Learn how you can improve your writing process to write academic essays

In academia, where ideas and knowledge converge, the written word is a powerful tool for conveying research and arguments. However, the journey from a blank page to a polished essay involves more than inspiration; it demands a systematic and strategic approach. The steps involved in the writing process are considered the building blocks of an essay, the academic writing style itself provides a deep knowledge of the subject matter and helps writers construct evidence-based arguments within their respective fields. This blog post explores the essential steps, techniques, and insights to improve your writing process and gear the approach towards academic essays. 

Essay Writing Basics

The purpose of academic essays is to advance ideas and exchange discourse amongst scholars while also teaching the writer to think critically and analyse various areas of research. When structuring and writing an academic essay, it is essential to plan the flow of information to complement one another strategically; the research points contained in each paragraph have to be simple to absorb and not overbearing. 

An academic essay has 3 key components: introduction, body paragraph and conclusion. 

Pre-Writing Phase

Before writing the essay, having several brainstorming sessions will help writers understand the topic, scope, and arguments within the academic essay. Brainstorming allows writers to build enthusiasm and commitment towards the essay, as the topic becomes clearer with research, discussion and planning. Listed below are a few effective brainstorming techniques: 

  • Mind Mapping

A mind map is essential for brainstorming as it tracks related concepts. The first step is to write down the larger subject and then write down anything that is relevant to that, this helps writers and researchers visualise all the information related to the topic. It can be used to either break down a larger subject or focus on a certain component of a subject, this is beneficial for academic writers as it helps generate new ideas, foster collaboration and organise information. 

  • Clustering

The cluster analysis is a great method to club or “cluster” information and data together over certain similarities. This learning technique can be adapted to a brainstorming method to allow academic writers to structure their essays strategically which would allow information and ideas to flow smoothly. 

  • Free Writing

Free writing is a brainstorming method geared towards writers, it allows writers to write about a topic with no rules, guidelines or structure. The aim is to write as the thoughts come so that the writer can establish how much information they have on a topic. There are 3 simple rules to get this method right: don’t pause to read anything you have written, don’t cross out or erase anything as that is editing and not writing, and finally, don’t worry about spelling or grammar. This method allows writers to generate their ideas and polish them later, rather than having a thought and letting it go. 

After having productive brainstorming sessions, the next step is to start the research. Certain institutions have guidelines as to what they consider reputable resources, for example, Wikipedia is not considered an academic source of information as the pages can be edited and written by anyone. Access reputable academic databases and libraries to conduct your research, We have listed a few below:

Once the research phase is done, you will have gathered a good amount of resources and information on your essay topic. The next crucial step is to develop a thesis statement, an essay has to have a thesis statement to serve as a guide for the reader and develop the author’s argument. Furthermore, formulating the thesis statement allows authors to see how their ideas are perceived in a sentence or two. A strong thesis statement specifies one main idea and asserts the author’s conclusions on the essay question or topic. 

For example, if your essay is about the implementation of sustainable practices in the transport sector, your thesis statement can be: In recent years, there has been a rise in sustainable initiatives, this essay highlights and argues that sustainability in transportation is beneficial for human advancement and slowing climate change.

Writing The Essay

Once the initial stages of brainstorming, research, and the formulation of a thesis statement are done, the writing process is equipped with a clear roadmap. Each paragraph in an academic essay serves as a building block, cementing the foundation of the thesis while allowing room to explore other perspectives. 

  • Introduction 

The introductory paragraph of an academic essay sets the tone and outlines the map of the essay. It should give the reader a clear idea of the points, arguments and methods the essay will highlight and discuss. There are 4 main components of a good essay introduction paragraph; the hook, context, thesis statement and a clear structure of the essay. 

Example: The rise of sustainable practices in the transport sector is imperative to its advancement (Hook). In recent years, the world has witnessed electric cars, alternative routes, carpooling applications, and improvements in public transport; these enhancements have encouraged the general population to utilise alternative methods of transport rather than driving their personal vehicles daily (Context). This essay states that sustainable practices in the transport sector are beneficial for human advancement and slowing climate change (Thesis). The essay discusses the development and implementation of sustainable aviation fuel in recent flights while acknowledging key drawbacks. Furthermore, the essay assesses how carpooling alternatives are valuable for the safety of the environment; and finally, the accessibility and affordability of public transport (Structure)

  • Developing Arguments 

To effectively develop the arguments that support the thesis statement, the writer should deconstruct the topic and map all possible aspects of the topic. Based on available research, literature and evidence; create a stance that has appropriate citations. Each body paragraph should break down the argument and end with an explanation as to why the essay’s stance is convincing. 

