Research Tips

Research & Academic Writing

Academic Structure

When you are considering how to plan your academic writing project, you need to keep in mind the various conventions with regard to academic writing structure.

Generally speaking, academic essays are composed of the introduction, body and conclusion…. and each of these sections should be connected according to the themes/argument of your research. [If you are writing a primary piece of research, such as a qualitative or quantitative report, the structure will certainly be different…keep watch here for further advice!]

Furthermore, the actual paragraphs included in the body of your work ought to follow some typical conventions: they should, for instance, begin with a point sentence that indicates the topic of each paragraph. Each paragraph should connect with/ be relevant to the main argument of your essay as noted in the introduction.

Here are a couple of top tips regarding planning your essays…and more details can be found in the resources at the bottom of this page.

Top tips/common errors:

Relevance

Ask yourself – is this relevant to my overall argument? It can be quite easy to get carried away with adding irrevlant material to an essay…and given the hours you spend finding and reading resources, it can be quite frustrating to imagine you are only permitted to include the few paragraphs from a 50-page paper you just read…but you must resist the temptation to take detours in your assignment. Set aside your notes for another project in the future, or a blog post – but don’t oversaturate your essay with irrelevant information.

So what?

As you re-read what you have written (Which you must always do! Never ever submit a first draft) read it as though you are an impartial uninformed individual reading it for the first time…and ask ‘so what?’ Have you clarified your arguments? Have you justified the inclusion of your facts and evidence? If it’s not clear how something you’ve written contributes to the overall argument, it might not be necessary (see point above).

Context overload

Related to the above point, sometimes it is tempting to include far too much context in your essay. Your lecturers may have advised you to write to an audience ‘who knows nothing about the subject’ but, of course, you need to consider carefully what they mean by that.

For instance, if you were asked to write a 2000 word essay about the impact of recycling on the planet and your lecturer said ‘write to an ignorant audience’…you (hopefully) would not spend 1200 words explaining what a planet is. That would not be conducive to the overall mission of your paper, and – should you be concerned someone would be ignorant about ‘planet’ – you could easily clarify this in one sentence.

Resources

How to structure your paragraphs (guide) Coming soon

How to structure your paragraphs (video) Coming soon

How to structure essays (video)

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