Steps of academic writing process
This guide will show you the most essential steps you should take to write a proper paper and help you excel at writing process.
Step 1: Prewriting, brainstorming
You may think this step is not as important as the rest. However, this step will save you from looking at a blank page for hours and thinking what to write.
Finding a topic
Begin by fully understanding what your assignment requires and narrowing down your essay topic. If you are asked to come up with a unique topic, try to remember what caught your attention the most in the class.
AdviceA topic that creates a lingering question is especially perfect to choose, as you’ll have more areas to explore and work on!
ImportantDon’t forget to consider your target audience and reader before fully working on your chosen topic.
Forming an argument or a question should be your primary goal in finding your topic. From the general to the specific, follow these steps:
Step 2: Researching, planning, outlining
Researching for sources
One of the most critical steps, your sources determine the quality of your writing. Researching may include:
Planning and outlining
Before writing, you should also create a logical structure, as it would be hard to establish a structure once you start your process.
One way to map your writing out is to create an outline. An outline organizes your thoughts and how you’ll place them in a logical order in your paper.
Here is an example outline for an essay:
Example of an essay outline
- Describe first-wave feminism
- Outline the timeline of feminism in the 20th-century and the influential characters.
- Present your research question: How did first-wave feminism influence US politics in the 20th-century?
- The birth of first-wave feminism in the US
- Discuss how first-wave emerged
- Discuss the challenges women faced under patriarchal oppression
- The rise of first-wave feminism in the US
- Explain the areas women had to fight
- List emerging organizations and explain the most influential characters
- First-wave to second-wave
- Discuss how first-wave feminism influenced second-wave feminism
- Compare the two waves and highlight the legacy of first-wave
- Summarize the three paragraphs: the birth, the rise, the demise of first-wave feminism
- Answer the research question
- Refer to other fields for further research
Step 3: Drafting
You can’t write your paper in one take and expect it to be perfect. First, you should write a complete draft. You don’t have to write your draft in order, as you’ll keep it to yourself.
Your outline will come in handy in this step for you to just focus on what you want to tell in each paragraph. Here is an example of a paragraph:
Step 4: Revising
Wait a couple of days before redrafting your paper. It will help you look at it from a different perspective, detect unnoticed things, and decrease your bias.
Usually, you might get feedback for your draft from your supervisor. Use this feedback to improve your writing.
As you find out what changes your paper needs, start with significant ones, for these will affect your whole paper. In this part, you might have to:
Change your draft as much as you need. In case your deadline is close, be realistic about what you can change in a limited time. Prioritize the adjustments according to your deadline.
Step 5: Proofreading and editing
Make sure that you don’t have:
In this step, it is vital to check your paper for any repetitions or abundance that could have been changed to be more effective and straightforward.
Here is an example of a structural mistake that is caused by a fragmented sentence:
The second sentence is incomplete. This issue can be fixed by joining the two sentences with a comma:
Although you can find many mistakes with your software’s built-in system, it is recommended that you check your paper manually to spot unnoticed typos and other errors. For example:
Whatever style you choose, the most important thing is to use it consistently throughout your paper. For instance, you can’t mix US and UK English in one paper.