  • Structuring Body Paragraphs

In an academic essay, each body paragraph is dedicated to a specific point or argument; this paragraph would consist of a topic sentence, evidence, opposing research, context and explanation. Each developed argument should flow and serve the research paper’s positioning in the subject area. The best practice for structuring effective body paragraphs is to follow the P.E.E method which stands for point, evidence and explanation. 

Example: The usage of sustainable aviation fuel is key to maintaining the same amount of weekly flights while reducing its effects on climate change (Point). In recent studies, Smith (2021) found that the components required to produce sustainable aviation fuel not only source environmentally friendly ingredients but also practice eco-friendly processes during the production and manufacturing phases (Evidence). The approach to creating sustainability in transport starts by examining the processes by which the vehicles are manufactured as the environmental output of those factories is significant, utilising sustainable aviation fuel eliminates harmful production practices and decreases pollution caused by aeroplanes (Explanation).

  • Writing the Conclusion

The conclusion of an academic essay should be an impactful recap of the essay, which should include supporting evidence for the arguments presented; by this paragraph in the essay, the reader should be drawn to supporting the thesis statement. 

Editing and Polishing

During the editing stage, it is common for authors to look for grammatical errors; while this is important, it’s also beneficial to keep an eye out for clarity issues. In academic writing, structuring clear and concise sentences is imperative so that all readers can efficiently comprehend the material. 

Here is a check-list of what you should look out for while editing an academic essay:

  • Correct running sentences with too many subordinate clauses
  • Sentences should be written in active voice
  • Assess whether a sentence is written in an academic and formal tone
  • Assess whether the essay is structured for the intended audience and purpose

Finalising the Essay

Once the essay has reached the finalising phase, it’s important to refer to your institutional formatting guidelines and ensure that all the requirements have been met. Once that is done, the bibliography has to be double-checked to ensure the references are in the correct style without grammar and formatting mistakes. The bibliography is an essential part of an academic essay as it helps readers, professors, and researchers understand where the evidence was retrieved from and how the arguments were constructed; having an accurate bibliography also gives the essay credibility. The final step is to give the essay one last proofread to ensure that it is free of errors. 


How long should an essay be?

Ideally, an essay should be about 5-7 pages which should contain about 1500-2000 words. However, a detailed essay can range from anywhere between 8-10 pages containing about 2500-3000 words. 

What are the key elements of a perfect essay? 

Great essays have a clear and concise introduction, thesis and conclusion. The body paragraphs within a good essay flow and connect back to the thesis statement, creating cohesive arguments as the academic paper progresses. 

How can I improve my essay-writing skills? 

Improving your essay writing skills lies in the planning and proofreading phases rather than the writing itself. Before beginning your essay, plan out the paragraphs, and arguments, and follow the structures to create uniformed paragraphs. In the proofreading stage, keep an eye out for grammatical errors as well as clarity-related errors. 

Are there any online resources to assist with essay writing? 

The most useful essay-writing tool is Grammarly, it offers multiple suggestions and corrections as you write so that the corrections can be made simultaneously, further simplifying the proofreading stage. 

How important is the thesis statement in an essay?

The thesis statement gives the essay direction and provides a clear roadmap to the writer. Every other component of the essay should support or explain the thesis statement.

How do I avoid plagiarism in my essay?

The most effective way to avoid plagiarism is to keep a record of all the sources you will utilise in your essay and then paraphrase the points, you will then have to cite the original author using in-text citations. 

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Dissecting the Key Ethical Considerations in Academic Research

Within the ever-evolving sphere of academic and scientific research, ethical considerations play an imperative role. Research ethics are a set of principles that guide research, study, or experiment design and process; they serve as a code of conduct for scientists and researchers to abide by when collecting data from people. Transparently communicating how a study followed ethical guidelines is beneficial for both the researcher and participant; the guidelines ensure the participant’s right to privacy is protected, while also enhancing research validity and maintaining scientific integrity.

Why are ethics important in research?

Research ethics are established to ensure that the rights and welfare of research participants are appropriately protected, and all research designs involving living beings are reviewed by an ethics committee prior to the execution; this is done to ensure all ethical standards are met. 

Following ethics shows objectivity in research studies and experiments, the absence of harm combined with efficient result transparency gives the study credibility as well. Moreover, ethical research models and experiment designs attract more funding because research integrity and transparency are essential in gaining support to execute research. Finally, the standard ethics in research are also put in place to increase collaborative work across disciplines and institutions. 

Infographic depicting ethical concerns in academic research


  1. Voluntary Participation

When scouting and briefing volunteers for a research study, it is imperative to clarify that there are no negative consequences of withdrawing from the study. Voluntary participation is an ethical principle protected by international law and many scientific codes of conduct. 


