Academic Writing Essentials: Simple and Concise

Two Professors

I remember, before I entered the college, I associated the word “academic”, as well as the word “academician” derived from it, with something or someone very intelligent and hardly accessible for a mere mortal. I imagined a huge library hall where the Academician was sitting at the table with a pile of books on it and making some smart notes which one day would turn into his or her magnum opus.

I think you can understand my surprise when in college our first History instructor told our group that after two weeks we all had to be ready with an Academic Essay on Christopher Columbus and what he did. Yes, I still remember it though I have forgotten most of other topics for college essays we had to write during all those years. “Aren’t you wrong?” I thought then. “Should it really be an “academic” essay?” Yet, everything was right.

To the great relief of our group, our college English instructor appeared to be a nice woman who explained us a lot of things and gave a few pieces of helpful advice concerning academic essay writing and its requirements for college students. However, every new type of academic paper, which we were assigned again and again in different disciplines, caused certain stress for all of us, even for those guys who were quite good at writing essays. To be honest, I also ranked among them. However, each time I came home knowing that I had to write an academic research paper about the pros and cons of globalization, or something like that and sometimes even much more complicated, I felt slightly lost.

Nevertheless, I started to notice that before I sat down to complete another writing assignment, I would always do almost the same preparations, if I can call my actions so. Besides, most of the requirements turned out to be almost similar for different types of my college essays. Finally, it occurred to me that I could work out some guidelines to help myself with literally every task which implied writing as long as I understood the general purpose of each type of college papers assigned. I also searched for some nice Internet sources which offered good explanations and examples.

So, here is what I have collected, understood, analyzed and simplified for guys like that me who just entered the college. Hope, these notes will stand you in a good stead.

What on Earth Is Academic Writing?

First-Year Student Worried

That was the very first question which came into my mind after I heard this word combination from different instructors. As you have definitely guessed already, it must be something connected to various college writing assignments. Actually, you are absolutely right. It refers to all those texts you have to write while you are studying at college and university. School writing is also considered as academic, but its requirements are almost never as strict and unambiguous as in college writing.

What Is So Special About It?

  • Such type of writing teaches you to form and express your opinion on various issues so that it was understandable for others.
  • You inevitably learn to search for and work with different information, analyze it and use it to support and prove your own views.
  • Consequently, you learn to provide valid and clear arguments in order to persuade your reader or listener, or just to advocate your ideas.
  • It helps you think and express your thoughts concisely and reasonably. By the way, such a skill is really effective in our everyday life.
  • It enriches your knowledge of the English language as you have to use synonyms, come up with comparisons or metaphors and, of course, compose your texts without mistakes of any type.

Common Types of Your College Papers

Now let us have a general look at the most common writing assignments you can get while studying at college.


The Purdue OWL recognized four main types of essays which are usually assigned to students: expository, descriptive, narrative and argumentative. At the same time, you may also get tasks which imply the use of essay writing techniques and essay structure. A book critique or a film review can be among such papers.

In addition, you should remember that an essay is quite a universal home task. So, both your English and Chemistry instructors can assign one to you. Certainly, these are two absolutely different papers, but both of them would require references to reliable sources, well-thought structure, facts and arguments, as well as clear conclusions summing your views up.

Research Paper

They usually require a bigger number of pages and sources than essays do. The research itself implies your own work with some materials and data, on which your paper would be based, your analysis of these materials as well as your conclusions and some possible prognoses. Such paper should include several parts which would cover both theoretical and practical issues of your topic.


This is the paper you write mostly during your last year of study to get a master’s degree. Thesis can be considered a bigger research paper, but its structure and purpose are obviously different. When working on the thesis, you should both analyze the achievements of other scientists and provide some new ideas on the topic you have chosen.