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4 Examples of Academic Writing

Written by Scribendi


The best way to understand what effective academic writing looks like is to review academic writing examples.

Let's begin with four of the most common types of academic writing: research proposals, dissertations, abstracts, and academic articles. We'll be examining each type of writing and providing academic writing samples of each. 

Whether you aim to earn funding for a passion project or are stymied by how to format an abstract, these academic writing examples will help you nail your next undertaking.

Academic Writing Example 1: Research Proposals

A research proposal is an outline of the proposed research of a PhD candidate, a private researcher, or someone hoping to obtain a research grant

Your proposal should put your best foot forward: It details your intended research question and how it relates to existing research, makes an argument for why your research should be chosen for advancement or funding, and explains the deliverables you hope to achieve with your research. 

A more detailed look at what proposal writing is and what goes into a research proposal may also be beneficial. Every proposal is different because every project is different. Proposal requirements also differ according to the university or funding agency that reviews the proposal. 

Research Proposal Structure

  1. A cover letter summarizing your proposal and showcasing why you should be chosen

  2. An introduction or abstract

  3. An explanation of the background, purpose, and significance of your research

  4. A research plan or methodology that includes a timeline (a Gantt chart may be beneficial)

  5. A projected budget, if applicable

Academic Writing Sample: Research Proposal Excerpt

Building on the work of the three foundational sociological theorists—Marx, Weber, and Durkheim—and Mark Traugott's theory of the "insurgent barricade," this proposed research will analyze the appearance, use, and disappearance of barricade warfare as an effective battle strategy. 

Focusing on these three theorists, this research will determine which theory or theories best explain the life cycle of barricade warfare, focusing in particular on its disappearance. A brief but comprehensive history of barricade warfare will be provided in addition to the theoretical explanations of barricade warfare's utility.

Research Proposal Writing Tips

  • Before you format your proposal, contact your targeted university, private organization, or funding agency to confirm what they require for proposals. Then, try to follow this format as closely as possible.

  • Be detailed when outlining your goals and your funding needs. Connect the objectives of the research to the resources you're requesting.

  • Be realistic in what you ask for as far as resources—don't ask for more or less than you need, and show evidence to justify your choices.

  • Don't dedicate too much text in your proposal to describing past research. A summary of key points, arguments, theories, and how your research will build on them should suffice.

  • Remember that no matter how good your proposal is, it might be rejected. You're likely up against dozens or even hundreds of other candidates who have equally sound proposals. Don't be discouraged if this happens. See it as a learning opportunity for your next proposal.

Academic Writing Example 2: Dissertations

A dissertation is a body of writing that represents original research and is generally written as part of a PhD or master's program. 

Typically, it builds on previous research in the field to make a significant contribution or advancement. You may benefit from more detailed information on what a dissertation is, how to write a dissertation, and how to edit a dissertation.

Dissertation Structure

  1. Abstract

  2. Introduction/background and the significance of the study

  3. Literature review

  4. Methodology

  5. Results/findings

  6. Discussion

  7. Conclusion/contribution to the body of research

Academic Writing Sample: Dissertation Excerpt

There are two options for choosing a unit of analysis for this phenomenon: the social artifact (erected barricades) or the social interaction (the collaboration of insurgents engaged in barricade warfare). The best choice is social interaction. 

Most individual occurrences of barricade warfare involve the construction of more than one barricade, and the number of barricades is not necessarily a valid indicator of the sociological magnitude of an insurgence. The most relevant choice is an insurgence, the event of a conflict involving barricade warfare.

Dissertation Writing Tips

  • Remember to bear in mind the significance of your study. It doesn't have to be paradigm shifting, but you want to infuse the dissertation with reminders of why your research is important.

  • Don't get bogged down in trying to show that your research is one of a kind or uniquely contributive to the body of research. It likely isn't, and it's more effective to show how you are building on previous research.

  • Remember to check with your college or university to ensure that you're formatting your dissertation according to the school's expectations.

