What is wrong with the statements about academic writing in English below?
Abbreviations are informal
Avoid phrasal verbs
Avoid strong language
Contractions are too informal
Don’t repeat words
It’s impossible to avoid bias
Long titles are better than short titles
Only start a new paragraph when you start a new topic
Quoting directly is better than paraphrasing
Single countable nouns need a determiner
State your conclusions in your introduction.
The more references the better
Use as many linking expressions as possible
Use passives to avoid “I”, “you”, etc
Using “one” is pretentious
Using “the author” is pretentious
You have to be consistent with the use of British and American English
Never make generalisations.
Change any which you think aren’t 100% accurate. You can change the sentences as much as you like as long as the topic remains the same.
What language could you use to make those kinds of changes? Compare your ideas with those below the fold.
To generalise somewhat/ To make a somewhat sweeping statement/ This is a bit of an overgeneralisation, but/ If we ignore… (for a moment)/ To simplify
(almost) all/ the (vast) majority/ most/ (very) many/ much/ quite a lot/ some/ a few
a huge/ (very/ fairly) large/ good/ substantial/ considerable/ (very) limited number/ amount of
definitely/ almost certainly/ probably/ likely/ perhaps/ maybe/ possibly/ potentially/
must/ may/ might/ could
almost always/ usually/ generally/ typically/ most of the time/ often/ sometimes/ occasionally/ rarely/ seldom/ very rarely/ almost never
While it’s generally true that…/ Although it’s often the case that…
Despite/ In spite of
apart from/ except for
but there are also exceptions, such as…/ but it is also the case that…
but it depends on…
approximately/ more or less/ around
(just) under/ fewer than/ less than
Brainstorm as many similar expressions as you can into each of the gaps below, putting them in order.
a huge number/ amount
a tiny number/ amount
Brainstorm other phrases that could go in either of the gaps below.
________Despite it being ___________ generally true that…
It is generally true that…, ___________ but it depends on ________________________
Compare your answers with those in the Suggested Language box on the previous page.
PDF version for easy saving and printing: academic-writing-hedging