How to Structure Your Academic Paper

We hope that everyone is keeping safe and well in these unprecedented times. And to help you focus on your university work (we appreciate it may be hard!), this time we would like to tell you how to structure your academic papers for submission to academic journals.

Please note that this advice applies mainly to the journals written in the Anglo-American tradition, and even then, please read the submission guidelines carefully before you contact them. Also, ideally, read your chosen journals first to scope what kind of papers they publish. Analyse how they are written, what works well and what you can learn from them.

A clear and robust structure is the scaffolding of your paper, and one of the most popular methods for writing academic papers is the IMRAD method which stands for:

  • Introduction: set the context for your study that tells a story about what you have been working on, how and why
  • Materials and methods: specify how you went about your research. If your paper includes scientific experiments, make sure your readers are able to follow and recreate them
  • Results and discussion: highlight your findings and discuss their implications
  • And don’t forget about your Conclusion where you clarify what you have learned from your research

It is important to remember that each of these sections should be well organised and clear. Not only is it important to hook an editor from the first sentence but also to make their job easier so that they are more likely to accept your submission.

So, why not use the extra time you may have at home now and draft an article following this format? Practise structuring your arguments and presenting them in a clear and concise way and see where it takes you!

Happy writing everyone.

Stay safe!

Read this:

Reflect: now that you have read this article, take a few minutes and jot down answers to the questions below. This will help you remember the most insightful points and put together an action plan that works for you:

  • What inspired you?
  • As a result, what do you want to do more of?
  • And what do you want to do less of?
  • What will you do next to achieve these goals?
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