International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases

: 2021  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 105--107

Academic Writing in India: A Research Scholar’s View

Haseena Ismail, Vimala Balasubramanian 
 Department of Business Administration, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Haseena Ismail
Department of Business Administration, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, 608 002
Vimala Balasubramanian
Department of Business Administration, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, 608 002


Writing, like any art, can only be improved through practice, and not just by following the rules. India is third in line when it comes to academic writing and publishing. Yet, most of the research scholars find it very difficult to excel in academic and business writing. Here, we discuss the state of academic writing among research scholars, the various factors impacting this issue, and what the possible practices could be to overcome these from a research scholar’s perspective.

How to cite this article:
Ismail H, Balasubramanian V. Academic Writing in India: A Research Scholar’s View.Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis 2021;11:105-107

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Ismail H, Balasubramanian V. Academic Writing in India: A Research Scholar’s View. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 21 ];11:105-107
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Writing, like any art, can only be improved through practice, and not just by following the rules. High-quality written communication is more than just following grammar rules and organizing paragraphs.[1] Most of the time employability is determined not only by subject knowledge but by a set of communication skills including written communication in English as well.

Language acquisition plays a key role in any type of communication. In a country like India, although there are many great schools coming up with English as the medium of education, there is still a long way to go in rural and developing areas. Students with such educational backgrounds do persevere and succeed in higher education and graduate studies, yet face a lot of issues when it comes to professional and academic writing.

As per a US government agency data,[2] India holds third place in number of research articles published after China and USA. Even though the number of papers published is increasing, there are also a huge number of manuscripts rejected due to poor language use, grammar, and spelling. The quality of writing, appropriate vocabulary, and word use are still an issue. This is one of the main reasons behind the emergence and growth of many content development and technical editing companies in the recent years.

As an academic writer or researcher, our main goal is to publish our work. This is a huge task for most people from developing countries like India due to inadequate training. For example, the rejection rate is from 57% to 86% in Indian Journal of Orthopaedics over the last 5 years.[3] Almost 62% of published papers were rejected at least once.[4] According to this data, poor writing is one among the top 10 reasons for rejection of manuscripts.

In recent years, strong academic writing skill is very important to succeed in higher education which ultimately leads to best job opportunities. Most of the students coming from countries having English as a second language like India, are having difficulty in writing due to non-exposure or inexperience during their course curricula.[5] Even if they try to write, they end up in the usage of simple language with informal phrases and slangs. Most of the academic institutions from such countries do not have specialized courses or training in academic writing to overcome these hurdles.[6]

In India, the method of learning has been mostly theory based, verging on rote learning. Almost all courses undertaken by the students chiefly focus on one main purpose, that is, employability. When the area of study is related to the sciences, students are given enough laboratory training and experience. Most of the graduate students are expected to complete projects and group discussions. Comparatively, if one questions the amount of preparation or training students receive in academic writing, the sad truth is that it is minimal to none.

A high percentage of scholars and employees, when expected to write work-related documents for communication or publishing purposes, they fall short. Further, the outcome (letters, official memos, or articles) is not up to the expected standards. In recent years, with the abovementioned scenario growing, there is an increase in the number of technical writing and editing companies. A recent study showed that majority of recruiters (80%) gave more importance to communication skills, mainly writing. Further, recruiters ranked the applicants with best writing skill along with speaking skill very high.[7]

Scholars and employees personally agree that written communication (writing business correspondence) is very important for their growth. Both researchers and employees are struggling to move to the next level due to this. But the studies related with problems, challenges, and factors limiting their communication skills are very less in India and across the globe. Written communication and writing is becoming increasingly important these days as researchers face pressure to publish as a way to (i) complete their degree, (ii) secure/keep a job, (iii) get promoted, and (iv) contribute to the field by sharing knowledge.[5],[8] There are thousands of research scholars passing out every year from different universities across India. Although many are fluent in oral and written communication, most of these students or scholars lack an ability to convey the intended message precisely. Factors that may influence are basic knowledge, place and medium of education, language proficiency, writing readiness, family/business background, socioeconomic status, gender gap, self-motivation, idolism, freedom for self-improvement, etc.

Swales and Feak[9] reported that students need to consider their audience’s expectations and prior knowledge which ultimately impact the content and quality of writing before they start writing. English as second language (ESL) students are required to practice by writing multiple genres. They should be trained to have clear knowledge on what to write to help them prosper and they should have the exposure and access to socially powerful language forms.[10] To acquire proper academic writing skills, the students or scholars need to have critical thinking and focused ideologies and there should be an awareness created about plagiarism and how to avoid it. Further, academic institutions must be willing to modify the nature of the course curricula to enable students to learn about academic writing in a structured format. Genres, discourses, value and beliefs, power relations, and literacy practices of the sociocultural context could play a major role in academic writing.[11] Help or support should be offered to students to accommodate or assimilate dominant academic discourses in order to succeed.[12] To train the students in academic writing the focus on the texts, tasks, language features, skills, and practices which are apt to the tenacities and understandings should be adapted.[13]

Even developed countries whose native language is English invest in training students instill good writing practices. Being a nation filled with aspiring talents, academic institutions in India should follow this path to enable future professionals and research scholars. To become good in academic writing, the scholars need to train themselves and the institutions need to support in forms of courses, training, and mentoring in the right direction.

The development of such a focused course curricula could help not only students and research scholars, but it can also develop various opportunities in this field. When it comes to knowledge distribution, there is a trend of imbalance in our society. One cannot generalize that whoever had published many articles is strong in his field whereas others are not.[14] It is more about the availability of resources and financial strength that majorly supports this. People who have proper professional and financial support system seem to succeed better than the others. Hopefully when academic institutions provide focused course curriculum on academic writing, this gap could be significantly reduced. This would create job opportunities for scholars who are strong in this area to become trainers in academic stream. With more awareness and training provided, the future research scholars would have a wide variety of opportunities open to them, such as curriculum development, educational content development, content analysis, and academic content research.[15] With the world moving toward digitalization and recently more so due to the pandemic, online content and learning have become the new normal, which in turn has created lots of opportunities for people with the knowledge and experience of academic writing.

India has always been known for producing the greatest minds of the developing world. Even with minimal exposure and training in academic writing available in higher education, India is already one of the top countries in research publications. If students get enough training and support, India, for sure, will be the best in academic publishing and writing for many years to come.


The authors thank the Editing Refinery, MD, USA for the language and technical support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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