26 powerful academic phrases to write your introduction (+ real examples)

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If you struggle with writing an introduction and finding the right wording, academic key phrases can help! Here is a list of 26 useful academic phrases to write the introduction of a research paper or thesis. Furthermore, examples from published academic papers across various disciplines are provided to demonstrate how the academic phrases can be applied effectively.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you . I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.

Academic key phrases presenting the research aim or objective in an introduction

Academic key phrases linking the research to existing publications in an introduction, academic key phrases pointing out research gaps in an introduction, academic key phrases highlighting the research contribution in an introduction, academic key phrases previewing findings in the introduction, the aim of this study is….

Example: “ The aim of this study is the investigation of different molten copper alloys regarding their efficiency as catalytic media for the pyrolysis of methane in an inductively heated bubble column reactor. ” ( Scheiblehner et al. 2023, p. 6233 )

In this study, we investigate…

Example: “ In this study, we investigate the spatial shoot organization of the salt marsh grass Spartina anglica (common cordgrass) in small (0.5–1.5 m), establishing patches across a wide range of wave exposure and sediment conditions along the European coast. ” ( Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1340 )

Our primary objective was to assess…

Example: “ Our primary objective was to assess subpopulation status through estimation of survival rates and abundance, particularly in comparison with the relative stability from 2007 to 2010 reported by Bromaghin et al. (2015) .” ( Bromaghin et al., 2021, p. 14252 )

This study aims to answer the following research question:

Example: “ This study aims to answer the following research question: how is the resilience of firms defined in the business and management field? ” ( Conz and Magnani, 2020, p. 400 )

The goal of this paper is to…

Example: “The goal of this paper is to delineate whether, why, and how human-AI interaction is distinctly difficult to design and innovate.” ( Yang et al., 2020, p. 174 )

You may also like: How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)

The topic gained considerable attention in the academic literature in…

Example:  “ The relationship between BITs and FDI gained considerable attention in the academic literature in the last two decades .” ( Amendolagine and Prota, 2021, p. 173 )

Prior research has hypothesized that…

Example: “Prior research has hypothesized that racial and ethnic disparities may be mitigated if the patient and provider share the same race due to improved communication and increased trust” ( Otte, 2022, p. 1 )

Existing research frequently attributes…

Example: “Existing research frequently attributes these challenges to AI’s technical complexity, demand for data, and unpredictable interactions.” ( Yang et al., 2020, p. 174 )

Interestingly, all the arguments refer to…

Example: “Interestingly, all the arguments above refer to daily role transitions—more specifically: role transitions on teleworking days—as an important explanatory mechanism for both the possible conflict-reducing effect and the potential conflict enhancing effects of telework.”  ( Delanoeije et al., 2019, p. 1845 )

Prior studies have found that…

Example: “ Prior studies have found that court-referred individuals are more likely to complete relationship violence intervention programs (RVIP) than self-referred individuals. ” ( Evans et al. 2022, p. 1 )

academic writing introduction phrases

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Yet, it remains unknown how…

Example: “Yet, it remains unknown how findings from aeolian landscapes translate to aquatic systems and how young clonally expanding plants in hydrodynamically exposed conditions overcome these establishment thresholds by optimizing shoot placement.” ( Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1339 )

There is, however, still little research on…

Example: “There is, however, still little research on what integrated STEM approaches require from schools and teachers, and on the potential obstacles that may prevent teachers from running this kind of teaching.” ( Bungum and Mogstad, 2022, p. 2 )

Scholars working on the topic are still dealing with unanswered questions.

Example: “This implies that scholars working on the resilience of firms are still dealing with unanswered questions such as ‘Which definition of resilience do I have to adopt? What am I looking at?”   ( Conz and Magnani, 2020, p. 400 )

Existing studies have failed to address…

Example:  “ University–industry relations (UIR) are usually analysed by the knowledge transfer channels, but existing studies have failed to address what knowledge content is being transferred – impacting the technology output aimed by the partnership.”  ( Dalmarco et al. 2019, p. 1314 )

The topic is under-researched

Example: “‘Third places’ – public and commercial sites that are neither home nor work – are often overlooked by policymakers, health officials, and researchers alike (Glover & Parry, 2009). Yet they can serve vital and life-saving roles in our communities. Their relevance to public health and quality of life is understated and under-researched, particularly among socioeconomically marginalized, vulnerable, and isolated individuals. ” ( Finlay et al., 2020, p. 1 )

This paper contributes to the field…

Example: “ This paper contributes to the field by investigating how teachers perceive gains and challenges in an extensive teaching project called Project Weather Station, where lower secondary students design, build and program their own weather station by use of digital sensos and microcontrollers. ” ( Bungum and Mogstad, 2022, p.2 )

In light of these considerations, we think it is interesting to analyze…

Example: “ In the light of these considerations, we think it is interesting to analyse the impact of BITs on the propensity of foreign investors to generate linkages to local suppliers from both a political and an academic point of view. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that addresses this issue .” ( Amendolagine and Prota, 2021, p. 174 )

The contributions of this study are twofold/threefold/…

Example: “ The contributions of this study are threefold. First, by examining daily role transitions as mediators in the relationship between telework and work-to-home and home-to-work conflict, our study helps to understand through which mechanisms telework affects thework-home interface… ” ( Delanoeije et al., 2019, p. 1845 )

Moving a step further, in this article, …

Example: “ Moving a step further, in this article, a comprehensive SDM is presented that establishes and quantifies interlinkages among resources and Nexus components by mapping data and incorporating outputs from well-established models, thus producing a modeling platform that can incorporate various data sets and modeling outputs in order to run scenarios and produce forecasted trends for future decades. ” ( Laspidou et al., 2020, p. 3 )

Therefore, it is essential to review…

Example: “ Considering the lack of HPAI management policies in the SSA in general, and South Africa in particular, the One Health program led by the WHO to fight zoonosis is harder to be achieved. Therefore, it is essential to review the status of the AIVs before and during COVID‐19 in South Africa and assess the challenges and efforts essential to mitigate the additional burden of bird flu in this nation. ” ( Uwishema et al., 2021, p. 5677 )

This study contributes to the literature in several ways. First, …

Example: “ This study contributes to the literature in several ways. First, we simultaneously accounted for possible positive and potential negative effects of telework on employees’ work-home conflict… ” ( Delanoeije et al., 2019, p. 1862 )

The analysis showcases that…

Example: “ The analysis showcases that to move from a general nexus thinking to an operational nexus concept, it is important to focus on data availability and scale. ” ( Laspidou et al., 2020, p. 1 )

Our results are in line with the literature and confirm…

Example: “ Looking at other control variables, our results are generally in line with the literature and confirm the importance of foreign investors’ characteristics as mediating factors on the extent of local sourcing. ” ( Amendolagine and Prota, 2021, p. 180 )

Contrary to our expectations, the results…

Example: “ Contrary to our expectations, the results from our European survey show that clustering of shoots by establishing S. anglica patches was universally observed across sites, despite widely varying environmental conditions. ” ( Van de Ven, 2022 et al., p. 1345 )

The findings support the use of…

Example: “The findings support the use of legal referral pathways that can limit the negative impacts of carceral system involvement while highlighting the need for better strategies to engage and retain RVIP clients who have no court involvement.” ( Evans et al. 2022, p. 1 )

The results of the conducted experiments show…

Example: “The results of the conducted experiments show that the products of methane pyrolysis can be strongly influenced by a change in the used catalyst. ” ( Scheiblehner et al. 2023, p. 6241 )

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Academic Phrasebank

Academic Phrasebank

  • GENERAL LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS
  • Being cautious
  • Being critical
  • Classifying and listing
  • Compare and contrast
  • Defining terms
  • Describing trends
  • Describing quantities
  • Explaining causality
  • Giving examples
  • Signalling transition
  • Writing about the past

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The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for academic writers. It aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing organised according to the main sections of a research paper or dissertation (see the top menu ). Other phrases are listed under the more general communicative functions of academic writing (see the menu on the left). The resource should be particularly useful for writers who need to report their research work. The phrases, and the headings under which they are listed, can be used simply to assist you in thinking about the content and organisation of your own writing, or the phrases can be incorporated into your writing where this is appropriate. In most cases, a certain amount of creativity and adaptation will be necessary when a phrase is used. The items in the Academic Phrasebank are mostly content neutral and generic in nature; in using them, therefore, you are not stealing other people’s ideas and this does not constitute plagiarism. For some of the entries, specific content words have been included for illustrative purposes, and these should be substituted when the phrases are used. The resource was designed primarily for academic and scientific writers who are non-native speakers of English. However, native speaker writers may still find much of the material helpful. In fact, recent data suggest that the majority of users are native speakers of English. More about  Academic Phrasebank .

This site was created by  John Morley .  

