Overview of Genres of Academic Writing

The academics field is defined by different genres of writing. In some cases, these genres determine how different texts and text types should be used and structured. Proficiency in these genres therefore requires you to develop respective academic writing skills.

Per se, a genre could be defined as a class of particular communication events, whose members share sets of communicative purposes that are acknowledged by expert members of the root discourse community, therefore constituting the genre’s rationale.

The rationale instead shapes the discourse’s schematic structure, where it influences and restrains the choice of style and content.

Note that understanding the different genres of academic writing demands proper knowledge on the specific facets that each genre should exhibit. These facets include:

1. Thematic structure: This encompasses the foci and the topics entailed in the writing.

2. Formal features: This involves the structure and appearance of the writing.

3. Tone and situation of address: This entails the formality and feel of the writing.

4. Rhetorical function: This focuses on the aims of the writing that have been socially agreed upon.

5. Structure of implication: This looks at what the writing presupposes.

6. Frame: This entails the social and physical setting of the writing.


Different Genres of Academic Writing

There are various genres of writing in the academic field. They all require you to develop a set of academic writing skills somehow different from each other. Some of these genres include:



Abstracts are some of the most common genres of academic writing. They entail a brief synopsis of the main text, outlining the key points. This reason accords them a prominent spot among the different types of academic writing.

Accordingly, abstracts act as the gateway leading readers to take up articles, conference organizers to reject or accepts papers, or decide journals to choose contributions from. Although usually between 100 and 200 words, their length vary from one publisher/supervisor to another.

The abstract should brief the reader about entailed content and arguments as well as convince the reader to go ahead and read the whole paper. Herein, persuasive academic writing skills come in handy.

Note that there are 2 common types of abstracts that include:

1. Article abstracts and

2. Conference abstracts.


Usually, format for both types of abstracts should include 4 key features that are; 1) Problem, 2) Method, 3) Results, and 4) Conclusions. Through these features, the abstract should:

1. Situate the research

2. Present the research

3. Describe the methodology

4. Summarize the results

5. Discuss the research.



Essays are considered some of the most important genres of academic writing. This is because they are considered effective assessment tools in university and college. Markedly, there are different types of essays that vary in rationale and length.

Note that writing an essay is a common requirement in college. That said, respective essays usually demand that you to exhibit proficiency in different essay academic writing styles. You also need to demonstrate knowledge of course content in corresponding academic fields.

The key essay categories are:

1. Essay questions: These are usually part of examinations. When answering the questions, you should ensure that you clearly understand the informative part, the directive paper, and the instructional part.

2. Response papers: These are short essays that seek your reaction to one or numerous texts. They require you to read an article or a book.



These are also a key category among different genres of academic writing. Posters involve an academic writing style used to communicate a research or an understanding of a topic in a precise and concise format. It encompasses 2 important elements, including:

1. A poster

2. A brief explanation.


Posters requires you to demonstrate ability to communicate in a perceptive way and a concise manner. Note that the poster has to include information on analysis and evaluation of information, a synthesis of ideas, and a creative understanding of topic or research findings under study.

Important features to consider when making a poster include:

1. Layout

2. Space and spacing

3. Graphics

4. Font type and size

5. Color and

6. Production


Case Studies

These are equally common genres of academic writing. They are usually used in detailed study of an aspect of a real-life problem from numerous viewpoints. The objective of this academic writing style is therefore to come up with a solution.

In doing so, you are required to guide the reader through the various investigation stages, by describing and evaluating the problem and the solution. After identifying the problem, you should explore the appropriate source of data for the solution through different approaches, including:

1. Interviews

2. Observation

3. Questionnaires

4. Library research

5. Diaries

6. Current documents

7. Historical documents


Note that major types of case study reports are:

1. Chronological

2. Comparative

3. Linear analysis

4. Theory-building

5. Un-sequenced and

6. Suspense



Reports are some of the most important genres of academic writing. They encompass a type of writing meant to present facts about a particular project, situation, or process by defining and analyzing the presenting issue.

