One of the tips I learn when writing academic papers is to avoid generalizing, and by that, it means we, as writers, need to understand the difference between fact and opinion and try to express things with different levels of certainty. However, I still find the way to differentiate between fact and opinion quite confusing. It would be great if someone can explain the difference between these two things.
Generalization should be encouraged to extend scope, thereby making academic papers more widely applicable. Perhaps the OP is actually interested in another question: It is unclear what the OP means by generalizing, I don't see a relation with understand[ing] the difference between fact and opinion and try[ing] to express things with different levels of certainty. Maybe the OP is interested in
find[ing a] way to differentiate between fact and opinion...It would be great if someone can explain the difference between these two things.
Let's look at the definitions (from Google) of those terms:
Fact. A thing that is known or proved to be true, e.g., hedgehogs have fleas. Opinion. A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge, e.g., hedgehogs should drink milk.
So, facts are true, whereas the validity of opinions are unknown.
The first example is also from Google, the second is a widely believed opinion, which is false.
It is a bit unclear to me how generalization relates to facts and opinions, however I think the core question of combating generalization is a good one.
Sometimes it is helpful to focus on writing concisely to avoid generalizations. For example, if you write “several different procedures were done in this experiment” and then list the procedures, the first part of the sentence is unnecessary and general. Start writing with the nitty-gritty specifics in mind, and then use topic sentences (which may be more general) appropriately.
Every sentence in your paper should add something helpful to it. Even if you are summarizing previous points (like in a conclusion), you want to have a specific purpose in mind so that your reader doesn’t waste time reading the same sentence with different wording.
In short, start by having a clear focus and then broaden (only as needed to help your reader) from there.