Academic and research writing should be purposeful, informative, and concise. Concise writing is important when you have to adhere to word counts because when you are limited by word counts, every word matters. Readers of journal articles or dissertations are not interested in flowery prose or filler that is often found in other genres, so journal articles and dissertations are often written in a concise style. Concise writing should directly relate to the communication goals of a document and should only contain information that is vital to the intended audience.
Writers often do not think about the communication goals of their documents before they start writing, and halfway in, they realize that what they have written is not relevant to their communication goals. Before you begin writing, you should think about the communication goals of your document and outline key points that will help you achieve your goals. In addition to your communication goals, you should also consider your audience’s knowledge about your subject. What is common knowledge of this subject? What background information do you need to explain so that your readers can follow your ideas? Thinking about these questions beforehand will make your writing easier to understand and will help you create a better flow for your audience.
As you start writing your document, you should make sure that everything you write coincides with your communication goals and that you do not stray from your goals to develop tangential ideas. Literally every sentence of your document needs to coincide both with a broader idea or topic in your outline and with the topic of the document in general. If any section of your writing does not comply with these goals of concise writing, you should omit it from your document.
Your writing must be informative for readers, which can mean several different things. If you are writing for a specific class or professor, your writing should contain information that you have recently learned and that is relevant to the writing prompt. If you are writing for an academic, medical, or scientific journal, your writing should contain information that is new and interesting to your informed readers. If you are writing for the general public, your writing should contain information that is appropriately general (i.e., more layperson than technical language). Knowing what information that your readers want will help you write concisely.
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