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  • If you are writing in a new discipline, you should always make sure to ask about conventions and expectations for introductions, just as you would for any other aspect of the essay. For example, while it may be acceptable to write a two-paragraph (or longer) introduction for your papers in some courses, instructors in other disciplines, such as those in some Government courses, may expect a shorter introduction that includes a preview of the argument that will follow.  
  • In some disciplines (Government, Economics, and others), it’s common to offer an overview in the introduction of what points you will make in your essay. In other disciplines, you will not be expected to provide this overview in your introduction.  
  • Avoid writing a very general opening sentence. While it may be true that “Since the dawn of time, people have been telling love stories,” it won’t help you explain what’s interesting about your topic.  
  • Avoid writing a “funnel” introduction in which you begin with a very broad statement about a topic and move to a narrow statement about that topic. Broad generalizations about a topic will not add to your readers’ understanding of your specific essay topic.  
  • Avoid beginning with a dictionary definition of a term or concept you will be writing about. If the concept is complicated or unfamiliar to your readers, you will need to define it in detail later in your essay. If it’s not complicated, you can assume your readers already know the definition.  
  • Avoid offering too much detail in your introduction that a reader could better understand later in the paper.
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Academic English UK

 Academic Introduction

An introduction is the most important section of an essay. It informs the reader of the context and what is your stance on the subject. It is usually written after the main body and should include a number of key parts. This webpage discusses the common structure and focuses on the importance of the thesis (stance).

Disclaimer: there is no one way to write an introduction BUT this structure helps lower-level students identify the key sections of an introduction & the importance of the thesis.

Introduction video

A short 5-minute video on how to write an academic introduction. A basic 4-part structure outline and example introduction paragraph.

Introduction lesson / worksheet download

Introductions: how to write an academic introduction, this lesson / worksheet presents the key sections to an academic introduction. it then focuses on highlighting those key sections in three model introductions with particular attention to the thesis (question / topics / stance) and finally finishes with writing an introduction using a range of titles.  example   level: ** *** [b1/b2/c1]   teacher membership  / institutional membership, terms & conditions of use, academic introduction structure.

A basic 4-part structure outline and example introduction paragraph.

Basic paragraph structure

Academic Introduction example

academic introduction

Introduction phrases

Manchester university phrase bank is a great resource to help create and structure an introduction. Key phrases include:

  • Establishing the importance of the topic for the world or society
  • Establishing the importance of the topic for the discipline
  • Establishing the importance of the topic (time frame given)
  • Establishing the importance of the topic as a problem to be addressed
  • Referring to previous work to establish what is already known
  • Explaining the inadequacies of previous studies
  • Identifying a knowledge gap in the field of study
  • Stating the focus, aim, or argument of a short paper
  • Outlining the structure of the paper or dissertation
  • Explaining key terms used in the current work

M ore introduction phrases : click here

Introductions: ho w to write an academic introduction.

Thesis Statements: How to write a thesis statement

This lesson / worksheet presents the key sections to an academic introduction. It focuses on different writing structures using words like however, although, despite and then includes a writing task. Students write three thesis statements using the introduction models.  Example   Level: ** *** [B1/B2/C1]     / Webpage link / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP  / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Academic Introduction example [ the thesis statement ]

Question: fair trade negatively impacts producers and workers in developing countries. to what extent do you agree, international trade has been predominately controlled by developed countries for centuries and developing countries have struggled to access this market. fair trade is a worldwide initiative aimed at improving the livelihood of producers and empowering workers in developing countries by generating better terms and sufficient wages (fair trade international, 2017). overall, fair trade develops increased economic stability, higher salaries compared to conventional producers and educates community diversification. thus, to a large extent the claim that fair trade negatively impacts producers and workers in developing countries is invalid. this essay will focus on the main arguments connected to stability, salaries and diversification and conclude with suggestions on how fair trade could be improved., highlighted sections, international trade has been predominately controlled by developed countries for centuries and developing countries have struggled to access this market. fair trade is a worldwide initiative aimed at improving the livelihood of producers and empowering workers in developing countries by generating better terms and sufficient wages (fair trade international, 2017). overall, fair trade develops increased economic stability , higher salaries compared to conventional producers and educates community diversification. thus,  to a large extent the claim that fair trade negatively impacts producers and workers in developing countries is invalid . this essay will focus on the main arguments connected to stability, salaries and diversification and conclude with suggestions on how fair trade could be improved., question: fair trade negatively impacts producers / workers / developing countries, essay topics: economic stability / salaries / diversification, stance: invalid.

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Transitional Words and Phrases

One of your primary goals as a writer is to present ideas in a clear and understandable way. To help readers move through your complex ideas, you want to be intentional about how you structure your paper as a whole as well as how you form the individual paragraphs that comprise it. In order to think through the challenges of presenting your ideas articulately, logically, and in ways that seem natural to your readers, check out some of these resources: Developing a Thesis Statement , Paragraphing , and Developing Strategic Transitions: Writing that Establishes Relationships and Connections Between Ideas.

While clear writing is mostly achieved through the deliberate sequencing of your ideas across your entire paper, you can guide readers through the connections you’re making by using transitional words in individual sentences. Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between your ideas and can help your reader understand your paper’s logic.

In what follows, we’ve included a list of frequently used transitional words and phrases that can help you establish how your various ideas relate to each other. We’ve divided these words and phrases into categories based on the common kinds of relationships writers establish between ideas.

Two recommendations: Use these transitions strategically by making sure that the word or phrase you’re choosing matches the logic of the relationship you’re emphasizing or the connection you’re making. All of these words and phrases have different meanings, nuances, and connotations, so before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely, and be sure that it’s the right match for your paper’s logic. Use these transitional words and phrases sparingly because if you use too many of them, your readers might feel like you are overexplaining connections that are already clear.

Categories of Transition Words and Phrases

Causation Chronology Combinations Contrast Example

Importance Location Similarity Clarification Concession

Conclusion Intensification Purpose Summary

Transitions to help establish some of the most common kinds of relationships

Causation– Connecting instigator(s) to consequence(s).

accordingly as a result and so because

consequently for that reason hence on account of

since therefore thus

Chronology– Connecting what issues in regard to when they occur.

after afterwards always at length during earlier following immediately in the meantime

later never next now once simultaneously so far sometimes

soon subsequently then this time until now when whenever while

Combinations Lists– Connecting numerous events. Part/Whole– Connecting numerous elements that make up something bigger.

additionally again also and, or, not as a result besides even more

finally first, firstly further furthermore in addition in the first place in the second place

last, lastly moreover next second, secondly, etc. too

Contrast– Connecting two things by focusing on their differences.

after all although and yet at the same time but

despite however in contrast nevertheless nonetheless notwithstanding

on the contrary on the other hand otherwise though yet

Example– Connecting a general idea to a particular instance of this idea.

as an illustration e.g., (from a Latin abbreviation for “for example”)

for example for instance specifically that is

to demonstrate to illustrate

Importance– Connecting what is critical to what is more inconsequential.

chiefly critically

foundationally most importantly

of less importance primarily

Location– Connecting elements according to where they are placed in relationship to each other.

above adjacent to below beyond

centrally here nearby neighboring on

opposite to peripherally there wherever

Similarity– Connecting to things by suggesting that they are in some way alike.

by the same token in like manner

in similar fashion here in the same way

likewise wherever

Other kinds of transitional words and phrases Clarification

i.e., (from a Latin abbreviation for “that is”) in other words

that is that is to say to clarify to explain

to put it another way to rephrase it

granted it is true

naturally of course

finally lastly

in conclusion in the end

to conclude

Intensification

in fact indeed no

of course surely to repeat

undoubtedly without doubt yes

for this purpose in order that

so that to that end

to this end

in brief in sum

in summary in short

to sum up to summarize

academic writing introduction phrases

Improving Your Writing Style

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Clear, Concise Sentences

Use the active voice

Put the action in the verb

Tidy up wordy phrases

Reduce wordy verbs

Reduce prepositional phrases

Reduce expletive constructions

Avoid using vague nouns

Avoid unneccessarily inflated words

Avoid noun strings

Connecting Ideas Through Transitions

Using Transitional Words and Phrases

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Chapter 1. Introduction to Academic Writing

1.1  post-secondary reading and writing, learning objectives.

  • Understand the expectations for reading and writing assignments in post-secondary (university, college, institute) courses
  • Understand and apply general strategies to complete post-secondary-level reading assignments efficiently and effectively
  • Recognize specific types of writing assignments frequently included in post-secondary courses
  • Understand and apply general strategies for managing post-secondary-level writing assignments
  • Determine specific reading and writing strategies that work best for you individually

In a post-secondary environment, academic expectations change from what you may have experienced in high school. The quantity of work you are expected to do is increased. When instructors expect you to read pages upon pages or study hours and hours for one particular course, managing your workload can be challenging. This chapter includes strategies for studying efficiently and managing your time.

The quality of the work you do also changes. It is not enough to understand course material and summarize it on an exam. You will also be expected to seriously engage with new ideas by reflecting on them, analyzing them, critiquing them, making connections, drawing conclusions, or finding new ways of thinking about a given subject. Educationally, you are moving into deeper waters. A good introductory writing course will help you swim.

Table 1.1 : High School versus Post-Secondary Assignments summarizes some of the other major differences between high school and university assignments.

Table 1.1  High School versus Post-Secondary Assignments

This chapter covers the types of reading and writing assignments you will encounter as a post-secondary student. You will also learn a variety of strategies for mastering these new challenges—and becoming a more confident student and writer.

Throughout this chapter, you will follow a first-year student named Crystal. After several years of working as a saleswoman in a department store, Crystal has decided to pursue a degree in elementary education and become a teacher. She is continuing to work part time, and occasionally she finds it challenging to balance the demands of work, school, and caring for her four-year-old son. As you read about Crystal, think about how you can use her experience to get the most out of your own experience.

