Academic Writing

What is an academic journal? Learn more about the main elements, format and structure

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The academic publishing field is highly competitive and demanding. Most of the leading journals publish articles that are engaging, interesting, and relevant. What is more, these articles should present major contributions to the field. In many cases, career advancement depends on the number and quality of articles published in academic journals. Nevertheless, a lot of academicians are not sure about what an academic journal is and how to succeed in academic journal writing. When you know that your career depends on your publishing history, it can be very difficult to get started. We do understand all of your fears and hesitations and we are ready to provide you with a lot of handy tips and practices that will help you boost your writing proficiency and optimize your work.

What is an academic journal?

An academic journal is a peer-reviewed periodical in which researchers publish their entries, news, or reports in a form of articles. It deals with scholarly publications in various fields including both quantitative and qualitative sciences. If you are not sure what the term “peer review” means, we would like to let you know that it is a process when the article is checked and evaluated by knowledgeable and experienced scholars before its publishing.

An academic journal includes articles that present original research results of different scholars. In their work, these people present theoretical discussions and suggest their contributions in different fields. Also, the articles may critically review already published books. The peer-reviewed academic journals can be released annually, semi-annually, and quarterly. Those journals that do not undergo peer-reviewing are called professional magazines.  

Researchers often use academic journals as platforms for introduction and presenting their research works, as well as critiquing the existing research works. When you are supposed to write a scholarly article in an academic journal, you will need to dedicate it to the recent research advances and breakthroughs. That is why students consider academic journals valuable and credible sources of information. If you manage to write one or several worthy articles in academic journals, it will establish your professional ranking and credibility.

It should be noticed that theories change over time as researchers often discover new sets of knowledge. In this regard, academic journals are particularly important as they greatly contribute to both the presenting and dissemination of breakthrough knowledge.

Academic journal articles types

If you have studied some academic journals, you have probably noticed that there are several different types of articles published there. Below, you will find common types of publications that are widely used by researchers:

  • Letters. Being rather short, letters present the information that is needed for immediate publications. For example, one may publish letters about a significant breakthrough regarding treatment for previously incurable diseases, or dealing with an outbreak of a disease. For example, one may write a letter about new advancements in dealing with COVID-19;
  • Articles. Articles usually present complete descriptions or thorough investigations of current issues. Typically, an article is about 15-20 pages long;
  • Research notes. Research notes are brief descriptions that are less urgent than letters. Nevertheless, they also publish current research findings and present work of credible researchers and scholars;
  • Supplemental notes. Supplemental notes include tabular data that presents significant details of current research;
  • Review articles. Review articles do not present the results of the original research. Instead, they evaluate the findings of other scholars. Very often, they accumulate findings provided in many other publications to present the current state of things in a particular field. Pay attention that whenever you are writing a review article, you will need to provide reference to the original study to give credit to its author.

Academic journal format

Whenever you need to write a publication to an academic journal, you will need to follow the specific formatting requirements of this journal. Most probably, you will be provided with the IFA (instructions for authors). It is a set of guidelines that should help the author figure out how to write a publication, how to format it, what elements to include, etc. Familiarizing yourself with the instructions is a particularly important part of the writing process as it will define the success of your work. You should understand that IFA will tell you what the editorial board wants to see exactly in your paper. If you manage to follow the instructions carefully, you will experience no problems with publishing your material.

What information is typically included in IFA?

As it was already mentioned, you will need to read the instructions for authors very carefully as this set of guidelines includes all points you should focus on. Most probably, you will familiarize yourself with the following requirements:

  1. General requirements such as the date of submission, as well as the language of your paper;
  2. Word count. You need to be very careful when writing your article as exceeded word count will lead to your failure;
  3. Style guidelines;
  4. Specific journal policies;
  5. Open access options.

By reading these guidelines thoroughly, you will understand how to make your article match the requirements of the journal. Nevertheless, it should be noted that in the present-day academic environment, many journals offer format-free submission, which means that you are allowed to format your manuscript the way you like.

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Common structure of a journal article

Below, you will find some handy suggestions on how to write an academic journal article:


The title of your work is the first indicator informing your reader what is your article about. A perfect title for an academic article is concise, clear, and accurate. To help your target audience figure out if your article matches their expectations, you need to include several informative keywords in the title.


When it comes to producing an academic journal article, keywords play a significant role. You may write a list of keywords that are the basis of your article as they should help your readers understand if your work fits their research interests.


The main goal of an abstract is to indicate the main points of your work in a brief and concise way. Very often, an abstract is written after the entire article is completed as it will make it easier to outline all points. A good abstract should provide answers to the following questions:

  • What is your research about?
  • What methods did you use to achieve your goals?
  • What are your key findings?


