There are various skills you need in order to be able to write good academic English texts. Whether you are writing a simple essay, a report, or a research paper you will find the support and resources you need here.


The Skills You Need

You need good skills to write well. Some of these skills are general ones such as research and planning which you can use in other fields. Others are more specific such as understanding cohesion, text patterns and collocation. The best way to improve your skills is to read well-written texts by skilled writers and read a lot in your specialist area of interest or study. But by studying some of the key elements of academic texts you can accelerate your progress.

How to Plan

Planning is essential and in the long run it saves you time. Even if you only need to write a short essay you can speed up the writing process by spending a few minutes sketching out a plan. You can learn about how to plan an essay on the essay planning page. You can't plan unless you understand your task. Make sure you can do that by understanding the elements of a task direction.

How to Research

If you need to write anything longer than a short essay you'll probably need to do a little research. So you need to improve your research skills. You should do this in order to be able to find relevant and reliable information quickly.

Learn about Paragraph Structure

All writing has some kind of structure. It helps the reader to understand the flow of your argument and it helps you as a writer organise your ideas. On this site you can learn about common text patterns such as problem and solution, cause and effect, advantages and disadvantages and so on. You can also learn about topic sentences and supporting detail, thesis statements and what to include in an introduction or conclusion.

Learn about Cohesion

Cohesion means how elements of your text are connected together. Cohesive devices are important in a text. They allow the writer to avoid boring repetition and they provide important pointers to previous parts of the textThey also sometimes point forward or indicate relationships between parts of a text.. They are the "glue" which holds the text together. There are various types of cohesive device and you can see how they work on this site. They are reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction, and lexical cohesion. Once you understand how they work you'll quickly recognise them in the texts you read and be able to use them yourself to good effect.

Learn how to Quote and Paraphrase

Often you need to refer to sources you believe are relevant to your discussion and in this case you have to quote or paraphrase information from these sources. You must abide by the style conventions writers use when quoting or paraphrasing. This is important so that readers can locate the sources you refer to, and so that you avoid any suspicion of plagiarism.

Learn how to Cite

There are certain style conventions you need to follow when you quote or paraphrase. You need to cite your sources. This often means using in-text citations and sometimes signal phrases to introduce your quotes or paraphrases. If you do a lot of writing you'll also need to learn how to use one or two citation or bibliographic tools to help you manage your database or sources.

Understand Collocation

If your first language is not English, one of the most important things you can do to improve your writing is to understand collocation. This simply means which words or phrases tend to be used with others in particular contexts. There are examples of collocation on the noun phrases page and in the glossary.

Learn about Data Literacy

If you write academic reports you'll often have to understand how data is presented in graphical form such as line graphs, bar charts, pie charts. You'll probably also need to write about or comment on data presented in graphical form so these pages will help you to get familiar with the kind of language used to do this. You can also see how experienced writers use graphics in their articles.

Learn how to Review

Writing is a cyclical process. You need to review what you have written in order to improve your text and correct any mistakes. Learning how to review is key to improving your writing skills. This means using checklists to review and check your writing, persuading others to review your work, and understanding any feedback you have been given.