verbs. Phrasal verbs such as “find out” or “look at” are very common but add a sense of informality and lack of rigour to scientific writing. In an academic edit, phrasal verbs should be replaced with single word verbs. We can replace “find out” with “explore” or “investigate,” and “look at” with “examine.” These single word verbs are more precise in their description of what is happening, and also imply rigour, formality and professionalism.
3. Use hedging
A sign of bad academic writing is when writers take extreme positions. Bad academic writers will often say that their results “prove” a theory or that there is a definite relationship between two factors or present opinions as facts. Such writing will make academic readers uncomfortable and will often mean that the writer is making incorrect statements. During an academic edit, look for sentences which seem over-confident or to be making extreme assertions and add more tentative language. Instead of “proving” a theory, we can say that the result “supports” a theory; we can write that there “appears to be” a relationship between two factors, and we can clearly signal opinions with introductory verbs such as “It is argued that…” This will make writing more precise and more academic.
4. Use simple sentence structures
A very common issue that academic editors come across is nervous academic writers who use very long or very complex sentences to try and sound “academic.” Good academic writing is, at its heart, clear to the reader. Complex sentences make academic writing less clear. When conducting an academic edit, therefore, it is useful to split long sentences and make sure that simple structures are used. This means not putting subordinate clauses in the middle or at the start of sentences, but moving them to the end; making sure that the main subject noun is at the start of the sentence, and avoiding multiple subordinate clauses.
5. Use clear transitions
Finally, the best academic writing guides the reader through the text so they can understand everything on the first read by being explicit about what is happening in each section. This includes telling the reader what the relationship between sentences and paragraphs is through the use of transitional words and phrases. Transitional words make the argument and the logic of academic writing clear to the reader, and as such they enhance the power of the argument. Transitional phrases are numerous and nuanced, but adding them carefully during the academic editing process can be the difference between a weak and a strong paper.