When we search for the help with academic text structuring, all we find is just banal intro-body-conclusion structures and hints on how to write every part. However, for those who are aimed at reaching academic heights and become the true researchers, this is definitely not enough.
So, how should an academic text be organized? Here we will talk about general text organization as well as construction of paragraphs and even correct formatting of an electronic version of any academic text. Keep in mind that those hints are applicable to practically all academic text formats with the slight differences.
At the Very Beginning
Before you start writing a text, it will be a good idea to create a brief outline for it. Formulate your topic the way you see it, add a list of questions to cover it fully, schematically outline the ideas that come to your mind. However, writing a scientific text is definitely a creative work, so you can pay too much attention to one question leaving practically no space for the others. Make sure that questions are more or less equal in the information they may cover and in significance for your paper. It is necessary to follow a principle of parallelism and sequence. You can select a few aspects of the same issue for your sub-parts, or discover stages of development of the issue (from the earliest to the last, surely).
Construction of a Paragraph
Yes, every paragraph needs to have a certain structure to be logical and clear and, when combined, to build a coherent and efficient text. An ideal paragraph consists of not less than 3 sentences, because it states a certain thought and with 1-2 sentences you will not be able to clarify that. To do this, you obviously need to include an introductory thesis statement of a paragraph, then add a few arguments, and, finally, crown it up with a good conclusion. Moreover, every new thesis statement needs to be connected to the previous one and the next one, so paragraphs need to be the part of a logical sequence and with the help of linking words (furthermore, in addition to that, secondly, in spite of that, thanks to that, etc.) Make sure that the link is tight enough, so you cannot just cut off a paragraph or even a sentence from the text without a serious damage to the text’s meaning and general construction.
Structure of the Whole Text
The whole scientific text, let’s say an academic article, starts with the name of an author. The presence of an author is a feature that often differentiates an academic text from the non-fiction one. The only exceptions include the situations when the works are judged or reviewed anonymously (for the fair and unbiased results).
Some scientists like to start their texts with epigraphs, but not all academic genres allow this.
Here are the main elements of an academic text:
- Last name of the author, title of the paper (making up a title page);
- Introduction (stating the problem, its actuality, purpose and tasks);
- Literature review, conclusions on that;
- Research results, discussions and conclusions;
- General conclusions;
- Reference page;
However, the presence of some of these elements are defined by the genre requirements. Introduction, main part and conclusion is anyway a must.
And, if you have used any references, you are to indicate them, otherwise you may damage your scientific reputation with accusation in plagiarism. We are sure you do not want to lose your achievements due to silly mistakes.
Appendices are usually not a must-have requirement, but adding them is a good plus. Indeed, they make your findings clear and it is easier to read the text looking at them.
Hints on Scientific Text Structuring
Here we will briefly summarize the main hints on how to make your academic text structure better.
- Try to make the structure of your text less detailed, but clearer and simple. For example, this may be 2 or 3 chapters, every chapter having 2 paragraphs or 3-4 divisions, which can be divided into subdivision if the volume allows. With a lot of subdivisions, your reader will simply get lost: concentration on the structure will distract from the content and the main message you wanted to deliver.
- The titles of chapters should be specific. Something like “Empirical research” or “Theoretical overview” will not work. Your titles should better be impressive, contain your findings, ideas, but not abstract general names of parts.
- An academic text is supposed to have a clear structure. It will be easier for you to format all your titles with Microsoft Word “Styles” tab. There you will be able to define the order of titles and at the same time you will prepare information for the automatically generated content-page.
- Make sure to complete a content-page, and it is better to be generated by Microsoft Word to avoid any inaccuracies. Proofread your headings well, so to avoid repeating the same mistake twice, starting from the very first page. Even a slight mistake noticed by a reader questions your being a true and accurate scientist.
- To get an accurate document, use Page Break before the main chapters. It will be unprofessional and inconvenient to use a lot of “Enter” buttons to proceed to a new page instead. Another feature of an unexperienced and inaccurate scientist is a lot of “spaces” instead of the proper tabulation. If you format your paper properly, you do not risk having all the document messed up when printing it on another computer. Overall, not keeping the set standards is not a good idea for any scientific works writing.
- At the beginning of every chapter (division, subdivision), it will be a good idea to write a short preamble, which includes the set tasks for this part, research questions, and a brief overview of what it will be about. This will make your reader prepared for what is going to be next and whether it is worth reading (so make it sound like it really is worth spending time on).
- In the end of every chapter (division, subdivision), conclude, based on the set tasks. If you have unplanned conclusions, this is okay. Adjust your chapter to them, adding either a task, or a specification that such conclusions were not expected, but they made you review your work again from a different perspective, re-state the theoretical hypotheses, and made your research wider and richer.
How to Conclude a Scientific Work?
The final part of the text suggests the summarized final evaluation of the work performed. However, beginners may be confused about what needs to be included in this part and writing a conclusion may take more time than writing the body of the text. What to write in a conclusion? Let us review a few main techniques to avoid any issues with this.
Firstly, try to evaluate your own effort on literature analysis, searching for the new aspects of the problem, carrying out empirical research; try to briefly specify what has been done.
Secondly, specify the results for every of the set tasks. Do not repeat the conclusions of the main part, as well as be concise. It is important to add thoughts which will help you to place your conclusions in a wider context or deepen the understanding of the phenomenon.
Thirdly, you may show the limitations of your approach.
Also, you may indicate the ways for the further research on the issue (forms and methods possible, and tasks to be set in the further studies).
Finally, determine the sense of your work and your scientific results.