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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes .

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, frequently asked questions, introduction.

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

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Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

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How to write an academic essay

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Every student, of every discipline, in every institution, will at some point write an essay. Those who major in English will likely write more than a hundred of them throughout their undergraduate degree, alone.

Here's what we'll go over in this guide to writing academic essays:

What is an essay?

How is an essay structured, before you start writing.

What to do with your research

Perfecting your introduction

Using Academic English in your essay

Since the 16th century, we have been borrowing the word essay from French, where it meant ‘to test, trial, or weigh’, which is a very useful insight. I have written thousands of essays in my life, and assessed tens of thousands more as an educator – and whilst only a handful of those look much like any other, they are all united by that idea of trialling ideas. Essays are missions of exploration.

The American novelist and essayist, Flannery O’Connor, once remarked: "I write to discover what I know".

Conceiving of them as a process like this, more than a product , is the easiest way to demystify essays.

That said, through tradition (more than definition), the essay has come to represent something quite specific and measurable. In an academic essay, our product is the presentation of extensive, logical and well-researched arguments about our given topic. The process, however, remains the same, five hundred years later: exploring ideas on the page.

You may present a robust, apparently authoritative piece as your final draft, but you will get there by investigating your knowledge and trialling your arguments.

All essays will look different (depending on the purpose and your subject), but most essays contain the following five key parts:

1. An introduction: an overview of the essay’s purpose and key contents. 2. A (fully referenced) review of the key topic of the essay: its history and debates. 3. A discussion of the development of the topic and its debates to a resolution. 4. A conclusion, if necessary. 5. A reference list.

The first stage of any academic endeavour is understanding. Most essays prescribed to you will come with a title, often in the form of a question. Your first and most important task is to understand what it is asking of you.

Do not fall at the first hurdle; spend some time dissecting the question and extracting its essence. Find the question within the question,

A useful approach to take to your title is what I call the STOP method.

how to write academic paper

Essay briefs usually specify these four things, directly or indirectly, and if you STOP to identify them, it will help you to focus your research.

The system is as follows: SOURCES. Where should the knowledge come from? Is a primary source given? Is a reading list provided?

TOPIC. What is the focus of the essay? Is it general or specific? Is it already well-known or brand new?

ORIENTATION. What angle should be taken? Should it be one-sided? Should one remain detached?

PURPOSE. Is this an argument? Should it persuade? Is it evaluative or just declarative?

Here is an example of the STOP approach in action, for an example academic essay in Linguistics:

Question: Using your knowledge of psycholinguistics, account for the non-standard English evident in the transcript: Annabelle (2½ years) playing with her toys.

The STOP approach: Sources: own knowledge of psycholinguistics (secondary), provided transcript (primary) Topic: non-standard English in children’s language acquisition Orientation: focus on non-standard utterances only Purpose: analyse, theorise, explain

And there you have it: the question within the question. Now you have direction.

BUT, if any of the features of STOP are omitted from the question, then try the following:

Try to see whether any of it is implied but not stated directly. For example, a question is likely to have links to a certain module.

Peruse any attached material. You may find a reading list or a mark scheme.

ASK someone. Starting is very difficult without knowing exactly what is asked of you, so do not hesitate to seek clarification from the person or organisation who set the question.

Now you are clear about what the question is asking of you, you may be ready to write your academic essay. If the essay requires nothing more than your own existing knowledge (usually the case in exams), then you’re good to go – or at least to plan!

However, in the vast majority of cases, you will be expected to research your topic heavily before beginning the composition process. In fact, most university-level essays will not even be marked if they are not brimming with evident research.

When I first look at an undergraduate essay, indeed, the first thing I read is the references list at the end. It might sound dismissive, but I can predict the quality of an essay with about 99% accuracy by doing this.

If you are lucky, you will be provided with primary sources (texts) and direction for secondary sources (reading lists). If you are less lucky, then you’ll need to get stuck into some background research of your own.

how to write academic paper

Can I use the Internet to research my academic essay?

