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Academic Vocabulary List (AVL)

This page describes the Academic Vocabulary List (AVL), giving information on what the AVL is, how it was developed, how it differs from the AWL, as well as links to the complete list of words in the AVL.


To explore the list more fully, try the AVL highlighter (on this site).


What is the AVL?

The Academic Vocabulary List (AVL) was developed in 2013 by Dee Gardner and Mark Davies, working at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Brigham Young University. The AVL is a list of academic words derived from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). Their aim was to provide an updated list of 'core' academic vocabulary, which excluded general high-frequency words as well as subject-specific (technical) words.


How was the AVL developed?

In order to ensure only academic rather than general words were included, Gardner and Davies considered the ratio of words in the academic corpus compared to the non-academic corpus. Words were only included if they occurred with a ratio at least 50% higher in the academic corpus than the non-academic one, that is to say if they occurred at least 1.5 times as often in academic texts as in non-academic ones. This method contrasts with how the AWL (Academic Word List) was developed, which was by omitting words in the GSL (General Service List). This addresses one of the criticisms of the AWL, namely that there are many high-frequency academic words in the GSL that were not considered in the AWL, and which learners may therefore overlook in their study of academic English. Examples of such words are company, interest, business, market, account, capital, exchange, and rate.


In order to ensure only core academic words rather than subject-specific words were included in the AVL, the authors considered the range, dispersion and discipline measure of each word. The range of each word needed to be at least 20% of the expected frequency in at least seven of the nine academic disciplines, while the dispersion, which can range in value from 0 to 1, needed to be at least 0.8, meaning that the word was evenly dispersed among the nine academic disciplines. The discipline measure used was that the word could not occur more than three times the expected frequency in any of the nine academic disciplines, thus excluding words which had a high frequency overall because of extremely high frequency in one or two disciplines.


How does the AVL differ from the AWL?

Unlike the AWL, which is based on word families, the AVL was determined by using lemmas, that is words and their inflected forms (for example, the noun study has the inflected plural form studies, while the verb provide has inflected forms provided, provides and providing). This addresses a second criticism of the AWL, which is that different members of a word family may not share the same core meaning, and additionally some forms of the family may be extremely low frequency. Understanding these meaning differences, and identifying more frequent forms of a word family to study, present great challenges for learners of English.


A second difference between the AVL and AWL has already been highlighted, namely that the AVL excluded general words by considering the ratio of words in academic versus non-academic texts, rather than simply excluding words from the very dated GSL.


Another difference is the size of the corpus used. The AVL was created from a 120-milion-word subcorpus of the 425-million-word COCA. This contrasts with the AWL, which used a much smaller corpus, of 3.5 million words.


A fourth significant difference is that the corpus used for the AVL comprised contemporary texts, in contrast to the AWL, which used texts from the early 1960s to the late 1990s.


A final difference is coverage. Although the AVL was derived using lemmas not word families, which makes direct comparison to the AWL difficult, the authors compiled a word family list of the first 570 words of the AVL, which made it directly comparable to the 570 word families of the AWL. They found that this version of the AVL gave 14% coverage of the COAC, and the same level of coverage for the BNC (British National Corpus), compared to the AWL which had only 7% coverage for both lists.


References

Gardner, D. and Davies, M. (2014) 'A New Academic Vocabulary List', Applied Linguistics, 2014: 35/3: 305–327. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/applij/article-abstract/35/3/305/146569.


Gardner, D. and Davies, M. (nd) Academic Vocabulary Lists. Available at: https://www.academicvocabulary.info/compare.asp (Access date 13 March, 2020).


Academic Vocabulary List

The entire Academic Vocabulary List is available at www.academicwords.info. The site includes various forms of the list, including a list of lemmas, a list with word families, and tools for using the AVL to highlight words in the AVL, as well as their frequency in the disciplines used in the study (Medicine, Science, Business, etc.).


The following list gives the first 500 words in the AVL, with word form, inflected forms, frequency (in the 120-million-word academic corpus), and ratio in the academic corpus compared to non-academic corpus. There is a separate version of the list, with all 3015 words. Use the button below to switch to the other version.


