How To Write Academic Papers: A Comprehensive Guide


The fact that the majority of students consider their academic papers as one of the most complex assignments does not seems surprising at all. Why is that so? Why are these assignments so complicated? There are a few main reasons. First of all, in order to provide a high-quality paper, one has to fulfill a whole list of subtasks, such as choosing the right topic, organizing the whole paper, finding relevant literature, conducting a research, etc… The actual writing is just one phase of the whole process. The problem with this phase is that it is not an easy task to provide the content that is concise and informative, but at the same time interesting and original. It seems that the writing talent is of great help in this process, but unfortunately, only a small percentage of students actually possess this kind of talent. Besides that, every academic term paper writing has to be done in accordance with a specific set of writing norms and rules (for example, APA or Chicago), so students should also get familiar with these.

The additional problem is that these obligations are very common, so they have a significant influence of the final grades. In the text below, a few tips and pieces of advice on how to provide a high-quality academic paper will be provided, so students should get familiar with these as they can be very beneficial for their future education.

Types of academic writing

Of course, there are different types of academic papers, depending on their content, research design, writing style, audience, etc… These are some of the most common types of academic papers.

            Research paper

This is one of the most common types of academic writing. This is a paper that requires the combination of creativity, research skill, and the knowledge of a particular topic. The creativity takes place at the beginning of the paper in which a student should elaborate the main idea of his research and explain why this domain is investigated. Although it is not always the case, these papers often include the actual research process, so a student has to collect his own data. This indicates that the research design has to be constructed. A research design contains information such as who will be the participants (i.e. the sample of a particular population), how the data will be collected, what instruments or questionnaire will be used, what kind of statistical analysis will be provided, etc… At the end, the results have to be interpreted and discussed.


            Essays don’t include the process of collecting the data, but it does include the literature review, i.e. the process of collecting relevant information on a particular topic. Of course, one should only use academic and reliable sources of information (scientific books, articles, scientific papers, etc…). There are 4 main types of essays:

  1. The expository essay (the elaboration and explanation of a particular topic or idea; for example, “The main postulates of the Roman law”)
  2. The persuasive essay (the writer aims to defend a certain claim or a point of view; “Why smoking is harmful?”);
  3. The analytical essay (the process of analyzing a certain domain, such as a work of art, some natural process, etc…; “The influence of Homer’s Iliad on poetry”)
  4. The argumentative essay (elaborating why a certain point of view is more accurate than the other ones; “Why are non-physical forms of punishment more effective than the physical ones?”)

Academic proposal

This type of academic paper can be considered as a concise version of the scientific paper. It represents detailed and elaborated plan of the research. Another important thing to mention is that it is submitted before the actual research takes place.

Writing pitfalls

Although every student has his own style and specific writing issues, there are a few very common pitfalls.

Using complex expressions

A lot of students make mistake by thinking that they will make a positive impression by using complex expressions and complicated sentences. However, the truth is usually quite the opposite; this kind of elaboration can often represent the compensation for the lack of understanding a particular construct.

Forcing productivity

In the domain of writing, productivity is tightly connected to the creativity and inspiration, and the problem with these two is that they cannot be forced. Some students believe that they should finish their paper “in one breath”, so they force themselves to write even if they are tired. The best advice is to make a short break (preferably in a physically active manner) whenever a student feels that he is getting tired and losing his focus.

Writing in Second/Third person

Academic papers are almost always written in a third person. This way the content sounds more objective, as it can be seen in these examples.

Second person: You shouldn’t smoke because it is bad for you.

Third person: Smoking should be avoided, as it can cause serious physical consequences.

Citations and References

Every academic paper has to be written in accordance with a certain set of writing rules. The three of the most common ones are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago. Considering that there are minor differences between these citation styles, only one of them will be further elaborated, as it is very simple to find the examples of other two citation systems online.


APA is mostly used in psychology and education domain. Here are some examples:

In-text citation:

(Author, year of publication, page number); “People are not just on looking hosts of internal mechanisms orchestrated by environmental events” (Bandura, 2001, p.4)


Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.; Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity. New York: Springer-Verlag.


Author, A. (Publication Year). Article title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), pp.-pp.; Bruer, J. T. (1997). Education and the brain: A bridge too far. Educational researcher, 26(8), 4-16.

Writing assignments are considered to be one of the most complex academic obligations for a good reason. In this text, some of the main domains were elaborated and a few pieces of advice were provided. With dedication and these tips in hand, it is almost certain that every student can ensure a high-quality academic paper of any kind.

About the author:

Samantha Anderson is a passionate teacher. She found her destiny in developing new educational approaches. Which she kindly shares on the blog. Her free time is dedicated to writing college essays for students in order to help them find the real purpose of it. according to Samantha’s lifestyle, rock climbing is the best thing for relaxation.

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