Setting Goals

By planning carefully and following through on her daily and weekly goals, Crystal was able to fulfill one of her goals for the semester. Although her exam scores were not as high as she had hoped, her consistently strong performance on writing assignments tipped her grade from a B+ to an A−. She was pleased to have earned a high grade in one of the required courses for her major. She was also glad to have gotten the most out of an introductory course that would help her become an effective teacher.

How does Crystal’s experience relate to your own post-secondary educational experience?

To do well in the post-secondary environment, it is important to stay focused on how your day-to-day actions determine your long-term success. You may not have defined your career goals or chosen a major yet. Even so, you surely have some overarching goals for what you want out of your studies to expand your career options, to increase your earning power, or just to learn something new. In time, you will define your long-term goals more explicitly. Doing solid, steady work, day by day and week by week, will help you meet those goals.

Discussion 1

With your group, discuss the following issues and questions :

Introduce yourself: Who are you? Why are you taking the course? Where are you living now?

  • How do you feel about writing in general? (You will not be judged on this.)
  • Identify one long-term goal you would like to have achieved by the time you complete your diploma or degree. For instance, you might want a particular job in your field.
  • Identify one semester goal that will help you fulfill the long-term goal you just set.
  • Review Table 1.1, High School versus Post-Secondary Assignments and answer the following questions:
  • In what ways do you think post-secondary education will be rewarding for you as a learner?
  • What aspects of post-secondary education do you expect to find most challenging?
  • What changes do you think you might have to make in your life to ensure your success in a post-secondary learning environment?

Reading Strategies

Your post-secondary courses will sharpen both your reading and your writing skills. Most of your writing assignments—from brief response papers to in-depth research projects—will depend on your understanding of course reading assignments or related readings you do on your own. And it is difficult, if not impossible, to write effectively about a text that you have not understood. Even when you do understand the reading, it can be hard to write about it if you do not feel personally engaged with the ideas discussed.

This section discusses strategies you can use to get the most out of your reading assignments. These strategies fall into three broad categories:

  • Planning strategies  to help you manage your reading assignments
  • Comprehension strategies  to help you understand the material
  • Active reading strategies  to take your understanding to a higher and deeper level

Planning Your Reading

Have you ever stayed up all night cramming just before an exam? Or found yourself skimming a detailed memo from your boss five minutes before a crucial meeting? The first step in handling your reading successfully is planning. This involves both managing your time and setting a clear purpose for your reading.

Managing Your Reading Time

You will learn more detailed strategies for time management in  Section 1.2: Developing Study Skills , but for now, focus on setting aside enough time for reading and breaking your assignments into manageable chunks. For example, if you are assigned a 70-page chapter to read for next week’s class, try not to wait until the night before to get started. Give yourself at least a few days and tackle one section at a time.

Your method for breaking up the assignment will depend on the type of reading. If the text is very dense and packed with unfamiliar terms and concepts, you may need to read no more than 5 or 10 pages in one sitting so that you can truly understand and process the information. With more user-friendly texts, you will be able to handle longer sections—20 to 40 pages, for instance. And if you have a highly engaging reading assignment, such as a novel you cannot put down, you may be able to read lengthy passages in one sitting.

As the semester progresses, you will develop a better sense of how much time you need to allow for the reading assignments in different subjects. It also makes sense to preview each assignment well in advance to assess its difficulty level and to determine how much reading time to set aside.

Instructors at the post-secondary level often set aside reserve readings for a particular course. These consist of articles, book chapters, or other texts that are not part of the primary course textbook. Copies of reserve readings are available through the university library, in print, or more often, online. When you are assigned a reserve reading, download it ahead of time (and let your instructor know if you have trouble accessing it). Skim through it to get a rough idea of how much time you will need to read the assignment in full.

Setting a Purpose

The other key component of planning is setting a purpose. Knowing what you want to get out of a reading assignment helps you determine how to approach it and how much time to spend on it. It also helps you stay focused during those occasional moments when it is late, you are tired, and when relaxing in front of the television sounds far more appealing than curling up with a stack of journal articles.

Sometimes your purpose is simple. You might just need to understand the reading material well enough to discuss it intelligently in class the next day. However, your purpose will often go beyond that. For instance, you might also read to compare two texts, to formulate a personal response to a text, or to gather ideas for future research. Here are some questions to ask to help determine your purpose:

How did my instructor frame the assignment?  Often instructors will tell you what they expect you to get out of the reading. For example:

Read Chapter 2 and come to class prepared to discuss current theories related to conducting risk assessments.

Read these two articles and compare Smith’s and Jones’s perspectives on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982).

Read Chapter 5 and think about how you could apply these guidelines to the first stages of onsite patient assessment.

How deeply do I need to understand the reading?  If you are majoring in emergency management and you are assigned to read Chapter 1, “Introduction to Emergency Management,” it is safe to assume the chapter presents fundamental concepts that you will be expected to master. However, for some reading assignments, you may be expected to form a general understanding but not necessarily master the content. Again, pay attention to how your instructor presents the assignment.

How does this assignment relate to other course readings or to concepts discussed in class?  Your instructor may make some of these connections explicitly, but if not, try to draw connections on your own. (Needless to say, it helps to take detailed notes both when in class and when you read.)

How might I use this text again in the future?  If you are assigned to read about a topic that has always interested you, your reading assignment might help you develop ideas for a future research paper. Some reading assignments provide valuable tips or summaries worth bookmarking for future reference. Think about what you can take from the reading that will stay with you.

Improving Your Comprehension

You have blocked out time for your reading assignments and set a purpose for reading. Now comes the challenge: making sure you actually understand all the information you are expected to process. Some of your reading assignments will be fairly straightforward. Others, however, will be longer or more complex, so you will need a plan for how to handle them.

For any expository writing —that is, nonfiction, informational writing—your first comprehension goal is to identify the main points and relate any details to those main points. Because post-secondary-level texts can be challenging, you will also need to monitor your reading comprehension. That is, you will need to stop periodically and assess how well you understand what you are reading. Finally, you can improve comprehension by taking time to determine which strategies work best for you and putting those strategies into practice.

Identifying the Main Points

In your courses, you will be reading a wide variety of materials, including the following:

  • Textbooks.  These usually include summaries, glossaries, comprehension questions, and other study aids.
  • Nonfiction trade books.  These are less likely to include the study features found in textbooks.
  • Popular magazines, newspapers, or web articles.  These are usually written for a general audience.
  • Scholarly books and journal articles.  These are written for an audience of specialists in a given field.

Regardless of what type of expository text you are assigned to read, your primary comprehension goal is to identify the main point : the most important idea that the writer wants to communicate and often states early on. Finding the main point gives you a framework to organize the details presented in the reading and relate the reading to concepts you have learned in class or through other reading assignments. After identifying the main point, you will find the supporting points , details, facts, and explanations that develop and clarify the main point.

Some texts make that task relatively easy. Textbooks, for instance, include the aforementioned features as well as headings and subheadings intended to make it easier for students to identify core concepts. Graphic features such as sidebars, diagrams, and charts help students understand complex information and distinguish between essential and inessential points. When you are assigned to read from a textbook, be sure to use available comprehension aids to help you identify the main points.

Trade books and popular articles may not be written specifically for an educational purpose; nevertheless, they also include features that can help you identify the main ideas.

Trade books.  Many trade books include an introduction that presents the writer’s main ideas and purpose for writing. Reading chapter titles (and any subtitles within the chapter) will help you get a broad sense of what is covered. It also helps to read the beginning and ending paragraphs of a chapter closely. These paragraphs often sum up the main ideas presented.

Popular articles.  Reading the headings and introductory paragraphs carefully is crucial. In magazine articles, these features (along with the closing paragraphs) present the main concepts. Hard news articles in newspapers present the gist of the news story in the lead paragraph, while subsequent paragraphs present increasingly general details.

At the far end of the reading difficulty scale are scholarly books and journal articles. Because these texts are aimed at a specialized, highly educated audience, the authors presume their readers are already familiar with the topic. The language and writing style is sophisticated and sometimes dense.

When you read scholarly books and journal articles, try to apply the same strategies discussed earlier for other types of text. The introduction usually presents the writer’s thesis— the idea or hypothesis the writer is trying to prove. Headings and subheadings can help you understand how the writer has organized support for the thesis. Additionally, academic journal articles often include a summary at the beginning, called an abstract, and electronic databases include summaries of articles too.

Monitoring Your Comprehension

Finding the main idea and paying attention to text features as you read helps you figure out what you should know. Just as important, however, is being able to figure out what you do not know and developing a strategy to deal with it.

Textbooks often include comprehension questions in the margins or at the end of a section or chapter. As you read, stop occasionally to answer these questions on paper or in your head. Use them to identify sections you may need to reread, read more carefully, or ask your instructor about later.

Even when a text does not have built-in comprehension features, you can actively monitor your own comprehension. Try these strategies, adapting them as needed to suit different kinds of texts:

Summarize.  At the end of each section, pause to summarize the main points in a few sentences. If you have trouble doing so, revisit that section. (You will learn more about this in Chapter 3 : Putting I deas into Y our O wn W ords and Paragraphs .)

Ask and answer questions.  When you begin reading a section, try to identify two to three questions you should be able to answer after you finish it. Write down your questions and use them to test yourself on the reading. If you cannot answer a question, try to determine why. Is the answer buried in that section of reading but just not coming across to you? Or do you expect to find the answer in another part of the reading?

Do not read in a vacuum.  Look for opportunities to discuss the reading with your classmates. Many instructors set up online discussion forums or blogs specifically for that purpose. Participating in these discussions can help you determine whether your understanding of the main points is the same as your peers’.

These discussions can also serve as a reality check. If everyone in the class struggled with the reading, it may be exceptionally challenging. If it was easy for everyone but you, you may need to see your instructor for help.

As a working mother, Crystal found that the best time to get her reading done was in the evening, after she had put her four-year-old to bed. However, she occasionally had trouble concentrating at the end of a long day. She found that by actively working to summarize the reading and asking and answering questions, she focused better and retained more of what she read. She also found that evenings were a good time to check the class discussion forums that a few of her instructors had created.

Self-Practice Exercise 1.1

Choose any text that that you have been assigned to read for one of your courses. In your notes, complete the following tasks: Summarize the main points of the text in two to three sentences. Write down two to three questions about the text that you can bring up during class discussion.

Students are often reluctant to seek help. They feel like doing so marks them as slow, weak, or demanding. The truth is, every learner occasionally struggles. If you are sincerely trying to keep up with the course reading but feel like you are in over your head, seek help. Speak up in class, schedule a meeting with your instructor, or visit your university learning centre for assistance.

Deal with the problem as early in the semester as you can. Instructors respect students who are proactive about their own learning. Most instructors will work hard to help students who make the effort to help themselves.

Taking It to the Next Level: Active Reading

Now that you have acquainted (or reacquainted) yourself with useful planning and comprehension strategies, your reading assignments may feel more manageable. You know what you need to do to get your reading done and make sure you grasp the main points. However, the most successful students in are not only competent readers but active, engaged readers.

There are two common strategies for active reading:

  • Applying the four reading stages

Both will help you look at a text in depth and help prepare you for when you have to study to use the information on an exam. You should try them both and decide which works better for you.

Four Reading Stages

Everyone reads and retains (or not) information in different ways. However, applying the following four stages of reading whenever you pick up material will not only help you understand what you are reading, but will also increase the changes of your actually remembering what you have read. While it may seem that this strategy of four reading stages takes a lot of time, it will become more natural for you as you continue applying it. Also, using these four stages will actually save you time because you will already have retained a lot, if not all, of the content, so when it is time to study for your exam, you will find that you already know the material.

Effective academic reading and study seeks not only to gain an understanding of the facts, opinions, and beliefs presented in a text, but also of the biases, assumptions, and perspectives underlying the discussion. The aim is to analyze, interpret, and evaluate the text, and then to draw logical inferences and conclusions.

The four reading strategies you will need to sharpen in order to get through your material are:

Survey reading

Close reading, inquiry reading, critical reading.

These four strategies all stress “reading as thinking.” You will need to read actively to comprehend and remember what you are reading, for both your own and your instructor’s purposes. In order to do that, you need to think about the relevance of ideas to one another and about their usefulness to you personally, professionally, and academically.

Again, this differs from our usual daily reading activities, where interest often determines what we choose to read rather than utility. What happens when we are really not interested in what we are reading or seeing? Our eyes move down the page and our minds are elsewhere. We may read anywhere from one paragraph to several pages and suddenly realize we do not have the foggiest idea what we have just read. Clearly focusing our reading purpose on surveying, reading closely, being inquisitive, and reading critically, means we are reading for specific results: we read faster, know what we want, and read to get it.

Surveying quickly (2 to 10 minutes if it is a long chapter) allows you to see the overall picture or gist of what the text is sharing with you. Some of the benefits of surveying are listed below:

  • It increases reading rate and attention because you have a road map: a mental picture of the beginning, middle, and end of this journey.
  • In helps you create a mental map, allowing you to organize your travel by highlighting key topics and getting impressions of relevance, which in turn helps in the business or remembering.
  • It aids in budgeting study time because you know the length and difficulty of the material. Usually you read study material to find out what is there in order to go back later and learn it. With surveying you accomplish the same in one-tenth the time.
  • It improves concentration because you know what is ahead and how what you are reading fits into the total picture.

Technique for survey reading

For a text or chapter, look at introductions, summaries, chapter headings, bold print, and graphics to piece together the main theme and its development.

Practical uses

Magazines, journals, books, chapters, sections of dense material, anything that allows for an overview.

Close reading allows you to concentrate and make decisions now about what is relevant and what is not. Its main purpose is to help ensure that you understand what you are reading and to help you store information in a logical and organized way, so when you need to recall the information, it is easier for you to do so. It is a necessary and critical strategy for academic reading for the following reasons:

  • You read as if you were going to be tested on it immediately upon completion. You read to remember at least 75 to 80 percent of the information.
  • You clearly identify main concepts, key details, and their relationships with one another. Close reading allows you to summarize effectively what you read.
  • Your ability to answer essay questions improves because the concepts are more organized and understood rather than merely memorized.
  • You become more confident because your understanding improves which, in turn, increases your enjoyment.

Technique for close reading

Survey for overall structure; read, annotating main theme, key points, and essential detail; summarize the important ideas and their development.

Any reading that requires 80 percent comprehension and retention of main points and supporting detail.

Inquiry reading tends to be what we do with material we are naturally interested in. We usually do not notice we are doing this because we enjoy learning and thinking about it. Discovery reading is another term that describes this type of reading. Some of its benefits to the study process include:

Increased focus : By asking interpretative questions, determining relevance, and searching for your answers, you are involved and less likely to be bored or distracted.

Retention : Memory of the material is improved because of increased involvement.

Stimulation of creativity : This involvement will raise new questions for you and inspire further research.

Matching instructor expectations : Instructors are usually seeking deeper understanding as well as basic memory of concepts.

Technique for inquiry reading

Increase the volume and depth in questions while reading informational, interpretative, analytical, synthesizing, and evaluating kinds of questions.

Any material that requires both thorough comprehension and needs or inspires examination

Critical reading is necessary in order to determine the salience (or key points) of the concepts presented, their relevance, and the accuracy of arguments. When you read critically, you become even more deeply involved with the material, which will allow you to make better judgments about what is the more important information.

People often read reactively to material—especially debate, controversy, and politics. When readers react, they bring a wealth of personal experience and opinion to the concept to which they are reacting. But critical reading requires thinking—as you would expect—critically about the material. Critical thinking relies on reason, evidence, and open mindedness and recognizes the biases, assumptions, and motives of both the writer and the reader.

Learning to read critically offers these advantages:

  • By substantiating arguments and interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating those supporting the concept moves mere reaction into critical reading and deepens your understanding.
  • By analyzing relationships between the material read and other readings or experience, you can make connections.
  • By making connections, you will increase your concentration and confidence in being able to discuss and evaluate what you read.

Technique for critical reading

Understand and analyze the material in terms of writer’s purpose and results, relevance to readers, and value to the field at large.

Any material that requires evaluation.

Your memory of facts and concepts will be enhanced by surveying and close reading. Interpretation, relevance, application, and evaluation of presented facts and concepts require deeper questioning and involvement. Inquiry and critical reading are more applicable at these stages. We will be discussing this in the next section: SQ3R.

Using the SQ3R Strategy

Another strategy you can use to become a more active, engaged reader is SQ3R, which is a step-by-step process to follow before, during, and after reading. You could use SQ3R for a variety of reading purposes:

  • Getting main concepts only
  • Flushing out key details
  • Organizing concepts
  • Writing a coherent summary of significant points and their development

This is not a new or unfamiliar process; SQ3R is only a new name. It describes surveying various resources (e.g., papers, journals, other relevant sources) for whatever project we are working on; generating questions to shape our understanding of the topic; reading the material; marking, reciting, or, in some way, logging what is critical to our task; and reviewing on what we have read.

You may already use some variation of SQ3R. In essence, the process works like this:

  • Survey  the text in advance.
  • Form  questions  before you start reading.
  • Read  the text.
  • Recite  and/or  record  important points during and after reading.
  • Review  and  reflect  on the text after you read.

Each of these elements is discussed below.

Before you read, first survey or preview the text. As noted earlier, reading introductory paragraphs and headings can help you begin to figure out the author’s main point and identify what important topics will be covered. However, surveying does not stop there. Flip through the text and look for any pictures, charts or graphs, the table of contents, index, and glossary. Scan the preface and introduction to each chapter Skim a few paragraphs. Preview any boldfaced or italicized vocabulary terms. This will help you form a first impression of the material and determine the appropriateness of the material.

The final stage of surveying occurs once you have identified which chapters are relevant. Quickly look at any headings as well as the introduction and conclusion to the chapter to confirm the relevance of the information.

Sometimes, this survey step alone may be enough because you may need only a general familiarization with the material. This is also when you will discover whether or not you want to look at the book more deeply.

If you keep the question of why you are reading the material in mind, it will help you focus because you will be actively engaged in the information you are consuming. Also, if there are any visual aids, you will want to examine what they are showing as they probably represent important ideas.

Next, start brainstorming questions about the text. What do you expect to learn from the reading? You may find that some questions come to mind immediately based on your initial survey or based on previous readings and class discussions. If not, try using headings and subheadings in the text to formulate questions. For instance, if one heading in your textbook is Conditional Sentence and another is Conditional Release , you might ask yourself these questions:

What are the major differences between these two concepts?

Where does each appear in the sentencing process?

