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Academic Writing

The Model Texts

In the example below, although both the formal and the informal text express opinion, you will notice the opinion expressed in the formal text sounds much more objective. This is because the writer has distanced him or herself from the opinion through the use of impersonal and formal language and supporting evidence. In contrast, the opinion expressed in the informal text is more obvious, direct and subjective. Personal language such as "I think" and a lack of reference to supporting evidence compounds this impression.

Read the texts to view annotations on how the writers have expressed their opinion in the texts.

Formal Text Annotations
The inequity in the distribution of wealth in Australia is yet another indicator of Australia's lack of egalitarianism. In 1995, 20% of the Australian population owned 72.2% of Australia's wealth with the top 50% owning 92.1% (Raskall, 1998: 287). Such a significant skew in the distribution of wealth indicates that, at least in terms of economics, there is an established class system in Australia. McGregor (1988) argues that Australian society can be categorised into three levels: the Upper, Middle and Working classes. In addition, it has been shown that most Australians continue to remain in the class into which they were born (McGregor, 1988: 156) despite arguments about the ease of social mobility in Australian society (Fitzpatrick, 1994). The issue of class and its inherent inequity, however, is further compounded by factors such as race and gender within and across these class divisions.

The relative disadvantage of women with regard to their earnings and levels of asset ownership indicates that within classes there is further economic inequity based on gender...
Opinion is expressed in an impersonal tone.

Supporting evidence (with reference to authoritative sources) is provided.

Different degrees of modality have used throughout the paragraphs to make claims depending on the strength of the supporting evidence.

Supporting evidence (with reference to authoritative sources) is provided.

Opinion is expressed in an impersonal tone.

Informal Text  
Because only a few people have most of the money and power in Australia, I conclude that it is not an equal society. Society has an Upper, Middle and Lower class and I think that most people when they are born into one class, end up staying in that class for their whole lives. When all three classes are looked at more closely, other things such as the differences between the sexes and people's racial backgrounds also add to the unequal nature of Australian society.

Women earn less than men and own less than men. Why is this so?
Personal language has been used to express opinion making the argument presented seem subjective.

This is a better example of academic voice since impersonal language and sentence subjects have been used in addition to the passive voice. However, the construction is still relatively informal in comparison to the other text.

NOTE: No evidence supporting the student's expressed opinion has been included in this paragraph. This is unacceptable in academic writing.


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