Reports could be business-oriented, technical, or academic. Note that although they may vary based on the field and instructions, they should all present recommendations on particular set of actions.

They also require that you demonstrate good elements of academic writing in areas like:

1. Proper understanding of the report brief’s purpose

2. Gathering, evaluating, and analyzing requisite data

3. Effective structuring of materials in logical and coherent fashion

4. Consistent presentation of the report based on the brief’s instructions

5. Arriving at appropriate conclusions backed by evidence presented in the report

6. Presenting pragmatic recommendations where necessary


Notably, as key genres of academic writing, reports have a distinctive format. This format is as illustrate below.

1. Table of contents

2. Introduction

3. Methods

4. Results

5. Discussions

6. Conclusion

7. Appendices


Review of Literature

Reviewing of literature is as well one of the critical genres of academic writing. It entails a discursive prose that organizes and evaluates key points, parts, and arguments of all appropriate sources. Its aim should be to provide a context for your work.

The main objective should be to justify your research. This requires you to demonstrate good elements of academic writing in summarizing available literature.

This summary should be geared towards fulfilling the purposes of review of literature, including:

1. Identifying knowledge gaps

2. Contextualizing the contributions of different works

3. Identifying areas previously studied to avoid duplication

4. Describing the relationships between respective works

5. Reconciling differences between contradicting studies

6. Locating your research within existing context

7. Identifying approaches towards resolving additional research needs


Research Papers

This is another of the quite common genres of academic writing. It is also referred to as research articles and entails a written text used by a researcher to report on an investigation done on an issue.

The researcher seeks to publish such text and therefore aligns it with publication requirements. Respective research papers are considered credible since they are subjected to scrutiny by peer reviewers and journal editors.

This makes them some of the most valued genres of academic writing. Markedly, they are found in different disciplines, which makes them quite varying in features and description. Nevertheless, they are defined by some common features like their general structure that encompass:

1. Introduction

2. Procedure

3. Discussion

There are different research paper structures for fields in social sciences and physical and life sciences. To accommodate the different fields, there have been developed distinctive macrostructures like:

1. The Logical Argument

2. The Experimental

3. The Essay Style


Dissertation and Theses

These genres of academic writing are common in graduate and postgraduate levels. They are lengthy and usually act as qualifying requirements for the admission into the society of academics. Dissertations and theses fall into two categories that comprise:

1. Monograph format and

2. Article-compilation format


Note that dissertations and theses are likely to vary from each other based on subjects and college or department instructions. However, there are some common components to expect among them, such as:

1. Preliminaries (a. Title page, b. Abstract, c. Acknowledgements, d. List of Contents, and e. List of Tables and Figures).

2. Main text (a. Introduction, b. Literature Review, c. Theory, d. Aims, e. Methodology or Research Design, f. Materials, Methods, and Participants, g. Findings and Results, h. Discussions, i. Limitations, j. Conclusions or Implications, k. Future Work, and l. Recommendations).

3. End Content (a. References and b. Appendices.


Grant Proposals

This is one the key genres of academic writing particularly in higher education. Grant proposals entail texts used by researchers to seek funds for their research projects. They are unique in their discourse and therefore considered an own genre.

It is clear that grant proposals widely vary in structure due to the differences in requirements on information to include by respective funding bodies and agencies. Nonetheless, the grant proposals have prototypical parts that include:

1. Front content (a. Cover page or title, b. Abstract, and c. Table of contents)

2. Introduction

3. Background (Usually encompasses a literature survey)

4. Proposed research description (entails methods, strategies, and evaluation approaches)

5. Back content (a. Details about relevant institutional resources, b. References used, c) Personnel required, and d) Budget).


Note that the abstract of a grant proposal is different from those of other genres of writing. This is because it does not pay much emphasis on the content of the proposal but instead focuses on making a commitment.

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