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Academic writing: Help

Top Tips

Top Tips for Academic Writing


Are you unsure how to write in an academic style?

This guide will look at:

  • getting started with academic writing
  • the TIME model
  • writing the assignment

This is aimed at students who may be unfamiliar the basics of academic writing.

Online tutorial for academic writing

If you cannot view the online tutorial below, go to the following web page. When you've viewed the introduction section there, click back to this page and select the 'Targeted' tab above.

if you cannot view the online tutorial below, go to the following web page. When you've viewed the targeted section there, click back to select the in-depth section from this page.

If you cannot view the tutorial below, go to the following web page. When you've viewed the in-depth section there, click back to select the measured section from this page.

If you cannot view the online tutorial below, please go to the following web page. When you've viewed the measured section there, click back to select the evidence-based section from this page.

If you cannot view the tutorial below, go to the following web page. When you've viewed the evidence-based section there, click back to select the next section from this page.

If you cannot view the tutorial below, go to the following web page

Forthcoming workshops

You don't have to book, just join us on the date listed by clicking on the link provided. (Please note there is a limit of 250 participants, on a first come first served basis).

To view a recording of the workshop held on 05.10.20 scroll down to the section entitled 'Printer Friendly Guides & Recording of Workshop'

Succeed@Tees Workshop feedback

We are very interested to hear your views about the workshop you attended and would welcome your feedback. Please complete the form below:

Visual Guide

Using the WEED model for paragraphs


Click on the image above to access the video. Click on the arrows in the bottom right of the video to play the video in full screen mode. If you cannot view the video try using a different internet browser.

Using the WEED model to create perfect paragraphs (page one)Using the WEED model to create perfect paragraphs (page two)

Click on the poster to see a full size version or view it as a PDF below.

Guidance on academic writing

clock logo

Time Model

  • Writing an assignment takes time, more time than you may expect.  Just because you find yourself spending many weeks on an assignment doesn’t mean that you’re approaching it in the wrong way.
  • It also takes time to develop the skills to write well, so don’t be discouraged if your early marks aren’t what you’d hoped for.  Use the feedback from your previous assignments to improve.
  • Different types of assignments require different styles, so be prepared for the need to continue to develop your skills.

We’ve broken down TIME into 4 key elements of academic writing: Targeted, In-depth, Measured and Evidence-based.

time togos

Target logo


Your assignment needs to be targeted.  It should:

  • Be focused on the questions and criteria
  • Make a decision
  • Follow an argument


in-depth logo


Your assignment needs to be in-depth.  You should consider your questions and criteria thoroughly, thinking about all possible aspects, and including the argument both for and against different viewpoints.

You should:

  • Identify topic areas
  • Research
  • Plan your assignment
  • Think about your introduction and conclusion

measured logo


An academic writing style is measured. By this, we mean that it’s:

  • Cautious
  • Emotionally neutral
  • Formal – written in the third person and in full sentences

evidence-based logo


Your assignment needs to be evidence-based. You should:

  • Reference all the ideas in your work
  • Paraphrase your evidence
  • Apply critical thinking to your evidence

Once you’ve found all your evidence, and have decided what to say in each section, you need to write it up as paragraphs.  Each paragraph should be on a single topic, making a single point.  A paragraph is usually around a third of a page. 

We find Godwin’s (2014) WEED model very helpful for constructing paragraphs.

W is for What

You should begin your paragraph with the topic or point that you’re making, so that it’s clear to your lecturer.  Everything in the paragraph should fit in with this opening sentence.

E is for Evidence 

The middle of your paragraph should be full of evidence – this is where all your references should be incorporated.  Make sure that your evidence fits in with your topic.

E is for Examples

Sometimes it’s useful to expand on your evidence.  If you’re talking about a case study, the example might be how your point relates to the particular scenario being discussed.

D is for Do

You should conclude your paragraph with the implications of your discussion.  This gives you the opportunity to add your commentary, which is very important in assignments which require you to use critical analysis. 

So, in effect, each paragraph is like a mini-essay, with an introduction, main body and conclusion.

Allow yourself some TIME to proofread your assignment.  You’ll probably want to proofread it several times. 

You should read it through at least once for sense and structure, to see if your paragraphs flow.  Check that your introduction matches the content of your assignment.  You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve been concise in your writing style. 

You’ll then need to read it again to check for grammatical errors, typos and that your references are correct.

It’s best if you can create some distance from your assignment by coming back to it after a few days. It’s also often easier to pick out mistakes if you read your work aloud.

Further Reading

Useful Links

'How to' Helpsheets

Click on the image below to see a full list of 'how to' help sheets, from academic keywords to writing a literature review. 


Learning Hub

You can improve your academic writing in a number of ways through the Learning Hub. 

  • Read our guidance or view our online tutorial on this page.  They both go through the TIME model (Targeted, In-depth, Measured, Evidence-based) to explain what's required in academic writing.
  • Come along to one of our Succeed@Tees workshops
  • Book a one-to-one tutorial with a learning advisor. While the university is closed, this can be via email or Skype/Teams.
  • Tutorials are also available with Royal Literary Fellows, who are independent of the university - see Royal Literary Fellows Facebook (service suspended until 2020/21 academic year)

Using material on this page