A selection of resources for developing academic writing skills together with tools that can be used to facilitate the different stages of the writing process.
Features of academic writing
An introductory guide to key features of academic writing, with quizzes, explanations and further study resources.
Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This is a really helpful website with tutorials on general and academic writing in English. For example, here’s a helpful page with a brief explanation and list of transitional devices. And here’s an informative and at times humorous slideshow on sentence clarity.
This is another very helpful website with tutorials on academic writing in English.
Grammar and Style Resources
On this University of New South Wales, Australia website, you’ll find a range of useful resources that include help with
- Transition Signals in Writing
- Introducing quotations and paraphrases
- Paraphrasing, Summarising and Quoting
Here you’ll find a short tutorial on the reasons for quoting, summarising and paraphrasing. And this page from the University of Toronto provides a useful list of verbs for referring to sources: Introducing Quotations and Paraphrases.
The Academic Word List (AWL)
This Oxford Learner’s Dictionary page introduces the Academic Word List and gives advice on how to expand your academic vocabulary using the list of 570 words. These pages provide further information and exercises to help you learn and use the words in your writing:
- Academic vocabulary and academic word lists (AWL)
This University of Warwick online tutorial explains what academic vocabulary is and gives advice on how to learn and use it.
- Academic English Exercises: The Academic Word List (AWL)
This page provides exercises for each of the 10 sublists the AWL is divided into.
There is a free version of this application that you can download to your desktop or use in your browser if you’re writing online on a blog or social media page. It checks spelling and suggests possible grammar mistakes.
With the free version of this application, you can identify spelling, grammar, and phrasing mistakes. With a paid account you receive suggestions to improve the style of your writing and phrases that might have been plagiarized intentionally or unintentionally are highlighted.
RefSeek is a web search engine for students and researchers that aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. RefSeek searches more than one billion documents, including web pages, books, encyclopaedias, journals and newspapers.
Cite this for Me
This is a tool that allows you to quickly and easily format references and sources in the style of your choice (e.g. Harvard, MLA).
This is a tool you can use to quickly format references in the correct Harvard Referencing Format.
Slick Write is a free tool designed to make it easier to check writing for grammar errors, potential stylistic mistakes, and add greater variety.
This tool “highlights long, complex sentences and common errors; if you see a yellow highlight, shorten the sentence or split it. If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence to remove the red.”
This application “ranks the most frequently used words in any given body of text. Use this to see what words you overuse (is everything a “solution” for you?) or maybe just to find some keywords from a document. Wordcounter is useful for writers, editors, students, and anyone who thinks that they might be speaking redundantly or repetitively — and it’s free! Eventually, I’m going to expand it so that you can upload documents, but not yet.”
This online thesaurus from the publishers Collins will help you find alternative ways of expressing your ideas so that the language you use is more varied and more accurately fits what you would like to say.
Sketch Engine for Language Learning
With this tool, you can “Explore the English language in more than one billion words from the news, scientific papers, Wikipedia articles, fiction books, web pages, blogs” to find example sentences, collocations and words similar to the one you enter.
Evernote is an application designed for note-taking, organising, and archiving. It allows you to create notes which can be pieces of formatted text, full web pages or web page excerpts, photographs (if you have the Evernote app on your phone), voice memo, or even handwritten notes. You can watch these short video tutorials to see how this powerful tool works:
This is a free reference manager and an academic social networking tool. It allows you to manage your research and collaborate with other researchers. You can watch this short video tutorial to see how this powerful research tool works:
A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study
This is a free online course offered by the University of Reading in the UK. This 15-hour course is spread over five weeks and is designed to help you learn how to use English for studying at university or college and develop your writing skills, vocabulary and grammar.
For those who prefer printed materials, these books provide excellent support.
Click on the images to view these books on Amazon.