I hate to say it, because it is an amazing resource, but if you quote from Wikipedia, or reference it in your bibliography, you’ll be laughed out of the building.

Mostly because academics are snobs, but also for some more legitimate reasons, secondary sources exist in a hierarchy of prestige. In other words, some sources are considered more worthy and ‘serious’ than others.

The hierarchy looks like this:

Most prestigious: Peer-reviewed, published journal articles.

Generally acceptable: Books and chapters from books (especially those with multiple authors and at least one editor).

Occasionally permissible: Academic video content, personal communications, newspapers, and lecture notes.

Usually unacceptable: Blog posts, public-access websites (like Wikipedia), and unpublished material like conversation.

Did you spot the pattern? There are two things that make a source more prestigious: the academic status of the writer, and the number of academics involved in the writing.

Peer-reviewed, published journal articles come from very academic sources and are severely and repeatedly scrutinised by multiple academics before they can get published. Blog posts, at the other end of the spectrum, can be written and spread by anyone, and face no greater scrutiny than the fire in a comments section!

However (and it’s a big ‘however’), whilst the hierarchy undeniably applies to your references, there is nothing to say that you cannot read those lower down on the hierarchy. Indeed, online encyclopedia entries are incredibly useful for orienting you and providing background for your chosen area.

It is from these pages that you can identify the ‘big names’ in the area – a job that prestigious journal searches won’t do for you.

For example, if you are a student of Literature and you type ‘Literary Theory’ into Wikipedia, the resultant page points you towards names like Leavis, Derrida, Foucault and Fish – some of the most significant names in the area. On the other hand, if you started your search on Google Scholar, you’d be pointed towards Carroll, Ronen, Barry and Scholes – all relatively new and less influential contributors to the field.

So don’t knock Wikipedia. Just acknowledge what it is, and don’t cite it directly! It is a general overview that can serve as a springboard to other reading. (TOP TIP: use the reference list at the bottom of the Wikipedia page to find more prestigious sources.)

how to write academic paper

How do I read my research?

This is a common concern. Most beginner essayists are stunned when faced with the apparently impossible: a thirty-item reading list and a two-week deadline for three thousand words. Obviously, writing three thousand words in two weeks doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility – it’s the insane task of reading thirty books and papers in that time as well that stumps people.

Fortunately, there is an unwritten rule about reading lists that I’m going to make a written rule:

You don't have to read it all.

That may sound like blasphemy, but it is a truth universally acknowledged by academics.

Read the primary material in its entirety, of course – twice, even. But the secondary material, think about being more picky.

The way I see it, there are three different types of secondary source with different approaches to take to reading them:

"Fortunately, there is an unwritten rule about reading lists that I’m going to make a written rule:

You don't have to read it all. "

This way, you can get ten times more reference material than if you’d been comprehensive. It may sound dismissive, but when the deadline is tight, then efficiency is everything.

I learnt this during my undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford when I was tasked with writing about seven thousand words a week in academic essays.

Don’t sacrifice sleep for the sake of a more thorough read.

This question, that logically follows from the question of how to read, is simple to answer… as simple as ABC:

how to write academic paper

For each text you read, you want to be able to lift out an abstract (a bullet-point summary of the gist, including controversies), several bites (direct quotations lifted from the text, with page numbers), and a citation (the full reference for the text you’re reading).

If you don’t keep a record of all three of those as you go, then your reading was for nothing. Do not make the rookie mistake of ‘doing references at the end’. It always takes longer than it should, probably pushing you past the deadline – and you will almost certainly lose one of your best references forever. It happens every time. (I will return to referencing later.)

At this point, it is worth remembering: you have a question to answer. It is easy to get dragged away on tangents and down rabbit holes – especially when the topic is complex and fascinating – but you have a job to do. Every record you make of the texts you are reading needs to feed into an answer to your question.

