Different subheadings used to label sections in order

Different styles of writing are used to communicate ideas with authors adapting
their methods to suit their audience and purpose. Popular sources such as web
pages and news articles use an informal simpler tone with a purpose to appeal
to and inform the public. On the other hand, in academic work aimed at a more
specialist audience an academic voice is used which is formal and
non-subjective creating an impersonal yet authoritative tone. Use of technical
language can make a non-specialist confused due to the difficulty in
understanding the detail, partly due to being more acquainted with the casual
style of communication faced in everyday life. This essay compares the differences
in written communication styles via an analysis of the structure and language
used in 3 texts on ocean acidification: an academic report by Hoegh-Guldberg
and Bruno (2010), a BBC webpage (2017) and a section in the textbook The Global
Casino (2013). The popular source is expected to follow a narrative style using
hyperboles, clichés and colloquialisms with a higher chance of intentional
bias.

Structure

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Academic reports are long and complex with
many subheadings used to label sections in order to avoid confusion and aid
navigation. Common structural features found include: an abstract summarising
the purpose and principal findings, an introduction providing background
information and context, many interval paragraphs which expand and support the
central concept or theory as well as illustrations to aid reader understanding.

A principal feature of journal articles are citations in text to reference
material to allow additional research. Figure 1 compares the different
structural features found in the three different sources.  

Paragraphs are an important feature used
in written communication, some authors making use of the feature more than
others. The main purpose is to introduce new topics, in the BBC web page
(2017), journalists use one-sentence paragraphs as to make the writing flow
consistently and to aid the reader in ensuring they are not faced with a
barrage of information. The Global Casino (2013) although has 2.6 times more
paragraphs than Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno’s (2010) article, is spread over 22
pages and so in context is understandable. The main audience are students who
are used to reading large amounts of information. Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno
(2010) have larger paragraphs where they develop their ideas in more detail
using additional sentences whose complexity necessitates more advanced
punctuation: colons. This is typical of academic writing where paragraphs have
additional explanation, often further supported with explanation of results
obtained. Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno (2010) contain many sub-clauses and
citations within paragraphs with references to figures for support.

Illustrations can take many different
formats including graphs and tables. Non-academic sources use illustration to
either bring about an emotive response or for decorative purposes. In he BBC
web-page (2017) images of marine organisms are used, although relevant to the
text a undeveloped caption is used which provides no further information, the
image is used for aesthetic purposes. However, in academic documents, graphs,
tables and maps are used to convey information effectively. Hoegh-Guldberg and
Bruno (2010) use graphs to portray results obtained from research done into the
relationship between temperature and different food web properties. This
enables the reader to effectively see the links and supports the text.

Purpose
and audience

Writing can inform, persuade and
entertain. The purpose of academic writing is to present and convey ideas to
increase knowledge with the aim to inform and educate the intended audience: professionals
in the respected field, Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno (2010) use a formal style of
writing with technical terminology incorporated throughout. A key feature found
in academic writing is citation and references to other work through paraphrasing,
found throughout the piece on ocean acidification, in particular there is a lot
of reference to research done by NOAA. This is indicative of academic writing
due to the audience wanting to see evidence by accredited bodies to ensure accuracy.

By presenting their ideas in sections and maintaining a objective tone gives
the author credibility on the findings.

In contrast, the BBC (2017) report uses a
informative style the intended audience being the general public who are unaware
of specialist language and so enhance clarity by using simple vocabulary to make
it easier for the layperson to understand whilst still maintaining a formal
tone. They also maintain a neutral tone by presenting no opinion but instead
using direct quotations from the relevant parties to present their arguments.

Language

Academic writing contains certain features
of writing found in other styles that should be avoided. These features include
clichés and colloquialisms which are common in informal texts and provide a relaxed
tone, hyperbole and emotive language in general are also avoided due to it
building a narrative style and can make writing more personal and imply bias. However,
in academic writing hedging is used instead which indicates evidence should be regarded
carefully and retain impartiality.

The BBC
webpage (2017) has a formal style of writing with no implicit bias, it contains
hedging to maintain impartiality using phrases like “some creatures may benefit
directly” to avoid bias, it also directly quotes other authors and work but
gives little to no citation or reference to the original author unlike the Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno (2010) article
which is fully referenced.

The Global Casino (2013) uses formal
language similar to that found in Hoegh-Guldberg and Bruno (2010) article with
the only difference being the article uses more specialist language, both lack clichés,
colloquialisms and exaggeration. The informative content differs though with
the article using much more statistics and figures than the textbook due to differing
audience.

Throughout this essay, studying the
sources shows that the structure, language and literary devices used in writing
differ depending on the purpose and audience intended. Academic writing uses
academic voice demonstrated through the usage of formal passive tone and
specialist language whilst avoiding narrative techniques and bias which is more
representative in material intended for the general public. Academic writing also
tends to avoid hyperboles, exaggeration and clichés due to the importance of
being formal and informative, on the other hand mass consumption material tends
to be more informal with more emphasis on simplicity and clarity. 

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