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A Short Comparison of Two Different Genres

Updated on May 29, 2013

Differences in an Academic Journal vs. a Personal Narrative

  • Paragraph Length
  • Sentence Length
  • Word Choice
  • Relationships with the Reader


Comparing two different genres of stories is like comparing apples and oranges. The differences are conspicuous and even a callow reader would be able to point them out. After reading two passages, Outbreaks of Food Borne Diseases in the Lazio Region, Italy: The Results of Epidemiological Field Investigations and Grouper with All the Trimmings, I’ve made comparisons between the genres. There are four major differences in the genres: paragraph length, sentence length, word choices, and relationships with the reader when comparing the genre of an academic journal to a personal narrative genre.


Comparing Paragraph Length

The paragraph length in the academic journal is extensive compared to that of a personal narrative. This is because in an academic journal, there are usually only one or possibly two ideas that the article would be about and the writer would go into great detail about each topic in an academic journal, making sure to cover as much information as possible so they can answer any questions that a reader might have. Because of this, the writer wouldn’t need multiple paragraphs, but only a single, long paragraph for each topic that includes all the relevant information. An academic journal may have an introductory paragraph and a conclusive paragraph, but due to the nature of the writing and the type of audience that would read this genre, and introductory and conclusion paragraph isn't necessary. In a personal narrative, the writer is busy trying to convey feelings and experiences, which, as a typical human being, tends to change quickly and sometimes dramatically. Because of the erratic changing of ideas in a personal narrative, a writer would only have a small amount of information about each idea; therefore multiple paragraphs would be needed.

Comparing Sentence Length

The sentence length in the academic journal is longer than those in the personal narrative. This is due to the purpose of the two different genres. The information in the academic journal’s purpose is to inform readers of factual accounts and requires support to maintain the credibility of the writer. Therefore, a writer expresses the idea and adds some extra content in order to support the idea. This is also due to the fact that a lot of the words in an academic journal (explained in the next section) are very technical and long, containing a lot of characters. In a personal narrative, the reader doesn’t need proof of the story; therefore the writer can simply express their ideas and feelings without any added content, making sentences shorter. They are also able to use simpler words to make reading the story easier for the reader.

Comparing Word Choices

The word choice is one of the most obvious differences in the genres. The academic journal uses technical words; words that are considered “big” or “intelligent”. These words must be used in order to demonstrate the knowledge of the writer in their particular field. The words are often scientific in nature and may require a definition or supporting argument. The personal narrative uses smaller and more relatable words so that their readers can easily indulge in the message without having to over-think the message.

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Comparing the Relationships with the Reader

The relationship with the reader is another major difference in the genres. In an academic journal, the relationship with the reader is impersonal and authoritative. One could almost say that the relationship between the writer and the reader is cold and uncaring. The writer's purpose in an academic journal is simply to inform, not to connect. The writer is simply trying to promote facts and knowledge. In a personal narrative, the relationship with the reader is very personal. The writer tries to connect with the reader on an emotional level so that the reader can draw mental pictures and actually feel what is happening in the story.

Paragraph length, sentence length, word choice, and relationships with the readers are four distinct differences in the academic journal and the personal narrative. These genres have major differences because they serve different purposes. The differences are obvious to readers and help to distinguish the two genres from each other.

By Dr. Russell James III, Texas Tech University


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