Academic writing: adapting to your audience
Academic writing requires the ability of the writer to connect with their audience. Now this can be easier said than done. When you are talking to somebody, you are able to gauge how your speech is being received. You can adapt the words you speak to meet the needs of your audience. You can't do the same thing, at least not in the first instance, with academic writing. You have to find out things about the audience before you tackle your writing.
The way you adapt to your audience is by defining your audience. For whom are you writing? If this is an essay type situation and you are writing for the examiner hoping to get as high a grade as possible, then you must follow the requirements of the exercise. Stick to the topic. Answer the question or develop the thesis statement. Make sure that the right number of words have been used, that your work is professionally checked and proofread and that it is delivered on time.
But if your audience is the academic world, that is if you are writing with a view to publishing your work, then again you still need to define your audience. Are you writing for undergraduates, graduates or academics practicing in a particular field? The way you write and obviously what you write depends very much on who you are writing for.
The topic is fine, the audience must be perfect
We assume that you have chosen the topic wisely and well and that you will write to the best of your ability following all the requirements which are made of your college or publisher. What you must now keep in mind is who will read what you write. It becomes a juggling act. You want to watch what you write right but you also want it to be well received by your audience.
So in doing all the usual preparation and research for your academic writing, have in mind your reader. There are many students who produce academic work and have the thesis statement for the title of the piece or both on a piece of paper in a prominent position where they work. The idea being that they stay on course, that they focus on what they are supposed to be writing about.
An extra item could be attached to that piece of paper. You could specify your audience. So staring at you as you go about your work is the topic of your writing, your thesis statement and the person or persons to whom you are writing for. When you keep these three pointers in mind throughout, they will color your writing. They will force you to use the language and the logic which suit each of these three criteria.