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Academic Writing

As a PhD student, it is likely that your primary focus will be on the arguments required to construct and support your thesis. This is both understandable and wholly appropriate. It is not enough, however, for you to have brilliant ideas unless you can convey them to the examiner. Although the viva provides an important opportunity to clarify and defend your thesis, the success of a PhD lies in the written component of the degree examination. While you are unlikely to be failed solely on the basis of the quality and style of your writing, you could be asked to rewrite significant sections of your dissertation or even the whole thesis, and passing the PhD could be made conditional on this potentially onerous task. However, if your writing is good then the examiner will have an easier time reading and understanding your argument. This will get the examiner on your side, which is always an advantage!

As with most areas of life, the academic world has developed its own ways of doing things and, while there is no single right way to “write academically,” there are some points that are worth conforming to for the purpose of your thesis. A good way to get a feel for the approach is to read articles published in your particular discipline. The more you read, the more you will come to appreciate the style and structure of academic writing. In future articles, we will discuss issues of both style and structure and consider discipline-specific variations. These posts will include a discussion of all issues related to academic writing, i.e, structure, style, referencing and presentation. The aim will be to help you identify the formal requirements of academic writing and to understand the sometimes quite particular nuances of style, such as the appropriate use of personal and possessive pronouns. In addition to these articles, the PhD Consultancy can also provide with comprehensive proofreading and editing services to help you improve your academic writing.

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