While some approaches to academic writing can vary due to the style, traditions and conventions within a discipline, it can be valuable to familiarise yourself with these general rules and practices. Having a general understanding for the main features and terms related to academic writing will help you throughout your writing process.
When you write an academic text, such as an essay, a paper or a thesis, you are required to write with correctness and precision and not to make groundless claims. You base your work on previous research by referring to, for example, an article or a book written by a researcher. It is important that you make it clear to the reader, which thoughts and arguments are your own, and which are someone else’s ideas. Giving credit to the researcher, who’s work and ideas you have presented in your text, is part of maintaining what is called as academic honesty. If you do not give credit where it is due, and you give the impression that the thoughts presented are your own, this may be interpreted as plagiarism, which is unacceptable. Read more about how to avoid that in our sections about plagiarism and referencing correctly.
An academic essay or thesis should follow a certain structure and include some key components. The requirements on structure and content may vary depending on discipline, so please make sure you follow the instructions given by your teacher. When you write an academic text, bear in mind that the text should be well organised in a way that is easy for the reader to understand. To help make the structure of a text coherent, the writer can include a chapter outlining the disposition of the essay. Generally, essays are requirered to be preceded by an abstract. The essay usually also contains a table of contents, an introduction, previous research, method, results, a discussion/analysis and a list of references.
When you write an essay, you should only include what is actually relevant to the subject of your thesis. Follow a process of reasoning to motivate why, for example, a certain piece of previous research is important to your study, why you have chosen that particular method or why you think the results of your study contradict those of another researcher. It is often a good idea to use examples to support your arguments, such as quotes from interviews (if you have interviewed someone for your study) or quotes from a primary source (for example, a novel, if you are writing a literary analysis). Other methods of illustrating and presenting your results include the use of tables, graphs and diagrams.
Avoid using every day, informal language, such as slang or contractions (such as won't, we'll, it's), instead try to write correctly, and use formal language. When your text is finished, make sure to proofread (carefully examine your text) it, to find any spelling mistakes or sentences that could be phrased in a better way. All computers at the HT Libraries are equipped with the spell check programs Stava Rex (for Swedish text) and Spell Right (for English text). You can also download the programs to your own computer via the student pages on Lund University's website.
There are a lot of useful links if you need help during your writing process:
- AWELU - a platform for writing in English at Lund University, created by teachers in English at SOL together with staff from the IT team at the HT faculties.
- Writingguide.se - A guide answering question about your writing process and how to manage sources and references. The page is developed by the following universities and libraries: Blekinge Institute of Technology, Kristianstad University, Linnaeus University and Umeå University.
- The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University
- The University of Manchester's phrasebank.
You can also get help on campus: