How to write a whole research paper in a week

write a journal article in 7 days

Writing up a full research article in a single week? Maybe you think that’s impossible. Yet I have done it repeatedly, and so have students in my courses. This is an exceptionally joyful (even if demanding) experience: being so productive just feels great! You are not wasting any time, and a paper produced in one go is typically coherent and nice to read. Even if you are a slow writer, you can write a whole paper in a single week — if you follow my strategy. Read below about what you need to prepare and how to approach this project.

I wrote my first scientific research article in 7 days. It started as a desperate effort to stop my procrastination and “just do it”. But I was surprised what a positive experience it was: focused and efficient, I was making daily progress, feeling motivated and content. Finally, the fruits of my hard work were gaining shape — and they did it so quickly!

I realized it was highly effective to write up a paper like this: writing for the whole day, every day until the first draft was finished. My writing project was firmly present in my mind — I didn’t lose time catching up with what I have written in the last session. Since I was not doing anything else, my wandering mind settled in very fast, and I was getting into a routine. The daily progress was clearly visible and motivated me to continue. And the result was a coherent paper that was easy to revise.

Meanwhile, this paper-a-week approach is my favorite. That’s how I write my papers, and that’s what I teach to students. In on-site courses young scientists draft a whole paper in 5 days, writing one major section per day. At the beginning of the week, many participants have doubts. But at the end of the week, they are all excited to see how much they managed to write in just a single week.

If you would also like to try out this approach, then read on about the necessary preparations, the optimal setting, and a productive writing strategy.

If you would like to get support during the preparation, drafting and revising of your research article, check out my online course Write Up Your Paper .

Prepare well

write a journal article in 7 days

Depending on how complete your results already are, you might need 2-4 weeks to finish all these preparations. To help you keep an overview, I created a checklist with detailed steps that you need to take before you attempt to write up your paper in a week. Subscribe to our Newsletter and get your copy of the checklist.

Reserve a whole week for writing

Now, writing a paper in a single week is a serious business. You can’t do it if you don’t focus solely on the writing and create good writing conditions. Therefore, I recommend the following settings:

What I described above are the *ideal* conditions for undisturbed writing. But don’t give up if you can’t create such conditions for yourself. Work with what is possible — maybe it will take you 7-8 instead of 5-6 days but that’s still a great result, right?

Do you need to revise & polish your manuscript or thesis but don’t know where to begin?

Get your Revision Checklist

Click here for an efficient step-by-step revision of your scientific texts.

Maybe you think that you can never ever draft a research article in a single week. Because you write so slowly, producing only few paragraphs per day. Well — I agree that if you don’t optimize your writing strategy, it would be hard to impossible to write up a whole paper in a week.

write a journal article in 7 days

Write the individual sections in a reasonable order

If you have written a research paper before, you have probably realized that starting with the Introduction and finishing with the Discussion is not the ideal order in which to tackle the individual sections. Instead, I recommend the following procedure:

write a journal article in 7 days

Just do it!

write a journal article in 7 days

Once you have written the whole draft, let it sit for a week or two, and then revise it. Follow my tips for efficient revising and get your revision checklist that will guide you step-by-step through the whole process.

Now I am curious about your experience: Have you ever written up an academic article quickly? How did you do it? Please, share with us your tips & strategies!

Do you need to revise & polish your manuscript or thesis but don’t know where to begin? Is your text a mess and you don't know how to improve it?

Click here for an efficient step-by-step revision of your scientific texts. You will be guided through each step with concrete tips for execution.

7 thoughts on “ How to write a whole research paper in a week ”

Thank for your guide and suggestion. It gives to me very precious ways how to write a article. Now I am writing a article related to Buddhist studies. Thank you so much.

You are welcome!

excellent! it helped me a lot! wish you all best

Hi Parham, I’m happy to hear that!

I have never written any paper before. As I am from very old school.

But my writing skill is actually very good. Your help is definitely going to help me as this has inspired me alot. Will let you know, once done. I really like the outline that you have given. Basically you have made it so easy for me .

Hope fully will be in touch with you soon.

Thanks and ki d Regards, Shehla

Dear Shehla, that sounds great! I’m looking forward to hearing about your paper!

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How to write and structure a journal article

Sharing your research data  can be hugely  beneficial to your career , as well as to the scholarly community and wider society. But before you do so, there are some important ethical considerations to remember.

What are the rules and guidance you should follow, when you begin to think about how to write and structure a journal article? Ruth First Prize winner Steven Rogers, PhD said the first thing is to be passionate about what you write.

Steven Nabieu Rogers, Ruth First Prize winner.

Let’s go through some of the best advice that will help you pinpoint the features of a journal article, and how to structure it into a compelling research paper.

Planning for your article

When planning to write your article, make sure it has a central message that you want to get across. This could be a novel aspect of methodology that you have in your PhD study, a new theory, or an interesting modification you have made to theory or a novel set of findings.

2018 NARST Award winner Marissa Rollnick advised that you should decide what this central focus is, then create a paper outline bearing in mind the need to:

Isolate a manageable size

Create a coherent story/argument

Make the argument self-standing

Target the journal readership

Change the writing conventions from that used in your thesis

Vector illustration of 4 puzzle pieces, three are shades of blue, one is pink.

Get familiar with the journal you want to submit to

It is a good idea to choose your target journal before you start to write your paper. Then you can tailor your writing to the journal’s requirements and readership, to increase your chances of acceptance.

When selecting your journal think about audience, purposes, what to write about and why. Decide the kind of article to write. Is it a report, position paper, critique or review? What makes your argument or research interesting? How might the paper add value to the field?

If you need more guidance on how to choose a journal,  here is our guide to narrow your focus.

write a journal article in 7 days

Once you’ve chosen your target journal, take the time to read a selection of articles already published – particularly focus on those that are relevant to your own research.

This can help you get an understanding of what the editors may be looking for, then you can guide your writing efforts.

The  Think. Check. Submit.  initiative provides tools to help you evaluate whether the journal you’re planning to send your work to is trustworthy.

The journal’s  aims and scope  is also an important resource to refer back to as you write your paper – use it to make sure your article aligns with what the journal is trying to accomplish.

Keep your message focused

The next thing you need to consider when writing your article is your target audience. Are you writing for a more general audience or is your audience experts in the same field as you? The journal you have chosen will give you more information on the type of audience that will read your work.

When you know your audience, focus on your main message to keep the attention of your readers. A lack of focus is a common problem and can get in the way of effective communication.

write a journal article in 7 days

Stick to the point. The strongest journal articles usually have one point to make. They make that point powerfully, back it up with evidence, and position it within the field.

How to format and structure a journal article

The format and structure of a journal article is just as important as the content itself, it helps to clearly guide the reader through.

How do I format a journal article?

Individual journals will have their own specific formatting requirements, which you can find in the  instructions for authors.

You can save time on formatting by downloading a template from our  library of templates  to apply to your article text. These templates are accepted by many of our journals. Also, a large number of our journals now offer  format-free submission,  which allows you to submit your paper without formatting your manuscript to meet that journal’s specific requirements.

General structure for writing an academic journal article

The title of your article is one of the first indicators readers will get of your research and concepts. It should be concise, accurate, and informative. You should include your most relevant keywords in your title, but avoid including abbreviations and formulae.

Keywords are an essential part of producing a journal article. When writing a journal article you must select keywords that you would like your article to rank for.

Keywords help potential readers to discover your article when conducting research using search engines.

The purpose of your abstract is to express the key points of your research, clearly and concisely. An abstract must always be well considered, as it is the primary element of your work that readers will come across.

An abstract should be a short paragraph (around 300 words) that summarizes the findings of your journal article. Ordinarily an abstract will be comprised of:

What your research is about

What methods have been used

What your main findings are


Acknowledgements can appear to be a small aspect of your journal article, however it is still important. This is where you acknowledge the individuals who do not qualify for co-authorship, but contributed to your article intellectually, financially, or in some other manner.

When you acknowledge someone in your academic texts, it gives you more integrity as a writer as it shows that you are not claiming other academic’s ideas as your own intellectual property. It can also aid your readers in their own research journeys.

write a journal article in 7 days


An introduction is a pivotal part of the article writing process. An introduction not only introduces your topic and your stance on the topic, but it also (situates/contextualizes) your argument in the broader academic field.

The main body is where your main arguments and your evidence are located. Each paragraph will encapsulate a different notion and there will be clear linking between each paragraph.

Your conclusion should be an interpretation of your results, where you summarize all of the concepts that you introduced in the main body of the text in order of most to least important. No new concepts are to be introduced in this section.

References and citations

References and citations should be well balanced, current and relevant. Although every field is different, you should aim to cite references that are not more than 10 years old if possible. The studies you cite should be strongly related to your research question.

Clarity is key

Make your writing accessible by using clear language. Writing that is easy to read, is easier to understand too.

You may want to write for a global audience – to have your research reach the widest readership. Make sure you write in a way that will be understood by any reader regardless of their field or whether English is their first language.

Write your journal article with confidence, to give your reader certainty in your research. Make sure that you’ve described your methodology and approach; whilst it may seem obvious to you, it may not to your reader. And don’t forget to explain acronyms when they first appear.

write a journal article in 7 days

Engage your audience. Go back to thinking about your audience; are they experts in your field who will easily follow technical language, or are they a lay audience who need the ideas presented in a simpler way?

Be aware of other literature in your field, and reference it

Make sure to tell your reader how your article relates to key work that’s already published. This doesn’t mean you have to review every piece of previous relevant literature, but show how you are building on previous work to avoid accidental plagiarism.

write a journal article in 7 days

When you reference something, fully understand its relevance to your research so you can make it clear for your reader. Keep in mind that recent references highlight awareness of all the current developments in the literature that you are building on. This doesn’t mean you can’t include older references, just make sure it is clear why you’ve chosen to.

How old can my references be?

Your literature review should take into consideration the current state of the literature.

There is no specific timeline to consider. But note that your subject area may be a factor. Your colleagues may also be able to guide your decision.

Researcher’s view

Grasian Mkodzongi, Ruth First Prize Winner

Top tips to get you started

Communicate your unique point of view to stand out. You may be building on a concept already in existence, but you still need to have something new to say. Make sure you say it convincingly, and fully understand and reference what has gone before.

Editor’s view

Professor Len Barton, Founding Editor of Disability and Society

Be original

Now you know the features of a journal article and how to construct it. This video is an extra resource to use with this guide to help you know what to think about before you write your journal article.

Expert help for your manuscript

Taylor & Francis Editing Services  offers a full range of pre-submission manuscript preparation services to help you improve the quality of your manuscript and submit with confidence.

Related resources

How to write your title and abstract

Journal manuscript layout guide

Improve the quality of English of your article

How to edit your paper

Wendy Laura Belcher

Writing your journal article in twelve weeks: a guide to academic publishing success (second edition).

University of Chicago Press, June 2019. ISBN-13:  978-0226499918

Want to Buy It?

You can buy the workbook at various online sites, including the University of Chicago Press or Powell’s Bookstore or Amazon , and some bookstores.

Need the Workbook Forms or Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test?

The writing workbook requires you to write information and answers in various boxes and forms in the book. If you want to preserve your book without marks, however, you can use the Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks Forms , which have been posted as pdfs to enable you to use them repeatedly. They are listed according to which chapter each appears in. I also have posted there instructions for the Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test for Chapter 11. There is one update for using the test in Windows 10: you must look for “Record Macros” not “Create Macros” in the fifth step on page 325.

Looking for Translations?

The first edition of the writing workbook was translated into three languages; new translations will be coming for the second edition so far–Spanish, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese:

Want to Teach with It?

Many use the writing workbook to teach courses and workshops for graduate students and faculty. If you would like to learn more about how to do this, see  How to Teach a Journal Article Writing Class . There, you will find a form to fill out to request a syllabus.

Selected Reviews of the Workbook

“Top 10 List of the Best Books to Help you Get in and Stay in Graduate School”  —Jody Kolter, Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society

“The one book I would most recommend to inexperienced academic authors in the humanities or social sciences who seriously wish to see their scholarly work in print.”  —Steven E. Gump, Review in Journal of Scholarly Publishing

“Thorough …, practical …, specific …, coherent …, logical …, highly recommended.” —M. Burright, Review in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Librarie s 

“Offers a fresh approach, … presented in an easy and accessible style, … of help to anyone wishing to publish in academic journals … If you proceed through the workbook, chapter by chapter, you will have an article that can be sent for publication by the end of 12 weeks.” — British Journal of Midwifery

Reader Comments on the Workbook

“This is by far the best book I have read on the subject of academic writing. There are many such texts out there that are of high quality, but this one proves itself a level above. All aspects of writing, ranging from psychological difficulties one can meet to work organization to how to formulate an argument, are covered. PhD students as well as college and university professors will benefit from it when comes the time to write academic documents, articles, conference papers, and books. It is written in plain language, it is funny, there are a ton of useful practical tips based on real experiences, and it gives you a sense of belonging to a community. I believe this book will become a classic, and staple in its field, that can be used in many areas of study.” —Caroline Dufour, York University, Amazon Review 

“Your workbook for writing journal articles is revolutionizing the way younger scholars perceive academic publishing and radically transforming their level of access to it (and consequently to the profession).” —Email from reader to author

Description of the Workbook

Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success is a revolutionary approach to enabling academic authors to overcome their anxieties and produce the publications that are essential to succeeding in their fields. Each week, readers learn a particular feature of strong articles and work on revising theirs accordingly. At the end of twelve weeks, they send their article to a journal. This invaluable resource is the only guide that focuses specifically on publishing humanities and social science journal articles.

