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There are terms, rules, and values you must know, accept and utilize so as to actively participate in the conversation, writing or discourse in an academic community. Researchers, professors, and students in every field of study utilize academic writing to make arguments, convey ideas, and engage in scholarly conversation. One of the most striking features is that academic writing for graduate students is characterized by evidence-based arguments, logical organization of ideas, precise word choice and the use of impersonal tone. This academic writing guide will help you understand the key concepts of academic writing to enable you to write impeccable academic papers that inform, analyze and persuades in a straightforward manner thus enable the one to engage critically in a scholarly dialogue.

What does academic writing mean for graduate students?

Unlike high school and college, graduate students are required to present their ideologies, concepts, and knowledge in such a way that it informs, educate and contribute to the empirical knowledge in their particular field of study. Academic writing for graduate students can be termed as any formally written content produced for academic purposes. According to Patricia Vinesky of, academic writing is the process of breaking down concepts and ideologies using deductive reasoning, formal voice, and a third person perception. It encompasses presenting your own ideas and using evidence from scholarly materials to build knowledge.


Features of academic writing for graduate students

Most academic disciplines utilize their own unique stylistic conventions. However, most academic writings have common characteristics and features that can be used to distinguish academic writing from other forms of writing such as business writing or other forms of writing.

Logical Structure: Graduate students are expected to follow a logical and straightforward structure when writing an academic piece. A basic academic writing piece must have a good introduction, thesis, body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction part lays the foundation of the paper by giving general information about the topic, provide the scope and finally narrows down to the thesis statement. The thesis statement provides a standby summarizing what the paper will discuss in one or two sentences. The body paragraphs provide evidence-based arguments to support the thesis. The conclusion restates the thesis and summarizes the key points of the essay. Each sentence and paragraph in the paper should logically connect in order to present a clear argument.

Clear and limited focus- the argument, focus, or research question of an academic writing for graduate students is established early by the thesis statement. Each sentence and paragraph in the academic writing piece should logically connect back to the thesis.

Evidence-based arguments- Unlike informal writing, academic writing necessitates the use of well-informed arguments. Statements, key points, quotes, or even statistics must be supported by evidence such as peer-reviewed journals or quotations from the primary text. Such evidence is critical for academic writing as it gives credibility to an argument.

Use of impersonal tone-The purpose of academic writing is to convey a logical argument from an objective standpoint. As such, graduate students should avoid biased, inflammatory, or emotional language.

Types of academic writing for graduate students

There are four primary types of academic writing that are; descriptive, analytical, critical and persuasive writing. Each of these specific types of writing has specific purposes, features, and language. However, it is paramount to note that when writing an academic text such as a dissertation, you might be required to use more than one type of writing. For instance, critical writing is ideal when writing a literature review as it enables one to show where there is an opportunity or a gap in the existing research. Descriptive method is preferable when writing the methodology section for summarizing the methods utilized to collect and analyze data. The descriptive and analytical approach can be used in the results section to report on the data you collected.

Descriptive academic writing- Descriptive academic writing is meant to provide information or facts. You are often asked to analyze a concept, object, situations, experiences, emotions or persons and paint a picture in words. However, it is critical to understand that you are required to convey a deeper meaning through descriptive academic writing.


Analytical Academic Writing For Graduate Students

Academic writing for graduate students is not purely descriptive. One might also be required to use analytical tools which encompass the use of descriptive writing but you are required to organize the information and facts you describe groups, parts, categories, or relationships. Most of the times, these categories tend to be part of the discipline. However, one might be required to specifically create them for your text. Some of the common pointers that you are working on analytical assignments include contrast, compare, relate, analyze or examine.

The following tips will help make your academic writing more analytical

  • Spent a lot of your time planning. Brainstorm information and ideas. Try to organize the different facts by grouping using similarities, differences, parts, and patterns.
  • Outline the key points according to the different categories or relationships you find
  • Build each paragraph and section around one of the analytical categories
  • Structure your paper in a way that is clear to your reader by using topic sentences to categorize

Persuasive academic writing for graduate students

Persuasive writing is deeper as compared to analytical writing. Most academic essays tend to be persuasive. On the same note, it is paramount to note that there is a persuasive element in at least the conclusion and discussion section of a research article. Persuasive writing shares some of the features of analytical academic writing with the addition of the author’s point of view.

Graduate students use arguments, evaluation of the work of others, interpretation of findings or a recommendation to provide a point of view in academic writing. When writing a persuasive text, it is paramount that you support each claim using some evidence. Some of the key pointers that your assignment is persuasive essay include discuss, argue, take a position or argue.

Some of the tips to write an impeccable persuasive text include;

  • Research extensively and try to deduce different author’s point of view.
  • Look for patterns in the references or data and establish where the evidence is strongest
  • Develop your own point of view
  • Think about different sources and types of evidence that you can utilize to support your point of view
  • Consider how your point of view is similar or different from those of other researchers.
  • In the body paragraphs, present each point of view in its own paragraph starting with a topic sentence followed by supporting sentences
  • Ensure that you develop your paper in a coherent argument where each of the individual claims works together to support your overall argument.
  • Provide evidence to every claim you make

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Critical academic writing for graduate students

Critical academic writing is common for graduate, researchers, and postgraduate students. Unlike persuasive writing, critical writing requires that you provide at least two points of view plus your own. Critical writing has all the features of persuasive writing but requires that you provide at least one point of view. For instance, one may be required to explain a researcher’s point of view plus evaluate the merits of the argument or provide ones own view or alternative interpretation. Some of the examples of critical writing assignments include literature review that requires one to identify the strength or weaknesses of existing body of knowledge or a critique of a journal article. Some of the pointers in your assignment instructions that can let you know that you are dealing with critical writing include critique, evaluate, debate, or disagree etc.

Tips for developing a strong critical academic paper include :

  • Accurately summarize all the key points for your work. Identify the key interpretation, methodology, and assumptions
  • Develop your own opinion about the work by identifying the key points, support or point out some problems from the work, and propose an alternative approach, or defend the work against critiques of others.
  • Provide evidence, for your own points of view. You can use logical reasoning, citing an authoritative source, or offer statistics depending on the specific discipline or assignments.

Check out our other articles on academic writing :

Writing an argumentative essay.

The essay writing process.

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