Writing an academic paper often proves a daunting task for the first-time writer. Besides a plethora of writing rules, academic papers comprise multiple chapters dedicated to unique information. This complicates research and makes it hard to sort ideas within your paper.

If you are struggling with academic assignments, this academic writing guide should come in handy. Here, we shall outline the academic paper structure and offer various tips for an easy writing experience. 

What is an academic paper?

An academic paper is a task written for a school assignment, an exam, or other scholarly reasons. Unlike common writing, academic papers aim to present new information on a topic or to coalesce existing information to prove an argument.

Academic papers are factual, therefore, should steer clear of your opinions and biases toward a given topic.

Format of an academic paper

Academic papers should follow a logical structure as you develop your argument. The common sections to tackle as you write an academic paper are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. 


The introduction to an academic paper should tackle the background information that warrants your thesis. A thesis statement highlights the purpose of your paper and should appear in the introduction, giving your reader a gist of the arguments contained in your paper.

Ideally, your introduction should start with a hook that piques a reader’s curiosity, motivating them to peruse your paper for answers.


The academic paper body contains paragraphs that carry unique ideas which develop your argument. Common high school papers may take a 5-paragraph essay design, which comprises three body paragraphs.

Paragraphs usually contain a topic sentence that highlights the key idea of your paragraph. This sentence is followed by the supporting arguments and a transition to the next paragraph. 


Your academic paper concludes with a summary of your key arguments. This summary helps a reader to test how your paper’s purpose has been attained and also to share your opinions regarding your topic. 

How to write an academic paper

When writing an academic paper, you should ensure the originality of your arguments, adherence to given rules, and good quality of arguments. With many items to consider, students may get stuck on where to start. 

Some steps to consider when writing an academic paper include: 

1. Analyse the assignment

Before embarking on research, consult the assignment prompt to highlight the rules provided by your tutor. The items to consider in the essay prompt include the prescribed word count, the recommended referencing style, and trigger words that guide you to determine the type of essay to write. 

Ideally, highlight these key details to revisit them during the editing phase, ensuring that your paper meets all your tutor’s expectations. 

2. Conduct extensive research

An academic paper is an objective document. As such, you should be well-versed with topic material to make broad arguments with evidence support. For this, you should perform extensive research and read a wide range of materials related to your topic.

For this, start by searching the keyword on various scholarly databases and select studies that are relevant to your paper. You may also consult the sources listed on Wikipedia, reducing the struggle associated with hunting for topic-relevant materials,

3. Develop an outline

After gathering various ideas for your paper, sort them into relevant sections and paragraphs in an outline. A good outline will enable you to gauge the completeness of your arguments, guiding you to the necessary research.

4. Drafting and Editing

Once your outline is in order, write your paper while observing the flow of ideas as elucidated in the outline. After preparing your first draft, edit your work to ensure adherence to various rules and the completeness of arguments in your paper. 

Tips for writing a paper

  1. Record your sources during research for easy retrieval as you write and faster preparation of the works cited page.
  2. Start writing your paper early to manage it within the provided timeline without compromising its quality.
  3. Chunk your writing into phases to reduce the complexity of your paper. Chunking also helps overcome procrastination by defining what you are to do in each session.
  4. Keep your language simple and limit the use of technical jargon. Complex language may limit a reader’s understanding of your work, compromising your overall score. 
  5. Peruse multiple academic papers examples to improve your writing skills and familiarize yourself with the best style for various parts of your paper.