In the modern world, non-academic texts are far more common than their academic counterparts.
Examples of non-academic text include news articles, blog posts, personal essays, literature, poetry, scripts, and much, much more.
While there are strict requirements for what can be considered academic writing, non-academic text essentially encompasses everything that does not fall under the academic umbrella.
The average person reads non-academic information from a wide variety of sources every day, primarily via their computer or phone.
In order to understand what non-academic text is really defined as it’s important to know what defines academic works.
Table of Contents
- What is academic text?
- How is non-academic text different from academic text?
- What is the purpose of non-academic writing?
- What kinds of subjects does non-academic text cover?
- What is the writing style of non-academic text?
- What are examples of non-academic publications?
- What are examples of unpublished non-academic text?
- Can non-academic text be a reliable source?
- How can readers spot non-academic text that is reliable?
- Does SEO affect non-academic text?
- Can non-academic text still come from scholarly sources?
- Is this article academic or non-academic text?
Academic writing refers explicitly to works that are written by a professional (or group of professionals) in a specific field and discusses a clearly defined subject within or related to that field.
The text often appears in a scholarly journal, but it may be published by any academic source and often undergoes years of revisions and peer reviews.
It’s also worth noting that the intended audience consists of other people in the academic field, including professors, researchers, and students.
Academic text is strict when it comes to style, and “flowery” writing is not generally acceptable because the point is the factual subject matter and findings rather than any underlying message or creative storytelling.
Any outside sources used will be clearly referenced and listed in a specially-designated format used by other academics (like MLA or APA style).
The work itself will often go on to be cited as a source for future research papers and other academic texts.
Non-academic text is virtually anything that does not meet academic standards. This is particularly true when it comes to being a scholarly article published in an academic journal, as non-academic works may still contain properly cited sources in a similar fashion to academic writing.
They may also cover a niche topic but may or may not be the work of a professional researcher in that subject.
Nevertheless, academic text varies greatly in tone, length, subject, and research extent. Most news and blog posts cover more general subjects and come from people who write on a wide variety of topics that they are not experts on (though experts may be quoted).
These articles also typically fall between 500 and 2,000 words, whereas academic writing tends to be significantly longer.
While academic writing is published to inform (usually on new discoveries or a reinforced hypothesis), non-academic writing’s primary purpose is to entertain and/or persuade the reader.
It can, however, still be informative, and it is often designed to have more visual appeal than academic text.
Non-academic writing can theoretically cover any topic. Articles can even be written about academic publications and use published research as sources, but they will still be considered non-academic because the language is more colloquial, and the audience is general rather than strictly professional or scholarly.
Non-academic text has a wide range when it comes to writing style, and it largely all depends on where it is being published.
Social media posts, for example, don’t require any specific writing style (aside from minimum or maximum word counts on some platforms).
News articles, meanwhile, follow AP style in most publications (like newspapers and online renditions) and Chicago style in others (like magazines).
Compared to academic writing, non-academic text is considered informal.
There are many thousands of non-academic publications that are active today. Some widespread mainstream examples include the following:
- Time Magazine
- The New Yorker
- Men’s Health
For comparison, an example of an academic publication would be The American Journal of Public Health.
As a general rule, any newspaper or religious text (like the Bible and the Torah) are considered non-academic sources.
Non-academic writing isn’t just limited to publications. There’s a good chance you see it every day in other forms. Some examples include:
- Business letters and memos
- Text messages
- Diary entries
- Press releases
- Public online reviews
Some legal documents may also be considered non-academic writing. However, legal writing is considered its own specialization, and the text may be considered academic if published in a legal journal or used for scholarly pursuits.
Can non-academic text be a reliable source?
There’s a lot of debate over what kinds of non-academic texts may be considered reliable sources.
Social media posts and creative works rely primarily on personal opinions, for example, blog and news articles that do claim to be heavily researched and “non-biased” are often still written with pre-meditated angles.
This is in direct contradiction to academic writing, which depends on study data and research results for its information.
As a result, non-academic text is not generally considered a reliable source for scholarly articles or publications in academic journals.
However, they may be used as a reference in other non-academic works if deemed reliable by the writer.
Likewise, some academic collegiate papers may cite news articles if they support the subject argument and are considered sufficiently researched.
Non-academic text will never be considered as reliable as academic articles. However, those that strive to be accurate and informative will include clear sources (usually with in-text links, if published online) and explore different sides of an argument.
The writer will also be open about any potential conflicting interests.
Nevertheless, what one reader deems reliable, another may decide isn’t. Because non-academic text is often written to persuade (and may come from a publication known to promote certain opinions), individual articles may be judged first by their publisher and second by their actual content.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another thing that sets non-academic text apart from its academic counterparts.
While academic publications will never be written for SEO purposes (even if published online), non-academic text often is.
This has a direct effect on the wording choices used throughout the work and its structural organization, making it easier for search engines like Google to decipher.
SEO is the reason that list-format articles have become so prominent across the world of non-academic publications.
It is also why photos tend to be more common in non-academic works (though scholarly articles will use images if relevant to the information being explained).
Scholarly publications do not publish non-academic articles. However, non-academic texts may include academic ones as primary sources.
If an interesting discovery is published in a science journal, for instance, a journalist may adapt it for wider audiences via a features article.
It is not uncommon to see blog posts and news articles linked to both scholarly sources and other non-academic sources.
While reading this, you might wonder what writing category this article falls into. While it does use a variety of sources and strives to be as informative as possible, what you are reading is still an example of non-academic text.
It is written for a general audience rather than an academic one, and it discusses a broad subject rather than a highly specific one.