According to the research, international students are the most vulnerable part of students to academic writing troubles. Most of them need to use a new language and learn how to encounter difficulties with referencing and citing sources, expressing their own point of view, and using an academic tone of voice. But at the same time, freshmen and sophomores also suffer the same problems.
Developing your own point of view, searching for adequate information on the topic, and editing and polishing the text are only parts of the academic writing process. As it’s a complex activity, students need time to develop skills that will allow them to quickly and easily create essays, research papers, and other academic papers rapidly and efficiently.
Below, we want to share with you the most common academic English writing problems students encounter.
The Top 6 Difficulties of Academic English Writing (And How to Overcome Them)
- Expressing own point of view
It may be difficult to express your point of view when you have little or no experience expressing your thoughts on a particular topic.
How to overcome this difficulty:
- Practice. You can start a diary or make it a habit to write your thoughts every day.
- Watch a movie in English and write your opinion about the watched episode.
- Watch TEDx or other videos where people express their thoughts and experiences.
- Make up a list of questions on particular topics and answer them. Find out how you reflect on the issue and expand your vocabulary.
- Learn by example. You can use an essay writing service like https://essayshark.com/ and get a paper sample written by a professional academic writer.
- Correctly referencing, paraphrasing, and citing
Presenting your discoveries from previous research on the topic is highly important. You can do it in various ways, like paraphrasing, quoting, and citing to express ideas from other sources. Also, to make it correct, you need to know the required formatting style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian) and how to use it correctly.
For more information, we advise you to follow the University of New South Wales recommendations.
- Structuring academic writing correctly
A good paper should have a structure, even if it’s a one-page academic essay. Creating an outline not only helps you when writing a paper but also improves the delivery of the main idea. Every academic text should have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Extended pieces like a thesis, dissertation, or research paper may have additional sections like literature review, methods, results, and discussion. Also, we need to mention that every educational institution has its own requirements for the paper structure, so make sure you have considered those requirements.
You can find a detailed step-by-step guide and advice on effective organizing and structuring academic papers in the article from the University of Washington.
- Writing correct sentences and paragraphs
Whether you write an essay, academic article, or a thesis, you need to structure your writing correctly:
- Make sure every sentence is complete and expresses one thought.
- Every sentence must include additional meaning to the current paragraph.
- The sentence shouldn’t be too long and contain too many subjects and predicates.
- The reader should easily understand what you are writing about, like in conversation.
As for paragraphs, you need to follow one idea per paragraph to make your writing logical and understandable. Many students struggle with such a problem, gathering several ideas in one section and failing to express each concept fully.
If you experience such difficulty, use this practical guide on structure and cohesion from the University of York
- Creating strong thesis statements
A thesis or problem statement is an evitable part of any academic writing and should represent the paper’s main idea. Sometimes it may be hard to come up with a strong thesis statement, but with a bit of practice, you will be able to create a good one. Besides, a good thesis may not be limited only to one-two sentence. A thesis statement may take a paragraph or two of an introduction if the question is complex.
If you have difficulties writing thesis statements, follow the recommendations from Indiana University. Adhering to academic writing style.
First, there is a problem among students who use generalizations and hyperbole. An academic writer should adequately present information. For example, you can’t write, “This research is the most significant in the field” or “All children are ill if they have this symptom.”
Second, it’s important to use active voice and minimize the use of passive voice. To turn a passive voice sentence, try to find out who or what is the key figure which performs the action.
Third, avoid gendered language. Avoid using “he/she” when talking about a group of people, if possible. For example, it’s not advisable to refer to a researcher as “he stated” or “she stated.”
And last, be direct and precise. Avoid unnecessary words and flowery sentences just to reach the required word limit. All your sentences should make sense.
- Revising and proofreading the text with great attention
It’s a common problem that many students skip to dedicate sufficient time to proofreading and to edit the text. Usually, such a problem occurs when the student fails to plan time for writing the paper or doesn’t understand the importance of this step.
If you wish your academic paper to be ideal and please the eyes of the reader, you need to plan additional time for text revision. It takes more time than you think, as sometimes you need to set your text aside to read it with fresh eyes. Also, you need to check not only grammar and spelling but also check the text’s readability and structure.
Here are free proofreading services you can use to check your text more quickly:
It will take time until you master your academic English writing skills. Whether you are an international student or local, all students suffer from a wide variety of difficulties while creating well-structured essays and academic papers. Developing your writing style day by day will pay you in the future.