Academic literacy can be thought of as a quality that a "great"" student possesses. It involves having an extensive knowledge of simple to complex standards of writing. (Hocking & Fieldhouse, 2011) Characteristics of an academically literate student are obtained through repetitive practice of all the elements involved in writing, and are attained from a combination of different learning strategies (Baines, 2008); allowing the student to excel in their writing at a higher caliber than others. Students with a high academic literacy caliber incorporate organization, argumentative nature, being a critical reader, a high standard writing quality and grammar, as well as plan, draft and edit their work to avoid plagiarism. These elements help produce a high quality piece of work relevant to their target reader.
In order to write in a high standard and pick credible sources, one must learn the skills of becoming a critical reader. The process involves previewing, summarizing, responding and analyzing the material you are reading to ensure an accurate understanding of research. They look at the source writer scope for main topics, claims and concepts. Looking at the structure and citations the writer has used will allow them to check credibility and use their cited references to find other relevant material for their research. This allows for the student to have more conviction in their written material. The student writes the essay in an argumentative, persuasive manner; backed up with credible cited evidence found through critical analysis. .
A professional standard essay written with academic literacy has a certain structure for essay layout. The introduction, paragraphs and conclusion have a format to allow the essay to be written with a fluent structure allowing the reader to interpret the writer's topic and concepts. The introduction establishes the content and shows the materials direction; including a general lead in statement, a topic overview, a thesis statement, definitions relevant to the thesis and limitations.