Academic writing is certainly a very specific type of writing. It is generally quite a cold, calculated, and distanced method of writing where we keep overt opinions out and stick to evidence based arguments. As such, some students do struggle with this way of writing. The truth is that even the best writers struggle and they struggle all the time. Writing, particularly academic writing, is a mentally intensive process and sometimes you have to recall specific phrases repeatedly throughout your work.
For those who might struggle with academic language, or even those who don’t but want an easily accessible system to refer to, then I highly recommend Dr John Morley’s academic phrasebank. Dr Morley’s phrasebank consists of hundreds of examples of academic phrases that can be used for your essay writing.
Dr Morley is an honorary senior lecturer in the University Centre for Academic English at the University of Manchester. To highlight what is on offer, he organises phrases into certain categories such as specific phrases for demonstrating your critical analysis, phrases for comparing and contrasting, and phrases for signalling transition.
Word of Caution
As with anything of this nature, it is wise to use it sparingly. It is unlikely that claims of plagiarism would arise from using these phrases as they are generally quite common anyway. However, using lots of them in a single essay could lead to trouble so it is best to use them only if you get stuck. Further, once you get more confident at writing essays, it is much better to put your own stamp on your work. Lecturers who have to mark your work probably don’t want to see a mass of repetitive writings and original writing will always make you stand out for those extra marks.
Word of Caution 2
There are other books available that offer the same thing. However, the ones that I’ve seen are wildly overpriced and are no better in what they offer. One was £36 and only had 52 pages so don’t be conned into those. Dr Morley’s is relatively cheap (£6 for Kindle book at time of writing) and much of it is on the University of Manchester website.