Aarhus University Seal

Academic standards

Science and the academic genre

To a large extent, being a student is about learning how to work scientifically and academically in one's subject. While scientific work is about producing new knowledge or nye perceptions of existing knowledge, academic work is about living up to some particular norms of the academic genre.

In addition, in order to produce new knowledge and comply with academic norms, one must argue academically. Namely, it is the argumentation that must convince others that the knowledge you have produced is valid

On this page you can learn more about the academic genre and what academic and professional language is.

The academic genre

In university assignments, show that you can work independently and academically. You can show it in the following way:

To produce new knowledge

You need to produce new knowledge-which can happen in many ways. In practice, this can be to conduct an independent study, to gather your own empirical evidence, to describe new phenomena, to confirm or disprove the results of others, to discuss or nuance current perceptions or by challenging knowledge in an area with new perspectives. You don't have to reinvent the deep plate, but you do have to bring something new to the table.

Also read about topic selection and formulating the problem

To act critically Critically relate to both the theories and methods you apply, as well as to your own research, analysis and results. For example, you can relate to which assumptions the theories are based on, whether they are up-to-date and whether there is something in them that is not related, or whether there are shortcomings or sources of error in your methods.
To justify and argue

Justify the choices you make in the assignment and continuously argue why you made those choices. It creates transparency and makes it easier for the reader to follow your logic and rationales.

Read about transparency under Guide your reader.

Selecting and including relevant literature

Incorporate existing knowledge in the field relevant to your study. In practice this can be done by using existing theory in a new way, that you compare two theories or put a slightly new angle on something material. It is important that you are clear about what knowledge you are building on top of, and what your research contributes to nye findings. This requires both a language that creates transparency, and not least the use of references.

Read more about references on the formalities page.

Applying the subject's thermonology Use the terms, concepts and terminology of the subject correctly and accurately. Be consistent-use the same word for the same thing every time. It is often a good idea to prepare a conceptual overview in which you clarify how you understand and work with the concepts. If you are introducing new concepts, define them as precisely as possible.
Making assumptions and delimitation Put into words the assumptions you have regarding your problem field so that it is clear and transparent to the reader. At the same time, be clear about the definition of the task, i.e. what you do not investigate and how it affects your investigation and conclusion.
Using the methods of the subject Use your subject's methods. Some subjects work primarily theoretically or empirically, while others do experiments or interviews.

Academic language

Academic language should be easy to understand for professionals, and it should be easy to follow logics and argumentation. Therefore, formulate yourself as precisely, unambiguously, clearly, correctly and transparently as possible. Avoid language that is loud and boisterous.

Read more about transparency under communicate with your reader

Academic language is also argumentative. This means that for every claim you make, you must provide evidence. Your evidence must be academically based, i.e. based on theory or empirical evidence. It is therefore also important to refer correctly so that you do not take credit for the work of others.

Read more about argumentation

If you are unsure about how to write academically on your education, you may want to ask your teacher or supervisor for examples of previous assignments.

Academically language

Academic language is also about using a professional language. You must use the terms and terminology associated with your subject. For example, in some programmes you can make a conceptual overview with explanations of how you understand and work with the concepts.

In addition, the professional language has some linguistic norms that are peculiar to the profession. In some subjects, for example, you do not write “I”, but use a more passive language. While in other subjects one cannot do without “I”at all.

If you are in doubt about how the subject language performs in your education, you may be able to request examples of previous assignments from your teacher or supervisor.

Communicate with your reader

In your assignment, you should metacommunicate, that is, communicate to your reader, as it serves two purposes: to provide transparency to the assignment and to guide your reader. 


Transparency is about showing all intermediate bills and not making unfounded claims. You must therefore make it easy for your reader to follow how you arrive at your points step by step and what assumptions the points are based on. Eg:

“Based on what x writes, I assume that... " or “firstly... because... secondly... because....”

Transparency also involves making references to sources when you include other people's knowledge. It should be clear to your reader when you apply the knowledge of others and when you contribute yourself.

Read more about source references on the formalities page.

Guide your reader

Especially in larger paragraphs, it is necessary to guide the reader. This type of meta-communication is a kind of linguistic guide that tells the reader where the text is going. It can be in the form of short paragraphs at the beginning of a larger part of the task, between paragraphs or at the end of a larger part of the task, such as:

““In this section I will... “or " now I have explained xx. In the following, therefore, I will...”.

See also this

Inspiration from assignments by other students

Get a list of thesis titles from your field of study, and draw inspiration from other students’ assignments. 

Academic regulations

Orientate yourself in your curriculum on requirements for each individual subject in your programme.

GDPR course

AU offers students a course on Data Protection (GDPR). If you complete the course you'll get a certificate of completion. Read more about the course: