Hedging in Academic Writing

Now let’s look in more detail at some examples of hedging in academic writing.

Remember, hedging means trying to state your ideas with an appropriate level of certainty so that you are not making claims in your writing that cannot be supported. You do not always have to make your claims less certain but you must be sure that what you are claiming is justified.

For example, saying:

‘this essay might explore the main causes of poverty in developing countries’

is not good hedging. You can be sure about what your essay will focus on so you should use a verb that shows greater certainty i.e:

‘This essay will explore the main causes of poverty in developing countries.’

However, making claims such as:

everyone knows that poverty in developing countries is caused by multinational companies.’

is not good hedging. This statement is too certain as we cannot possibly know whether everyone in the world knows something is true and many people would argue the opposite of this claim.

Therefore we need to introduce the claim with a statement that shows it is an arguable point, and use evidence from source texts that show your view is supported in the literature e.g:

‘Many people believe that poverty in developing nations is caused by multinational companies. (Jones 2019: 23)’

Now let’s try and improve the hedging in our example case study to make sure we are not making claims that cannot be supported.

Task: Read the tutor’s feedback again and try to improve the hedging in the extract.

Great, you have made some really effective changes to the academic style of this extract and it now has appropriate hedging.

Your Task: Go back to the discussion forum on the Future Learn site and share any words or phrases you use to hedge your claims.