Is It Possible to Strengthen Academic Writing Skills?

Academic writing -usually the most daunting element of university education- is often underestimated by students who are rarely aware of how much it will permeate their university life and resort to an extensive network of both formal and casual academic support to fulfill their course requirements. Should students decide to reclaim their responsibility, however, would it be possible to strengthen their academic writing skills so as to support themselves independently all the way to their dissertation requirement? This paper argues that it is indeed possible to improve on such skills since academic writing is a process that can be both taught as well as enhanced through personal effort. 

To begin with, any aspiring writer -be it for college or work- can succeed in producing papers of standard quality should they diligently follow a few straightforward steps and consider the main elements of academic writing. In other words, as Bailey (3), Ariyanti (67), and the majority of academics on the matter overall understand academic writing, it is but a ‘process’. To be exact, the idea is to first decode the writing situation (subject matter, audience, purpose, etc.) (Ariyanti, 67) so that the research output is clearly and appropriately scoped. Such activity can be usually aided by the guidelines of the assignment itself. Brainstorming and the ideas collected can be then structured using a simple yet unquestionable format; an introduction, setting the debate, research question, thesis statement and paper outline, a main body of paragraphs each representing a separate point and including a topic sentence, support of the argument and an explanation and lastly, a conclusion restating the issue, the paper’s positioning and arguments. Students should be further cautious of the strict rules pertaining to plagiarism, referencing, and accuracy that differentiates writing of academic standards from other forms. This abridged recount of the process exemplifies that up to a certain extent academic writing represents a transferable skill that anyone can improve on by putting their work to the test of a straightforward structure that follows specific guidelines. Furthermore, academic writing skills can be enhanced through personal reading effort together with the note-taking and close observation that accompanies it. That is, the more a writer reads, the more prepared he is to produce his own academic work. Irvin presents such points when arguing on the importance of ‘research skills, reading complex texts and the understanding of key disciplinary concepts’ (8-9). Being exposed to other people’s work within one’s discipline and beyond not only enhances a writer’s vocabulary and expression but also repeatedly and almost subconsciously trains their brain into the research process and academic expression widely employed. Inferences become almost automatic when the writer draws from a large pool of knowledge originating from his role as a reader. That said, once again academic writing skills have every potential to improve rather than being perceived as a fixed concept. 

In conclusion, this paper has argued that academic writing skills have every potential to be improved should one follow the structured process of planning and writing along with the set guidelines of academic standards. Further improvement can originate from personal effort in reading academic text, subconsciously deciphering the method employed by other writers and subsequently incorporating it into one’s own. Such methods overall prove that there is every possibility to eventually master the writing process.

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