Academic writing falls under the category of formal style, and it is actively utilized in various professional and scientific settings. The use of the academic voice is required from students when they engage in written activities, and its correct application implies compliance with certain standards. This style is designed to convey objective information, as well as to prove reliability and credibility through the provision of evidence.
Overall, academic voice is characterized by accuracy, logical presentation, and emotional neutrality. Texts written in academic voice are distinguished by their unambiguous use of concepts, clear definitions, combination of judgments and conclusions in accordance with the laws of logic, as well as by the presence of transparent reasoning. From the point of view of vocabulary, academic voice requires the utilization of both neutral vocabulary and special terms. In this type of writing, the constructions designed to emphasize the logical sequence of thoughts is of particular importance.
In general, it is expected that minimal emotionality and expressiveness are displayed in academic voice, but there may be exceptions to this rule depending on the situation. When academic voice is used to write historical, philosophical, and various other types of texts, comparisons, metaphors, epithets, and other means of expression may be used to reinforce the arguments proposed by the author. The choice of specific structures depends on the purpose of the written text; nonetheless, the tone of the paper should be as neutral as possible.
Developing an Academic Voice in Writing
Educational institutions require that students follow specific rules and utilize academic voice when they complete their written assignments. This means that papers written in an academic voice will sound differently as compared to, for example, an email written to a friend. Academic writing implies the proper use of declarative sentences, precision of thought, reliability of facts, and the correct introduction of the author’s personal ideas.
One of the main aspects of academic voice is the creation and use of declarative statements instead of sentences with the first-person singular personal pronoun “I”. In particular, such statements may carry the same meaning, but it is essential to omit the use of this personal pronoun to make the sentence sound formal, neutral, and objective. In the majority of cases, such a statement may be created by simply getting rid of the “I” part of the sentence. Overall, the use of declarative sentences allows the author of the text to ensure their claims sound authoritative and informed, and declare their position regarding the issue in a clear way. The two examples below illustrate an “I” statement and a declarative one.
I believe global warming is a major international problem, which is caused by gas emissions.
Global warming is a major international problem, which is caused by gas emissions.
Another crucial requirement of academic voice is to avoid casual language that individuals use in informal settings and daily interactions when communicating with other people. It is important to keep the narration formal and use those grammatical and lexical structures that will allow building statements that are scientific and professional. The author of the text could imagine that they are addressing the academic community rather than their peers. To learn how to use formal structures and academic voice effectively, it is advisable to read scientific articles, textbooks, professional publications, and other reliable sources. A few recommendations on how to achieve a professional communication style include:
- Do not use contractions such as “won’t”, “shouldn’t” and so on.
- Do not use such indicators as “okay”, “well” and phrases like “you know”.
- Never use foul language.
- Do not include jokes or examples that may come across as off-color humor.
- Do not interact with the reader using the personal pronoun “you”.
Academic voice is characterized not only by the correct use of grammatical and lexical structures and appropriate tone but also by precision and clarity. In professional writing, any statement should reveal its essence to the reader straight away. Therefore, it is necessary to try to express the idea in three words instead of extending it to ten by filling the sentence with vague-sounding phrases. Below are some tips on how to write clearly and concisely:
- Use those words that reveal the intended meaning clearly.
- Use “this/that” together with a noun.
- Avoid redundancies and do not start statements with “there is/are”. They take up space but contribute nothing to the meaning (see Example below).
- Do not repeat the same statement or idea twice.
|Statement with Redundancies||Concise Statement|
|The team consisting of several researchers gathered the results from different groups that were under study.||The research team gathered the results from the control and experimental groups.|
Table 1. Using concise language.
Specific Vocabulary and Precise Words
The use of specific vocabulary and precise words implies utilizing field-specific terminology where appropriate. For instance, if the paper is written on the topic of education, it is necessary to use the term “modification” instead of a lengthy explanation such as “diversification of what and how a student is taught”. This way, the writer will be able to avoid vagueness and subjectivity. Academic voice requires authors to state precisely what they mean so that the reader does not need to deconstruct their thoughts.
Any academic writing should rely on evidence gathered from reputable and up-to-date sources. If the author of the text does not provide evidence, it means that they want the audience to take the suggested arguments or facts for granted (as if they are true just because the author wrote them). In addition, if the writer does not cite any references, it undermines the credibility and reliability of the entire work. Moreover, if the evidence is outdated, or if it comes from an unreliable source, it also affects the quality of the text. Therefore, it is important to:
- Cite the sources throughout the paper to achieve credibility.
- Use up-to-date references, which can be found in the university library or various databases.
- Reference the ideas that do not belong to the author of the academic paper to avoid plagiarism.
Author’s Ideas and Analysis
Notably, writing in an academic voice implies a level of information synthesis in which the author first provides reliable evidence and supporting information and then adds their own analysis and interpretation. When a student carries out research on a topic, they form their individual opinion in the process. Their personal thoughts should be revealed to the audience where appropriate. In particular, after providing evidence, it is possible to support or reinforce it with the student’s own analysis of the topic. As a rule, the author’s own ideas and analysis are included in the final sentences of a paragraph.
Thus, it can be concluded that academic voice is a tool or approach that allows students to deliver their ideas and analysis clearly and logically. It promotes concentration on the most significant aspects while eliminating the redundancies that hinder the effective conveying of the messages. Therefore, writing in an academic voice helps students streamline their thought processes to achieve coherence and consistency in their professional papers.