  • Ask your advisor questions when you need to.

Be prepared to make alterations to your dissertation according to your thesis committee's suggestions. This doesn't mean you did a bad job—it just means there's room for improvement.

Academic Writing Example 3: Abstracts

The abstract is actually a component of other forms of academic writing, such as scholarly articles and dissertations. The abstract acts as a comprehensive outline of your paper in paragraph form. 

Abstract Structure

  1. Background

  2. Aims

  3. Methods

  4. Results 

  5. Conclusion

You may want to read more about what abstracts are and why they are important in preparing yourself for writing one.

Academic Writing Sample: Abstract

Barricade warfare has occurred across several spectra, but most notably, it occurred almost exclusively in a 300-year period between the 16th and 19th centuries. Each instance had an inciting incident, but a common thread was the culture of revolution: a revolutionary tradition based on the belief that injustice was being carried out and that, in this case, barricade insurgence was the way to resolve it. 

This study uses the theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim to analyze barricade warfare, its appearance, and its disappearance. Ultimately, neither theory can independently explain this phenomenon. 

Marx offers a reasonable explanation for why barricade warfare may have died, but his theory is difficult to test empirically and fails to explain the absence of recurrences. Conversely, Durkheim's theory is much easier to observe and can explain why barricade warfare has not experienced a renaissance. However, he offered no reason as to why it died in the first place. 

These two theoretical orientations complement each other nicely and, ultimately, neither can stand alone.

Notice that this abstract comes in at under 200 words (a common limit) but nevertheless covers the background of the study, how it was approached, and the results and conclusions of the research. 

If you are struggling to meet a word count, check out 10 Academic Phrases Your Writing Doesn't Need.

Abstract Writing Tips

  • Be conscious of your word count. Stay under the limit.

  • Check with your school or target journal to make sure special formatting is not required.

  • Don't use abbreviations or citations in the abstract.

  • Don't simply restate your thesis or copy your introduction. Neither of these is an abstract.

  • Remember that your abstract often gives readers their first impressions of your work. Despite its short length, it deserves a lot of attention. 

Academic Writing Example 4: Articles

Academic articles are pieces of writing intended for publication in academic journals or other scholarly sources. They may be original research studies, literature analyses, critiques, or other forms of scholarly writing.

Article Structure

  1. Title

  2. Abstract and keywords

  3. Introduction

  4. Materials and methods

  5. Results

  6. Discussion

  7. Conclusion

  8. References and appendices

Academic Writing Sample: Article Excerpt

"Those great revolutionary barricades were places where heroes came together" (Hugo, 2008). This description by Victor Hugo of the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris comes from his seminal work of fiction, Les Miserables. 

Although the account is fictionalized, it is deeply representative of what historian Mark Traugott (2010, p. 225) terms the "culture of revolution." This spirit of heroic response to social injustice swept across Europe during the second half of the millennium and was characterized in part by barricade warfare. 

The phenomenon of the insurgent barricade has essentially disappeared, however, leaving no trace of its short-lived but intense epoch, and the question of why this happened remains a mystery. The theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, when taken together, provide a compelling explanation for the disappearance of barricade warfare, and the tenets of each theory will be examined to explain this phenomenon.

Article Writing Tips

  • Follow these detailed steps for writing an article and publishing it in a journal.

  • Make sure that you follow all of your target journal's guidelines.

  • Have a second set of educated eyes look over your article to correct typos, confusing language, and unclear arguments.

  • Don't be discouraged if your article is not chosen for publication. As with proposal writing, you are up against countless others with equally compelling research.

  • Don't be discouraged if the journal asks you to make changes to your article. This is common. It means they see value in your article, as well as room for improvement.

Conclusion

Whether you're applying for funding, earning an advanced degree, aiming to publish in a journal, or just trying to cram your 4,000-word study into a 150-word abstract, hopefully these academic writing examples have helped get your creative juices flowing. 

Go out there and write! With these academic writing samples at your side, you are sure to model your academic writing appropriately.


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