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Academic Writing! Think Twice!

In Kenya, when you say that you do online writing, people immediately assume that you are into Academic Writing. I guess academic writing is the most common form of Freelance writing in Kenya.

What is Academic Writing?

Academic writing is a term that is hard to explain simply because there are many forms of academic writing. However, for this article, we will simply state academic writing as any writing done to fulfill the requirements of an educational institution. We could also say that academic writing is writing assignments given in an academic setting.

“Your Dictionary” helps us to summarize what is involved in academic writing by listing down the major areas in academic writing.

  • Books and book reports
  • Translations
  • Essays
  • Research paper or research article
  • Conference paper
  • Academic journal
  • Dissertation and Thesis – These are written to obtaining an advanced degree at a college or university.
  • Abstract – This is a short summary of a long document.
  • Explication – This is a work which explains part of a particular work.

Some History

Students, especially international students, who have challenges in language have always turned to various sources to help them in completing their academic writing assignments. This is largely an acceptable and an understandable practice.


However, there are various ethical issues that arise due to different extents to which the help is provided.  There are many different scenarios of students seeking assistance in their academic work. Follow this link for an illustration of several scenarios.

The verdict might be varied among individuals and institutions on what is ethical and what is not.

The Big Question: Are Online Academic Writing Companies Legal?

For this, I will be lazy and just paste a reply from a guy on Quora. He says it best

Yes, they are.

Whatever opinions people have (I am wholly against them in their current form for what it is worth) their legality is not in question.

The majority of the essay writing websites will tout themselves as writing essays as examples for people to read to help them. They will also suggest using the essays to give pointers for research. Any pieces of their work that are plagiarized are not their fault.

This is a ‘I gave the gun to the guy who shot that bloke’ argument. You aren’t guilty for giving that guy a gun (I say giving probably selling is more accurate) even if you were the crime would be supplying firearms not the murder.

That is a pretty extreme analogy but it is used for the simplicity of the logic. Essentially the argument against them is ethical and moral. It is not illegal to lie about the author of your work at university. It is against the rules of the establishment but the level of fraud isn’t high enough to merit criminal activity. Even if the person using the essay didn’t get caught till they had used the degree it would be the institution at fault for allowing the degree to be had and while the qualification could potentially be nullified the employer could not sue for fraud (well never say never but it would have to be a very tortuous argument, pun intended).

So, in conclusion yes, they are legal. Legal doesn’t mean ethically correct though.

Let us be honest, most of the academic writing done online involves freelancers doing all the academic work for their clients. From research to editing. The client does nothing but pay the academic writer and submit the complete work to their examiners.

Academic Writing in Kenya

Unemployment in Kenya is quite high while the education levels are also considerably high. As such, academic writing is a golden opportunity to earn some money, especially for the young, and more so those in college.

Academic writing helps many earn some money while at the same time the writers polish up their knowledge in specific academic niches.

However, what does the future hold for these writers?

What Does the Future Hold for Academic Writers in Kenya?

An accomplished academic writer was interviewed by The Standard and this is how he effectively answered the question. (Please note that the interviewer and interviewee refer to academic writing as online writing)

“I don’t think there is a bright future in online writing. This is just a stepping stone for the unemployed to earn a living and save for better investment opportunities,” he explains
Read more at:

While I might agree with the writer about academic writing, I am furious that he thinks online writing is all about academic writing. There are many other online writing fields out there! anyway…

Why I think Academic Writing is not the Best Choice for a Freelance Writer

  • You can never own or claim your work unless you decide to pursue an academic course yourself.
  • There is too much anonymity and chini ya maji dealings in Academic writing.
  • Most academic writers deal with “accounts” that ensure the client and the writer never meet – for their own safety.
  • As such, your reputation as a writer never grows in the regular world.
  • You will always depend on the next gig to earn.
  • Chances of earning passive income are minimal, which is a major pillar in writing.
  • There is always the question of morality and your conscience
  • Academic writing is seasonal. Feast when students are in exam period and famine the rest of the year.
  • Many times, what you write will not add value to your life in any way


Academic Writing is so fussy with little nagging complications that I think makes it so annoying. This includes different clients demanding for different referencing styles and having to study for some very boring topics that you have no idea about or any interest in.

If you are a good competent writer, why not engage in some writing where the topics and styles are friendlier and you can actually enjoy your work?

Why not engage in writing that can help you grow into an independent writer with a more predictable future and better earnings?

…only but my views.