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Writing is not a single skill. In fact, writing requires a complex performance of many skills to succeed. For example, a good academic paper requires you to:

  • Plan and organise your thoughts (outlines, mindmaps)
  • Use a library or website to search for resources
  • Choose the best sources to focus on
  • Understand where to find the most important information from the sources you use 
  • Keep track of that information to use as evidence
  • Understand your own opinions and those of others in the field 
  • Convey your ideas in a logical and coherent order
  • Cite and reference information where necessary to attribute ideas to particular sources
  • Format the text according to disciplinary conventions

Have a look at the factsheets in the "related resources" box on this page.


Image used: shutterstock_319861256. Image edited by Southampton University library.

Related resources:

Reading as a writer (PDF): Learning how to read as a writer is a great way of improving your own writing.

Source evaluation table (PDF): Helps to organise your thoughts and your research before you start writing.

Note making (PDF): Making the most of your notes is a way of improving the focus and clarity of your writing.

Annotated bibliography (PDF): This is a great way of engaging with sources in a critical way during the research phase.

Freewriting (PDF) Try this excercise as a way of changing chaotic and disorganised thoughts into new and clear ideas.

Outlining (PDF): Helps you to structure your assignment and retain your focus throughout the process of writing.

Refining thesis statements (PDF): Refine your thesis statement to maintain focus and clarity in your writing.

Reverse outlining (PDF): Get to grips with the structure and focus of your paper by reverse outlining.

Introductions (PDF): A quick look at how to write and structure an effective introduction.

Paraphrasing (PDF): Avoid plagiarism by learning how to paraphrase in a clear and accurate manner.

Proofreading (PDF): Learn how to edit and proofread your own work before submission.



Writing Paraphrases – University of North Carolina. Students often struggle with this.

The Writing Process – Purdue Online Writing Lab. Various guides to help with the skills involved in writing an essay from start to finish

Academic Writing Resources – University of Coventry. Succinct guides about the writing process

Planning and Preparing to Write Assignments – University of Nottinghham. Covers various the various skills involved in writing an essay, and has a useful list of essay terms as well!

Writing Handouts - University of North Carolina. Covers lots of skills (with videos!). 

Log in to Skills4Study and download the following titles:

Critical Analytical Thinking--A checklist


Making Your Notes Useful and Memorable


Cover Sheet Template


Editing checklist


Checking Your Paragraphs

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