AVL 1-500


Number  Word  Word form  Inflected forms  Frequency (per million words)  Ratio 
1studynstudies1143.42.52
2groupngroups1016.81.72
3systemnsystems918.11.79
4socialadj831.22.39
5providevprovided, provides, providing776.82.01
6howeveradv757.62.1
7researchn694.42.3
8levelnlevels651.42.07
9resultnresults600.72.05
10includevincluded, includes, including584.21.69
11importantadj560.51.51
12processnprocesses553.22.01
13usenuses537.72.15
14developmentndevelopments529.22.23
15datandatas, datum5292.62
16informationn516.11.58
17effectneffects500.72.04
18changenchanges4941.69
19tablentables4931.54
20policynpolicies491.61.77
21universitynuniversities4821.62
22modelnmodels477.62.2
23experiencenexperiences471.21.86
24activitynactivities459.62.28
25humanadj455.61.74
26historynhistories445.61.5
27developvdeveloped, developing, develops437.92.02
28suggestvsuggested, suggesting, suggests436.81.84
29economicadj436.41.89
30lowadjlower, lowest432.21.54
31relationshipnrelationships422.91.93
32bothadv416.21.53
33valuenvalues415.81.97
34requirevrequired, requires, requiring4131.8
35rolenroles411.91.81
36differencendifferences4091.93
37analysisnanalyses404.22.85
38practicenpractices399.32.06
39societynsocieties392.21.89
40thusadv385.72.69
41controlncontrols380.81.64
42formnforms377.31.9
43reportvreported, reporting, reports372.21.64
44ratenrates370.81.65
45significantadj370.12.44
46figurenfigures367.41.92
47factornfactors365.62.43
48interestninterests362.51.51
49culturencultures354.72.06
50neednneeds351.61.82
51basevbased, bases, basing350.71.8
52populationnpopulations340.92.08
53internationaladj339.61.61
54technologyntechnologies334.21.84
55individualnindividuals3282.32
56typentypes324.11.85
57describevdescribed, describes, describing320.81.75
58indicatevindicated, indicates, indicating316.92.34
59imagenimages316.81.7
60subjectnsubjects313.42.02
61sciencensciences310.41.92
62materialnmaterials310.11.97
63producevproduced, produces, producing3101.65
64conditionnconditions307.81.88
65identifyvidentified, identifies, identifying306.82.22
66knowledgenknowledges305.32.36
67supportnsupports3051.7
68performancenperformances302.91.96
69projectnprojects302.21.51
70responsenresponses301.92.08
71approachnapproaches300.82.14
72supportvsupported, supporting, supports300.61.52
73periodnperiods296.61.8
74organizationnorganisation, organisations, organizations2951.7
75increasevincreased, increases, increasing294.11.89
76environmentaladj293.32.26
77sourcensources290.71.7
78naturennatures286.81.91
79culturaladj285.32.46
80resourcenresources283.22.07
81centuryncenturies281.11.68
82strategynstrategies279.32.19
83theoryntheories276.22.36
84productnproducts276.11.53
85methodnmethods275.92.49
86goalngoals275.41.79
87likelyadjlikelier, likeliest274.71.68
88notevnoted, notes, noting273.61.87
89representvrepresented, representing, represents272.51.81
90generaladj264.61.66
91articlenarticles262.61.85
92similaradj261.51.9
93environmentnenvironments259.32.08
94languagenlanguages259.11.79
95determinevdetermined, determines, determining258.91.95
96structurenstructures257.42.31
97sectionnsections257.12.05
98commonadj256.31.78
99occurvoccurred, occurring, occurs255.91.91
100currentadj255.21.67
101availableadj255.11.56
102presentvpresented, presenting, presents2531.97
103termnterms249.41.61
104reducevreduced, reduces, reducing248.81.69
105measurenmeasures246.12.16
106involvevinvolved, involves, involving244.41.6
107movementnmovements244.31.68
108specificadj240.32.22
109focusvfocuses, focusing, focussed, focussing239.11.57
110regionnregions238.31.82
111relatevrelated, relates, relating238.32.35
112individualadj237.52.19
113qualitynqualities234.61.75
114establishvestablished, establishes, establishing232.72
115authornauthors2311.51
116seekvseeking, seeks, sought230.21.53
117comparevcompared, compares, comparing230.11.86
118growthngrowths227.71.75
119naturaladj227.21.6
120variousadj226.11.9
121standardnstandards224.11.75
122examplenexamples223.71.84
123managementnmanagements222.11.91
124scalenscales221.82.5
125arguevargued, argues, arguing219.71.68
126degreendegrees218.31.68
127designndesigns217.61.73
128concernnconcerns216.11.52
129statevstated, states, stating215.51.74
130thereforeadv215.12.36
131examinevexamined, examines, examining214.42.32
