Techniques to Make Academic Writing More Concise

Academic writing is writing reports, theses, or assignments for an academic institution or organization. It revolves around a research topic or question that mostly contains high-level language. It is often aimed at addressing technical professions like IT, business management, engineering and technology, and so on.

In academic writing, it is often a common practice to write unnecessarily wordy and intricate arguments. Such writing can be irritating for readers to read as they get distracted from your actual content.

The malpractice of fluff writing can often result in poor marking, and your research output can be significantly harmed.

Thus, the key to satisfy criterion is to be concise in what you want to say. Such conciseness often comes with a lot of practice, but, it is achievable by following some simple steps.

In this article, we will take a look at the techniques that can make you a pro at writing quality academic papers. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

Tips for better academic writing

Research clean up

Before you start, make sure that you have a sound understanding of your research question. Many young students often commit the mistake of leaving their work at the eleventh hour. This results in students going in to ‘panic mode’ and writing lengthy, and unnecessarily wordy documents just so that they can meet their designated deadline and word limit.

Thus, it is important to spend time on your research topic. It means you take time to think about what you are going to write about, who will be your audience, and how you look to cater to them through your words.

You should also look to consider your end goals: what do you want to achieve from this research? What action (if any) do you want your readers to take from your academic paper? These are really important questions that you need to ask yourself before you begin to write.

If you are still having trouble figuring out your research question, try reading journals, articles, and conference papers. In other words, conduct a strong literature review, or ask your supervisor or teacher for an assist.

Use of descriptive words

Words that can support other words to paint a clearer picture for the reader are called descriptive words. They can help you make your academic writing concise by either transferring technical knowledge through jargon or aiding further explanation.

Descriptive words are commonly known as adjectives or adverbs. First, let’s take a look at Adjectives, which are words that describe details for nouns (names of people, places, etc.) or noun phrases.

For instance, in the sentence “the extremely cold weather in the winter wipes out all plant life in Russia”, extremely is acting as an adjective to explain the extent of how cold it was in the winter season.

Similarly, Adverbs are used to provide more detail for verbs (action words). Let’s take this text as an example “Arguably, this research was the best one”. Here, arguably is acting as a detail for the verb research so we all understand that the given statement is the author’s opinion and not a fact.

Some other descriptive words like jargon are tricky to handle. Some examples of Jargon could be ‘PCB’, which stands for Printed Circuit Board – a term commonly used in Electrical Engineering.

Some would use these specialized, field-specific words too often and make things too complicated for the reader. Our advice – use them only when you need to, but don’t ever overdo them!

Use online tools to make your content concise

While there is a lot of stuff that you can do manually to make your content concise, you can also take help from online tools. That way, you can save a lot of your precious time.

There are basically two types of tools that you can use for this purpose: paraphrasers and summarizers.

  • Paraphrasers: Paraphrasers are online tools that are made to perform the process of paraphrasing automatically. Paraphrasing is rewording a text to convey the same meaning without impacting its length
  • Summarizers: Summarizers are online tools that automatically shorten up a text. They help you convey the main crux and the core points of a piece of text.

So how exactly do these tools make your content concise?

With paraphrasing tools, you can make your content concise since the tool (provided that it works on AI) would focus on changing the existing words with more succinct and descriptive synonyms. The tool would also change the passive voice sentences to active, and so on. These types of changes don’t significantly impact the length of the text, but collectively, they do make it more concise.

Here is an example to show you what we mean:

Moving on, with summarizing tools, the deal is a lot simpler. Since these tools are literally made to shorten text, you can just put some content in there and get a summarized version of it.

One thing to remember about tools like these is that they are not all worth using. Some of them are terrible and they work on really clunky algorithms. You have to find good tools if you want to get the most out of them.

We personally recommend using as a paraphraser and as a summarizing tool. You can access and use them for free.

Avoiding unnecessary arguments

Most of the time, researchers tend to drift away from their research question. This is because they are focusing on irrelevant things and not on their true talking points.

To avoid this problem, try making out a table of contents before you begin writing. The table of contents (aka ToC) can allow your readers to understand what each section is about and follow along nicely.

Furthermore, the ToC can also help you to keep track of what talking points you have to include under each heading and will help you stay relevant to the point.

Another important technique you should know to write more concisely in academic writing is the ability to compare arguments. Relate the argument you want to write with the one you mentioned just before it.

Does it resemble the ones you have already given in the section? Is the meaning of the whole section the same without this argument? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider removing the argument.

Final words

Hopefully, you have understood the techniques to make your academic writing more concise, accurate, and clear. In conclusion, stick to your research topic, avoid unnecessary arguments, circumvent ‘fluff’ words, and when in need, use online paraphrasing tools and summarizers.

If you follow the tips and techniques shared in this post, you will be able to write like a pro in no time! Best of luck and happy writing!

Techniques to Make Academic Writing More Concise was last updated March 19th, 2024 by John Hackson