If I’m compiling my notes on the computer, I embolden the bits that are most relevant to my argument; if I’m note-taking by hand, I use a highlighter. I also draw lines between evidently linked ideas.

The final stage of planning: building your argument

The preliminary stages of writing an academic essay are extensive, I know. You’re nearly ready to write, though. There’s just one final stage of planning necessary: building an argument.

From your primary and secondary material, you should now be forming an argument. Usually, the argument emerges naturally as a result of the good quality practices explained above. Occasionally, though, you need to disentangle your box of snakes and extract a coherent argument.

A useful approach to discursive essays is what I call the Narrative Approach. This approach ends up looking like a diary of all your preliminary work. As I said at the start, an essay is a trial of ideas, and it is here that you trial them. The Narrative Approach lays out the essay’s main body as follows:

The Narrative Approach not only allows you to find a logical order for all of your content (your academic essay structure), but also ensures that you take a critical perspective at all times – a higher order thinking skill that is fundamental to success in essays according to all major academic institutions.

If you can organise your ideas into this logical structure, you should be able to answer the question posed to you.

Now, to ensure that your argument is logical, an extremely useful thing to do is to explain it aloud to somebody else. This process is always enlightening, and allows for any holes in the argument to become glaringly obvious; open engagement with challenges to the content; and you to practice having your ideas exposed to scrutiny.

All of this takes place in a safe space and allows for revisions to be made before the essay is ever seen by anyone else.

There’s also something incredibly powerful about verbal discussion that helps to crystallise ideas and make them stick.

how to write academic paper

It’s finally time to start writing your academic essay. But, irritatingly enough, the first thing that appears on a page is the most difficult part to get right: the introduction.

Unpopular opinion: if your essay is less than a thousand words long, then you don’t need an introduction; you need to answer the question!

Stating that you are going to answer the question above, using the words from the question above, whilst ensuring that you are going to make many points that refer to the question above, and then conclude something about the question above, is an exercise in futility.

All you’re saying is that you’re going to write an essay.

It’s the equivalent to starting a phone call with, “I’m calling you on the phone because I’d like to speak to you and we both have phones.”

The same goes for conclusions in short essays.

Introductions and conclusions for longer essays, on the other hand, are fundamentally important. Instead of generic statements of purpose, these paragraphs should instead function as condensed forms of your overall argument.

Bookending the main body, these sections ensure that the argument is clear. If they don’t sound good, the problem isn’t with the introduction format – it’s with the argument itself. If it sounds flimsy here, it won’t sound much better in the main body. That makes it a useful litmus test.

That said, it is always worth redrafting the introduction last, once everything else is clear in your mind.

The main body of your academic essay

The meat and potatoes of your academic essay comes next. You already have all of your content and you have it all arranged as an argument. Most would call this next part the writing, but it would be just as accurate to call it the formatting. You are adding nothing new, just making it all sound good. That’s why we spend so long on the preliminary stages!

Now, let’s address paragraph structure.

A good paragraph in an academic essay should, of course, contain a coherent point which is soundly evidenced and evaluated .

Additionally, though, it is good to include:

But there’s more to academic writing than content and structure. Style is the missing part of this equation.

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is a discipline that exists for the sole purpose of achieving that style.

For many students, it is like learning a foreign language; for others, it is like unearthing a treasure chest that lay at their feet all their lives. Whatever the case, it is not like the language we use every day.

"Academic English is something that you refine throughout an academic career, as you read more academic pieces, receive more feedback, and get more practice."

Academic English is a vast, irreducible field, which cannot be given due consideration here. However, the following five areas are a useful starting point as they are all things you can do straight away:

1. Technical vocabulary. You are writing as an expert in your field, for other experts in that field. Use the specific jargon of that field. Students of nutrition should refer to “macronutrients” not ‘food groups’, for example.

2. Nominalisation of forms. For whatever reason, we don’t use many verbs in academic prose. So we refer to a “debate” instead of ‘debating’; we speak of an “analysis” rather than ‘analysing’; and instead of ‘challenging’ things, we pose “challenges”.