Key Features

Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks can be used individually or in groups, and is particularly appropriate for graduate student professional development courses, junior faculty orientation workshops, post-doc groups, and journal article writing courses.

Wendy Laura Belcher is professor of African literature at Princeton University in the Department of Comparative Literature and Center for African American Studies. She has taught journal article writing workshops in North America, Europe, and Africa.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition


INTRODUCTION: Using This Workbook  The workbook’s goals, field-tested nature, pragmatic emphasis, radical audience, revision focus, and disciplines. General instructions : Using the print or electronic version. Completing tasks. Following disciplinary tracks and stage pathways. Using the workbook according to your temperament; by yourself; in a writing group; with a writing partner; with coauthors; or to teach a class or workshop. Some publishing terms and processes: What is a journal? What is an article? What processes do journal articles go through? Giving feedback to author

WEEK 1: Designing Your Plan for Writing  Instruction : Understanding feelings about writing. Keys to positive writing experiences: successful academic writers write; read; make writing social; persist despite rejection; and pursue their passions. Your tasks: Designing a plan for submitting your article in twelve weeks. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, designing your writing schedule. Day 3, selecting a paper for revision. Day 4, rereading your paper to identify revision tasks. Day 5, setting up your writing site, citation software, and file backup system; addressing coauthorship; and reading a journal article.

WEEK 2: Advancing Your Argument  Instruction : Myths about publishable journal articles: being profoundly theoretical, packed with ideas, and entirely original. What gets published and why: how publishable articles pair evidence and approaches. What gets rejected and why: perfectly acceptable articles and those with no argument. Understanding and making arguments: what is an argument; how do you know whether you have one; how do you make strong arguments; and how do you write an argument-driven article? Your tasks : Organizing your article around your argument. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, testing out your argument. Day 3, reviewing your article for argument. Days 4–5, revising your article around your argument.

WEEK 3: Abstracting Your Article  Instruction : Abstracts as a tool for success. Ingredients of a good abstract: good SciQua and HumInt abstracts. Your tasks: Crafting an effective abstract. Day 1, talking your way to clarity about your article. Day 2, reading others’ abstracts and drafting your own. Day 3, reading strong articles in your field. Day 4, reading articles to cite in your article. Day 5, getting feedback on and revising your abstract.

WEEK 4: Selecting a Journal Instruction: Good news about journals. The importance of picking the right journal. Types of academic journals: nonrecommended, debatable, and preferred publishing outlets. Your tasks: Finding suitable academic journals. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, searching for journals. Days 3–4, evaluating academic journals. Day 5, reading relevant journals and writing query letters.

WEEK 5: Refining Your Works Cited  Instruction : Reading scholarly texts. Types of scholarly texts: primary, original, or exhibit sources; scholarly or secondary literature; and derivative or tertiary documents. Advice for scholars at resource-poor institutions. Strategies for citing your reading: common mistakes in citing texts; establishing your “citation values”; avoiding improper borrowing; good citation habits; and post-borrowing solutions. Strategies for getting reading done: reading theoretical literature; related literature; and original, primary, or exhibit literature. Strategies for writing your related-literature review: what’s your entry point; what is a related-literature review; and how do you write a methodological- or theoretical-literature review? Your tasks : Writing about others’ research. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, evaluating your current Works Cited list. Day 3, identifying and reading any additional works. Day 4, identifying your entry point into the related literature. Day 5, writing or revising your related-literature review.

WEEK 6: Crafting Your Claims for Significance  Instruction : On the difference between arguments and claims for significance. What is a claim for significance: types of claims; examples of claims; making claims; and the “So What?” exercise. Types of feedback: what to do (and not do) when giving and receiving feedback. Your tasks : Claiming significance. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, exchanging writing and doing the “So What?” exercise. Day 3, writing and inserting your claims for significance. Days 4–5, revising your article according to feedback received.

WEEK 7: Analyzing Your Evidence  Instruction : Analyzing evidence. Types of evidence: textual; qualitative; quantitative; and experimental. Your tasks: Revising your evidence. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, highlighting and analyzing your evidence. Day 3, analyzing the quality, relevance, and placement of your evidence. Day 4, analyzing your interpretation of your evidence. Day 5, collecting additional evidence.

