Beginner Guide on Academic Writing

Target audiences: Students have no or little experience in the academic writing experience.

Learning outcome: Capable of writing complete academic papers independently.

Stage 1: Understand Academic Writing

At the end of the stage, you would

  • understand what is academic writing
  • understand the overall structure of a paper
  • be able to start writing with an outline
  • be able to start writing logically with the pyramid principle
  1. Understand what is academic writing. Think about the following questions while watching the following two videos.
    • What is the objective of academic writing?
    • What is the relationship between writer and reader?
    • What are the necessary components in an academic paper?
    • What is good writing?
  2. Understand the overall structure of a paper and how to start writing from an outline.
  3. Learn to write logically and clearly
    • Book: The Pyramid Principles - Barbara Minto
    • Apply the pyramid principle to organize paragraphs in each section of the paper:
      • Start with a paragraph to provide an overview of a section.
    • Apply the pyramid principle to organize sentences in each paragraph:
      • Start with a topic sentence and follow a certain logical order to express the ideas.

Stage 1 Task

Choose one of the following to practice what you have learned.

  • Write a research paper (draft), if you have a research idea and have some preliminary results
  • Write a short survey paper to summarize the area or papers you read.

Note: do not spend too much time on the choices of words and phrases now. You will further improve it in the next stage.

Stage 2: Improve Grammar, Choice of Words and Phrases, and Structure of Sentences

At the end of the stage, you would

  • understand the common practice of grammar, phrases, and sentences in academic writing.
  • improve your grammar and choices of words and phrases.
  • understand and learn to prevent common mistakes made by other students.
  1. Improve your grammar, phrases, and sentences.
    • Coursera Course: Writing in the Sciences
      • This is a great course about academic writing. It provides many suggestions on the choice of words (verbs), phrases, and punctuations.
      • You are highly recommended to learn how the professor revises students’ papers. Although it is in the domain of medicine, you can still get a sense of how to revise the paper.
      • Only need to Focus on week 1 to week 5. The rest are optional
  2. Follow the best practices of grammar and phrases. Prevent common mistakes.

Stage 2 Task

Revise the grammar and choice of words, phrases, and sentence structures of the draft from Stage 1 Task.

Stage 3: Improve the Overall Paper Presentation

  1. Learn the commonly used phrases and expressions in academic writing.
  2. Tools for figures, charts, and tables
    • Figure:
    • Charts: python matplotlib
    • Tables: Google Spreadsheet provides an extension to convert tables to Latex format
  3. Understand the reviewing process and other suggestions for a submission. We use the materials for CVPR as an example. You should understand the reviewing process and common paper presentation style of the venue you are submitting to.

Stage 3 Task

  1. Improve your writing with some commonly used phrases.
  2. Follow the best practices and submission checklist.
  3. Tailor the paper to the style of the venue you are submitting to.

Other Materials

  1. Writing Perfect Papers - Prof Li Baochun
  2. High-quality Paper Writing - Prof. Shui Yu from University of Technology Sydney
  3. Learn Writing Beyond Academic
  4. Other documents
Weiming Zhuang
Weiming Zhuang
Research Scientist

My current research interests include federated learning, computer vison, self-supervised learning, and machine learning system.