132patternnpatterns214.22.07
133researchernresearchers2122.34
134taskntasks210.42.09
135traditionaladj209.51.88
136findingnfindings207.32.8
137positiveadj206.72.03
138centraladj206.51.53
139actnacts206.41.58
140impactnimpacts2051.79
141reflectvreflected, reflecting, reflects202.61.94
142recognizevrecognise, recognised, recognises, recognising, recognized, recognizes, recognizing201.41.56
143contextncontexts2012.67
144relationnrelations198.92.13
145maintainvmaintained, maintaining, maintains198.61.79
146Africanadj198.52.21
147conceptnconcepts198.42.31
148discussionndiscussions198.21.94
149associatevassociated, associates, associating196.42.49
150designvdesigned, designing, designs194.61.65
151particularlyadv194.11.51
152purposenpurposes193.51.88
153addressvaddressed, addresses, addressing193.11.87
154definevdefined, defines, defining192.72.22
155particularadj1921.78
156benefitnbenefits191.81.52
157surveynsurveys190.62.21
158effectiveadj190.42.07
159applyvapplied, applies, applying188.71.73
160containvcontained, containing, contains188.61.77
161understandingnunderstandings187.12.3
162productionnproductions186.51.73
163formvformed, forming, forms186.21.63
164associationnassociations185.41.64
165revealvrevealed, revealing, reveals185.31.68
166rangenranges185.21.74
167affectvaffected, affecting, affects185.11.73
168attitudenattitudes184.52.05
169statusn184.52.11
170necessaryadj184.11.76
171functionnfunctions181.32.54
172indeedadv181.11.54
173presentadj180.42.33
174globaladj179.91.84
175conflictnconflicts179.32.03
176achievevachieved, achieves, achieving179.11.99
177conductvconducted, conducting, conducts178.61.98
178criticaladj178.21.93
179performvperformed, performing, performs178.21.66
180discussvdiscussed, discusses, discussing175.11.53
181existvexisted, existing, exists174.21.73
182improvevimproved, improves, improving172.61.65
183observevobserved, observes, observing1722.2
184demonstratevdemonstrated, demonstrates, demonstrating171.92.3
185unitnunits171.71.63
186totaladj171.31.69
187modernadj170.61.72
188literaturenliteratures1702.52
189resultvresulted, resulting, results167.82.21
190experiencevexperienced, experiences, experiencing167.11.89
191principlenprinciples166.72.18
192elementnelements1651.95
193challengenchallenges164.71.53
194controlvcontrolled, controlling, controls163.51.53
195historicaladj163.52.34
196aspectnaspects161.72.16
197perspectivenperspectives159.92.15
198basicadj159.51.81
199measurevmeasured, measures, measuring159.12.16
200traditionntraditions159.11.93
201beliefnbeliefs158.92.14
202westernadj158.41.67
203procedurenprocedures157.62.12
204testvtested, testing, tests157.41.58
205categoryncategories157.32.25
206tendvtended, tending, tends156.81.61
207techniquentechniques155.62.04
208outcomenoutcomes155.32.56
209significantlyadv155.12.74
210generallyadv154.51.83
211futureadj153.21.88
212meannmeans153.12.07
213importancenimportances153.12.38
214applicationnapplications152.82.31
215featurenfeatures152.61.78
216influenceninfluences150.92.07
217basisnbases149.41.94
218interactionninteractions149.23.01
219refervrefered, referred, referring, refers148.41.69
220communicationncommunications1481.8
221negativeadj147.82.15
222primaryadj147.72.18
223characteristicncharacteristics147.22.92
224Europeanadj145.91.81
225lacknlacks145.91.75
226obtainvobtained, obtaining, obtains145.72.32
227potentialadj145.61.8
228varietynvarieties145.61.68
229componentncomponents143.62.54
230followingadj143.42.11
231accessn142.91.55
232contributevcontributed, contributes, contributing142.61.84
233assumevassumed, assumes, assuming141.41.53
234expressvexpressed, expresses, expressing141.41.76
235toolntools141.11.76
236promotevpromoted, promotes, promoting140.91.83
237participatevparticipated, participates, participating140.62.06
238labornlabors139.81.57
239engagevengaged, engages, engaging139.61.89
240reviewnreviews139.31.82
241additionaladj1391.81
242highlyadv1391.83
243appropriateadj138.72.07
244publishvpublished, publishes, publishing137.11.52
245encouragevencouraged, encourages, encouraging136.81.59
246successfuladj136.71.5
247assessvassessed, assesses, assessing1352.68
248viewvviewed, viewing, views134.91.93
249clientnclients134.81.52
250instrumentninstruments134.32.23
