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Different types of academic writing

Jeff Fan

12 Apr 2022

Descriptive, analytical, persuasive, and critical writing are the four primary types of academic writing. Each of these styles of writing has its own set of language features and purposes.


Descriptive writing is perhaps the most basic form of academic writing. Its goal is to convey information or facts. Some examples include a summary of an article or a report on the findings of an experiment.

'Identify', 'report', 'record', 'summaries', and 'define' are the keywords that apply to descriptive writing assignments. 


A university-level text that is solely descriptive is uncommon. The majority of academic writing is usually also analytical in nature. Analytical writing involves restructuring and reorganising the information and facts you describe into classifications, groups, parts, types, or relationships, as well as descriptive writing.

These categories or relationships may already be present in the field, or you may have to establish them explicitly for your work. If you're comparing two theories, you should divide your analysis into multiple sections. 

Analytical assignments may include keyword instructions such as 'analyse,' 'compare,' 'contrast, "relate,' and 'examine.'


Most academic writing assignments require you to go one step beyond analytical writing and into persuasive writing. Persuasive writing combines all of the characteristics of analytical writing (that is, knowledge plus rearrangement) with your own point of view. Most essays are persuasive, and at least the discussion and conclusion of a research article involve a persuasive element.

Arguments, recommendations, interpretations of findings, and evaluations of others' work are all examples of points of view in academic writing. Each assertion you make in persuasive writing must be supported by proof, such as a reference to research findings or published material.

'Argue,' 'evaluate,' 'discuss,' and 'take' are the keywords that apply to persuasive writing assignments. 


For research, postgraduate, and advanced undergraduate, critical writing is very important. It combines all of the features of persuasive writing, plus at least one other argument from another point of view. While persuasive writing implies expressing your own point of view on a topic or issue, critical writing requires evaluating at minimum two points of view, one of which should be your own.

You could, for example, clarify a researcher's interpretation or argument before evaluating its merits or offering your own alternative interpretation.

A critique of a journal article or a literature review that highlights the strengths and limitations of previous research are examples of critical writing assignments. 

'Critique,' 'argue,' 'disagree,' and 'evaluate' are examples of critical writing guidelines.

read more: essay writing resources from the University of Melbourne

An example of an essay plan- University of Melbourne
Download PDF • 586KB

A typical structure for an academic essay- University of Melbourne
Download PDF • 735KB

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