Academic Writing Lessons: Words To Use In A Dissertation Introduction

When it comes to writing academic papers, students will often try and use the most sophisticated language that they can. Ultimately, students will often feel if they use sophisticated language, then it will make them sound as clever as possible, and perhaps even more intelligent than they actually are.

However, while this may seem like an appropriate approach to take, if your work is being marked or reviewed by genuinely intelligent people, particularly those who may have seen numerous dissertations, then trying to fool them into thinking you are more intelligent than you actually are is unlikely to work. Essentially, the underlying meaning of your content will show through, so it is best to try and be comfortable with the language used.

Of course, there will essentially be a degree of formality in the language that you have to use, as well as potentially some technical words that you might have to include; nevertheless, it is probably best to try and keep things relatively simple. In fact, if your work is going to be read by anyone that might not necessarily have English as a first language, then keeping things simple can make it easier for them as well.

The principle of this is actually backed up by two of the finest writers in history, whose quotes have been included below:

  • “The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.” George Eliot

  • “Never use a long word when a short one will do.” George Orwell

As you can see, the implication of what George Orwell and George Eliot have said is that keeping things simple is generally the best approach to take.

Ensuring people will understand things and want to continue reading

Ultimately, when writing your introduction, you want to ensure that whoever is reading your work will understand it. If they cannot understand it then they will be reluctant to continue reading therefore, if you use complicated and unnecessarily difficult language, then you will run the risk of creating a redundant piece of work, which could happen if no one reads it as a result of the inability to understand what you have written.

In fact, if you do need to use a technical words as part of your introduction, then it can be useful to include a definition in a footnote or elsewhere in your paper, so as to ensure that people do understand what you are writing.

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