251relativelyadv1341.99
252meaningnmeanings133.62.17
253limitvlimited, limiting, limits133.11.79
254increasenincreases131.91.65
255directlyadv131.71.51
256previousadj131.61.64
257demandndemands131.61.69
258visionnvisions131.41.57
259femaleadj130.91.81
260attemptnattempts129.71.59
261influencevinfluenced, influences, influencing129.22.34
262independentadj1291.62
263solutionnsolutions128.31.55
264directadj127.11.91
265conclusionnconclusions126.62.14
266presencenpresences125.91.6
267scientificadj125.82.1
268ethnicadj125.32.22
269complexadj125.12.05
270activeadj124.51.83
271malenmales124.21.8
272claimnclaims123.71.67
273participationnparticipations123.72.81
274focusnfoci, focuses122.81.75
275contrastncontrasts122.22.22
276failurenfailures121.61.66
277internaladj121.12.15
278journalnjournals120.11.99
279multipleadj118.92.28
280facilitynfacilities117.91.54
281usernusers117.82.16
282emergevemerged, emerges, emerging117.31.55
283protectionnprotections117.11.55
284extentnextents116.82.12
285maleadj116.71.83
286mentaladj116.51.85
287explorevexplored, explores, exploring115.61.87
288consequencenconsequences115.61.93
289generatevgenerated, generates, generating115.52.04
290contentncontents114.21.99
291devicendevices113.91.75
292requirementnrequirements113.12.18
293broadadj113.11.61
294observationnobservations112.62.5
295visualadj112.32.39
296difficultyndifficulties111.51.95
297regionaladj109.61.85
298perceivevperceived, perceives, perceiving109.62.51
299ieadv109.43.08
300urbanadj109.31.78
301femalenfemales108.82.02
302capacityncapacities108.32.01
303increasedadj108.32.23
304ensurevensured, ensures, ensuring108.11.92
305selectvselected, selecting, selects107.11.95
306moreoveradv106.42.6
307emphasizevemphasise, emphasised, emphasises, emphasising, emphasized, emphasizes, emphasizing105.72.18
308instituteninstitutes105.41.57
309extendvextended, extending, extends105.21.56
310connectionnconnections105.21.52
311sectornsectors104.72.11
312commitmentncommitments104.41.76
313interpretationninterpretations1042.63
314evaluatevevaluated, evaluates, evaluating103.32.54
315concludevconcluded, concludes, concluding1031.82
316notionnnotions102.41.84
317increasinglyadv102.31.7
318domesticadj102.21.64
319consistvconsisted, consisting, consists101.72.41
320referencenreferences101.31.99
321initialadj100.82.05
322adoptvadopted, adopting, adopts100.61.72
323comparisonncomparisons100.52.3
324dependvdepended, depending, depends100.11.55
325attemptvattempted, attempting, attempts100.11.73
326standardadj99.91.88
327predictvpredicted, predicting, predicts99.91.7
328employvemployed, employing, employs99.72.05
329definitionndefinitions99.62.23
330essentialadj98.92.02
331contactncontacts98.71.51
332frequentlyadv98.31.89
333colleaguencolleagues98.31.56
334actualadj98.11.8
335accountvaccounted, accounting, accounts97.71.98
336dimensionndimensions97.72.57
337thementhemes97.51.68
338largelyadv97.41.71
339linkvlinked, linking, links97.11.77
340desirendesires971.58
341overalladj96.71.96
342usefuladj96.52.07
343consistentadj96.32.3
344distributionndistributions96.22.47
345minoritynminorities96.21.53
346analyzevanalyse, analysed, analyses, analysing, analyzed, analyzes, analyzing962.39
347rangevranged, ranges, ranging961.88
348psychologicaladj95.62.39
349uniqueadj95.51.73
350experimentnexperiments95.12.03
351trendntrends95.11.67
352exchangenexchanges951.5
353percentagenpercentages94.21.76
354objectivenobjectives94.12.44
355implicationnimplications94.12.45
356contributionncontributions94.11.77
357enablevenabled, enables, enabling93.72.23
358organizevorganise, organised, organises, organising, organized, organizes, organizing93.31.62
359specificallyadv92.81.9
360currentlyadv92.71.65
361emotionaladj92.51.57
362locatevlocated, locates, locating921.65
363primarilyadv91.62.13
364scholarnscholars91.62.06
365enhancevenhanced, enhances, enhancing91.52.3
366improvementnimprovements91.51.87
367flownflows91.41.92
368estimatevestimated, estimates, estimating90.91.71
369phasenphases90.62.22
370ruraladj90.31.9
371typicallyadv90.31.91
372aboveadv90.21.5
373long-termadj90.11.66
374corencores89.31.83
375volumenvolumes891.68
376approximatelyadv88.82.3
377limitedadj88.61.85
378proposevproposed, proposes, proposing88.61.59
379frameworknframeworks88.32.86
