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Common pitfalls of academic writing- and how to escape them

Last updated on April 19th, 2018 at 12:19 pm

The importance of academic writing

Academic writing standards have become rigorous over time. And thus, writing an academic paper can bring out the worst fears in students especially when they are new to college life.Many students would be confused about what constitutes a good piece of academic work. This is because the standards and expectations may differ in schools and colleges. If you are new to the academic life of colleges and are challenged by the expectations, read on to find out more about how to make writing academic papers easy.

Let us take a look at some of the common mistakes made while writing an academic paper and what can be done to correct them.

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Common mistakes in academic writing

One size fits all

Many students may make the mistake of thinking that the same kind of structure may apply for all writing assignments. However, that is not so. Different kinds of academic work may require different kinds of structure. The structure of an essay differs significantly from that of a report, a paper or a dissertation. Understand the kind of format and structure required for writing your essay. This would save you marks.

Unorganised contents

Even if you remember to structure your paper into the particular way required (Introduction, body, and conclusion), many students may tend to confuse their contents.

This means, that there is no organization in their contents.

They may mix dissimilar points together without connection and purpose.

They may sort similar points in different places, thus resulting in diffusing the effectiveness of the content.

The essay may thus appear to the examiner to be an assortment of vague thoughts. This happens due to haphazard thinking and lack of planning of what we want to convey and how we want to convey. Some things which can be done to lessen this :

  • Outline all the points you plan to include in your essay- whether they are in support, or against.
  • Group them together in terms of how closely connected they are. Identify the central point pertaining to each set.
  • This measure, therefore, helps you to organize these points into paragraphs.
  • Add appropriate words to link these different paragraphs together.
  • Ensure that each paragraph revolves around a core point or theme. Each paragraph should introduce this point at the very beginning so that clarity and cohesiveness are maintained.
  • Ensure that these paragraphs follow a natural order i.e. point a leads up to point B and so on so that there is continuity and flow in your presentation of arguments with their supporting points.


Use the form of language accepted by your university. English usage differs from country to country. British and American English can vary considerably in terms of grammar, usage, pronunciation, and diction. Hence, be very familiar with the kind of language proscribed the university and ensure that you use this in your essays. Using American English in a context where British English is encouraged or preferred is not exactly a great thing to do.Avoid the use of jargon and slang. They tend to give a very casual flavour to your writing.

Copying and not crediting

One of the cardinal sins in academic writing is plagiarism. Plagiarism is a strict no-no whether you have done it deliberately or accidentally. Plagiarism refers to the usage of copyrighted material in any form in the text, without any kind of acknowledgement and crediting.

This means that if you use any kind of material, which has been previously used elsewhere, without mentioning the source, that material would be considered as plagiarised.You would be in the serious position of failing your assignment and even suspension in case of extreme incidences.

So do pay attention: Academic writing is all about originality in your writing. You may be imperfect in your expressions but what you should write be original and it should be sourced and referenced appropriately.

Not focussing enough

One common problem which faces many students is understanding the core issue of the topic. So, try and focus on the topic and understand the topic well enough before starting out on the writing process.

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