3. Formality and detachedness. Formal English is characterised by the professional tone, which means that colloquialisms like ‘isn’t’, ‘stuff’ and ‘crappy’ are replaced by “is not”, “features” and “ineffective”, respectively. The grammar is also more complex, with longer sentences and embedded clauses being common.

4. Hedges and tentativeness. You are not yet a world-renowned academic. Sorry. Until that day comes, your language should include regular ‘hedges’ – showing that you don’t think your points are undeniable and immutable truth. Use phrases like “seem to suggest” and “might be perceived” in place of the declarative ‘is’.

5. Clarity and accuracy. Academic writing should avoid flouting Standard English expression. Proofreading will be crucial, in all cases. Equally, attempts to sound too clever inevitably end up sounding convoluted and confusing; “using clear English” is clearer than ‘eschewing grandiose phraseology in the interest of comprehension’. Right?

Academic English is something that you refine throughout an academic career, as you read more academic pieces, receive more feedback, and get more practice.

Do not expect to hit the nail on the head on your first try; just do your best to emulate the academic discourse you read in your subject area. One day, it’ll be second nature to you!

How to reference correctly in your essay

Referencing. The word still jars with me, even after all these years. I don’t quite break out in a cold sweat, but there’s certainly a bit of repressed trauma in there.

It sounds daunting, but can be made simple. Most elegantly put, referencing refers to the synthesis of other voices in your work. All the theorists whose ideas you’ve engaged with; every critical voice you’ve quoted; each book you’ve paraphrased: these constitute your references.

But in their current form, they are not references. In their current form, they are just ideas that you have stolen and put across as your own ideas. The process of referencing is one of acknowledgement.

In the real world, where, if you steal something, you are branded a criminal. In the world of academia, you can steal ideas and are encouraged to do so – as long as you acknowledge where it came from.

It’s like stealing Sarah’s car and then pleading innocence in court because you told everybody it belonged to Sarah. That would pass in the court of academia. If you failed to acknowledge Sarah’s ownership, you’d be found guilty… of plagiarism.

Plagiarism (the failure to acknowledge the source of ideas in an academic setting) is a serious charge, one whose maximum sentence includes blanket disqualification from all examination boards and academic institutions, for life.

So, let’s avoid that.

To ensure you don’t fall foul of accidental plagiarism, use my method to EQUIP yourself:

how to write academic paper

Breaking them down, we EQUIP ourselves as follows:

ENDNOTE. EndNote is a piece of software that tracks your academic essay’s references and is amazing, but when I say endnote more generally, I’m referring to the references list at the end of your piece. Writing them out in full, as per the academic conventions of your institution and faculty, is crucial, and should be done during your note-taking process.

A reference in a final references list, formatted to the common APA standard, might look like this: Voss, J. F., & Wiley, J. (1997). Developing understanding while writing essays in history. International Journal of Educational Research, 27(3), 255-265.

It includes, as standard for most referencing formats, the authors’ names, the date of publication, the title of the article, the name of the journal it’s from, the issue and number of that journal, and the page range. Other referencing styles differ slightly, so check which one you’re expected to use before you start.

QUOTE. If you wish to use specific language from a source, then you need to put it in “quotation marks” and provide an in-text citation (see below: In-text), including the page or paragraph number. These quotations should be embedded into your paragraphs.

E.g. Critics James Voss and Jennifer Wiley claim that referencing is a “fundamental aspect of essay success” (Voss & Wiley, 1997, p. 264).

EXCEPTION: if your quotation exceeds four lines, it gets granted its own isolated paragraph and doesn’t usually need quotation marks.

UNCHANGED LANGUAGE. Unchanged language is crucial. If you are quoting from the source directly, it must of course remain unchanged, or it’s no longer a quotation (with the exception being anything within [square brackets] inside a quotation).