Although some of your questions may be simple factual questions, try to come up with a few that are more open ended. Asking in-depth questions will help you stay more engaged as you read. Once you have your questions in mind, you can move to the next step of actively reading to see if you can come up with an answer.

The next step is simple: read . As you read, notice whether your first impressions of the text were correct. Are the author’s main points and overall approach about the same as what you predicted—or does the text contain a few surprises? Also, look for answers to your earlier questions and begin forming new ones. Continue to revise your impressions and questions as you read.

While you are reading, pause occasionally to recite or record important points. It is best to do this at the end of each section or when there is an obvious shift in the writer’s train of thought. Put the book aside for a moment and recite aloud the main points of the section or any important answers you found there. You might also record ideas by jotting down a few brief notes in addition to, or instead of, reciting aloud. Either way, the physical act of articulating information makes you more likely to remember it.

After you have finished reading, set the book aside and briefly answer your initial question by making notes or highlighting/underlining. Try to use your own words as much as possible, but if you find an important quote, you can identify it as well. If there are any diagrams, makes notes from memory on what information they are giving. Then look back at the diagrams to make sure you were accurate.

Repeat this questioning, reading, and reciting process for the rest of the chapter. As you work your way through, occasionally pause and really think about what you have read; it is easy to work through a section or chapter and realize that you have not actually absorbed any of the material.

Review and reflect

Once you have looked at the whole chapter, try to put each section into the context of the bigger picture. Ask yourself if you have really answered each question you set out with and if you have been accurate in your answers. To make sure that you really remember the information, review your notes again after about one week and then again three or four weeks later. Also, if the textbook includes review questions or your instructor has provided a study guide, use these tools to guide your review. You will want to record information in a more detailed format than you used during reading, such as in an outline or a list.

As you review the material, reflect on what you learned. Did anything surprise you, upset you, or make you think? Did you find yourself strongly agreeing or disagreeing with any points in the text? What topics would you like to explore further? Jot down your reflections in your notes. (Instructors sometimes require students to write brief response papers or maintain a reading journal. Use these assignments to help you reflect on what you read.)

As you go through your future readings, practise this method considering these points:

From memory, jot down the key ideas discussed in the section you just read. If you need it, use a separate piece of paper. Look back through the text and check your memory with what you jotted down. How did you do?

Choose one section from the chapter and write a summary from memory of what you learned from that section.

Now review that section. Identity what corresponds and what you omitted. How are you doing? When you read that section, did you consciously intend to remember it?

Although this process may seem time-consuming, you will find that it will actually save time. Because you have a question in mind while reading, you have more of a purpose while looking for the important information. The notes you take will also be more organized and concise because you are focused, and this will save you time when it comes to writing essays. Also, since you have reviewed throughout the process, you will not need to spend as much time reviewing for exams because it is already stored in your memory.

Self-practice exercise 1.2

Choose another text that that you have been assigned to read for a class. Use the SQ3R process to complete the reading. (Keep in mind that you may need to spread the reading over more than one session, especially if the text is long.)

Be sure to complete all the steps involved. Then, reflect on how helpful you found this process. On a scale of 1 to 10, how useful did you find it? How does it compare with other study techniques you have used?

Using Other Active Reading Strategies

The SQ3R process encompasses a number of valuable active reading strategies: previewing a text, making predictions, asking and answering questions, and summarizing. You can use the following additional strategies to further deepen your understanding of what you read.

  • Connect what you read to what you already know. Look for ways the reading supports, extends, or challenges concepts you have learned elsewhere.
  • Relate the reading to your own life. What statements, people, or situations relate to your personal experiences?
  • Visualize.  For both fiction and nonfiction texts, try to picture what is described. Visualizing is especially helpful when you are reading a narrative text, such as a novel or a historical account, or when you read expository text that describes a process, such as how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Pay attention to graphics as well as text.  Photographs, diagrams, flow charts, tables, and other graphics can help make abstract ideas more concrete and understandable.
  • Understand the text in context.  Understanding context means thinking about who wrote the text, when and where it was written, the author’s purpose for writing it, and what assumptions or agendas influenced the author’s ideas. For instance, two writers might both address the subject of health care reform, but if one article is an opinion piece and one is a news story, the context is different.
  • Plan to talk or write about what you read.  Jot down a few questions or comments in your notebook so you can bring them up in class. (This also gives you a source of topic ideas for papers and presentations later in the semester.) Discuss the reading on a class discussion board or blog about it.

As Crystal began her first semester of elementary education courses, she occasionally felt lost in a sea of new terms and theories about teaching and child development. She found that it helped to relate the reading to her personal observations of her son and other kids she knew .

Writing at Work

Many courses require students to participate in interactive online components, such as a discussion forum, a page on a social networking site, or a class blog. These tools are a great way to reinforce learning. Do not be afraid to be the student who starts the discussion.

Remember that when you interact with other students and teachers online, you need to project a mature, professional image. You may be able to use an informal, conversational tone, but complaining about the workload, using off-colour language, or “flaming” other participants is inappropriate.

Active reading can benefit you in ways that go beyond just earning good grades. By practising these strategies, you will find yourself more interested in your courses and better able to relate your academic work to the rest of your life. Being an interested, engaged student also helps you form lasting connections with your instructors and with other students that can be personally and professionally valuable. In short, it helps you get the most out of your education.

Common Writing Assignments

Writing assignments at the post-secondary level serve a different purpose than the typical writing assignments you completed in high school. In high school, teachers generally focus on teaching you to write in a variety of modes and formats, including personal writing, expository writing, research papers, creative writing, and writing short answers and essays for exams. Over time, these assignments help you build a foundation of writing skills.

Now, however, your instructors will expect you to already have that foundation. Your composition courses will focus on writing for its own sake, helping you make the transition to higher-level writing assignments. However, in most of your other courses, writing assignments serve a different purpose. In those courses, you may use writing as one tool among many for learning how to think about a particular academic discipline.

Additionally, certain assignments teach you how to meet the expectations for professional writing in a given field. Depending on the class, you might be asked to write a lab report, a case study, a literary analysis, a business plan, or an account of a personal interview. You will need to learn and follow the standard conventions for those types of written products.

Finally, personal and creative writing assignments are less common at the post-secondary level than in high school. College and university courses emphasize expository writing—writing that explains or informs. Often expository writing assignments will incorporate outside research, too. Some classes will also require persuasive writing assignments in which you state and support your position on an issue. Your instructors will hold you to a higher standard when it comes to supporting your ideas with reasons and evidence.

Table 1.2 : Common Types of Writing Assignments  lists some of the most common types assignments you will encounter at the post-secondary level. It includes minor, less formal assignments as well as major ones. Which specific assignments you will be given will depend on the courses you take and the learning objectives developed by your instructors.

Table 1.2  Common Types of Writing Assignments

Part of managing your education is communicating well with others at your institution. For instance, you might need to email your instructor to request an office appointment or explain why you will need to miss a class. You might need to contact administrators with questions about your tuition or financial aid. Later, you might ask instructors to write recommendations on your behalf.

Treat these documents as professional communications. Address the recipient politely; state your question, problem, or request clearly; and use a formal, respectful tone. Doing so helps you make a positive impression and get a quicker response.

Key Takeaways

Post-secondary-level reading and writing assignments differ from high school assignments, not only in quantity but also in quality.

Managing reading assignments successfully requires you to plan and manage your time, set a purpose for reading, practise effective comprehension strategies, and use active reading strategies to deepen your understanding of the text.

Post-secondary writing assignments place greater emphasis on learning to think critically about a particular discipline and less emphasis on personal and creative writing.

1.2  Developing Study Skills

  • Use strategies for managing time effectively
  • Understand and apply strategies for taking notes efficiently
  • Determine the specific time management, study, and note taking strategies that work best for you individually

By now you have a general idea of what to expect from your courses. You have probably received course syllabi, started on your first few assignments, and begun applying the strategies you learned about in  Section 1.1 Post – Secondary Reading and Writing .

At the beginning of the semester, your workload is relatively light. This is the perfect time to brush up on your study skills and establish good habits. When the demands on your time and energy become more intense, you will have a system in place for handling them.

This section covers specific strategies for managing your time effectively. You will also learn about different note-taking systems that you can use to organize and record information efficiently.

As you work through this section, remember that every student is different. The strategies presented here are tried-and-true techniques that work well for many people. However, you may need to adapt them to develop a system that works well for you personally. If your friend swears by her smartphone, but you hate having to carry extra electronic gadgets around, then using a smartphone will not be the best organizational strategy for you.

Read with an open mind, and consider what techniques have been effective (or ineffective) for you in the past. Which habits from your high school years or your work life could help you succeed now? Which habits might get in your way? What changes might you need to make?