WEEK 8: Presenting Your Evidence  Instruction : Presenting evidence in SciQua articles, in HumInt articles, and in illustrations; obtaining image or text permissions. Your tasks: Revising your presentation of evidence. Day 1, reading the workbook. Days 2–4, revising your presentation of evidence. Day 5, checking your presentation of evidence by section.

WEEK 9: Strengthening Your Structure  Instruction : On the importance of structure. Article-structuring principles: macrostructure and microstructure; structural building blocks; rhetorical orders of structure; structure signals; and common genres’ structures. Types of journal article macrostructures: SciQua; HumInt; disciplinary; and synaptic macrostructure. Types of pre- and postdraft outlining. Your tasks: Revising your structure. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, outlining someone else’s published article. Day 3, making a postdraft outline of your article. Days 4–5, restructuring your article.

WEEK 10: Opening and Concluding Your Article  Instruction : On the importance of openings: fashioning your title; molding your introduction; and choosing your name. On the importance of conclusions. Your tasks: Finalizing your opening and conclusion. Day 1, reading the workbook and revising your title. Day 2, molding your introduction. Day 3, molding your introduction and choosing your name. Day 4, revising your abstract and author order. Day 5, constructing your conclusion.

WEEK 11: Editing Your Sentences  Instruction : The nature of microrevising. The Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test and its principles: reduce lists; strengthen verbs; clarify pronouns; decrease prepositions; and cut unnecessary words. Your tasks : Editing your article. Day 1, Reading the workbook and running the Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test. Days 2–5, revising your article using the Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test.

WEEK 12: Sending Your Article!  Instruction: On the importance of finishing. Following journal submission guidelines: understanding the journal’s style manual; implementing the journal’s documentation, punctuation, and spelling style; collecting journal submission information; and writing a submission cover letter. What to do after sending. Your tasks: Getting your submission ready. Day 1, identifying what remains to be done. Day 2, putting your article in the journal’s style. Days 3–4, wrapping up any remaining issues. Day 5, send and celebrate!

WEEK X: Revising and Resubmitting Your Article  Instruction and tasks: Navigating the review process. Receiving the journal’s decision: tracking the journal’s time to decision; emotionally managing and interpreting the journal’s decision. Responding to the journal’s decision: responding to a journal’s decision to reject your article or to a revise-and-resubmit notice; setting up for revising your article; revising your article; drafting your revision cover letter; and resubmitting your article. After the journal publishes your article: bringing attention to your article and reviewing someone else’s article.

WEEK 0: Writing Your Article from Scratch Instruction and tasks: Writing your article from scratch without an idea: setting up, getting an idea, testing your idea, collecting evidence for your idea, drafting your article, and revising your article using the workbook. Writing your article from scratch with an idea.

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Write that journal article in 7 days!

All research students should think seriously about publishing during their degree. The job market is competitive in academia and your CV should show evidence that you are making an impact on your field already. Exposing your work to peer review can give you more confidence about the robustness of your findings and your writing. In this workshop we will look at a ‘fast track’ method for getting a journal article together from work you already have. We will explore some publishing strategies and do a series of exercises designed to help you focus your article. Then we will touch on the tricky subject of sharing authorship. Lastly we will talk about some alternative writing techniques that may speed up the process of producing an article.

In this workshop you will:

This workshop series is available to all HDR students. It is also part of the Science, Health and Medicine Career Development Framework program and can be counted as a valid activity. All these workshops will help you earn CDS points!


+61 2 6125 5111 The Australian National University, Canberra TEQSA Provider ID: PRV12002 (Australian University) CRICOS Provider : 00120C ABN : 52 234 063 906

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  1. How to write a whole research paper in a week

    First, think about your audience and pick a suitable journal. This is an important step because the audience and journal determine the content & style of your paper. As a reference, pick two recent papers on a similar topic published in your target journal. Create a storyline for your paper.

  2. Write and structure a journal article well

    Abstract. The purpose of your abstract is to express the key points of your research, clearly and concisely. An abstract must always be well considered, as it is the primary element of your work that readers will come across. An abstract should be a short paragraph (around 300 words) that summarizes the findings of your journal article.

  3. Write that journal article in 7 days

    Write that journal article in 7 days! All research students should think seriously about publishing during their degree. The job market is competitive in academia and your CV should show evidence that you are making an impact on your field already.