10 Types of Academic Writing – Comprehensive List

The common types of academic writing include essays, research proposals, research papers, dissertations, article critique, term papers, literature reviews, reports, case studies, and annotated bibliographies.

Academic writing refers to a formal approach to writing used in higher learning institutions and scholarly publications.

Some of its basic characteristics include the following:

  • Academic writing being formal
  • Clarity and precision
  • Proper referencing of sources
  • Unbiased reporting
  • Correct and consistent format

By looking at the outline of an academic document, it should be easy to identify what type of academic writing it is based on the characteristics above.

1. Essays

An essays is a short piece of writing that gives the author’s perspective about a particular subject.

Essays are a type of academic writing meant to persuade readers about a given topic.

Writing an essay means putting together a coherent set of ideas in an academic approach to establish an argument.

They can be about anything as long as a clear statement about the subject is given.

Many different types of essays that are written in the academic world.

We compiled a list of 9 Types of Essays with Example Topics for you to check out.

Just to mention some types of academic essays, we have argumentative essays, narrative essays, expository essays, admission essays, etc.

The structure of an essay as a type of academic writing follows the introduction, body, and conclusion style. These make up the three important sections of essays.

2. Research papers

Research papers are also the most common types of academic writing students should expect.

Unlike essays, research papers are a little more complex and require dedicated information gathering from scholarly sources.

Unlike essays, research papers do not have only three sections. They have 10 sections.

Check out our list of 10 Research Paper Parts and Structure

When completing a research paper, academic writing practices such as avoiding plagiarism and grammatical errors is necessary.

Perhaps, getting a little assistance in some of those areas would be necessary to produce the best academic writing.

Even professional academic writers usually have their research papers proofread for quality checks here and there.

Just like essays, there are several types of research papers. Some of the common ones experimental research papers, survey research, and analytical research, among others.

Most importantly, the two approaches in writing an academic research paper could be qualitative or quantitative.

Check out our Qualitative Research Versus Quantitative Research

3. Research Proposal

A research proposal is a piece of academic writing that justifies a writer’s intent to begin a particular scholarly investigation into a research question. It usually precedes a research paper.

Research proposal as one of the many types of academic writing helps to gauge whether a literature gap exists in a particular area.

A research paper is different from a research proposal in that the latter does not report findings or results.

The other remaining sections of the research proposal tend to be similar with those of the research paper.

4. Dissertation

Dissertation is also known as thesis, although differences in how the terminologies are used vary from country to country.

This is usually confused with research paper. However, dissertation is an academic writing submitted to present the author’s research and findings.

In some sense, especially the United States, a dissertation is also a research project, but it is commonly undertaken by those pursuing postgraduate studies.

An examining committee usually reviews a dissertation unlike other types of writing. A student often has to complete a final defense of the dissertation work before the committee.

Research papers do not require any defense. So, explaining the difference between dissertation writing and research paper writing usually comes from the guidelines a course instructor provides.

5. Term papers

Term paper writing is a type of academic writing that evaluates the knowledge learners have acquired during a course.

It is important to note that a term paper is a research paper and usually, scientific guidelines of academic writing are followed. It requires a lot of technical expertise.

It is usually written over an academic term and accounts for a large percentage of the final grade in a course.

Term paper outline forms the basis around which a learner completes it. As one of the types of academic writing, term papers follow templates provided by institutions.

A general format for term papers will include a cover page, an abstract, an introduction, body (results, analysis and discussion) and conclusion.  

6. Academic reports

Academic report writing is one of the many types of academic writing which follows a structured format and is written for a particular audience.  

Many reports can be academic, technical or business-oriented.

The main identifier of a report is the presence of recommendations section.

Usually, the goal of a repot is to relay certain observations using a clear and concise statistical and worded observations.

Report writing is one of the challenging types of academic writing that students can come across but with a little guidance, it is all easy to complete.

The main sections of a standard report writing include title, summary, introduction, findings (body), discussion, conclusion, recommendations, and appendices.

7. Annotated bibliography

Out of all types of academic writing, annotated bibliography is the most direct one.

An annotated bibliography compiles a list of academic sources including books, journal articles and other reliable websites in a specific way called annotation.

There are many reasons why people write annotated bibliographies

  • In preparation for writing a research paper
  • As a practice for writing future annotations
  • Others write annotated bibliography to identify literature gap.
  • To develop skills needed for reading and synthesizing literature

For further details, consider looking at our Annotated Bibliography Example

8. Case study

A case study is a type of academic writing that provides an up-close, in-depth, and thorough examination of a particular case.

A case study focuses on one issue. It can be about a country, a company, an institution, a particular behavior or other specified topics.

Its purpose is to understand a complex issued using detailed data regarding the issue.

9. Article Critique

An article critique is an evaluative writing that points out the strengths and weaknesses of an article.

This genre of academic writing involves intense reading of an article and assessing its parts including methodology and outcomes using relevant evidence.

An interesting thing with article critiques is that other articles are used to critique another article.

The critique starts with a brief summary of the article being analyzed. It then proceeds to the strengths and limitations of the article.

10. Literature review

Literature review is one of the 10 types of academic writing that can be done independently or as part of a dissertation or research paper.

It involves surveying books, scholarly articles, and other quality sources that have been published around a given subject or theory.

In a literature review, the reviewer provides a summary of the source and critically evaluates its credibility.

Related: Review of Related Literature Example

Some of the reasons for conducting a literature review include:

  • Giving new interpretation of previously published works.
  • Trace scholarly progression regarding a particular intellectual debate.
  • Examine the relevance of literature to the purpose in a given field.
  • Identify where there is a literature or knowledge gap. This acts as a subtle recommendation for future research direction.
  • Resolve existing conflicts in contradictory research outcomes.