Today I have begun researching the style, format and structure for academic papers to prepare for when I begin writing. I have never wrote a paper, only essays. However the both of these are very similar and I have previous experience in covering aspects of an academic paper such as the methodology of my research, writing an abstract and summarizing my findings from primary research. Admittedly this is something I have only done once but I still have an understanding of the generic format required. The link below is a guide for formatting and organizing a traditional academic paper.

The guide states that, “Most traditional academic papers adhere to the following basic format –

I Abstract,

II Introduction,

III Background/ History/ Lit-review or Methodology,

IV Results,

V Argument/ Critique or Discussion,

VI Conclusion,

VII Works cited or References.”

Looking at the above, I can asses which of the criteria is most applicable to me. Obviously I will have an abstract and introduction. However the methodology is more appropriate for primary research. Whilst I do have this, my paper is not centered on my findings, they merely help support my argument and so the methodology may not be essential, at least not in great detail. I would say that discussing the background and history of my subject is more important as what I am looking at is extremely current and therefore a lot can be gained and understood by reviewing what my topic proceeded and its earlier influences.

Again, I will have primary research but it is qualitative data therefore there would not be figures to establish prior to my argument and so this section may be superfluous. Of course the following sections would then be applicable.

Of course this style guide is intended as a general guideline across multiple disciplines to get familiar with the content of an academic paper. I found this useful however just to get a firm understanding of the layout but I will also consult specific guidelines for the journal I am aiming my paper towards.

I have found two writing styles, MLA and APA which are both featured in the links below.

MLA guides-,

APA guides –

I also found a very detailed style guide for ‘SAGE journals’ (below) which outlines in great detail every aspect of the requirements for their journal.

SAGE guide –

As well as SAGE I also looked at ( which is a platform for academics to share research papers. As a member I could upload my paper unlike SAGE, where it has to be reviewed and published upon acceptance. I think given my short time frame for this project it makes sense to upload my paper to This way I can still produce an academic paper and publish it online as well as submit for my assignment.

Looking into the MLA and APA styles more, MLA is widely used in humanities, whereas APA is used more in the social sciences. MLA is accepted as a format to publish on therefore this is the style I will use to write my paper and I will use the two guides above (one of which is via

I also came across another paper, ‘Writing an academic paper for publication.’
It provides a very in depth discussion about how to structure a paper and a methodology of the entire process. For example, one aspect which was very helpful to me was the following:

“Different people have different writing styles, but we suggest you write in small sections, you start without thinking too much about grammar,punctuation and style. Once you have some draft sections on paper you can come back to it at anytime and edit the text. More importantly, when you have a draft you can both (a) make notes of ideas for later, e.g. things that don’t fit your argument exactly; points for your discussion or recommendations; and perhaps more importantly, (b)let a colleague, friend or supervisor read and comment upon your draft.” (Simkhada PP et al 2013: 3).
Of course it is still good practise to write in as close to the style as is easily natural without having to stop and look through the guide. I always have my full bibliography wrote out which makes it very easy to find the author, date of publication, title, URL etc.
Now I have decided on a journal and a writing style I will read through the guides again and revisit these later when I begin writing my paper.





Wilkinson, W. (n.d) ‘Organization of a Traditional Academic Paper’. WRITING SERVICES – UNCW – DePAOLO HALL, 1ST FLOOR-962-7857. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 07/07/15]

(n.d) ‘MLA Format Papers: Step-by-step Instructions for Writing Research Essays’.
Jerz’s Literacy Weblog. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 07/07/15]

Heaton, R. (n.d) ‘Style Manual Review: The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing’. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 07/07/15] (n.d) ‘APA Writing Format’.
[online] Available at: [Accessed on 07/07/15]

SAGE. (2011) ‘SAGE UK Style Guide’. SAGE journals. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 07/07/15]

Simkhada, PP., Teijlingen, E van., Hundley, V. (2013)Writing an academic paper for publication‘. [online] 11(1), pp. 1 – 5. Available at: [Accessed on 07/07/15]