Academic and Professional Writing: Are They the Same or Are They Different?

July 12th, 2021

Reading time about 13 min

Writing is a process that helps us communicate our ideas or thoughts with others. We generally write for academic or business purpose. Academic writing includes research paper, project report, and journal article meant to demonstrate your knowledge or expertise in a particular subject. Being concise, structured and focused, academic writing should be backed by evidence. Academic and professional writing are not the same.

Professional writing is generally performed at a workplace. Professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers and businesspeople write for different purposes to different types of audiences and aim at meeting a specific goal or completing a particular task. You have to learn, understand and master both the writing styles at some point of life.

When studying in a university or college, you write mostly academic papers, and submit them for better grades. On becoming a graduate, you need to develop your professional writing skills to acquire a job or go for higher studies. Therefore, you should know both the types of writing, and how different they are?

Academic Writing and Professional Writing Styles

What Are Academic and Professional Writing Styles and How Are They Different?

Most students ask this question, “How different is professional writing from academic writing? Why are we not taught business writing at college? Both academic and professional writing are different for some reasons, and they are:

Written for Meeting Different Goals

As for academic writing, it is a journal article or research paper, where the author uses the experiments, studies and analysis to explain his or her ideas about a particular subject. Most opinions are backed by evidence gathered during research, and they are well-organized using various words and phrases. Hence, academic writing is lengthier than professional writing.

In contrast, professional writing is meant to perform your job or influence someone to achieve a particular goal. Business writing is crisp and to the point, and generally, it is to propose a business or project an idea. Therefore, emails and reports are shorter business writing versions than academic writing.

Addressed to Different Audience

The members of audience for academic writing are professors, scholars, researchers, fellow students and industry experts. In most cases, the audience will be only professors, who are an expert in the subject. They guide you and evaluate you based on what you have written on your research paper. Business writing targets various audiences with different perspectives. They may be within or outside the organization.

The readers of business writing are from varied backgrounds with different knowledge levels and attention spans. They will not read your message unless you persuade them to read.

Written in Different Tone and Style

In academic writing, you generally use a formal tone and style with proper language and tenses. You avoid slang terms or colloquialisms such as ‘basically’ when writing for academic purpose; instead, you use words like ‘fundamentally’. There will be long sentences and a lot of vocabulary to help develop the ideas. The layout will have diagrams, pictures and equations, and the writing in structured paragraphs. Each paragraph will explain a point in detail and offers reasons, evidence and examples to give weight to the author’s argument.

In business writing, the tone will be formal and less formal depending on the reader and purpose. The audience are varied, and do not have much time to read a document in detail. They have other documents to read and work under time constraints. The layout and style of an email reflects a structure with short sentences and paragraphs to persuade the reader to focus on key points through skimming the paragraphs. The sentences are kept simple with heading and subheadings for visual appeal. The tone in business is important for it makes the audience feel in a particular way on reading the words.

Written in Active and Passive Voice

Academic arguments are presented in an objective language i.e. in passive voice, with logic and reasoning to lead on or convince. They are not presented in the first person voice as done to express your personal or emotional perspectives. Moreover, you will be using past tense to explain your experiment you conducted, and present tense to write about your findings and conclusion.       

In professional writing, you use mostly active voice and action verbs to state the action you perform. This helps you to communicate clearly and sharpen the overall delivery. There are situations when you use passive voice in business, and they are to emphasize the action and explain a condition. Nevertheless, you need good writing skills to use both active and passive voice in writing.

Avoid Plagiarism in Academic and Professional Writing

Avoid Plagiarism in Academic and Professional Writing

Whether it is in business or academic, plagiarism is a serious offence. Copying or stealing others’ work is unacceptable, even if it is unintentional. With the Internet providing easy access to information that you are looking for in writing a thesis, research paper, proposal, report, or complaint, there are chances of causing plagiarism. The consequences of plagiarism are serious both in academic and business. You face a loss of reputation and expulsion from the institution if your academic paper is caught to have plagiarized content.

In business, your website may fail to figure on the search pages, and you may also be sued for copyright infringement if you use somebody’s ideas in your writing. It is important to avoid plagiarism when writing for any purpose. Here are some useful tips to identify and prevent it.

  • Use a plagiarism checker

With an advanced plagiarism checker, you can check whether your document for any copyright infringement. As for the research student, a plagiarism detection tool will help check the quality, as well as the authenticity of the research paper before publishing it,

  • Paraphrasing

If you are using any information from sources on the Internet, it is advisable to read and understand it, and write it in your own words. It would be advisable to add your thoughts to make it unique and provide citations

  • Quoting

Where you have to use the exact words or phrases from a text, then, you need to put them within the quotation marks and provide appropriate references. In short, you need to follow the above tips to write successfully in academic or business scenario, as well as avoid plagiarism.

Love what you read? ❤️

Subscribe to our newsletter