From a word to an idea: accurate academic language in use

Mastering the use of technical vocabulary is fundamental to success in academic writing. However, words can be tricky, and trickiness can cost you dearly if you are not able to combine vocabulary properly. Therefore, in this article we will explore how to use technical vocabulary effectively by operating the Context feature of WriteBetter. You will realise several combinations a word may have and how each of these possible wordings may change the sense of your writing, so make yourself comfortable and prepare to start writing like a world-class researcher.

The context of a word cannot be ignored

To start with, we need to introduce the technical vocabulary we are going to use for this example. The word selected is ‘positivism’ which is highly used in social sciences like sociology, psychology, and education. Before you may get confused, ‘positivism’ is not related to ‘positive’, as the former is defined as the state or quality of being certain or very confident of something, including dogmatic assertiveness, while the latter is understood as optimistic and constructive. If you want to know more about these two words, you can always use the Dictionary section of WriteBetter where you will find a useful related expression on logical positivism. 

Now that we have briefly introduced our writing academic context, I am going to show you some possible combinations that you may have if you use this word in any of your assignments. Remember that to use the Context feature of WriteBetter, you have to click on the Context sidebar, located at the right top corner of your word processor. Once you click on it, you can select the text from your writing, or you can write the word directly in the search bar. When you type the word ‘positivism’ several options are displayed, showing that in many cases positivism is used after a proper noun or an adjective, as a way to specify the school of thought this concept is referring to. This can be seen in suggestion one (see image 1 below) where positivism is related to Comte’s ideas, suggestion three where this concept is used as logical positivism, suggestion seven where is indicated as sociological positivism, and so on. Therefore, the main use of this word is subjected to the school of thought from where the argument of your writing is being built upon. 

Another relevant issue with this word is tenses, as different grammatical conjugations are put forward next to this word. To properly analyse this item, we need to identify first how this concept is being used and as you do this, you will realise that there are at least two predominant options; as a historical fact and a current trend of study. In the case of historical fact, all suggestions agree on the use of past tenses after the word positivism, which can be seen in suggestion one, six, seven (See image 2) and so on, while for the use of this word as a current trend of study, verbs are used in their simple present forms, as it can be seen in suggestion two, five, ten and so on. As a result, the correct form of the verbs after this word will depend on the stage of argumentation your writing is.

At this stage, you may be a bit tired of all the analysis we have done, but let me tell you something: tiredness was not in vain as now we have provided you with ideas on how to use technical vocabulary properly, and more importantly, how to calibrate your writing using reliable suggestions combined with your own academic writing. Even if your field of expertise is not social sciences, you can repeat this same exercise with technical words that are fundamental in the argumentation of any of your assignments. Just remember to type your in the search bar, find the writing pattern in the suggestions and see how they match for your writing. Now you are one step ahead in the challenging process of improving academic writing skills. 

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