Identifying features of academic writing exercise Essay Example


Academic and Non-Academic Writing


This study provides an overview of academic and non-academic writing by considering the distinctive features of each of these two styles. A range of four texts on the topic ‘Place and Displacement’ are located for this purpose. Three of these texts are non-academic; an article on Refugees and Displacement in Thomson Reuters Foundation News, a Blog post On Development and Displacement and an article titled, The Displaced, in the New York Times magazine. One article is academic; International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. After carefully reading and analyzing all four of them, a descriptive analysis of form, structure and language of the four texts is carried out(SILVERSTEIN,2010). A comparison is made in both styles of writing and conclusions are made based on the merits and demerits of both.

Academic writing is considered a formal mode of writing, intended for a specific audience. It is written in an objective voice and relies heavily on research, factual evidence and opinions of other educated scholars. In an academic piece, the topic is clearly stated and maintained.

Non-academic writing, on the other hand, is any writing that is not directly intended for a scholarly article. It uses an informal tone and may rely heavily on emotional appeal or the author’s opinion.

Features of Academic Writing

A key feature of academic writing is a formality. This kind of writing avoids colloquial words and expressions that sound chatty. It uses a serious tone to enhance formality. The language is thoughtful and restrained.

Complexity is another feature. The use of longer sentences and varied vocabulary supports this. Indeed, this is evident in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, where (Blackwell Publishers, 2015), the researchers state their sentiments that it is entirely worthless to compare South and North world refugees either lawfully or on their shared history. Further, the Journal researchers indicate such comparison fails to consider the lack of familiarity and violent relationship that the refugees had with the postcolonial state considering that they were just such state’s subjects.

Academic writing is linear. It has one central theme, and each part of the article contributes to that theme without digression and repetition. From the above mentioned Journal, the main theme is refugees, and this is evident throughout the journal. The objectivity of academic articles focuses on the information the writer want to give and the arguments he or she wants to make.

Responsibility is crucial. The writer of an academic article must be in a position to produce evidence and justification for any claims made. New research must be built upon past studies. Citations and referencing are present in academic articles. For instance, from the journal aforementioned, numerous in-citations exist. Agamben refugee camp is the model zone of indistinction, where refugees can be reduced to ‘bare life’ and be subjected to various forms of violence without legal consequences(Zuk and Chapple, 2016)

Features of Non-Academic Writing

Non-academic writing tends to use informal and more conversational language. The use of idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms, and slang is evident. Grammar is not necessarily a priority, as in some cases, sentences start with conjunctions. An example of this is in the article on Refugees and Displacement in Thomson Reuters Foundation News, “But not everyone starts packing their belongings the minute a peace deal is signed”.

In most non-academic articles, the first or second person is implied. An example of this is in an article titled, The Displaced, in the New York Times magazine, “I have two photos on my desk”.

Sentence structure and organization of ideas is informal in non-academic writing. Fewer transitions are used, and the organization of ideas is informal. In the Blog on Development and Displacement, the writer does not follow the structure of Abstract, Introduction, Body and Conclusion as is the case in academic writing.

Conventions of Academic Writing

In academic writing, expression of arguments in an objective and impersonal style is mandatory. The use of evidence (that is already published or known the information presented by authorities in the field in question) to support arguments being presented is required of writers. This evidence is expertly integrated into the structure of a scholar’s work and is dictated by conventions that exist on citing and referencing.


Both academic and non-academic journals have both merits and demerits. Academic articles provide more options for research, offer case studies for in-depth knowledge, promote active reading and aid in reflective learning. They, however, have shortcomings. Such are limitations to the research options and dependence on outside sources for research(SILVERSTEIN,2010). The simplicity of the language used in non-academic articles enhances understanding across a wide readership. Most of these articles are however opinion based hence non-factual in most cases, which is a demerit. Both styles of writing have much to offer, and writers should not restrict themselves to only one style.


Blackwell Publishers (2015). International journal of urban and regional research. [Oxford], http://www.blackwell-

NEWMAN, E., & SELM, J. V. (2003). Refugees and Forced Displacement: International Security, Human Vulnerability,

SILVERSTEIN, J. (2010). Nothing happened, and then it did: a chronicle in fact and fiction. New York, W.W. Norton &

Zuk, M., & Chapple, k. (2016). Housing production, filtering and displacement: untangling the relationships.