Organisation in Academic Writing

Organisation is one of the most important parts of academic style, without it, your reader will be confused and won’t understand all of your ideas.
When we read a certain genre of writing, we expect to encounter certain information at certain points in the text. For example, when we read the introduction of an academic essay we expect to be given:

Background information to help the reader understand the issue

The focus of the essay

A definition of the key ideas being addressed

A thesis statement explaining the specific focus

The focus of each part of the essay.

Look at the example introduction taken from an essay about the American sitcom Friends. The extract is taken from the BAWE corpus and is a good example of how introductions can be organised.

Task: Try to match the function to the sentence by focusing on the first words of each sentence to help see how they are related.

Well done. That essay has better organisation and is easier to read. This time, focus on the organising words that show us how the rest of the essay will be organised and help us understand how the ideas of the essay are related.

Task: Click on all the words in the introduction that show:

Organisation e.g. ‘lastly’,’was’,’has’
Links between ideas e.g. ‘therefore’,’so’,’because’
References to other parts of the introduction e.g. ‘It’,’they’,’their’

Now lets see if you can show organisation by filling in the blanks of the introduction to the case study we worked on earlier.

Task: Unscramble the signposting words to help you organise the introduction.

  • dna
  • eh
  • clniet het
  • thoualgh
  • shi
  • liwl
  • thrghout sthi sace dstuy
  • liiw I

Can you remember how a typical essay conclusion can be organised?

Task: Try to match the functions of each sentence to the example essay conclusion.

Now have a look at how typical essays can be organised by working through the activities and examples from the Writing for a Purpose website.

Your task: Go to the Future Learn discussion forum and tell your peers about how writing is organised in your field using the information you find on the Writing for a Purpose website.