I’m here today to talk about academic style.
What is academic style? I bet you thought academic style was something with long complex
sentences and difficult words. Well actually, it’s a lot different. There’s many aspects
to academic style that aren’t complicated and aren’t difficult. The first aspect I’d
like to talk to you about is tone. What is academic tone? We’re looking at objective
arguments, rather than subject arguments. What does that mean? It means, objective are
things that are based on fact rather than feeling. They use logic and reason over emotional
arguments, and the other thing about academic tone is that we tend to not use words that
have a lot of slang, or a spoken type of background, and also we don’t use and we stay away from
negative forms and contractions. The second thing about academic style is the
use of authority. What this means is that if you make a statement, you must back it
up, you need to prove your authority. In this way we often cite a lot of sources. We don’t
give anecdotal evidence. What is anecdotal? It’s a story; it’s something you’ve
heard. We always rely on something academic. That’s why we use sources like Google Scholar*;
one of the quotes if you look at Google Scholar is stand on the shoulders of giants, and what
that means is that we use these giants, these academic giants, to back up what we say. Everything we say must be based on something; on some kind of research;
The other thing about academic writing is that we have to look at how we say things;
not too exact but a little bit more tentative. For example, you might start off an essay
saying something like, Hong Kong students do not speak English at home, but actually
that’s a little too exact, can you back that up, do you have a giant to depend on?
Where’s your research? So you might need to be a little more tentative, to hedge that
sentence by stating something like, few Hong Kong students speak English at home, or use
a study, The study by Cheung in 2008 demonstrates that few Hong Kong students speak English
at home. The last thing I’d like to talk to you about
academic style is that it’s carefully structured. I’m sure you’ve heard of this before.
You have to have a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, it’s
very important that you actually follow this advice and make these things work for you.
It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be clear.
So let me sum up, academic style is clear, structured, concise. It’s not overblown.
It’s sophisticated and interesting. It doesn’t need to be dull. But it doesn’t have to
be complicated either. It should be meticulously referenced. The more references and citations
that you use, the more strengthened your essay; and you need to make it logical and persuasive,
and stay away from emotion. Where can you learn about this? You can learn more on eLearn,
in your notes, and also by visiting CILL in A305.