Don’t fear academic writing
David Potter, Course Leader for MSc Entrepreneurship, gives his thoughts on how to tackle writing as part of your studies.
You'll often hear terms like academic writing or business style usually in relation to something that you might have to produce. While there are many texts available that will help you work out your own approach, sometimes it is just a case of getting started.
Once started you can then build whatever it is you have to do and let it evolve. Clearly, last minute writing will not have the luxury of being allowed to evolve by drawing on a wider range of inputs so will lose that extra richness of content and analysis.
Academic style writing has several aspects to it, but these strike me every time:
- Write in a non-personal form, unless specifically asked for personal reflection
- Demonstrate that statements and key messages are supported as far as possible
- Show that a balanced view has been taken into account when composing your work
So, what does this mean in reality? A non-personal style of writing means that words such as "I", "you", "they" and so forth are avoided and replaced by phrases such as "...industry figures indicate...", "...margins are considered tight because...". This reflects the so-called business style of writing.
Support for key messages are usually illustrated by the inclusion of references and citations. The aim of this is to acknowledge any sources that have been used (so avoiding any claims of plagiarism) and to reinforce the validity of what you are saying. This will consequently feed through to any conclusions, outputs or plans such as forecasts, business plans. Use of such reference sources means that your claims and subsequent analysis can withstand greater scrutiny and critique.
No approach, plan or methodology should be considered as perfect. Demonstrating that you have considered both the benefits and limitations of an issue proves that you are aware of such reality.
Academic writing provides an opportunity to include validity and critical analysis leading to practical outcomes within the context of your course.