Understanding Yourself as a Learner

To succeed in your post-secondary education—or any situation where you must master new concepts and skills—it helps to know what makes you tick. For decades, educational researchers and organizational psychologists have examined how people take in and assimilate new information, how some people learn differently than others, and what conditions make students and workers most productive. Here are just a few questions to think about:

  • What is your learning style?  For the purposes of this chapter, learning style  refers to the way you prefer to take in new information, by seeing, by listening, or through some other channel. (For more information, see the section on learning styles.)
  • What times of day are you most productive?  If your energy peaks early, you might benefit from blocking out early morning time for studying or writing. If you are a night owl, set aside a few evenings a week for schoolwork.
  • How much clutter can you handle in your workspace?  Some people work fine at a messy desk and know exactly where to find what they need in their stack of papers; however, most people benefit from maintaining a neat, organized space.
  • How well do you juggle potential distractions in your environment?  If you can study at home without being tempted to turn on the television, check your email, fix yourself a snack, and so on, you may make home your workspace. However, if you need a less distracting environment to stay focused, you may be able to find one on campus or in your community.
  • Does a little background noise help or hinder your productivity? Some people work better when listening to background music or the low hum of conversation in a coffee shop. Others need total silence.
  • When you work with a partner or group, do you stay on task?  A study partner or group can sometimes be invaluable. However, working this way takes extra planning and effort, so be sure to use the time productively. If you find that group study sessions turn into social occasions, you may study better on your own.
  • How do you manage stress?  Accept that at certain points in the semester, you will feel stressed out. In your day-to-day routine, make time for activities that help you reduce stress, such as exercising, spending time with friends, or just scheduling downtime to relax.

Learning Styles

Most people have one channel that works best for them when it comes to taking in new information. Knowing yours can help you develop strategies for studying, time management, and note taking that work especially well for you.

To begin identifying your learning style, think about how you would go about the process of assembling a piece of furniture. Which of these options sounds most like you?

You would carefully look over the diagrams in the assembly manual first so you could picture each step in the process.

You would silently read the directions through, step by step, and then look at the diagrams afterward.

You would read the directions aloud under your breath. Having someone explain the steps to you would also help.

You would start putting the pieces together and figure out the process through trial and error, consulting the directions as you worked.

Now read the following explanations of each option in the list above. Again, think about whether each description sounds like you.

  • If you chose 1., you may be a  visual learner . You understand ideas best when they are presented in a visual format, such as a flow chart, a diagram, or text with clear headings and many photos or illustrations.
  • If you chose 2., you may be a  verbal learner . You understand ideas best through reading and writing about them and taking detailed notes.
  • If you chose 3., you may be an  auditory learner . You understand ideas best through listening. You learn well from spoken lectures or books on tape.
  • If you chose 4., you may be a  kinesthetic learner . You learn best through doing and prefer hands-on activities. In long lectures, fidgeting may help you focus.

Your learning style does not completely define you as a student. Auditory learners can comprehend a flow chart, and kinesthetic learners can sit still long enough to read a book. However, if you do have one dominant learning style, you can work with it to get the most out of your classes and study time.  Table 1.3: Learning Style Strategies  lists some tips for maximizing your learning style.

Table 1.3  Learning Style Strategies

The material presented here about learning styles is just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous other variations in how people learn. Some people like to act on information right away while others reflect on it first. Some people excel at mastering details and understanding concrete, tried-and-true ideas while others enjoy exploring abstract theories and innovative, even impractical, ideas. For more information about how you learn, visit your school’s academic resource centre.

Time Management

In university or college, you have increased freedom to structure your time as you please. With that freedom comes increased responsibility. High school teachers often take it upon themselves to track down students who miss class or forget assignments. Your instructors now, however, expect you to take full responsibility for managing yourself and getting your work done on time.

Getting Started: Short- and Long-Term Planning

At the beginning of the semester, establish a weekly routine for when you will study and write. A general guideline is that for every hour spent in class, you should expect to spend another two to three hours on reading, writing, and studying for tests. Therefore, if you are taking a biology course that meets three times a week for an hour at a time, you can expect to spend six to nine hours per week on it outside of class. You will need to budget time for each class just like an employer schedules shifts at work, and you must make that study time a priority.

That may sound like a lot when taking several classes, but if you plan your time carefully, it is manageable. A typical full-time schedule of 15 credit hours translates into 30 to 45 hours per week spent on schoolwork outside of class. All in all, a full-time student would spend about as much time on school each week as an employee spends on work. Balancing school and a job can be more challenging, but still doable.

In addition to setting aside regular work periods, you will need to plan ahead to handle more intense demands, such as studying for exams and writing major papers. At the beginning of the semester, go through your course syllabi and mark all major due dates and exam dates on a calendar. Use a format that you check regularly, such as your smartphone or the calendar feature in your email. (In  Section 1.3 Becoming a Successful Writer , you will learn strategies for planning major writing assignments so you can complete them on time.)

The two- to three-hour rule may sound intimidating. However, keep in mind that this is only a rule of thumb. Realistically, some courses will be more challenging than others, and the demands will ebb and flow throughout the semester. You may have trouble-free weeks and stressful weeks. When you schedule your classes, try to balance introductory-level classes with more advanced classes so that your work load stays manageable.

Crystal knew that to balance a job, classes, and a family, it was crucial for her to get organized. For the month of September, she drew up a week-by-week calendar that listed not only her own class and work schedules but also the days her son attended preschool and the days her husband had off from work. She and her husband discussed how to share their day-to-day household responsibilities so she would be able to get her schoolwork done. Crystal also made a note to talk to her supervisor at work about reducing her hours during finals week in December.

Self-Practice Exercise 1.3

Now that you have learned some time management basics, it is time to apply those skills. For this exercise, you will develop a weekly schedule and a semester calendar. Working with your class schedule, map out a week-long schedule of study time. Try to apply the two to three-hour rule. Be sure to include any other nonnegotiable responsibilities, such as a job or child care duties.

Use your course syllabi to record exam dates and due dates for major assignments in a calendar (paper or electronic). Use a star, highlighting, or other special marking to set off any days or weeks that look especially demanding.

 Staying Consistent: Time Management Dos and Do Not’s

Setting up a schedule is easy. Sticking with it, however, may be challenging. A schedule that looked great on paper may prove to be unrealistic. Sometimes, despite students’ best intentions, they end up procrastinating or pulling all-nighters to finish a paper or study for an exam.

Keep in mind, however, that your weekly schedule and semester calendar are time management tools. Like any tool, their effectiveness depends on the user: you. If you leave a tool sitting in the box unused (e.g., you set up your schedule and then forget about it), it will not help you complete the task. And if, for some reason, a particular tool or strategy is not getting the job done, you need to figure out why and maybe try using something else.

With that in mind, read the list of time management dos and don’ts. Keep this list handy as a reference you can use throughout the semester to troubleshoot if you feel like your schoolwork is getting off track.

Do set aside time to review your schedule and calendar regularly and update or adjust them as needed.

Do be realistic when you schedule study time. Do not plan to write your paper on Friday night when everyone else is out socializing. When Friday comes, you might end up abandoning your plans and hanging out with your friends instead.

Do be honest with yourself about where your time goes. Do not fritter away your study time on distractions like email and social networking sites.

Do accept that occasionally your work may get a little off track. No one is perfect.

Do accept that sometimes you may not have time for all the fun things you would like to do.

Do recognize times when you feel overextended. Sometimes you may just need to get through an especially demanding week. However, if you feel exhausted and overworked all the time, you may need to scale back on some of your commitments.

Do make a plan for handling high-stress periods, such as final exam week. Try to reduce your other commitments during those periods—for instance, by scheduling time off from your job. Build in some time for relaxing activities, too.

Do not procrastinate on challenging assignments. Instead, break them into smaller, manageable tasks that can be accomplished one at a time.

Do not fall into the trap of “all or nothing” thinking. (e.g. “There is no way I can fit in a three-hour study session today, so I will just wait until the weekend.”) Extended periods of free time are hard to come by, so find ways to use small blocks of time productively. For instance, if you have a free half hour between classes, use it to preview a chapter or brainstorm ideas for an essay.

Do not let things slide and then promise yourself, “I will do better next week.” When next week comes, the accumulated undone tasks will seem even more intimidating, and you will find it harder to get them done.

Do not rely on caffeine and sugar to compensate for lack of sleep. These stimulants may temporarily perk you up, but your brain functions best when you are rested.

Self-practice EXERCISE 1.4

The key to managing your time effectively is consistency. Completing the following tasks will help you stay on track throughout the semester.

Establish regular times to “check in” with yourself to identify and prioritize tasks and plan how to accomplish them. Many people find it is best to set aside a few minutes for this each day and to take some time to plan at the beginning of each week.

For the next two weeks, focus on consistently using whatever time management system you have set up. Check in with yourself daily and weekly, stick to your schedule, and take note of anything that interferes. At the end of the two weeks, review your schedule and determine whether you need to adjust it.

Review the list of dos and don’ts.

Identify at least two habits from the dos list that you could use to improve your time management skills.

Identify the habit from the don’ts list that you are most likely to slip into as the semester gets busier. What could you do to combat this habit?

If you are part of the workforce, you have probably established strategies for accomplishing job-related tasks efficiently. How could you adapt these strategies to help you be a successful student? For instance, you might sync your school and work schedules on an electronic calendar. Instead of checking in with your boss about upcoming work deadlines, establish a buddy system where you check in with a friend about school projects. Give school the same priority you give to work.

Note-Taking Methods

One final valuable tool to have in your arsenal as a student is a good note-taking system. Just the act of converting a spoken lecture to notes helps you organize and retain information, and of course, good notes also help you review important concepts later. Although taking good notes is an essential study skill, many students have never received guidance on note taking.

Marking, note making, or note taking is a matter of personal preference in terms of style. The most important thing is to do something . Again we stress that reading is like a dialogue with an author. The author wrote this material. Pretend you are actually talking to the author.

  • Do not let an idea pass without noting it.
  • Do not let an ambiguity go by without questioning it.
  • Do not let a term slip away if context does not help you understand it; look it up!
  • Engage and you will both understand and remember.