  1. Informed Consent

All potential participants should receive and comprehend all the information about the study or experiment. The participant debriefing should include the following:

  • What is the study about?
  • Risks and benefits of participating
  • Timeline of study or experiment
  • Contact information and institutional approval number of the research supervisor
  • Right to withdraw at any given point in the study
  • The information withdrawal procedure

All of this information should be clearly mentioned and explained in a debriefing document which the participants should sign. It is important for all this information to be thoroughly comprehended by participants hence the material should be translated for those with limited English. 


  1. Anonymity

In a research study, anonymity can only be guaranteed by not collecting any personally identifiable information. An alternative to anonymising data is to generate data pseudonyms and replace personal information with these pseudonym identifiers instead. 


  1. Confidentiality

Participant confidentiality has to be maintained properly before, during and after the study. The information has to be stored safely during collection, analysis and utilisation. For example, all digitised files must be password protected and only approved researchers can access these databases. For cases in which confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, this must be thoroughly communicated in the debriefing phase. 


  1. Potential Harm

Any kind of harm during a study should be minimised. However, the researcher would need to consider all aspects of liability to debrief participants appropriately. 

  • Psychological harm: sensitive questions or tasks that can trigger negative emotions such as anxiety or shame
  • Social harm: participation can involve social risks, public humiliation or stigma
  • Physical harm: any pain or injury that can result from study procedures
  • Legal harm: reporting sensitive data could lead to legal risks and potential breaches of privacy


  1. Result Communication

Researchers should remember that good scientific research is honest and credible, as this keeps results as transparent as possible. There are 2 issues that can come from inaccurate result analysis and communication:

  • Plagiarism: the researcher should be vigilant to not commit plagiarism or self-plagiarism as this can benefit the researcher from presenting these findings and concepts as “new” 
  • Research misconduct: falsifying or fabricating data which is considered academic fraud

In conclusion, ethical considerations in academia contribute to responsible research. Embracing principles such as honesty, integrity, transparency, fairness, and respect not only ensures the credibility of academic work but also fosters a culture of trust and collaboration within the scholarly community. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of academia, it is imperative to remain vigilant in upholding these ethical standards. By doing so, we not only contribute to the advancement of knowledge but also serve as ethical role models for the next generation of scholars, shaping a brighter and more ethically grounded future for academia.

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See the Top Reads of August 2023

In the evolving landscape of academia, scholarly works and intellectual breakthroughs are paramount. This past August, our virtual shelves have been enriched with an array of thought-provoking publications. These carefully selected papers represent academic literature, spanning disciplines and shedding light on research and insights. Whether you’re a student, educator, or simply an inquisitive mind, join us on this exploration of the most compelling texts that have graced our research library in the past month.


  1. AI in healthcare

This paper discusses how artificial intelligence, specifically in nursing, can improve the quality and efficiency of delivering personalised treatment. The research highlights that AI will equip healthcare professionals with top medical research and intelligent analytical technology. The research paper navigates the current foundation of AI in healthcare and the challenges that hinder complete implementation. 

Read more: Artificial intelligence in healthcare


  1. Examination of the relationship between tourism, environment and economy

This research paper deeply analyses the correlation between the tourism industry, ecological environment and regional economy in the Shandong province in China. Utilising the coupling coordination evaluation system, the 3 aspects of each city within the region were monitored from 2010-2017. The study concluded that tourism and the economy are highly correlated and that the ecological environment adapts to the changes, indicating that all 3 aspects generally develop in coordination. 

Read more: Examination and Forecast of Relationship among Tourism, Environment, and Economy: A Case Study in Shandong Province, China


  1. Impact of the industrial revolution on food machinery

This article proposes that with the rise of food manufacturing and processing machinery, the industry should focus on acquiring skilled engineers to oversee operations. The paper highlights how analytical and scientific equipment in the food industry has impacted various aspects of production. Furthermore, the research provides a comprehensive history of the implementation of technology in the food industry dating back to the 17th century. 

Read more: Impact of Industrial Revolutions on Food Machinery


  1. Music and mathematics in Iranian architecture

This paper closely examines the role of music in architecture as the researcher found conceptual and fundamental connections between music and traditional Iranian architecture. By analysing parameters like rhythm, high low, hierarchy, numbers, symbolism, and geometry, the study found compatibility with physics and mathematics. 

Read more: Music, Architecture and Mathematics in Traditional Iranian Architecture


  1. Sustainable practices in the hospitality industry


This article assesses how hotels in Poland progress towards SDGs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers conducted a case study on one hotel and surveyed 102 different hotels across Poland, the data was analysed descriptively and interpreted the market situation of hotels in Poland while examining the practices hotels would engage in before and during the pandemic and comparing these to each of the 17 SDGs

Read more: Sustainability in the hospitality industry in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study of the hospitality industry in Poland

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