Academic Writing Basics: How to Write a Research Paper

Academic writing makes the bulk among various assignments encountered by university students. Unfortunately, academic paper writing ranks top among the daunting undertakings for students.

If you are confused about how to write a scholarly paper, our guide should come in handy. Here we will cover various sections to help you master the components and steps of writing an academic paper.

What is an academic paper?

Academic writing is formal writing with the objective to build various arguments while providing reliable evidence to back your claims. Often, academic research writing is geared to further concepts in various fields of study.

Contrary to the notion held by many students, academic writing is not a complex task. To excel in a research paper assignment, you should familiarize yourself with the academic writing paper format and guidelines.

How to write academic papers

This section will look at the structure, guidelines, and steps for writing an academic research paper.

Academic paper format

An academic research paper can be generally divided into three sections: an introduction, the body, and a conclusion.

  • The introduction: This is the section after your cover page in APA or just after your personal information in MLA. The introduction should inform your reader of the main idea encapsulated in your paper and your thesis statement. Here, highlight the importance of the topic and your central argument.
  • The body: This section elaborates your essay with various points organized coherently to help you draw your conclusion. Each idea in the body is held in its paragraph, making it easy for a leader to follow your argument.
  • The conclusion: This is the final section in all academic papers. Like the introduction, the conclusion restates the thesis statement and reiterates your main argument. This section should also state why your paper is essential to the existing knowledge in your field.
  • Other sections: Depending on the type of paper and your referencing style, your paper may have an abstract, methods, and a discussion section.

Guidelines for research paper

The requirements for an academic paper may vary depending on the type of assignment and your tutor’s instructions. When checking the instructions, pay heed to the word count and prescribed sections.

Besides the specific instructions, the universal guidelines for academic writing tasks include:

  1. Understand your audience

Academic writing is addressed to a more knowledgeable audience at the university level. As such, you are allowed to use technical terms in your paper. Also, you should maintain a formal tone and use simple language.

Please avoid jargon as it may limit the tutor from comprehending the entirety of your argument. Where possible, cut off superfluous words for easily understandable work. Also, ensure that all points within your work support your standpoint.

  1. Use affirmative language

When presenting your academic paper research, avoid words like ‘might,’ ‘in my opinion,’ and ‘hopefully.’ These words convey emotions and thus may indicate a bias in your argument.

Instead, use words like ‘will’ and ‘shall.’ These show confidence in your deductions and remove any sense of bias. You should also avoid passive voice, when possible, to ensure clarity and meaning in your work.

  1. Edit your work

An academic writing paper should be free of grammatical and structural errors and be clear for your audience. As such, editing is required when working on your paper to ensure readability.

When editing your work, check for the flow of your paper and reorganize the ideas to build up to your conclusion. Also, ensure that a reference in the bibliography section caters to all in-text citations.

Also, ensure to use references as prescribed by your tutor. Ensure to familiarize with how to cite an academic paper with various styles and the format of a paper under each referencing style.

Why is reference information required for an academic paper?

The reference information acknowledges the sources you used when supporting various parts of your arguments. This prevents plagiarism that would arise from presenting other authors’ ideas as your own.

Referencing also allows your readers to analyze a topic from your materials further if they wish to delve into an idea further.

Steps to writing an academic paper:

  • Chose a topic that is relevant to your research question
  • Search for materials that support your topic
  • Form your thesis topic
  • Formulate the outline to ensure a flow of ideas
  • Develop your first draft
  • Revise your draft and prepare your rough copy
  • Edit and proofread your final copy

Final Take

Academic writing is a vital skill for success in your university studies. This guide will help you master your academic paper writing skills and avoid various pitfalls that limit the performance of various students. We wish you the best of luck with your paper!