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6 Types of Academic Papers and Journal Articles

types of academic papers

Table of Contents

If you are a university student or scholar, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the different types of academic papers and articles published by journals. From case studies to short reports, all are considered educational documents. Although it may appear, there are many types of academic papers and journal articles, most of them are one of the styles in this article. Let’s get to them.


In this guide:

  • Case Studies
  • Methods or Methodologies, Types of Academic Papers
  • Opinion Article
  • Original Research
  • Review Articles, Types of Academic Papers
  • Short Reports or Letters
  • Conclusion

types of academic papers

Case Studies

Case studies report specific instances of exciting phenomena. These articles aim to make other researchers aware of the possibility that a particular phenomenon might occur. They often use this type of research in medicine to report previously unknown or emerging pathologies.

In fact, a case study is an in-depth study about one person or event. Some remarkable cases of case studies in psychology include Genie, Anna O, and Phineas Gage. Freud developed much of his work and theories through the use of individual case studies too.

In a case study, the researchers analyze nearly every aspect of the subject’s life and history to seek patterns and behavior causes. The hope is that learning obtained from studying one case can be generalized to some others. However, these types of academic papers tend to be highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.

There are different types of case studies:

  • Collective case studies,
  • Descriptive case studies,
  • Explanatory case studies,
  • Exploratory case studies,
  • Instrumental case studies,
  • Intrinsic case studies.

One of the most notable advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to study things that are often challenging to impossible to replicate in a laboratory. The study of Genie, for example, allowed researchers to learn whether language could be taught even after missing critical periods for language development.

In Genie’s case, her horrific damage had rejected her the opportunity to learn a language at critical points during development. It’s not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but carrying a case study on Genie allowed researchers the opportunity to study otherwise impossible to reproduce phenomena.


Methods or Methodologies, Types of Academic Papers

These types of academic papers present a new experimental method or procedure. The method described may either be unique or may offer a better version of an existing process. This article should describe a demonstrable advance on what is currently available.

The methods section of a paper provides the data by which a study’s validity is judged. It answers two main questions:

  • How was the data collected or generated?
  • How was the data analyzed?

The writing should be direct and specific and written in the past tense. Before undertaking any research project, you must decide which methodology to use. It will guide your study, help you choose a way to get data and help in your analysis.

Researchers use three principal methodology types, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. More specific methods include various options, such as case studies, self-reporting, and surveys, within these broad categories.


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  • Qualitative Research: It seeks to explore specific phenomena, not prove a prediction. Qualitative methods provide rich, contextual examinations of the topic that are often individually or culturally meaningful.
  • Quantitative Research: In this type of methodology, the researcher crafts a hypothesis and then tests it through structured means. Instead of exploring or describing a phenomenon, quantitative methods deal with facts and statistics.
  • Mixed Methods: They combine qualitative and quantitative research. This methodology uses several different measures that include both contextual understanding like interviews or observations and facts or statistics.

Within each significant methodology are different designs. These present a framework or philosophy for the study and are other than the actual methods used. For example, a case study design concentrates on exploring and describing a specific model, person, or group.

A researcher may use observations, interviews, or self-reports from the subject to create a complete picture. This picture, or case, provides a detailed example of a phenomenon that can then be generalized to a similar population.

types of academic papers

Opinion Article

Opinion articles present the author’s perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of a hypothesis or scientific theory. Opinion articles are usually based on productive criticism and should be supported by evidence. However, opinion articles do not hold unpublished or original data.

These types of academic papers typically support a scientific discussion that challenges the current status of knowledge in a particular field.

Opinion pieces are also comparatively short articles, of around 2000 to 2500 words, typically with a concise abstract of about 150 words, at least five references, and one or two figures or tables.

In an opinion paper, you will concentrate on a topic about which you have personal thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. The purpose here is to persuade readers that your opinion on this subject is the best one.

You won’t achieve that goal with a rant or blame. Instead, you will need to approve your claim with facts, statistics, real-life examples, or published research studies. So, despite its name, an opinion article will require some research.


Original Research

It may also be called an original article, research article, research, or just article, depending on the journal. It’s one of the most common types of papers and journal articles used to publish full data reports from research.

The original research format fits many different fields and studies, including full Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections. Original research is considered a primary source. An article is deemed to be original research if:

  • It is the report of a study written by the researchers who did it;
  • The researchers describe their research question or hypothesis and the idea of the study;
  • The researchers describe their research methods;
  • The results of the research are reported;
  • The researchers evaluate their results and discuss possible implications.

Note that even if a study does not produce positive results, it is regarded as original research and published. A review is said to have negative results when findings prove that the hypothesis was wrong. However, this is also essential learning that other researchers will benefit from. Hence negative results should also be published.


Review Articles, Types of Academic Papers

Review Articles give a comprehensive summary of research on a particular topic and a perspective on the field’s state and where it is heading. Leaders often write them in a specific discipline after an invitation from a journal’s editors. Reviews are frequently widely read, for example, by researchers looking for a full introduction to a field and highly cited. Studies commonly cite approximately 100 primary research articles.

If you want to write a review but have not been invited by a credible journal, make sure to check their website, as some journals do not consider unsolicited Reviews. Suppose the website does not mention whether Reviews are commissioned. In that case, it is wise to send a pre-submission inquiry letter to the editor to submit your Review paper before you spend time writing it.


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Scholarly reviews are written for scholars by academics. These reviews place the book within the academic dissertation, compare the book to other works in the area, and interpret the author’s methodology, interpretations, and conclusions. Reviews of academic titles may appear two or three years after publication because of this amount of engagement with the book.

types of academic papers

Short Reports or Letters

A short report is a formal document informing a specific audience about a particular subject that impacts their lives. These types of academic papers are usually one page and two pages maximum. However, attachments can be several pages.

Such work is used more in business, journalism, and science than as the university assignment. They differ from ordinary ones not only in size but also in the purpose of writing and structure.

These papers communicate concise reports of data from original research that editors believe will be interesting to many researchers and will likely stimulate further research in the field. As they are relatively short, the format helps scientists with time-sensitive results, for example, those in very competitive or quickly-changing disciplines.

This form often has strict length limits, so some experimental features may not be published until the authors write a full Original Research paper. These papers are also called brief communications.

Short reports have the usual writing features like specific events or problems, orderly presentation of factual information, objectivity, neutrality, etc. In addition to those available features, short reports possess some differentiating characteristics, including:

  • Little focus on preliminary parts: Short reports usually give limited attention to the introductory or prefatory part. They offer more attention to the report body.
  • Direct or deductive method: Short reports usually follow the direct or inferential order of presentation.
  • Format: The format of a short report is also somewhat different from a lengthy statement.
  • Internal users: A short report is usually sent to internal readers.
  • Personal writing style: The short report tends to use more personal language than long reports.
  • Provides Information and Guidance: The report is a valuable document that gives the management information and guidance while framing future policies.
  • Short introduction: Short reports give a brief introduction to the story. Facts and evidence support the statement.



An academic or scholarly paper’s essential characteristic is passing an educational quality assessment before publication in an academic journal. The purpose of the academic article is to persuade by reasoned discussion.

There are some types of academic papers and journal articles. This article covers six of them, including case studies, methods or methodologies, opinion articles, original research, review articles, short reports, or brief communications.

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