Do not fall into the trap of just changing a few words from the original source so that it becomes ‘your own work’ – this will be spotted by sophisticated plagiarism-detection software (like Turnitin) and be perceived as deliberate attempts to plagiarise the work of others. If you aren’t quoting directly, then you need to paraphrase (see below), rather than just emending slightly.

IN-TEXT. Your in-text citation is how you signal to your reader that the specific thing you’re writing at this time comes from an extraneous source. Harvard referencing would require a bracketed in-text reference after the quoted or paraphrased section, such as “(Voss & Wiley, 1997)” and a relevant page number; whereas the Chicago referencing style would call for a footnote: a superscript number above your quoted or paraphrased section that corresponds with a reference at the foot of your page.

Always check the referencing guidelines of your given piece, as mentioned above. All academic institutions and faculties have dedicated guidelines for referencing that are almost always provided online. As maddening as it can be, some examiners are obsessed with ‘correct referencing’ and will deduct marks for inappropriate referencing procedures – so play by the rules as closely as possible.

It might not be a plagiarism issue, but it’s still a pain!

PARAPHRASE. If you wish to refer to the whole argument of a text, or a section too long for quoting, or just think that you can express the argument more coherently and concisely than the original, then paraphrasing is useful. Once you have put the idea into your own words, ensure you bookend it with an allusion to the author (at the start) and an in-text reference (at the end, sometimes including a page number) for what you’ve referred to.

For example: Critics James Voss and Jennifer Wiley insist on correct referencing procedures (Voss & Wiley, 1997, p. 264).

If you can do all of the above, then you have protected yourself against accidental plagiarism.

Still, nobody likes to be caught out, it’s worth running your entire essay through an online plagiarism checker – for your own peace of mind.

When it comes to plagiarism, my philosophy is the same as my old Maths teacher’s: “Show your working”. As brilliant as you may be, as a young academic who’s brimming with ideas, you should not be reluctant to reference. Nine times out of ten, how erudite and well-referenced an essay is predicts how good it is.

Oh, and as a final note on plagiarism, please be aware that it is possible to self-plagiarise… so don’t recycle content from old essays that were submitted for grading!

how to write academic paper

Is that everything?

So, we’ve covered how to STOP and EQUIP ourselves for planning and referencing, respectively; we’ve learned the ABCs of note-taking and the Narrative Approach to academic essay structure ; and much more. Is that everything there is to know about writing an excellent academic essay?

Not quite, but it’s a good place to start.

Academic essay-writing is an artform, pure and simple. Just like any other artform, it is refined through diligence and practice until it is excellent.

But, even an excellent essayist can fail to impress a moderator, and that’s because there’s no such thing as a perfect essay . Redrafting will almost always be necessary, because we are subject to both the whims and tastes of our moderators, and the specific success criteria of our institutions and faculties.

To that end, my final piece of advice to you, essay writers, is to play the game.

At school, you have teachers. At university, it’s tutors. At postgraduate level, supervisors. Even when you’re a professor publishing your own research, you’ve got peer-reviewers. At every step of the way, you are playing to the tastes and demands of different individuals and criteria, so play their game. Tick their boxes. Figure out how to modulate.

Listen to feedback. Amend your style. Take the advice, even if it seems wrong. Do not be disheartened, because all of this game-playing constitutes growth. The more you do it, appealing to different individuals and different criteria, the better an essayist you become.

Because, at the end of the day, a good essayist is a versatile essayist.

how to write academic paper

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How to Write Academic Paper: Main Points to Consider

General principles, essential steps of the writing process, thesis statement, introduction, body paragraphs, editing and proofreading.

Have no idea how start an engaging introduction paragraph in your history essay? Need advice on how to write good academic paper  - you are not alone. Academic writing is an important skill for the success in higher education and in any career field but many university students find their written assignments too challenging and often consider them to be a form of a medieval torture.

Why is it so? The problem is that a lot of high school graduates enter colleges and universities having no idea how to complete grammatically correct sentences that make sense, to say nothing about writing a college-level academic paper because no one taught them how to do it right and present a clear, logical and convincing argument.

