Academic writing

Academic writing

Academic writing stems from the idea that a phenomenon is examined and understood through both the works of others as well as one self's contributions. Therefore, it is imperative that one follows a particular structure in order for other who want to understand your investigation does so and, furthermore, are able to retrace all your steps. Moreover, your essay must be based on sources which indicate where you got your information from and (hopefully) supports the trustworthiness of said information.

As such, scientific essay, or an academic paper, includes an introduction, a body and a conclusion.


"Tell 'em what ya gonna tell 'em" is a keyphrase to use in order to remember that purpose of introducing your reader to the general ideas that you will present. In sum, the introduction should include:

  • An engaging introduction, also known as a hook

  • The thesis question of the essay - your prediction - specifically what you are researching

  • A brief summary of the topics that you will be discussing

A good rule of thumb is that your introduction should be around 10-20% of your essay.


The Body is the main part of the essay. A reasonable body has two to three paragraphs, each with information from your sources related to your thesis. Each paragraphs should consist of sentences where you describe:

  1. What the paragraph is going to be about.

  2. Quote, paraphrase or summarise in order to explain the source.

  3. Analyse and explain the source’s relationship to the thesis question.

Analysis means to break the information down into smaller parts, describing the most important findings.

A rule of thumb is that your body should be 60-80% of your essay.


This phrase is from the movie Interstellar (2014):

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt”.

(Interstellar, 2014)

See how we use quotation marks (“ “) to signal that this is a quote and we kept the exact wording, punctuation from the source. We also include the name of the source (Interstellar) and when it was published (2014). Source information is added after the quote.


When a writer paraphrases, they rewrites information using their own words. The goal is to stay close to the source.

The above quote from Interstellar is actually a case of paraphrasing a quote from the famous author Oscar Wilde:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

(Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1893)


When a writer summarises, the original content is condensed with the goal of capturing the main ideas.

This can often be achieved by paraphrasing.

A key feature of a summary is that it is shorter than the source.

Here we see an example of a quote from Skolverket being summarised:

“Teaching of English should aim at helping students to develop knowledge of language and the surrounding world so that they have the ability, desire and confidence to use English in different situations and for different purposes. Students should be given the opportunity, through the use of language in functional and meaningful contexts, to develop all-round communicative skills.” (Skolverket, 2011)

According to Skolverket (2014), students should become skilled, keen and confident and learn how to use English in relevant situations.


During your conclusion, restate your prediction, the main points from your sources and briefly discuss if they agree, disagree or both agree and disagree with your prediction. Then, discuss why these findings are important, preferably from many perspectives, adding nuance to your conclusion.

A good rule of thumb is that your introduction should be around 10-20% of your essay.