As a researcher you present the findings of your research in a text: an article, a chapter in a book or a monography. An academic text differs from other texts, like novels, newspaper articles or official letters. Academic vocabulary is different: it has to be precise, semi-formal, impersonal and objective. You have to present your information as clearly and as accurately as possible (Bailey, 2006, 105).
Click here for a list of titles of usefull handbooks about academic writing, available in the University Library.
The Language & Training Centre of the Erasmus University offers the course 'Academic Writing in English for PhD students'.
In the online course The Basics of Scholarly Publishing you find the do's and don'ts of academic writing. The editor of American Anthropologist has also useful tips, based on his experience reviewing manuscripts. These tips are applicable in other disciplines as well.
Manuals of style
There are a number of disciplinary norms on how to present your findings in a publication. These include conventions in spelling, punctuation, italics, capitalization and using numbers and guidelines on how to display results in tables and figures, the structure of a document, and how to cite references. These rules differ per discipline: for example, psychologists create an alphabetical reference list at the end of the article; medical scientists, using the Vancouver style, create a reference list in numerical order: the first title cited in the text is also the first title in the bibliography. These rules are published in manuals of style or publication manuals, of professional organisations. Examples are:
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
- Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals
Due to change in the way researchers publish (electronic instead of paper) the rules are updated regularly, especially the rules about citing and referencing.
Before submitting an article to a journal, always check which style that journal uses. Some journals have made their own style guides, others use the more general styles mentioned above. On the website of elektronic journals this information can be found under buttons like 'Instructions for Authors' or 'Notes for Contributors'.