Research Resource Center

Academic writing part 2 – Planning your writing

Academic writing is clear, concise, focused, structured and backed up by evidence. Its purpose is to aid the reader’s understanding. It has a formal tone and style, but it is not complex and does not require the use of long sentences and complicated vocabulary.


Academic writing has four types: descriptive, analytical, persuasive and critical writing.

Descriptive writing:

The main purpose of it is to describe. A writer might describe a person, place, or object in great detail. The descriptive writing strives to communicate a deeper meaning through the description.

Analytical writing:

Explains a topic by using facts, statistics, and examples. The analytical writing explores a subject in an objective manner avoiding personal opinions, and presents ideas in logical order. Shortly, it is the art of reorganizing facts and information.

Persuasive writing:

Aims to persuade the reader and convince him to accept the writer’s point of view or recommendation. In persuasive writing, the writer may utilize factual evidence to support his claim.

Critical writing:

This type of writing critically analyzes a topic considering the various points of view. In this style, the writer has an opinion about the topic. Critical writing requires strong writing skills and solid understanding of the topic.

Differences between the types:

Descriptive writing:

is the simplest and most flexible type of writing. It focuses on the meaning more than details.

Analytical writing:

the essence of it is to aggregate details that the writer can organize into categories or relationships. However, it is not subjective and does not require the writer to take a stand on a certain topic. Unlike descriptive writing, the analytical writer does not explore the meanings through his writing.

Persuasive writing:

It shares many features with analytical writing. It mandates the inclusion of details like facts and information. However, unlike analytical writing, persuasive writing is a subjective writing style in which the author shares his opinions and biases , gives reasons that support his point, and uses evidence that is strong and directly relevant.

Critical writing:

It shares some similarities with persuasive writing. However, it differs in that it needs to explore not only the author’s point of view, but also other points of view on the subject. The critical writer has to find a real problem in the other point of view and provide strong evidence to support his point of view.

Interpreting the writing assignment:

There are usually three steps to analyzing a writing assignment. Some assignments may involve more than one task.

Checking the meaning:

Check the meaning of any words or terms within the assignment by looking up your notes, study guide, textbook, or dictionary. If the assignment includes a direct quote from a particular author, then you could try to locate a copy of the source (article, paper or text). This will enable you to identify the context of the writer’s statement. This can lead you to supporting evidence for the author’s position that you may need to consider when writing your assignment.

Forming a thesis statement:

Many types of assignments (such as essays) require you to form a thesis statement (a single sentence outlining your answer to the question).

The thesis statement forms the core of the essay. It is a direct answer to the assignment question, or response to the assignment topic. It is usually only one sentence long.

The thesis statement describes a position. Here “position” means an opinion or perspective that answers the question. It is also known as the argument. The thesis statement also summarizes the evidence and analysis that supports that position.

The different stages of writing

Planning your writing:

Before you begin the writing process, it is a good idea to make sure you understand your task and have a good idea about how you will manage your time as you work through your assignment.

Why should you plan?

Planning is useful because it can help you organize your thoughts and prioritize the way you present information.

By planning your writing:

  • You will have a better chance at creating a coherent argument.
  • You can work out a logical structure and end point for your writing before you start the process.
  • You won’t have to do all of your complex thinking about arguments, structure, etc. at the same time you are trying to find the right words to express your ideas.
  • You are more likely to become committed to sticking to the point.

What planning style suits you best?

Spider Diagram / Visual Plans:

Also known as mind maps, this method involves getting all of the main ideas down on a page with key words and phrases around your central question. This method is flexible and creative. You don’t have to worry about putting your ideas in order, it’s more important to get all of your ideas out first.

Spider organization of writing

Bullet Points / Linear Plans:

For some students, creating lists or bullet points is a more effective way to plan their writing. This method may include a brief outline of the main points for each theme of the writing, or a more detailed plan with sub-points and a note of the evidence that supports each point (including sources, page numbers, etc.). Using outlines or bulleted lists will allow you to see how ideas follow on from each other.

Serial organization of writing

Simple Essay Plan:

Introduction Main Body Conclusion.

Chronological Plan:

where a historical, present and future consideration of the topic might be appropriate.

Chronological organization of writing


Content created by Ibrahim Makhoul

Content reviewed by Mariana Haydar, MD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button