Main Problems in Writing Academic Papers and Their Reasons

Academic writing allows scholars to present their ideas coherently with clear structure and order; students are taught to understand specific skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, following rules and regulations, and gathering new data. However, sometimes academic writing challenges students, especially those in their first year of learning. Also, academic writing may be a challenge to a student whose English is their second language (Lehmann et al., 2018). These problems include plagiarism, grammatical errors, text arrangement problems, and improper citation. These problems are primarily a lack of proper education in some regions of academic writing and problematic writing instructions. I faced such problems as well when I was a student.

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Plagiarism is best defined as taking another individual’s work, say an artist, musician, scholar, or teacher, and presenting it as one’s original creation. Plagiarism comes in many forms, but the two major ones are intentional and unintentional. The intentional kind is obvious, doing the act knowingly and not giving credit to the originator. On the other hand, the accidental type is where one takes information from a source without quotes (Caplan & Johns, 2022). Unintentionally plagiarizing a paper does not make it any better. The solution to these two is proper citation. Most scholars plagiarize other people’s content either because they are not well educated on plagiarism or because they are not well versed in the subject matter. Either way, plagiarism leads to discrediting the writer for the current and previous work.

Poor citation

Another problem is the poor citation of the work. Accordingly, most academic papers are APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, or AMA. Scientific works employ AMA and APA styles of referencing. On the other hand, most literature and history-based papers use MLA, Chicago, and Harvard referencing styles. While it may seem straightforward, it is not familiar to most students. Many students do not know how to use some of these styles. Some end up mixing the citation styles and thus lose marks. Others misuse a specific type. In other cases, some forget to put in text citations in the quotes they borrow from other sources. The result is that they cause plagiarism in their papers. The primary reason for poor citation styles is the lack of education on the proper citation styles.

Grammatical and linguistics mistakes

Further grammatical errors and problems of language such as improper use of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and adverbs are typically found in ESL students. For obvious reasons, they are not as familiar with the language, and thus their papers may have more errors than students for who English is their first language. The solution to this problem is to employ editing tools such as Grammarly. The other solution may be to learn English and do more practice in writing better papers. With time, these students usually do a great job and perform better in their courses.

Text arrangement

  Lastly, first-year students mainly cause text arrangement problems. This problem stems from a lack of order in arranging their ideas in order. Students may feel the pressure of producing a good paper and, as a result, jumble their thoughts between the introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs. This problem is mainly caused by ineffective writing instruction by the instructor (Pfeiffer, 2022). Some instructions do not include the number of pages, word count, or clear structure on which the scholar may base their work. As such, instructors must make it evident by putting the structure in bold so students may not miss it.

In conclusion, students do face challenges when writing their papers. Plagiarism, text arrangement problems, improper citation, and grammatical errors may cause an excellent essay to be of lesser quality than intended. Lack of proper education and ineffective instructions are the reasons behind such occurrences.


Caplan, N. A., Johns, A. (2022). Essential Actions for Academic Writing: A Genre-Based Approach. United States: University of Michigan Press.

Lehmann, S., Firth, K., Mewburn, I. (2018). EBOOK: How to Fix Your Academic Writing Trouble: A Practical Guide. United Kingdom: McGraw-Hill Education.

Pfeiffer, V. F. (2022). Moving from the Known to the Unknown in Academic Writing. United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

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