An important feature of academic/scientific writing is the concept of ‘hedging’ (also known as a cautious or vague language). Whenever you claim something, you need to decide about your stance on the claim.
In other words, you need to decide how strong you want your claim to sound.
Use ‘hedging’ if you feel that the supporting evidence for your claim is too weak,
you don’t want to exaggerate the claim or make your statement too direct.
Instead of saying:
Nowadays, there are fewer illiterate people than 50 years ago.
You might want to say:
Nowadays, there seem to be fewer illiterate people than 50 years ago.
Examples of hedge words and expressions:
seem, appear, believe, assume, indicate
must, could, may, might
apparently, presumably, certainly, often, definitely, clearly
assumption, possibility, probability, probability
it is widely agreed that, one possible explanation is, to my knowledge, it may be possible to obtain,
it is conceivable that
Here are some examples of hedging in use in academic writing:
‘Unfortunately, several studies suggested that at present, primary
school attendance is not a major source of vocabulary acquisition.
Age, not school experience, apparently affects vocabulary development’
‘Apparently, the positive transfer mechanism can compensate, at least
‘It is widely agreed that students come to the classroom with previously
formed conceptions that may not align with the accepted scientific viewpoint’
‘Hence, one assumption that can be raised is that word length affects learners’ word decoding ability, and, in turn, affects word learnability’