I'm interested in the different ways that academic essays can be structured. Of course there is the 5-paragraph style learned by most Americans in secondary school:

  • Introduction
  • Argument 1
  • Argument 2
  • Argument 3
  • Conclusion

And there's this more advanced structure often taught in English 101 type courses in college:

  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Argument
  • Counterargument and Refutation
  • Conclusion

What are some other ways to structure an academic paper? Side question: I've read several popular (as opposed to scholarly) articles which lack an introduction and/or conclusion (more often the conclusion). Is this ever acceptable in a scholarly work?

2 Answers 2


If it is a scientific paper published in an academic journal the format is:

  1. Abstract (summary of your topic and the results).
  2. Introduction
  3. Materials and Methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion/Conclusions
  6. Reference list.
  • For an empirical study, that is the correct structure. Here is a classic article by psychologist Daryl Bem that goes into more detail: dbem.ws/WritingArticle.pdf
    – user5645
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 20:47

I've always written my History using 3x5 cards and reading what I think are the salient aspects from a Primary Source. My first work concerned the use of lead shot as a contributing factor in the decline of the North American duck population. (Seriously. I was 14 years old when I wrote it.) So I went to "the Library" and read all the articles arguing for and against said argument then established my thesis and wrote and footnoted accordingly.

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