If you struggle with similar issues, read this article where you will find a complete guide on how to write good academic papers. We will provide you with all necessary information. You can order a well-written model essay on our website to have a better understanding of the general rules of academic writing and the proper paper structure and format.  

Many young people have difficulties with academic paper writing. This type of writing is specific and differs a lot from what you were asked to produce in high school because it involves a lot of reading, doing in-depth research of scholarly literature, planning, revising, making changes in content and structure, rewriting, editing, proofreading, and formatting. Don’t be scared. Writing is a skill that any student can learn and master. We hope that this short guide will explain everything you need to succeed.

What is an academic paper ? This type of writing can be defined in many ways and your instructors can give different names to these assignments – essay, term paper, analysis essay but all of them have the same purpose and are based on the same principles.

The goal of completing written assignments is to show that you have a profound knowledge of a specific topic and to share your own thoughts about a scientific question or an issue that may be of interest to your audience – students, your professor, and other scholars. You have to demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

Take into account 8 key principle of academic writing.

Writing an academic paper can be done step-by-step. If you are a beginner, you can follow these steps that have worked for millions of college students; they can save you a lot of time.

These are basic steps. When you gain experience, you may think about a different order that can work best for you. Find that this process complicated? Buy a professionally written sample to analyze it and see how your essay should look like!

Let’s discuss the major steps of the writing process.

A thesis statement determines the main argument of your essay. A good thesis statement expresses the main idea of your essay, presents your own point of view, and gives an answer to your research question. The success of your entire project depends on your thesis and you need to do your best to ensure that it is debatable, specific, and concise. Try to write your thesis early. It will help you stay focused when you do research and take notes.

Introductions and conclusions are very important. The introduction introduces your argument to your reader and convinces them why they should care about reading your paper. Your task is to engage your audience. Wondering how to do it? Check this useful article on our blog that discusses engaging strategies for starting an essay .

Start your introduction with attention grabber and provide background information about the significance of your topic, introduce a subject, and give some definitions of the key terms. End your introduction with a thesis statement.

Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence; don’t begin a paragraph with a fact. The topic sentence should present the main idea of the paragraph and express your point of view. In the next sentences, you should support the topic sentence with additional supporting ideas, specific details, interesting facts, statistics, clear explanations, relevant examples. All supporting sentences should be logical. You should make sure they are connected with connection words to help your reader follow your argument.

Finish every paragraph with a concluding sentence. It should be your own idea and not a source citation. The last sentence in a paragraph should review the key points you have discussed in it, emphasize your main idea or your thesis statement, and prepare your audience to the points that you are going to discuss in the next paragraph.

This part of your paper is the most important. Actually, readers remember the first and the last parts of what they read; a conclusion is your last chance to make an impression and show the significance of your findings. How can you achieve that? When writing a conclusion, you need to provide connections to the previous ideas, briefly summarize your findings or restate the thesis. You shouldn’t include any new information. Finish your essay with a strong concluding statement that your readers will remember.  

No one can write a perfect first draft. It’s impossible - revising is critical if you want to impress your professor and get a high grade for your work. You should start revising the content at least a week before your paper is due. You can use another strategy as well - revise individual paragraphs as you write them. Be ready that you may need to write more than one draft or revise your paper several times.

Read your paper and make changes to fix it and make impeccable. You can do it in a number of ways.

Do you like your essay’s content? If you do, it’s time to edit it and add finishing touches. The goal of editing is making your writing clearer, more precise to ensure that your readers will be able to understand it.

How should you do it? You may ask someone to read your essay and request their feedback. You can read your college paper aloud yourself to hear the lack of clarity, repetition, wordiness, grammar mistakes and correct them. Use English dictionaries and grammar books.

You should use the following editing strategies to make your essay as best as it can be.