Put small checks in pencil where you would normally underline. When you finish a section, look back and see what you really need to mark. (If you check over 50 percent of the page, you probably are marking to go back and learn later versus thinking about what is really important to learn now!)

Use consistent symbols to visually help you identify what is happening on the page:

  • Circle central themes or write at the beginning of the section if it is not directly stated.
  • [Bracket] main points.
  • Underline key words or phrases for significant details.
  • Put numbers 1, 2, 3 for items listed.
  • Put square brackets or highlights for key terms when the definition follows.
  • Use stars (*), question marks (?), or diagrams in the margins to show relevance.
  • Use key word outlines in the margins for highlighting.
  • Write questions in the margin that test your memory of what is written right there.
  • Use blank spaces indicating the number of ideas to be remembered, forcing you to test yourself versus just rereading.

The following sections discuss different strategies you can use to take notes efficiently. No matter which system you choose, keep these general note-taking guidelines in mind.

General Note-Taking Guidelines

Before class, quickly review your notes from the previous class and the assigned reading. Fixing key terms and concepts in your mind will help you stay focused and pick out the important points during the lecture.

Come prepared with paper, pens, highlighters, textbooks, and any important handouts.

Come to class with a positive attitude and a readiness to learn. During class, make a point of concentrating. Ask questions if you need to. Be an active participant.

During class, capture important ideas as concisely as you can. Use words or phrases instead of full sentences, and abbreviate when possible.

Visually organize your notes into main topics, subtopics, and supporting points, and show the relationships between ideas. Leave space if necessary so you can add more details under important topics or subtopics.

Record the following:

Organizing Ideas in Your Notes

A good note-taking system needs to help you differentiate among major points, related subtopics, and supporting details. It visually represents the connections between ideas. Finally, to be effective, your note-taking system must allow you to record and organize information fairly quickly. Although some students like to create detailed, formal outlines or concept maps when they read, these may not be good strategies for class notes because spoken lectures may not allow time for to create them.

Instead, focus on recording content simply and quickly to create organized, legible notes. Try one of the following techniques.

Modified Outline Format

A modified outline format uses indented spacing to show the hierarchy of ideas without including roman numerals, lettering, and so forth. Just use a dash or bullet to signify each new point unless your instructor specifically presents a numbered list of items.

The first example shows Crystal’s notes from a developmental psychology class about an important theorist in this field. Notice how the line for the main topic is all the way to the left. Subtopics are indented, and supporting details are indented one level further. Crystal also used abbreviations for terms like development  and  example .

Mind Mapping/Clustering

If you are a visual learner, you may prefer to use a more graphic format for notes, such as a mind map. The next example shows how Crystal’s lecture notes could be set up differently. Although the format is different, the content and organization are the same.

If the content of a lecture falls into a predictable, well organized pattern, you might choose to use a chart or table to record your notes. This system works best when you already know, either before class or at the beginning of class, which categories you should include. The next figure shows how this system might be used.

The Cornell Note-Taking System

In addition to the general techniques already described, you might find it useful to practise a specific strategy known as the Cornell note-taking system. This popular format makes it easy not only to organize information clearly but also to note key terms and summarize content.

To use the Cornell system, begin by setting up the page with these components:

  • The course name and lecture date at the top of the page
  • A narrow column (about two inches) at the left side of the page
  • A wide column (about five to six inches) on the right side of the page
  • A space of a few lines marked off at the bottom of the page

During the lecture, you record notes in the wide column. You can do so using the traditional modified outline format or a more visual format if you prefer.

Then, as soon as possible after the lecture, review your notes and identify key terms. Jot these down in the narrow left-hand column. You can use this column as a study aid by covering the notes on the right-hand side, reviewing the key terms, and trying to recall as much as you can about them so that you can mentally restate the main points of the lecture. Uncover the notes on the right to check your understanding. Finally, use the space at the bottom of the page to summarize each page of notes in a few sentences.

The next figure shows what Crystal’s notes would look like using the Cornell system.

Often, at school or in the workplace, a speaker will provide you with pre-generated notes summarizing electronic presentation slides. You may be tempted not to take notes at all because much of the content is already summarized for you. However, it is a good idea to jot down at least a few notes. Doing so keeps you focused during the presentation, allows you to record details you might otherwise forget, and gives you the opportunity to jot down questions or reflections to personalize the content.

Self-PRACTICE EXERCISE 1.5

Over the next few weeks, establish a note – taking system that works for you.

If you are not already doing so, try using one of the aforementioned techniques. (Remember that the Cornell system can be combined with other note-taking formats.)

It can take some trial and error to find a note-taking system that works for you. If you find that you are struggling to keep up with lectures, consider whether you need to switch to a different format or be more careful about distinguishing key concepts from unimportant details.

If you find that you are having trouble taking notes effectively, set up an appointment with your school’s academic resource centre.

  • Understanding your individual learning style and preferences can help you identify the study and time management strategies that will work best for you.
  • To manage your time effectively, it is important to look both at the short term (daily and weekly schedules) and the long term (major semester deadlines).
  • To manage your time effectively, be consistent about maintaining your schedule. If your schedule is not working for you, make adjustments.

1.3  Becoming a Successful Writer

  • Identify strategies for successful writing
  • Demonstrate comprehensive writing skills
  • Identify writing strategies for use in future classes

In the preceding sections, you learned what you can expect from your courses and identified strategies you can use to manage your work and to succeed. This section covers more about how to handle the demands placed on you as a writer at the post-secondary world. The general techniques you will learn will help ensure your success on any writing task, whether you complete an exam in an hour or an in-depth research project over several weeks.

Putting It All Together: Strategies for Success

Writing well is difficult. Even people who write for a living sometimes struggle to get their thoughts on the page. Even people who generally enjoy writing have days when they would rather be doing anything else. For people who do not like writing or do not think of themselves as good writers, writing assignments can be stressful or even intimidating. And of course, you cannot get through post-secondary courses without having to write—sometimes a lot, and often at a higher level than you are used to.

No magic formula will make writing quick and easy. However, you can use strategies and resources to manage writing assignments more easily. This section presents a broad overview of these strategies and resources. The remaining chapters of this book provide more detailed, comprehensive instruction to help you succeed at a variety of assignments.

Using the Writing Process

To complete a writing project successfully, good writers use some variation of the following process.

The Writing Process

Prewriting.  The writer generates ideas to write about and begins developing these ideas.

Outlining a structure of ideas.  The writer determines the overall organizational structure of the writing and creates an outline to organize ideas. Usually this step involves some additional fleshing out of the ideas generated in the first step.

Writing a rough draft.  The writer uses the work completed in prewriting to develop a first draft. The draft covers the ideas the writer brainstormed and follows the organizational plan that was laid out in the first step.

Revising.  The writer revisits the draft to review and, if necessary, reshape its content. This stage involves moderate and sometimes major changes: adding or deleting a paragraph, phrasing the main point differently, expanding on an important idea, reorganizing content, and so forth.

Editing.  The writer reviews the draft to make additional changes. Editing involves making changes to improve style and adherence to standard writing conventions—for instance, replacing a vague word with a more precise one or fixing errors in grammar and spelling. Once this stage is complete, the work is a finished piece and ready to share with others.

Chances are you have already used this process as a writer. You may also have used it for other types of creative projects, such as developing a sketch into a finished painting or composing a song. The steps listed above apply broadly to any project that involves creative thinking. You come up with ideas (often vague at first), you work to give them some structure, you make a first attempt, you figure out what needs improving, and then you refine it until you are satisfied.

Most people have used this creative process in one way or another, but many people have misconceptions about how to use it to write. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions students have about the writing process:

“I do not have to waste time on prewriting if I understand the assignment.”  Even if the task is straightforward and you feel ready to start writing, take some time to develop ideas before you plunge into your draft. Freewriting —writing about the topic without stopping for a set period of time—is one prewriting technique you might try in that situation.

“It is important to complete a formal, numbered outline for every writing assignment.”  For some assignments, such as lengthy research papers, proceeding without a formal outline can be very difficult. However, for other assignments, a structured set of notes or a detailed graphic organizer may suffice. The important thing is to have a solid plan for organizing ideas and details.

“My draft will be better if I write it when I am feeling inspired.”  By all means, take advantage of those moments of inspiration. However, understand that sometimes you will have to write when you are not in the mood. Sit down and start your draft even if you do not feel like it. If necessary, force yourself to write for just one hour. By the end of the hour, you may be far more engaged and motivated to continue. If not, at least you will have accomplished part of the task.

“My instructor will tell me everything I need to revise.”  If your instructor chooses to review drafts, the feedback can help you improve. However, it is still your job, not your instructor’s, to transform the draft to a final, polished piece. That task will be much easier if you give your best effort to the draft before submitting it. During revision, do not just go through and implement your instructor’s corrections. Take time to determine what you can change to make the work the best it can be.

“I am a good writer, so I do not need to revise or edit.”  Even talented writers still need to revise and edit their work. At the very least, doing so will help you catch an embarrassing typo or two. Revising and editing are the steps that make good writers into great writers.

The writing process also applies to timed writing tasks, such as essay exams. Before you begin writing, read the question thoroughly and think about the main points to include in your response. Use scrap paper to sketch out a very brief outline. Keep an eye on the clock as you write your response so you will have time to review it and make any needed changes before turning in your exam.

