Academic Writing: A Guide for Beginners

Many students struggle with writing academic papers. Yet, they are expected to have a good command of writing skills at university and are often required to produce different kinds of written assignments – essays, reports, research papers. This article is helpful for those who find writing academic papers challenging – or even horrifying.

Know your topic

The main purpose of an academic paper is to represent your knowledge of the subject. Of course, you don’t need to know all ins and outs, but you should conduct thorough research on the topic. Read the books, treatises, in other words – become familiar with the works of your predecessors. You are supposed to refer to them in your paper. Check referencing guides and specific rules of your faculty or school. Avoid plagiarism since you must learn from others, not steal their achievements.

A student writes in a blank notebook while brainstorming their personal statement.

Planning is golden

Always start with a plan. Make a list or a mind map of ideas you are going to write about. Then choose the main one you are going to concentrate on. Stay focused on the main point of your paper, since it should be logical and concrete. Effective organization is the key to proper academic writing.

Adhere to the structure

An average academic paper consists of three parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Each of them should be written according to their own rules and specific purposes. Here are a few tips for you:

  • Introduction
  • This part lays the foundation of your paper and informs your reader about the purpose and relevance of your study. It sets the topic in the context of previous researches and states a research issue, thesis and hypothesis.

    In the introduction you may also reflect your work plan. Stick to relevant information since the academic paper should be informative and not overloaded with insignificant details.

  • Body
  • The body is the main section of your paper. The text should be related to what you write in the introduction. All your ideas must revolve around the major concept and support the overall theme. Deal with one thing one at a time and always maintain focus on your writing. Organize them in a way that will help you and a reader to follow the train of thought.

    Remember, most specific fields have their own standards of writing, so before starting your work make yourself familiar with them.

  • Conclusion
  • First, provide a review of the main points covered in the body of the text. It will help a reader to recall your findings.

    Then return to your hypothesis and state why your academic paper is important in your field of studies. You may also provide a look forward and state the prospect of the research.

    If you have any problems with organizing your ideas or face another challenge, you may also get help from a paper writing service which is able to provide any assistance you need.

    Be formal and professional

    What you should avoid in an academic paper:

  • Slang
  • Slang is the opposite of formal writing. It is important for you to express your ideas in a simple and eloquent way. Slang hinders you from simplicity.

  • First-person view
  • Write in a third person instead, as it would make your statements sound objective and authoritative. Unlike creative writing, academic writing is aimed at demonstrating your knowledge.

  • Examples from your everyday life
  • What will make a good stand-up comedy won’t work in an academic paper. Refer to scientifically proven data to support your point of view.

    Build on your vocabulary, using both terms from your field of study and linking words. There are a lot of useful words and phrases that you can use to sound more persuasive and professional. Your writing style affects the way your paper would be perceived.

    Learn from others’ experience and try to read more. Pay attention to linking words such as ‘likewise’, ‘thus’, ‘consequently’, etc.

    Don’t hesitate to edit your paper

    Admit that nobody is perfect. It takes time to write a decent paper. While editing, you must distance yourself from your text in order to see your flaws. If you need help, be sure to contact your academic advisers or another professor. Remember that you are learning and mistakes are a natural part of the process.

    And remember – practice makes perfect. All talented researches started small. Every assignment you complete draws you closer to academic success.


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