Academic writing is a particular writing style characterized by relatively high barriers to entry, restrained language, severe tone, and a structured approach to the material utilized. Its precise set of characteristics and rules makes it feasible to assess a piece of text and determine whether it can be classified as academic writing or not. This paper discusses the key features of academic writing that distinguish it from other writing forms. It then examines an article on the topic of service dogs in the medical field to address how it can be classified as a piece of academic writing.
Key Features of Academic Writing
Academic writing is severe and mild in tone, primarily to satisfy the readers’ expectations of reliability and clarity. The language used and the way writers approach their subjects is thoughtful and grounded in the purpose of the text. Consecutively, the style avoids colloquialisms, the usage of slang, or excessively emotional terminology. The information delivery is very to the point, often opting out for concise and well-structured definitions. The tone itself is characterized by its impersonality, with an author deliberately removing themselves as a source of potential bias. In practice, it is often manifested in deliberately avoiding words that would indicate a first-person perspective, such as “I,” “me,” “myself,” and so on.
Independently of the topic of an academic text, it contains reasonable doubt and a critical approach to its subject matter. This questioning attitude accounts for the exploratory quality of academic writing, which is most characteristic of research articles and projects. None of the assumptions in a literary text are taken for granted, with an author instead incorporating the knowledge of the premise into the final work. This search for evidence and critical standpoint of an argument is another notable feature of academic writing.
Citation and quotation are yet another example of specific features of academic writing, uncommon for the other categories. Including references to other works within the field is crucial to the structure of a convincing academic argument. This feature can be explained by two main reasons, internal and external. Internally, citation helps to demonstrate how a research project or a scientific article is consistent with the field’s previous findings and trends. Yet, on the other hand, it also showcases the author’s credibility and insider status. It aligns them with a particular and often exclusive community bound together by the relative inaccessibility of its works to the outsiders. By referencing multiple papers and also by being referenced, an academic author gains the status of a credible and prestigious knowledge source.
With the symbolic importance of citation in mind, it is perhaps easier to understand and justify the diligent attitude within the academic writing guidelines. To be precise, any reference to another author’s ideas or concepts within academic writing must be cited appropriately. Creative writing allows for indirect inspiration, and business writing uses the templates, but the lack of proper quotations gets interpreted as plagiarism within academic writing. The inadmissibility of plagiarism for any reliable academic paper is the fourth and final feature of academic writing discussed in this assignment.
Application to an Article on Service Dogs
As mentioned above, the four characteristics identifiable within the academic writing style are impersonal, objective tone, critical evidence-seeking perspective, extensive use of citation, and strict anti-plagiarism attitude. To examine how this writing style is utilized within the area of service dogs in medicine, a sample article was picked. The article in question is titled Public Perceptions of Service Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs, and Therapy Dogs and was written by Schoenfeld-Tacher, Hellyer, Cheung, and Kogan. It was published in May 2017 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. One might assume that this article would fit the guidelines on academic writing by definition due to the source it was published in. However, it would be against the outlined procedures to make this assumption without properly testing the article’s compliance with the key features identified. Hence, it is important that first the article is analyzed through the prism of the four characteristics above.
Firstly, the tone of the article is impersonal and formal, with no colloquialisms or slang. The text is greatly focused on delivering the facts on its subject and then elaborating on those facts to achieve greater credibility. The article’s text demonstrates advanced vocabulary that could hypothetically be a barrier to entry for someone with no appropriate learning background. The report is rich in the common academic shortcuts and phrase templates, such as “moreover,” “firstly/secondly,” and “according to” (Schoenfeld-Tacher et al., 10). It utilizes the forms and structures of its sentences and paragraphs to build a picture of respectability and scientific reliability. The vocabulary used includes abundant use of field-specific terms primarily associated with public healthcare and some areas of biology. Thus, one can conclude that the first principle of academic writing was successfully identified within the paper.
Secondly, the article in question is structured as research on the public perception of service dogs and their efficiency. The paper does not simply assume the societal lens on the phenomena, opting for objective evidence-based research. It merges the background examination and literature review with conducting and reading the results of a survey. Critical thinking is exemplified in the paper by using multiple headings and sub-headings that provide more detail to the article’s structure and aid its step-by-step analysis. When presenting the conclusion of a paper’s online survey, the author is critical of the potential sample bias and limitations related to the remote research form. These features are indicative of the critical exploratory lens essential in academic writing.
Thirdly, the article in question is heavily cited, counting a total of 31 sources in its bibliography. The third feature of the academic writing was the easiest to identify within the article, as the strict formatting of the quotations in the report is orderly. The references are presented both in-text and within the bibliography, with the latter being alphabetized and assigned numeric values. Said numeric values are used as in-text citations, with detailed information on the authors, publication sources, and pages of the texts used in the bibliography. Outside of being the easiest to identify, this characteristic is, perhaps, the most potent example of the article being of an academic style in general. The use of citations and reference formatting is mostly unknown to the non-academic forms of writing.
Finally, the article is a piece of original research that can reference any non-original ideas it has incorporated into the writing process. Its relevancy statement and background investigation are, naturally, based on the existing literature within the field. The surveys themselves, however, were designed by the authors of the paper. The original research on service dogs’ public perception forms the majority of the paper’s middle section. It includes the comments on the survey stage and results tables designed by the authors of the project. The reliability of the scientific journal in which the work was published indicates the level of the article’s quality. Such publications are obliged to be strictly checked for plagiarism before allowing a piece to be published, and the article’s placement in the journal is a piece of evidence of its originality.
In conclusion, one can identify the Public Perceptions of Service Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs, and Therapy Dogs article as an example of academic writing. It fits the required guidelines on tone, exploratory approach, citations, and originality. By extension, it is reasonable to assume that a peer-reviewed journal article would be an example of the academic writing style almost independently of a topic. Any subject can be suitable for a literary writing piece if the proper procedure is followed. Some limitations, such as the need for the existence of citable sources for the credibility of a paper, apply, but the requirements for the type of citations vary. Depending on the form, authors might choose to utilize only other peer-reviewed articles and books or opt for more democratic sources, such as websites, blog posts, or Youtube videos. Thus, with due care and respect to the outlined guidelines, an academic paper can be written on any subject of the writer’s choice.
Schoenfeld-Tacher, Regina, et al. “Public Perceptions of Service Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs, and Therapy Dogs.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(6). pp. 1-13. (2017). Web.