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The writing process

In this article we will review the writing process starting with reading and researching through to editing.
Students talking about writing
“The work is always accomplished one word at a time.” (Stephen King).

Writing is a process that takes time

To create quality writing, it requires careful thought and planning. It’s a process that takes time. There are different processes for writing, but they generally follow similar steps. These steps include:

  • Following the brief
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Proof reading/editing
  • Final submission

Following the brief

It’s important to really understand the writing objective otherwise things can go terribly wrong! Let’s look at some tips for the first step of any piece of academic writing – understanding the assessment task!

Mind map your first ideas

Making a mind map will help to focus your ideas and help you to decide the best course of action about where to take the assessment. Having a clear focus will help you move into the research phase.

Highlight any specific terminology

Highlight any specific terminology and verbs (directives) that are used that give you instructions such as explain or argue.

Identify synonyms

Synonyms are words that are similar to each for example money and cash. Identifying synonyms in the key words of the brief first will make sure you’re well prepared for the research phase.

Understand the assessment criteria

If your piece of academic writing is part of an assessment, have a look at the assessment criteria. Having good understanding of this will help give your work focus and allow you to know what the marker is expecting of you.


It is now time to find some evidence. It can be a time-consuming exercise trying to read every resource that you come across. There are skimming and scanning techniques you can use to decide on the best sources to use. We will talk about skimming and scanning techniques next week.

If your piece of academic writing is part of an assessment, remember to refer to the assessment task as to the number of resources required of you. The general rule is to find resources from a range of sources (journal articles, websites, books etc.). Only focusing on one type of source can lead to a very one-sided piece of writing, so make sure to look at different types of sources.


Now that you have some credible resources, it is time to structure your writing.

Academic writing follows certain guidelines that are common across any form of academic writing assessment. These guidelines or academic conventions will be in Week 3.


Now that you have completed your first draft, it is important that you check your work for other important issues, such as organisation, paragraph structure, and content. Getting someone else to read over your work for a different perspective can be useful. You could get some great feedback from them! When you are happy with what you have produced, check the brief to make sure you have met it.

Final submission

If your piece of academic writing is an assignment, it’s now time to submit! At most higher education institutions you will simply submit your assignments electronically into online assignment dropboxes, and will not need to submit a hard copy.

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Skills for Higher Learning: Introduction to Academic Reading and Writing

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