380existingadj88.22.06
381creationncreations87.71.98
382codencodes87.71.53
383emphasisnemphases87.42.25
384industrialadj87.21.76
385externaladj872.8
386wastenwastes86.51.8
387potentialnpotentials86.41.93
388climatenclimates85.61.78
389explanationnexplanations84.71.87
390technicaladj84.61.89
391mechanismnmechanisms84.22.52
392descriptionndescriptions83.92
393varyvvaried, varies, varying83.72.19
394reductionnreductions83.42.04
395disciplinendisciplines82.82.07
396constructvconstructed, constructing, constructs82.52.25
397equaladj82.21.63
398originnorigins81.82.34
399relyvrelied, relies, relying81.41.6
400fundamentaladj81.42.1
401transitionntransitions80.91.93
402assumptionnassumptions80.82.36
403Germanadj80.71.56
404existencenexistences80.71.97
405formaladj801.96
406mannernmanners79.71.56
407assistancenassistances79.71.78
408combinationncombinations79.31.55
409increasingadj78.72.08
410hypothesisnhypotheses78.43.12
411phenomenonnphenomena78.12.19
412planningn77.81.87
413errornerrors77.81.87
414householdnhouseholds77.81.64
415citevcited, cites, citing77.71.58
416lackvlacked, lacking, lacks77.61.65
417judgmentnjudgments77.51.59
418constitutevconstituted, constitutes, constituting77.12.57
419relevantadj77.12.44
420typicaladj771.54
421selectionnselections76.91.8
422incorporatevincorporated, incorporates, incorporating76.92.25
423illustratevillustrated, illustrates, illustrating76.92.01
424cyclencycles76.41.88
425depressionndepressions76.21.72
426considerationnconsiderations75.92.1
427previouslyadv75.81.95
428arisevarised, arisen, arises, arising75.52.23
429developingadj75.32.2
430separateadj751.54
431recognitionnrecognitions74.62.05
432modenmodes74.52.36
433similarlyadv74.52.39
434resistancenresistances74.41.86
435furthermoreadv74.22.83
436diversityndiversities742.07
437practicaladj73.91.87
438anxietynanxieties73.91.99
439acquirevacquired, acquires, acquiring73.81.66
440characterizevcharacterise, characterised, characterises, characterising, characterized, characterizes, characterizing73.12.44
441differvdiffered, differing, differs732.56
442reviewvreviewed, reviewing, reviews72.41.65
443interpretvinterpreted, interpreting, interprets72.42.3
444creativeadj72.11.59
445limitationnlimitations72.12.51
446resolutionnresolutions71.81.51
447implementationnimplementations71.73.02
448numerousadj71.31.81
449significancensignificances71.22.43
450revolutionnrevolutions70.81.64
451philosophynphilosophies70.81.79
452displayvdisplayed, displaying, displays70.71.64
453professionalnprofessionals70.52
454publicationnpublications70.41.93
455variationnvariations70.42.4
456derivevderived, derives, deriving70.32.56
457alternativenalternatives70.21.6
458widelyadv69.91.69
459permitvpermits, permitted, permitting69.61.66
460alternativeadj69.52.06
461merelyadv69.51.52
462initiativeninitiatives69.41.63
463employmentnemployments68.91.96
464regardvregarded, regarding, regards68.91.6
465estimatenestimates68.41.92
466effectivelyadv68.42
467cooperationncooperations67.72.08
468transformvtransformed, transforming, transforms67.41.64
469absencenabsences67.21.93
470implyvimplied, implies, implying67.22.2
471comprehensiveadj66.82.23
472observernobservers66.61.92
473neverthelessadv66.62
474testingntestings66.51.87
475linknlinks66.31.62
476evolutionnevolutions662.31
477intellectualadj65.92.2
478signalnsignals65.71.51
479passagenpassages65.71.62
480facilitatevfacilitated, facilitates, facilitating65.72.85
481discoveryndiscoveries65.61.65
482biologicaladj65.61.93
483introductionnintroductions65.62.22
484boundarynboundaries65.52.14
485substantialadj65.11.93
486rationratios65.12.43
487stronglyadv651.76
488theoreticaladj64.73.04
489gainngains64.61.6
490generaladv64.51.9
491settlementnsettlements64.31.55
492independencen641.64
493yieldvyielded, yielding, yields641.99
494formationnformations63.82.38
495insightninsights63.52.09
496territorynterritories63.31.54
497conventionaladj63.31.88
498informvinformed, informing, informs62.91.54
499indexnindices62.81.91
500crucialadj62.61.72



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Sheldon Smith

Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 28 April 2020.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.



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