Writing Tips

Writing for Academia, Literary Criticism & Analysis, Literature Reviews, and Annotated Bibliographies

Academic Writing Structure

An academic paper has three distinct sections - the introduction, body and conclusion: 

INTRODUCTION:  In the introduction, you must grab the reader’s attention and identify the thesis of the paper. You can do this by starting with:

  • Several questions
  • Some interesting facts or information
  • A definition of an important term related to the work

Thesis Statements:

When writing a thesis statement, more successful examples give specific argumentative points instead of sweeping general statements; they indicate a theoretical basis and promise substantial support.

1.) It can make a definite and limited assertion that needs to be explained and supported by further discussion.

2.) It can show the emphasis and indicates the methodology of your argument.

3.) It can show awareness of difficulties and disagreements.

BODY: This is the main part of the work and the paragraphs must be clearly written and be arranged in a logical order, like chronologically or in order of importance. Each initial sentence links the preceding paragraph and the whole section flows smoothly.


What is a paragraph?

A paragraph is a series of related sentences developing a central idea, called the topic. Try to think about paragraphs in terms of thematic unity: a paragraph is a sentence or a group of sentences that supports one central, unified idea. Paragraphs add one idea at a time to your broader argument. Check out what else the University of Toronto has to say on paragraphs, including how to unify, develop ideas and more importantly, how to make ideas flow

A basic way to structure a paragraph is to use the P.I.E. method: Point, Illustration, Explanation. The Point is the main idea of the paragraph, to which everything in the paragraph relates. The Illustration is the specific fact or example that supports (illustrates) the Point.

CONCLUSION: In the conclusion, you re-emphasize the thesis and summarize all the main points. The conclusion shows the final conclusion to the reader.

Adapted from
Your Dictionary and University of Toronto

Genres of Essay Writing

What is an expository essay?

The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

Please note: This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats.

What is a descriptive essay?

The descriptive essay is a genre of essay that asks the student to describe something—object, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc. This genre encourages the student’s ability to create a written account of a particular experience. What is more, this genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader).

What is a narrative essay?

When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.

What is an argumentative essay?

The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.

Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

Adapted from Purdue OWL