When you finish editing, proofread your essay and fix minor errors, careless mistakes, typos. Check punctuation and spelling. Use the printed copy to notice mistakes you may overlook on a computer screen. Start proofreading with the last sentence and go backward; in this way, you will focus on spelling and grammar and not on the content.

We have discussed how to write academic paper. Let’s talk about another important aspect of your future essay – citations. To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit to other people whose ideas you use in your own work.

You have the right to express your opinions. You have the right to use ideas of people to support your argument and draw conclusions, but it’s your responsibility to inform your audience which ideas in your essay are not yours and which are your own. With proper citations, you demonstrate that you understand the significance of other people’s research, findings, and ideas in developing your own argument.

How to cite your sources? You should include in-text citations in accordance with the guidelines of the citation style recommended by your instructor. You are required to include a list of the sources you have cited at the end of your paper. Don’t cite works that are not in your bibliography.

Follow these guidelines and useful tips to create great papers and impress your professor. Need interesting topic ideas for your projects? Check other articles on our blog.

Writing academically on a college level is a hard work that requires a lot of time and effort. You can’t become a confident writer in a few days if you just read grammar and style guides no matter how full and detailed they are. You have to practice a lot. It means working for many hours every day.

If you are not sure that you can cope with your complicated assignment on your own, you can pay to get professional help in any subject from experts on our site.  Our writers can provide you with quality sample papers on different topics that will be perfect in content and style. They are sure to be free of errors. You can use paid custom papers as good templates you can follow when creating your own works and understand how to write good academic papers. In this way, you can easily improve your analytical, critical and writing skills and become a successful student who gets high grades.   


  1. 8+ Academic Paper Templates

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  2. How to Write an Academic Paper?

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  3. (PDF) How to write an effective academic paper?

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  4. Guide To Write Essay

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  5. 8+ Academic Paper Templates

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  6. Sample College Paper Format : college essay samples about yourself in 2020

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  1. How to Write an Essay in 40 Minutes

  2. Paper Writing Techniques

  3. Writing Research Paper

  4. Research Paper Writing

  5. Pre Written Essays and Example Papers

  6. How to read a paper, write a paper and improve English


  1. How to Write a Research Paper

    How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide. Table of contents. Understand the assignment. Choose a research paper topic. Conduct preliminary research. Develop a thesis statement. Create a ... Understand the assignment. Choose a research paper topic. Conduct preliminary research. Develop a ...

  2. The Structure of an Academic Paper

    on the ideas you've presented, but not making any substantially new points. By the end of your paper, readers should already understand your position and the evidence used to support it. The conclusion provides readers a sense of completion, a reminder why your paper was worth reading.

  3. APA format for academic papers and essays

    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.). Include a page number on every …

  4. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Writing the introduction. 1. Hook your reader. The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the ... 2. Provide background on your topic. 3. Present the thesis statement. 4. Map the structure.

  5. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 – Search for relevant literature. Step 2 – Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 – Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 – Outline your literature review’s structure. Step 5 – Write your literature review. Free lecture slides. Frequently asked questions. Introduction.

  6. How to write an academic essay

    How to write an academic essay The first stage of any academic endeavour is understanding. Most essays prescribed to you will come with a title, often in the form of a question. Your first and most important task …

  7. How To Write Academic Papers: A Comprehensive Guide

    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

  8. How to Write Good Academic Papers: Complete Guide for …

    Essential Steps of the Writing Process. Select an interesting topic. If you lack ideas, you may search the internet using Google, look through your lecture notes, and consider your course ... Do research and record sources’ information. Keep in mind that you may need to continue research as you ...


    A research paper is piece of academic writing based on its author’s original research work on a particular topic and the analysis and interpretation of research findings. In other words, a research paper is an expanded essay that presents your …

  10. A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing an Outstanding Academic Essay

    Construct a Thesis Statement. Writing an effective thesis statement is one of the most important steps in writing an essay. It serves as the main point of your paper and provides a direction for your argument or discussion. A good thesis statement should be clear, concise, and provide a strong argument that can be supported by evidence.