LibGuide on Research Basics (undergrad): http://libguides.memphis.edu/researchbasics?hs=a
Basics of Academic Writing
The emphasis is on ACADEMIC.
This is one particular style of writing for one particular community of discourse. Each discourse community has its own style, requirements, register, acceptable tone, and expectations.
In the academic community, for which you write while in school, there are some basic parameters and expectations. Most of them are visible when you read articles in your field of study. These are not arbitrary and whimsical; at the same time they do not constitute the end-all and be-all of every kind of writing. They do, however constitute a basic form of persuasive, reasoned writing, useful beyond the academy, with certain shifts.
The basic parameters for academic writing include:
Another parameter has to do with the presentation of your work. The default styles in Word essentially serve the marketing community (and the same is true for PowerPoint). They do NOT serve the academic community. This means that you will need to set up default formatting (style) that follows the styles set forth in the style manual you choose to follow (see the pages on Style Manuals).
Basic formatting for academic papers, no matter the style manual, aims at maximum readability:
While many instructors are flexible, note that many academics who may see (and judge) your work -- and, by extension, you -- ARE NOT, nor are journals to which you may eventually submit your work. Perfectionism may be the voice of the oppressor (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird), but it is useful to take care of the lower-order issues in order to minimize distraction from the substance of your work. See the page on basic formatting in these writing resources for an example.
Questions of Language
Writing for your courses (and for publication) must be grammatically correct, lexically appropriate, standard formal American English. Many but not all professors will give you feedback on all these levels (grammar, word choice, register) as well as on the quality of your research and thinking (evidence and argument). When you submit work for publication, sloppiness at any level (grammar, language, research, argument) will keep your work from being accepted.
Your work will always be judged by the quality of the language you use -- some folks can see past the typographical and linguistic issues, but many cannot.
Academic writing is always in the standard formal register of the language in question.