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Doctoral Research & Writing Guide

Effective Writing Habits

Academic Writing Genres

As a new researcher, you will encounter a range of different types of academic writing: research articles, literature reviews, meta-analyses and more. These genres serve different purposes for both you and your research community. Some genres, like the research article, aim to make a contribution to a field through original research. Others, like the literature review, aim to review the trends and patterns of a field to inform the direction of future research.  

Look at the "different academic writing genres" tab to see the characteristics and features of some Academic Writing Genres.

Here are some questions for you to consider about academic writing genres:

  • What characterizes the structure of the particular genre you are reading? What are the principle parts of the genre? How are these parts crafted?
  • What purpose does this genre serve for the given research community? What decisions has the writer made to best realize this purpose?
  • How is the genre structured to meet the expectations of the reader? What light does the genre shed on the discipline’s expectations for evidence, argument, and style?

Academic Writing Genres

Here are some examples of different academic writing genres:

Academic Writing Style

Some key virtues of academic writing style are:

  • Clarity: Clear writing allows the reader to see central ideas in the same way the writer does. 
  • Cogency: Cogent writing efficiently directs the reader’s attention to the central line of reasoning. 
  • Correctness: Correct writing meets citation and grammar standards. 

And here are some sylistic questions for you to consider about your academic writing:

  • What are my stylistic strengths in this draft, and how can I demonstrate or emphasize these strengths elsewhere in the draft?  
  • What are my stylistic weaknesses in general? Where do these weaknesses emerge in the draft? How can the draft be revised to remedy these?  
  • What grammar or APA errors do I tend to make? Do I see these errors in the draft that I am currently working on?

Here are some stylistic features for you to be aware of:

Sentence variety:

Effective academic writing relies on a combination of (1) long sentences that relay complex ideas and (2) short sentences that pack more punch or allow the reader to catch their breath as a complex line of reasoning unfolds. In your own writing, try for a mix.  


Sophisticated academic writing is marked by an author’s choice of words. Big words are not necessarily better. Many style guides encourage writers to opt for plain English, when possible, over jargon.  

First Person Pronouns:

For many students, academic writing will be marked by the absence of first person pronouns, though this may not always be the case. “I” can naturally invite the writer to express their opinion and distract the reader from the primary focus of the research.  


Verbs matter. Strong verbs are key to cogent sentences. Verb tense matters too. Active voice makes for cleaner, more concise prose. Passive voice, however, can emphasize elements of a sentence that would otherwise remain hidden at the end. 

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