The top two mistakes in academic writing I see when editing theses and journal articles are writers trying too hard and not meeting the requirements.
Mistake 1 – Trying too hard
Trying too hard describes a style of writing that tries to impress with complexity, rather than clarity. Impress with simplicity. As much as possible, use the simplest form of a word, delete filler and unnecessary words, keep sentence and paragraph length easy to read, minimise the use of acronyms and jargon, and provide the appropriate level of detail at the right place. Make it easy for the reader. See my other blog tips on writing to impress through simplicity.
Mistake 2 – Not meeting the requirements
As with all writing, academic writing is written for a particular audience for a particular purpose. It is important to know and meet the requirements of the style of writing, the audience and the publisher. Some of the requirements for a thesis might include total word length, original contribution, critical analysis, the structure and the reference style. The requirements for a journal article might include relevance to the aims of the journal, word length, footnotes (or not), and the number of tables or figures allowed.
Improve your academic writing by avoiding the top two mistakes. Keep it clear and simple, and know and meet the requirements.