A clear and concise style is the ideal for academic essays.
Language should be formal, inclusive and inoffensive. Avoid the use of
technical jargon, and of bureaucratically influenced language. Avoid also
gratuitous language; for example, do not write “As the well-known
American filmmaker, Orson Welles, shows in his excellent film Citizen
Kane …”. Instead, “As Orson Welles shows in Citizen
Kane …” is perfectly sufficient, and much more appropriate
in an academic context.
When outlining your ideas in an essay, there is no need
to write “in my opinion”, “I think”, or “I
believe”, because your readers can assume that your essay puts forward
your point of view. There is no general prohibition against the writing
in the first person; after all, no critical voice is ever objective, even
if it seems to be. If you do choose to refer to yourself explicitly, the
School would prefer that you use “I”, rather than “the
writer” or “this writer”.
When you write about the action in a novel, poem or film, or about the
arguments made by a scholar, keep consistently to the present tense. After
all, neither the characters nor the arguments are dead, even if they are
written about outside of their historical or biographical context; they
live again every time you experience the text or engage with the argument.
For example, you should write: “Shylock feels strongly that he is
discriminated against as a Jew”. On the other hand, when referring
to historical events, do use the past tense: “The Merchant of
Venice was probably written about 1596”.
Flinders University has adopted several policies regarding communication
in appropriate, inclusive and inoffensive language.