Academic Writing Tips: How to Avoid Common Writing Problems

Academic writing is an advanced form of writing that follows a strict pattern. There are rules for academic writing, and your ability to follow those rules will dictate the success of your papers. There are layers and levels of academic writing, with a PhD being the highest one with a degree.

If you’re writing for a journal, each journal has its rules that its authors must follow to get accepted. This article contains some helpful tips on how to write effectively and mistakes to avoid in academic writing.

What are some common writing mistakes to avoid?

Sometimes, a student is so sure that they have written a fantastic essay. However, when the results come out, their grades are not what they expected. It is simple; they made some mistakes they didn’t realize are common problems in writing that reduce grades. So, familiarizing yourself with these mistakes helps you avoid them when writing your paper.

  • Vague thesis statement: your thesis is the basis of your entire writing; it determines your paper’s direction. Writing a vague statement is one of many students’ common mistakes when writing a paper. A vague thesis statement explains a point of view without giving the reason behind it or providing supporting facts. When writing your thesis, ensure you go deeper than giving a generic statement; ask the why and how.
  • Insufficient evidence: an excellent academic paper presents enough evidence to support the thesis based on it. Sometimes, students fail essays because they don’t provide enough facts to support their thesis statements. Meanwhile, sometimes, it is because a student focuses more on their opinion than on the evidence.
  • Copied ideas: sometimes, the problem is that their original ideas are lacking, mainly when students present facts without explaining how or why they used them. For example, a student copies an idea from another article but fails to interpret what it means and its relevance.
  • Unclear sentences: when writing an essay, we advise students to use short and clear sentences so that readers can understand. One common mistake among students is using lengthy and confusing sentences that make it hard to understand or follow their points. Having excellent academic writing skills isn’t about writing big, confusing words or long sentences; short, simple, and straightforward are better.

Five simple ideas on how to improve academic writing

Sometimes, the secret to improving academic writing is so basic, things you would never have thought of. Below are simple and basic ways to improve your academic writing style:

  1. Efficiently manage writing tasks by doing diligent research on credible scholarly sources, collating data, understanding the content, and writing.
  2. The secret to writing great is reading wide; the more you read, the better your writing skills. Thus, set time apart to read well-written and edited scholarly articles; they’ll give you an insight into the academic writing style.
  3. Academic writing requires a framework and a proper work outline before you write. The outline helps structure your paper in an orderly manner, making it more presentable and, of course, acceptable.
  4. Know what academic writing style you’re expected to write and stick to its guidelines. Does your instructor want the paper to be analytical, descriptive, critical or persuasive?
  5. Always read through and have a second eye read through your paper; this is called proofreading and editing. It ensures your paper comes out clear and defined – and error-free grammatically.

Top writing tips for students for academic papers

When writing an academic paper, you need to present it in a well-written form, ensuring you follow all the rules. Below are tips you’ll find helpful when writing for an academic audience.

  1. Use active voice in your writing – for example, use “I visited my friend” instead of “My friend was visited by me.”
  2. Avoid using redundant and repetitive words – for example, using jealous and envious; pick one.
  3. Avoid using big words and stick to using vocabulary you know and can explain. Use clear and straightforward language instead of showing off big, flashy words that’ll confuse your audience.
  4. While you stick to using simple sentences in your writing, you also want to expand your vocabulary. That means looking up the meaning of words you don’t understand and how they are used in sentences.
  5. Use formal language in academic writing; avoid using informal language or slang in everyday speech.


The practical academic writing tips we’ve shared in this article will generally help you improve your academic writing. Meanwhile, pay attention to the common problems we’ve listed and read up on some others – avoiding them will be good for your paper.