Changing World of Academic Writing

by Ashutosh Tamhane, MD & Nilesh Atre, MD

Till a few decades back, there were two different worlds: The Academic Writer’s world and the Layperson’s world. There was very little in common between the two. A lot of this is set to change.

What is Academic Writing?

Evidence-based, Formal Writing

Academic Writing is evolving. Before we move onto the ways in which it is changing, let us look at the general premise of Academic Writing. Also popularly called Scientific Writing, Research Writing or Scholarly Writing, it is a specialized form of writing used to publish or discuss scientific or research information in a formal tone. Traditionally, Academic Writing has consisted of the following common components:

  1. Evidence-based: information backed by evidence from previous research or publications  
  2. Formal tone: specialized language, not in a casual but impersonal tone
  3. Conventions for style: strict conventions for language, vocabulary, and formatting
  4. References and Citations: specific guidance and rules developed over the years  

The Academic World is evolving too

Bridging the Gap between the two worlds

Till a few decades back, there were two different worlds: the academic writer’s world and the layperson’s world. There was very little in common between the two. A lot of this is set to change. Academic Writing is evolving along with the changes in the modern world we live in today. The global lay population has access to information like never before and there is an increasing demand for specialized scientific information in the lay global population. The scientific community faces stiff internal competition and with that an increasing need to reach a wider audience. These factors are rapidly bridging the gap between these two worlds, in some of the above-mentioned components.

The following quote from Malebo Sephodi (a South African Author) defines the growing mood of the global online audience today.

“Accessible knowledge is the best kind … I do not care much about speaking in some jargon that perpetuates inaccessibility.”

Changing Trends in Academic Writing (Expert Academic Writer’s point of view)

Modern Technology and Statistics Techniques

As experienced Academic Writers, with wide experience in Medical Writing and publishing Research Papers for various high impact Medical Journals, we foresee the following trends in the Academic Writer’s world:

1.Efficiency due to Faster Computers

Just like in the world-at-large; the combination of digital technology, information technology, and telecommunications has revolutionized the world of academic writing. We find that the entire process of Writing, Editing, Submission, Publishing and Accessing academic writing is a lot faster and efficient today, as compared to a couple of decades back.

2. Advanced Technology Tools

Advanced technology-based tools are available for information research. Our process of Writing a Research Paper is also a lot easier and we have better control over all the steps in the Writing Process. For example, there are several tools available for managing error-free writing and also correlating the various steps in the entire process, from planning to execution.

3. Modern Statistics techniques

Statistical Analysis has the same key role in proving the significance and value of a particular Research Study. And yet, as experienced Statistics Experts we find that with more evolved Statistical techniques, it is easier to apply Statistics in more complex Research Scenarios, with more effective and transparent results.

4. More Publishing options

With a growing need for Academic Writing and published Scientific Works, there is a significant increase in the supply of Publishing Channels. The number of Scientific, Medical and Academic Journals is continually on the rise. The guidance and regulations for Academic Writing are also evolving given the widening of the spectrum of available Journals. Many traditional journals uphold their high quality and evidence standards. Yet, there are others that are more flexible in their approach.

5. A Higher level of Scrutiny (High Impact Journals)  

As this flexibility of publishing and academic writing standards becomes more apparent, the high impact and traditional journals have increased their level of scrutiny to ensure their quality and ethical standards.

6. Value of Data Integrity

Data Integrity plays a pivotal role in the entire Academic Writing and Publishing Process. We cannot assert enough that the authenticity and credibility of a good Research Paper rest entirely on the integrity of its data and information sources. Authentic and credible data leads to a successful and impactful Research Paper.

7. Control through Institutional Review Boards (Ethics Committees)

A welcome change in the last few decades in the Medical and Scientific Research is the high level of Ethical Standards and Regulatory Control. Standards like the ICH GCP and WHO Guidance have paved the way for Ethical Research. Personally, we find it encouraging that the Institutional Review Boards (Ethics Committees) have increased their level of control and evaluation of Research Studies and the Research Paper publication process.

How can an Academic Writer adapt to these Modern Trends?

Living in both Worlds without compromising Quality, Data & Ethics

On the one hand, a Scientific Researcher must evolve in line with the changing real world. And yet, he/she also has the moral responsibility of upholding the high levels of Quality of Research, Data Integrity and Ethical Standards required for an authentic Research Project and a Research Paper. This is no less demanding than a tight-rope balancing act and must be dealt with deftly by each individual Academic Writer.

We recommend the following broad guidance to adapt yourself to these changing trends without compromising on your quality, data integrity and ethics:

1. The Components that Can Change:

Tone: Many Journals are allowing the use of some Casual and less Formal Tone in Academic Writing (without losing the necessary seriousness), to stay in line with the changing times. You can contribute to such Journals and learn ways of making your Academic Writing more flexible while staying in line with the Journal requirements.

Style: The objective of Language and Vocabulary is Communication. As an Academic Writer, you can also learn more Conversational Styles of communication so as not to alienate yourself from the global lay audience at large. One example is to write blogs, like this one, to connect with a global audience in a more accessible and simple language.

2. The Components that Cannot Change:

Evidence-based: It is obvious that the high rigor and standards of your evidence-based information and research process are key to the entire Research Project and Research Paper publication. This cannot and must not be compromised in any way. If at all, there should be an increase in the level of rigor.

References & Citations: As the options for Journals and Publishing Channels are increasing, there are some that allow more flexibility with these components, as the cost of compromise on quality and authenticity. Our personal recommendation is to maintain your individual standards for the quality of References and Citations, to ensure that your work endures the test of time.

For more details on the Process of Writing a Research Paper or for assistance in publishing your Research Paper, please contact the authors here.

Co-authored by:

Ashutosh Tamhane (MD, PhD, MSPH) is an experienced Academic Writer, also an Expert Epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. With > 65 publications to his name, Ashutosh also shares his experience through Expert Consulting Services for Research Projects.

Nilesh Atre is a Co-founder at Write & Design.

Write & Design offers Specialized Writing & Designing Services in the field of Business Writing, Medical Writing & Creative Writing. For a Free Business Case Analysis:

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4 thoughts on “Changing World of Academic Writing”

  1. Thanks Dr. Shilpa Jain for you encouragement.

    As you might know – we offer – Medical & other Specialized Writing Services.
    Please let us know if you need more information.

    Kind regards.

  2. Very Interesting write up and points ..
    And so glad that the Academic Writings
    And layman’s world is finally and subtly
    Evolving and bridging the Gap ..
    I found The writing pointers very interesting too
    Thank u for the link share
    All the very Best

  3. Hello Tasnim,

    You are always welcome. We look forward to collaborating with you.

    Thanks so much for sharing your opinion and feedback.
    We are glad that the article managed to communicate the right message to you.
    Please contact us if you need more information.

    Kind regards,
    Write & Design

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