12 Recommendations to Help you Submit a Conventional and Acceptable Paper Tip 7: Wanted: Formal, unambiguous expression 12個獲得學術認可的論文撰寫技巧之七:寫作要求-正式、明確的表達

The community of scholars has rules that govern how dissertations, theses and other academic papers are composed and formatted. Academic convention has established what is acceptable and what is not. Following is one of 12 recommendations to help you submit a conventional and acceptable paper.

Tip 7 –Wanted: Formal, unambiguous expression

This is the third tip devoted to language. To “precise word choice” and “appropriate voice” is added another writing consideration: tone. The word refers to the type or manner of expression required in academic papers. In a word, the tone is to be “formal.” Another word for it might be “professional,” in the sense that a writer conforms to a standard of the academic profession.

“Formal writing” does not imply the use of pretentious language, which can be characterized as stilted or pompous or stiff. Rather, formal writing acknowledges a paper’s seriousness of subject and gravity of purpose. Formal language does not pretend to do anything beyond communicate clearly. Adjectives that merely adorn are unwelcome; florid prose is particularly inappropriate.

Informal writing violates these principles because its purpose is entirely different. Informal language entertains, or casually conveys a message. It exaggerates for literary or humorous effect and otherwise embellishes a central thought with whimsical flourishes. All of this is laudable when in character. However, it is entirely out of character for a purposeful academic paper.

Nor is scholarly writing marked by emotional intrusions. Scholarship, after all, is an intellectual exercise. Academic papers are dedicated to ideas, not feelings. Thinking, not emoting, should drive a serious academic writer. The language employed in the paper should have the tensile strength of a tempered thought, rather than the ductile strength of an emotional appeal.

As a rule, shorthand expression is not acceptable in an academic paper. Therefore, contractions are out. Abbreviations should be avoided. Jargon is inappropriate, whether elevated, as in specialized technical language, or demeaning, as in a pejorative gibe. Any truncated or colloquial expression invites ambiguity. For a paper to endure, it must be expressed in enduring language.

All of this should come naturally for a writer whose sole purpose is to honestly share insight and discovered truth. The substance of a paper should be enough to induce in a reader the hoped-for sense of pleasure and revelation. Attempts to artificially convey such sensations through artful word choice usually boomerang. Clear, unadorned writing lets a reader see a paper’s real worth.

Posted at 2011-04-28 14:52:58

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