How to Write an Academic Report

Marcin Rybarczyk:

Writing an academic report or paper involves reading about, thinking about, making a case about and finally writing about a scholarly topic. Generally speaking, the idea is to get your readers to see the topic in a new light.

Your academic report differs from other types of reports you have done (perhaps ones written for high school assignments) in that it presents both researched facts and your own assessment.

Research your topic. Find out the answers to the "who, what, when, where, why and how" questions about your topic. Summarise what you know about the topic, and evaluate what you don't know so that you can focus any further research. Create a bibliography to cite your sources and avoid plagiarism.

Read primary sources as well as supplementary information. Consider historical or popular opinions about the topic. Think about the main points of each article and note commonalities. Narrow your topic so you can prepare to write an intelligent paper.

Define your structure and connect your ideas into a coherent line of reasoning. Develop an outline based on your main idea (the thesis statement). Organising your ideas this way can help you see the relationships between the ideas.

Each heading in your outline should be in the same structure. For example, if your first heading starts with an action verb, all other headings should start with action verbs. Sub-headings should supply supporting details to the heading. Re-organise your outline until it reflects a logical flow of ideas.

Write your paper. Academic reports typically contain five parts: a title page, introductory paragraph including your thesis statement, background information, details about your ideas and a conclusion. Present arguments for or against a particular view.

Write your supporting paragraphs to tell a story, provide an observation, describe a process, define the meaning, classify ideas, compare and contrast ideas, make analogies or explain why something occurred. Provide evidence, state assumptions and add your opinion as appropriate so that your paper is coherent and understandable. Ensure there are sufficient concluding statements as well as transitions to subsequent paragraphs in your paper. Minimise the use of personal pronouns such as "I" in your academic report.

Print and proofread your paper by reading it aloud. Make sure that your paper is free of grammatical and style errors.