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Features of academic writing


Academic writing is well organised. It flows easily from one section to the next in a logical fashion. A good place to start is the genre of your text. Once you have decided on the genre, the structure is easily determined.

Students are asked to write many different kinds of texts. Depending on your subject, these could be essays, laboratory reports, case-studies, book reviews, reflective diaries, posters, research proposals, and so on and are normally referred to as genre families or genres.

Genres are defined by their purpose, their audience and their structure. Looking at typical structures can help you with your organisation.

The following genres are common in higher education.

  1. Essays
  2. Reports
  3. Case Studies
  4. Research proposals
  5. Book reviews
  6. Brief research reports
  7. Literature reviews
  8. Reflective writing
  9. Introductions
  10. Research methods
  11. Research results
  12. Research discussions
  13. Writing conclusions
  14. Research abstracts
  15. Research dissertations & theses

Which of the above genre families is expected?

A useful start is your brief or assignment title or question. See: Understanding the Task.

See also: Genres in Academic Writing; Paragraphs and Organisation.