How To Write Effective Academic Articles

As an academic, you’ll often be called upon to write academic articles for conference papers and later for journal articles. While the topics may be requested by editors or emerge from your own research, you will want to develop coherent textual readings and/or produce a competent argument. You can write the article in any order you choose (some prefer to write it narratively, while others may compose the readings or describe the evidence first), but here are some key points for writing effective academic articles:

Decide what kind of article you are trying to write before you begin.

Is this a theoretical article that attempts to unpack a certain concept? A close reading of a specific text? A summation of historical or experimental research? Different kinds of articles require different strategies of composition. For instance, a theoretical article or close reading will most likely require fewer research texts than a historical study. You’ll probably be aware of what kind of article you’re writing already (due to the constraints of the course or your field), but having a clear vision of how you imagine your article will help you control the language and narrative from the beginning.

Know how you want to structure your article.

Conventional structure is to use intro-body-conclusion, as this provides a clear narrative for your reader. In some instances, it is entirely acceptable to begin the article with your argument (“In this article, I will argue that…”). However, you may want to bring your argument in at the end, especially if you are producing an argument through historical data. Either way, you want your structure to be clear. Be sure each paragraph and section of your effective academic articles has a specific goal, whether it’s to provide a particular piece of evidence or to sum up your argument.

Make the argument appropriate for the article’s length.

Make sure that you only take on as much of the topic as you can clearly and intelligently discuss in your word or page limit. On the flip side, discuss enough of the topic to make clear and relevant points without focusing on unnecessary minutiae.

Write an elegant, thoughtful conclusion.

Your conclusion can speak to research yet to come, or it can sum up the larger projects at work in your article. Try to avoid having too idealistic a view of the conclusions of your article (now I have solved the problem of this concern forever!) but instead attempt to put your argument into the larger conversation about the topic. Does your article work toward solving a particular issue? Illustrate where newer research needs to occur? Contradict an earlier argument? You want to have a rational and coherent ending to your effective academic articles.


Read your article at least twenty-four hours after it is finished or hand it over to a trusted editor. When a article is error-free, it appears more accurate and intelligent.