Academic language is clear, do my paper unambiguous, sober, and objective. The ideal of objectivity can be misunderstood - that something is "objective" does not necessarily mean that one fails to take a stand, but that one shows what one bases one's views on. This separates argumentation from so-called "perception".
When you are inexperienced, it can be tempting to embellish the language by using complicated expressions and foreign words, but as a rule, it is better to avoid foreign words when ordinary words are just as precise. Thinkers who have become classics often have a simple style. That is why they are read by many, regardless of the conventions of the time.
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Some academic texts are nevertheless - necessarily - demanding to read; partly because they present specialized knowledge and partly because claims must be substantiated, including source references. To have good readability, the author must therefore often put some work into the linguistic presentation.
Style Level: Who are you writing for?
How much can you assume the reader already knows, and how much do you have to explain and define? Are you going to write for your supervisor, or for "everyone"?
A common piece of advice is to lie down somewhere in between and write to a fellow student.
Active - passive
Many students and researchers use the passive form of the verb in their texts. This is sometimes necessary, but too much passivity makes the text difficult to read. In addition, passive constructions often involve other problems, such as long series of prepositional expressions, such as here: «… examination of questions about a reduction in the occurrence of…»
Example of passive construction: New research is constantly being carried out at the department in this area.
The same sentence inactive form: The department is constantly conducting new research in this area. Or: The department's researchers are constantly conducting new research in this area. Or even simpler: the department is still researching in this area.
If you use the passive form, hide the subject (the one who acts) in the sentence. This is common to do in the description of research methods where the results can be reproduced regardless of who does the research. However, it is a common misconception to think that a sentence in passive form is more objective because one avoids the word "I" or "we". Here, as elsewhere, it makes sense to vary. Too much passive form becomes cumbersome, bureaucratic, and "mystifying", but too much active form can also be tiring. We do not always have to remember the researchers' people through the use of "I" or "we".
Rewrite to more direct form:
- X is characterized by the importance
- Y is characterized by reliability
- X implies accuracy
- Conduct research
- Pursue thinking
- Make a survey
Can I write "I"?
In some subjects, there is a strong warning against using the word "I". Then you may have to rewrite and use "man", "we" or passive form. But it is important to be aware that using the word "I" is not the same as being private or subjective. Here we can distinguish between a private or personal "I" and the writing "I", ie the author of the text. Writing "now I will explain…" is not a personal statement. In most subjects, it will be unproblematic to use the author-self in reader guides. This seems less rigid than using the word "man" about oneself.
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In most scientific texts, there is also a researcher-I: the person (s) who have carried out studies and obtained the results. When describing the research process, it is common nowadays to use the pronouns "I" or "we".
The private self, on the other hand, has nothing to do with an academic text. This does not mean that you can not put your stamp on the text, but that you do this with the tools that the academic genres offer (for example, by choosing interesting and important issues, conviction through argumentation, and by using good examples).
Read some pages from a master's thesis in your subject and mark the word «I». Identify which instances refer to the researcher self, the author self, and the personal self, respectively. For comparison, read a research article using the word "I" and perform a similar analysis. How was the distribution in the two texts?
Remember! In a student assignment, there may be good reasons to use the personal self; reasons that may be less relevant in a research article.
To create flow
There are many ways to create flow in a text. This is often called text binding. Text binding is used to create the right expectations of the reader: a "reading contract" in which the reader's expectations of the assignment are met. The opening is especially important: it should not promise more than you can hold, but also not too little. The art is to show that what is coming is interesting and that the presentation is adapted to the content. Below are some examples of text binding (NB: the categories are partly overlapping):
- Outline: a structured overview of the content
- Reader guides: clarifies the structure of the text. What comes when what is the purpose of the various paragraphs, etc. Example: "Now I have considered… In the next paragraph, I will…"
- Intermediate titles: select titles that reflect the content of the various sections. This provides a neat and informative overview.
- Transitions: the transitions between different paragraphs and chapters can be used to help the reader further, and create the right expectations for what is to come.
- Meta-comments: the author's comments on the text. Examples: "as we have seen", "now I will explain", "as I argue"
- Point forward, point back: remember what has been said before, anticipate what is to come. The point is to show "where you want" with what you write.
- Summary: points to the essence of a section and clarifies the content
The principle of text binding is to help the reader see the context in the text. An important criterion for academic texts is appropriate and clear delimitation. Outline and reader guides clarify the delimitation and remind the reader that the author is aware of his choices. Example: «Here it could have been relevant to address… but this is outside the scope of the thesis [or problem]». "It will go too far to go into…" etc.
A good task meets the expectations created in the beginning and answers the problem.
Revision of language and style
To create distance to what you have written, there are various tricks. For example, you can go through the text backward to notice which words and phrases you use a little too often. When you read the text from the beginning, it is easy to get into the reasoning and content itself. Reading from behind makes it easier to focus on word choice.
When revising text, we can both shorten and simplify:
"The high proportion of temporary employment can constitute a danger that academic freedom will be weakened" (NOU 2020: 3 New law on universities and colleges ).
"The high proportion of temporary employment can lead to a weakening of academic freedom."
"The high proportion of temporary employment can weaken academic freedom."
Use adjectives sparingly, and be careful with meta-consumption. "Less is more" in academic writing.
Tips - and some common mistakes
Oral language, private considerations, small talk, and strong characteristics should be avoided in an academic text. To get a tidier text, it can also help to cut out words that do not add anything to the reasoning, such as adjectives, adverbs, and small words.
A good rule of thumb is to use common words that you are sure you understand. Avoid foreign words if you can use common Norwegian words that mean the same thing. Although an examiner can often guess what the student wants to say, it is best to express himself precisely.
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Some common words are often used incorrectly. Sometimes the words are used to say the opposite of what they mean. This can be involuntarily comical. Here are some common mistakes:
Utilize or utilize? Utilizing something (s) is more negatively charged than using something. If you mean to use or apply, write use. It is not correct to say "take advantage of".
Literally? "Literally" is the opposite of "figuratively". The former is often used when you want to say the latter. Figuratively speaking, it means figuratively.
Be degenerate - Degenerate
That something degenerates means that it goes too far; takes off and becomes unruly or deformed. Usually one wants to say that something "behaves". It is not called "degenerate".
Define - Define Define means to define something "out" of the relevant context; that is, to show that something is irrelevant, unreasonable, or similar. It must therefore not be used as a synonym for "define".
Add - Acquire (oneself)
To add means to imagine that something has a property (synonym: attribute). So it's something we do to others.
Acquiring (oneself) is something we do with ourselves, for example when we acquire certain skills. It is not possible to "dedicate" something to others.
Dedicate yourself to something The term is often used incorrectly and is sometimes confused with "adapting" to something.
Deterrence means scaring, which keeps us from doing anything. Deterrent does not mean "reassuring" or "soothing".
Not necessarily - not necessarily These expressions are often confusing, but the meaning is almost the opposite. "Not necessarily" means that something may be the case, but it is not certain. "Not necessarily" means that what is alleged may not be as claimed.
This term has become widespread in recent years, and will soon replace most prepositions. About means that one compares something with something else, ie that something is about, is compared with something else (which it is not). Excessive use of "about" makes the meaning unclear and the language flat. Try to vary with more precise prepositions, such as about, about, compared with, in connection with, etc.
Accompanied or according to Accompanied is only used when someone, for example, write a paper for me accompanies someone else. When reproducing statements and statements from others, it should be according to, in one word.
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