10 Practical Guidelines on Writing Academic Papers

April 18 2018, By Solomon Adeyera

I could easily have titled this write up, “Give Me 5 Minutes, and I Will Show You the Secrets of Successful Academic Writing”. The headline up there is a direct reflection of what I am about to teach you here: 10 rock-solid, practical guidelines to turbocharge your academic papers and have a massive success.

For a minute, please forget everything you’ve learnt before and pay close attention. Scan every word of this web page diligently.

You are ready for success, aren't you?

So, take a long…, deep…, breath…. Zoom into these powerful guidelines:


As a rule of thumb, it’s far easier to write on something that you are passionate about. If you have the chance, never go for something you don’t have interest in. Go for a topic that interests you.

Have you not noticed, if you’re confident about a topic, you want to discuss and solve problems on it? It doesn’t feels like rocket science.


Now, as you continue to read my words, I want to make one thing clear: There’s no shortcut to your assignment.

The deeper the depths of your research, the greater the heights of your success. But, you don’t just start grabbing information you come across. You tap only from reliable sources.

You can’t joke with this step.

Do not be afraid to bring in other writers’ perspectives into your work. This will set a solid background for your paper. As you research for facts to support your arguments, also bring in opposing opinions and researches. This will give you better grades, as it implies you have an in-dept knowledge of the topic.

There is a saying that goes, “Seek to understand, before you can be understood. The more time you spend on this part, the better you’ll understand.

The next time you have an academic paper to write, browse the internet, in and out. Absorb a good deal of information.

Remember, it’s easier to convince someone about the things you know, than those you know little about. What all these will do for you is that, you’ll be more expressive.


When you organize the steps and data you need for your academic paper, it gives you a clear sense of direction. Always find a way to list, classify, group, and number all your interesting points and thoughts. One good way of planning an academic paper is by having a mind map. A mind map will help you write a well-articulated paper.

As you take notes, also outline your paper in a clear and detailed way that will make it easier to follow. This will be the foundation of your first draft. The outline will also make writing the sections of your academic paper effortless.


As you’ve read from different sources, soaked your brain with information and took notes, if you can set deadlines for each task, it will motivate you to come out better on time.

Your outcome and speed is proportional to your faithfulness to the deadlines.

Work with the requirements of the course. Never go off point. Following the requirements for the program or course is a mark on its own. So, endeavour to get your schools guidelines and requirements from your tutor, follow them religiously to get good marks.


“The first draft of anything is trash!”
—Ernest Hemingway

To meet with the expectations of your reader, have them in mind as you write. One of the ways I go about it is to imagine a reader in front of me as I write.

Use direct words that raise curiosity, echo the problem and justify your argument.

Take the advice of Sean Connery that said, “first write with your heart and then later edit with your mind”. If you want to edit and write as you go, the flesh of the work will be lost as a sidebar in the process of judging your work too early.

Write bit by bit. Don’t try to pour out all you know in one sit. Focus on quality more rather than quantity. Your research paper is not another intellectual dustbin. It is not everything you find on the internet that you copy and cite in your paper. Save some for your personal investigation.

Here's the bottom line; think of plagiarism, before you dump everything you find in your research paper.


It’s sounds crazy, but it’s the fact. After making your draft, you need to take a break. It’s as important as writing that draft.

Set aside a time to take a walk, or do something entirely different. This will not only give you a fresh outlook of the work, it will also open your eyes to errors you wouldn’t have noticed.


Hear me well on this. Never use vulgar words and slang in your papers. Your supervisor is not your friend! (And even if he is), express your words in official tone. Remember, your paper won’t be read by him alone.

Another thing: Avoid using ‘Big’ words.

I’m pausing to let that sink into your mind….

Your research study is not a grammar competition. Why send the reviewers to the dictionary all the time? Use simple words. Why say, “Prestidigitators,” when you could simply say, “Magician”?



It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the immortal words of E.B. White, he declared, “There are not great writers in the world, we only have great re-writers”.

To avoid the rejection of your academic papers, you have to ruthlessly criticize it yourself.

But, another word of caution: You don’t judge your work while writing your drafts. Judging while writing will chase inspiration out of you. Do you get that idea?

To do this effectively, make 25 comments on your work. Your words aren’t written on stone, are they? Adjust where necessary.

Editing and rewriting is the most important part of your work as a writer. Part of it is spell-check, grammar, appropriate concord, tenses. Again, always proofread and check for any trace of plagiarism.


Have seen many young scholars do this. Don’t ever try to pop up new ideas in your conclusion.

Follow the rules and not the fools.

No matter how brilliant the idea is, keep it. It will confuse your readers. Instead, bring all the key points in the previous chapters to a logical summary, in a way that answers the research questions.

Think about this.


Follow the standard pattern of writing an academic paper. Never deviate by being over creative. Stick with the traditional standard: the “Introduction,” “Body,” “Summary,” and the “conclusion”. Any invention apart from this will mar your success.

As a final note, use the format specified by your supervisor.

Earlier on in this report, I told you to forget all you have learnt.  I did that for dramatic emphasis. But, this time, let your mind mix all you have learnt on this web page with all you have known before.

You are smart enough to know that I’ve implanted these new ideas into your brain. And you'll begin to produce phenomenal academic writings.

Go test-drive it!


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