Academic Tips and Tricks

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Define your Acronyms

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When essay writing you should always define your acronyms, especially if you’re writing a thesis, dissertation or article that will be readily accessible to people other than your tutor. This is because fundamentally,

academia is about increasing knowledge, and the more accessible your work is, the more people’s knowledge you can increase

Your work will not only be accessed by those in your discipline. Imagine you’re a psychology student writing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a relatively well-known acronym, but suppose a literature student was reading some Word War Two literature and wanted to know more about the science behind PTSD, even if they know this acronym there would be others hiding in the work they don’t know. They could Google them of course, but what happens when an acronym stands for two things, both of which are plausible in the context? E.g. I recently encountered the acronym IASs, which has several possible definitions:

  • Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
  • International Accounting Standards
  • International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
  • International Air Safety Summit

It’s very feasible you could encounter this acronym in a situation where it’s not possible to infer with 100% certainty which definition is meant in the context, so it’s crucial you define them.

Always make sure your work would be accessible to those who are non-experts in the field, or those who are international speakers of English and may not have vernacular knowledge of terms such as ‘IQ’ and you can’t go far wrong.


Author: Liz

Hi, I'm Liz. I like easy crafts, photography, cooking, lifestyle blogs and YouTube videos. I work as a part-time proofreader and am currently studying for a PhD in linguistics.

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