Why Keeping Your Subject Short and Sweet is Important in Academic Writing


When a reader has a question they want to be answered or information they want to learn, they turn to academic texts for the best results. For that reason, academic writing has some consistent characteristics, the first of which is that it is clear, concise, and to the point. If your manuscript or article is long, that’s fine, but your subject should be short and sweet, i.e., focused.

This focus is what attracts a reader to your paper. It shows them what you’ll be talking about, and proves that you know your stuff and they should listen. For example, a reader trying to find out the difference between using baking soda, baking powder, and corn starch in the spread of their cookies wouldn’t want to read an article written by someone who has never baked before. A blogger or other writer attracting those readers would, therefore, quickly establish in their subject paragraph why they are an expert at answering this problem.

Academic writing is also structured and evidence-backed. Your content should help the reader understand the topic, and explain why you’ve offered this explanation. This is done with a formal, professional tone and style, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complex. In fact, some of the most intelligent academic writers suggest avoiding jargon and long, unnecessarily complicated sentences in order to aid the reader’s comprehension.

Mistakes Writers Make That Complicates Their Message

Making your message short and sweet does depend on the subject’s discipline and the final paper’s audience. Your professor or journal might request something different, but as a rule, remember your goal is to communicate with the reader. Unless your reader is someone at the same educational level as you or higher, you don’t want to complicate the message.

In their burgeoning stages of academic writing, early career researchers often make the same mistakes, such as:

●      Jumping into writing their manuscript without an outline and plan

●      Trying to flesh out the details before they answer the question and thus losing the reader’s interest

●      Not following a logical order that connects all the related points together

●      Forgetting to clarify how their knowledge of the subject area classifies them as an expert in the topic

●      Not supporting certain opinions or arguments with evidence

●      Inaccurate referencing

●      Casual, informal tone, or using jargon and slang

●      Overcomplicating what could have been a simple message by using filler words or an unnecessarily large vocabulary

Each of these mistakes can detract from the reader’s attention and ability to comprehend your message.

Benefits of “Short and Sweet”

However, that “short and sweet” beginning we discussed is often enough to hook your reader and get them to hang around for a while. They might not thoroughly read your paper at first, but they’ll scan it and determine if they believe your authority on the subject.

This is especially true in today’s society. Because of open source publishing and search engine optimization, readers want instant results. They want their question answered without a lot of pomp and circumstance.

The benefit of short and sweet research answers is that people are more likely to use your succinct explanation in their work, then cite it as a reference. But if you bore the reader with all the methodology and discussion before you provide an answer, they’ll probably click out and look for something else to solve their dilemma or question.

People are busy. They don’t have time to sit and read an entire journal article unless that’s what their passion is and/or they’re trying to replicate some part of it. Your average reader wants something short enough that they can read it, feel accomplished that they learned something new, and move on with the myriad other tasks on their list.

One more thing to remember when you’re putting together your subject and paper is that too many words are confusing. You are the expert on your topic. Your reader probably isn’t, or they wouldn’t be coming to you for answers. Keep it short and simple, and don’t be condescending or overly confusing.

Did Your Work Have the Impact You Wanted? Check Impactio to Find Out

You’ve published your article, and you want to know if it was “short and sweet” enough in the right parts to grab the attention of your audience. Head to Impactio and run a data analytic metrics report to find out!  

Impactio is the platform used by scholars like you around the world to connect with like-minded people and follow their work’s quantitative and qualitative influence. Take your scholarly reputation to the next level by joining Impactio today.


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