An acknowledgments part is pretty short, yet it is very important. This is the section in which you will give credit to individuals who are not your co-authors but who have contributed to your article intellectually or financially. When you acknowledge any person or organization, it will add integrity to your work as it will convince your reader that you respect intellectual property.


An introductory part is particularly important in your article. It should not only present your topic but should also contextualize your argument in a broad academic field. To do it effectively, you will need to provide background information on your topic.

Main body

The main body of your article is where your arguments and evidence can be found. Each paragraph of the main body should be dedicated to a single point that will be linked with each other with the help of appropriate transition words.


In the concluding part of your article, you will need to present a clear interpretation of the results you have managed to obtain. Then, you will need to summarize your arguments proving the theoretical and practical value of your work.


All sources you use when writing your article should be relevant, credible, and balanced. Pay attention that they should not be older than 10 years because the older sources may include outdated information. If you use some source when writing your article but fail to add it to your reference list, you may be accused of plagiarism.


Once your article is written, you will need to review it carefully making sure it corresponds with the IFA. If you are certain that your article is done well and contains no irrelevant information, you will need to submit it to your journal within the deadline indicated. If you want to send the same article to different journals, we highly recommend you not to do it because it will reduce your chances to be published.

Writing a journal article: Common suggestions

  • Make sure to explain all unclear points

Imagine that you are a reader, who is not competent in your field of study. What concepts may be unclear to you? If your article includes some uncommon ideas, do not hesitate to explain them to facilitate understanding of your ideas.

  • Make your article engaging

If your target audience enjoys reading your article, they will find it easier to comprehend your messages.

  • Be aware of what other researchers say about your topic

To contribute to some research field, your article should offer an interesting and fresh approach to addressing a specific topic. If you do not want to include repetitive ideas and unoriginal statements, you will need to read other articles related to your topic to understand what information they contain.

  • Be maximally original

Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty that is condemned. When writing your article, you need to take this fact into consideration and check your paper for plagiarism several times before its submission. If the checker notices any plagiarism, even unintentional, you will need to rewrite it.

Remember that your reputation depends on the way your article is written. Thus, you will need to pay attention to every single detail.

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The studying process is the most important and reliable way to obtain not only basic education but also special skills and abilities. While there are numerous learning models that emphasize certain aspects of this process, the information-processing theory is the most reliable and effective one. This theory sees the learning process as the combination of sensory registers, working memory, and long-term memory. These essential parts form the way of perception, background knowledge, and also filter information according to its usefulness. At the same time, the purpose of school education is the harmonic development of every child. Therefore, students face all aspects of the information-processing theory. The open class at Guhyan Elementary School and the video from the first day at Waco ISD show the connections between cognitive theories and the teachers’ and students’ actions.

The video of the first day at Wasco ISD School starts with the arrival of students. Every school official is friendly and joyful, and everything is aimed at creating a festive atmosphere. In order to evoke a certain type of mood among the students, the teachers use songs and dances. These types of activity are aimed at sensory registers. Slavin insists that the majority of information that passes through the human sensory registers will not stay in memory. However, such activities as singing and dancing help to distract students and prepare them for further studying. Moreover, during the lessons, the presence of a variety of objects that suppose physical interaction, such as toys, figures, and items for drawing, catches attention. Martinez states that the human brain consists of two hemispheres that perform certain functions. While the left hemisphere is responsible for communicative skills, the right one processes spatial information. Therefore, any physical activity during the classes in combination with traditional learning activities helps to develop both hemispheres equally. Moreover, these activities affect the procedural type of long-term memory.      

The open class at Guhyan Elementary School demonstrates a couple of different techniques as well. The teacher uses not only the visual representation of school accessories but also pronounces their names with the students. Such an activity corresponds with the dual code learning theory. This approach supposes that any information in long-term memory exists in verbal and visual forms and relates to episodic and semantic memory. The special learning game used in the video engages both visual and verbal information. Thus, all three parts of long-term memory are involved in the learning process. At the same time, during the open class, the teacher focused primarily on the memorization process instead of the explanation of the functions of every school accessory. Such a focus transforms all the provided information into inert knowledge because students will know the names and images of every particular object without any understanding of their purpose. Slavin sees such a type of knowledge as highly applicable to the cognitive theory but almost useless in practice due to mistakes in the learning process.

At the same time, both videos demonstrate the important role of a teacher in the educational process. In fact, learning activity supposes a constant interaction between students and teachers. Thus, gaining students’ attention becomes crucial. Slavin insists that attention is a limited resource, and there are different ways of gaining it. For example, during the open class at Guhyan Elementary School, the teacher created a competitive atmosphere by dividing the class into two teams. At the same time, the teachers in Wasco ISD School used special phrases and gestures. Both videos show the teachers’ understanding of basic cognitive learning theories and concepts, extreme attention to the smallest details of the educational process, and the teaching staffs’ high level of qualification.


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