Managing Your Time

In  Section 1.2 : Developing Study Skills , you learned general time management skills. By combining those skills with what you have learned about the writing process, you can make any writing assignment easier to manage.

When your instructor gives you a writing assignment, write the due date on your calendar. Then work backward from the due date to set aside blocks of time when you will work on the assignment. Always plan at least two sessions of writing time per assignment, so that you are not trying to move from step 1 to step 5 in one evening. Trying to work that fast is stressful, and it does not yield great results. You will plan better, think better, and write better if you space out the steps.

Ideally, you should set aside at least three separate blocks of time to work on a writing assignment: one for prewriting and outlining, one for drafting, and one for revising and editing. Sometimes those steps may be compressed into just a few days. If you have a couple of weeks to work on a paper, space out the five steps over multiple sessions. Long-term projects, such as research papers, require more time for each step.

In certain situations you may not be able to allow time between the different steps of the writing process. For instance, you may be asked to write in class or complete a brief response paper overnight. If the time available is very limited, apply a modified version of the writing process (as you would do for an essay exam). It is still important to give the assignment thought and effort. However, these types of assignments are less formal, and instructors may not expect them to be as polished as formal papers. When in doubt, ask the instructor about expectations, resources that will be available during the writing exam, and if he or she has any tips to prepare you to effectively demonstrate your writing skills.

Each Monday in Crystal’s Foundations of Education class, the instructor distributed copies of a current news article on education and assigned students to write a one-and-a-half to two-page response that was due the following Monday. Together, these weekly assignments counted for 20 percent of the course grade. Although each response took just a few hours to complete, Crystal found that she learned more from the reading and got better grades on her writing if she spread the work out in the following way:

Self-practice EXERCISE 1.6

In this exercise, make connections between short – and long – term goals.

Review the long- and short-term goals you set for yourself for the discussion at the beginning of the module. Brainstorm a list of stepping stones that will help you meet that goal, such as “doing well on my midterm and final exams” or “talking to Professor Gibson about doing an internship.” Write down everything you can think of that would help you meet that semester goal.

Identify one action from Step 3 that you can do today. Then do it.

Using Available Resources

One reason students sometimes find post-secondary courses overwhelming is that they do not know about, or are reluctant to use, the resources available to them. There is help available; your student fees help pay for resources that can help in many ways, such as a health centre or tutoring service. If you need help, consider asking for help from any of the following:

Your instructor:  If you are making an honest effort but still struggling with a particular course, set a time to meet with your instructor and discuss what you can do to improve. He or she may be able to shed light on a confusing concept or give you strategies to catch up.

Your academic counsellor.  Many institutions assign students an academic counsellor who can help you choose courses and ensure that you fulfill degree and major requirements.

The academic resource centre:  These centres offer a variety of services, which may range from general coaching in study skills to tutoring for specific courses. Find out what is offered at your school and use the services that you need.

The writing centre:  These centres employ tutors to help you manage your writing assignments. They will not write or edit your paper for you, but they can help you through the stages of the writing process. (In some schools, the writing centre is part of the academic resource centre.)

The career resource centre:  Visit the career resource centre for guidance in choosing a career path, developing a resumé, and finding and applying for jobs.

Counselling services:  Many schools offer psychological counselling for free or for a low fee. Use these services if you need help coping with a difficult personal situation or managing depression, anxiety, or other problems.

Students sometimes neglect to use available resources due to limited time, unwillingness to admit there is a problem, or embarrassment about needing to ask for help. Unfortunately, ignoring a problem usually makes it harder to cope with later on. Waiting until the end of the semester may also mean fewer resources are available, since many other students are also seeking last minute help.

Self-practice EXERCISE 1.7

Identify at least one resource you think could be helpful to you and that you would like to investigate further. Schedule a time to visit this resource within the next week or two so you can use it throughout the semester.

You now have a solid foundation of skills and strategies you can use to succeed in university or college. The remainder of this book will provide you with guidance on specific aspects of writing, ranging from grammar and style conventions to how to write a research paper.

For any writing assignment, use these strategies:

  • Plan ahead . Divide the work into smaller, manageable tasks, and set aside time to accomplish each task in turn.
  • Make sure you understand the assignment requirements . If necessary, clarify the requirements with your instructor. Think carefully about the purpose of the writing, the intended audience, the topics you will need to address, and any specific requirements of the writing form.
  • Complete each step of the writing process . With practice, using this process will come automatically to you.
  • Use the resources available to you . Remember that most schools have specific services to help students with their writing.
  • Following the steps of the writing process helps students complete any writing assignment more successfully.
  • To manage writing assignments, it is best to work backward from the due date, allotting appropriate time to complete each step of the writing process.
  • Setting concrete long- and short-term goals helps students stay focused and motivated.
  • A variety of resources are available to help students with writing and with other aspects of post-secondary life.

Writing for Success - 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2015 by Tara Horkoff; an author removed at the request of the original publisher; and Horkoff, Tara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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academic writing introduction phrases

academic writing introduction phrases

50 Useful Academic Words & Phrases for Research

Like all good writing, writing an academic paper takes a certain level of skill to express your ideas and arguments in a way that is natural and that meets a level of academic sophistication. The terms, expressions, and phrases you use in your research paper must be of an appropriate level to be submitted to academic journals.

Therefore, authors need to know which verbs , nouns , and phrases to apply to create a paper that is not only easy to understand, but which conveys an understanding of academic conventions. Using the correct terminology and usage shows journal editors and fellow researchers that you are a competent writer and thinker, while using non-academic language might make them question your writing ability, as well as your critical reasoning skills.

What are academic words and phrases?

One way to understand what constitutes good academic writing is to read a lot of published research to find patterns of usage in different contexts. However, it may take an author countless hours of reading and might not be the most helpful advice when faced with an upcoming deadline on a manuscript draft.

Briefly, “academic” language includes terms, phrases, expressions, transitions, and sometimes symbols and abbreviations that help the pieces of an academic text fit together. When writing an academic text–whether it is a book report, annotated bibliography, research paper, research poster, lab report, research proposal, thesis, or manuscript for publication–authors must follow academic writing conventions. You can often find handy academic writing tips and guidelines by consulting the style manual of the text you are writing (i.e., APA Style , MLA Style , or Chicago Style ).

However, sometimes it can be helpful to have a list of academic words and expressions like the ones in this article to use as a “cheat sheet” for substituting the better term in a given context.

How to Choose the Best Academic Terms

You can think of writing “academically” as writing in a way that conveys one’s meaning effectively but concisely. For instance, while the term “take a look at” is a perfectly fine way to express an action in everyday English, a term like “analyze” would certainly be more suitable in most academic contexts. It takes up fewer words on the page and is used much more often in published academic papers.

You can use one handy guideline when choosing the most academic term: When faced with a choice between two different terms, use the Latinate version of the term. Here is a brief list of common verbs versus their academic counterparts:

Although this can be a useful tip to help academic authors, it can be difficult to memorize dozens of Latinate verbs. Using an AI paraphrasing tool or proofreading tool can help you instantly find more appropriate academic terms, so consider using such revision tools while you draft to improve your writing.

Top 50 Words and Phrases for Different Sections in a Research Paper

The “Latinate verb rule” is just one tool in your arsenal of academic writing, and there are many more out there. But to make the process of finding academic language a bit easier for you, we have compiled a list of 50 vital academic words and phrases, divided into specific categories and use cases, each with an explanation and contextual example.

Best Words and Phrases to use in an Introduction section

1. historically.

An adverb used to indicate a time perspective, especially when describing the background of a given topic.

2. In recent years

A temporal marker emphasizing recent developments, often used at the very beginning of your Introduction section.

3. It is widely acknowledged that

A “form phrase” indicating a broad consensus among researchers and/or the general public. Often used in the literature review section to build upon a foundation of established scientific knowledge.

4. There has been growing interest in

Highlights increasing attention to a topic and tells the reader why your study might be important to this field of research.

5. Preliminary observations indicate

Shares early insights or findings while hedging on making any definitive conclusions. Modal verbs like may , might , and could are often used with this expression.

6. This study aims to

Describes the goal of the research and is a form phrase very often used in the research objective or even the hypothesis of a research paper .

7. Despite its significance

Highlights the importance of a matter that might be overlooked. It is also frequently used in the rationale of the study section to show how your study’s aim and scope build on previous studies.

8. While numerous studies have focused on

Indicates the existing body of work on a topic while pointing to the shortcomings of certain aspects of that research. Helps focus the reader on the question, “What is missing from our knowledge of this topic?” This is often used alongside the statement of the problem in research papers.

9. The purpose of this research is

A form phrase that directly states the aim of the study.

10. The question arises (about/whether)

Poses a query or research problem statement for the reader to acknowledge.

Best Words and Phrases for Clarifying Information

11. in other words.

Introduces a synopsis or the rephrasing of a statement for clarity. This is often used in the Discussion section statement to explain the implications of the study .

12. That is to say

Provides clarification, similar to “in other words.”

13. To put it simply

Simplifies a complex idea, often for a more general readership.

14. To clarify

Specifically indicates to the reader a direct elaboration of a previous point.

15. More specifically

Narrows down a general statement from a broader one. Often used in the Discussion section to clarify the meaning of a specific result.

16. To elaborate

Expands on a point made previously.

17. In detail

Indicates a deeper dive into information.

Points out specifics. Similar meaning to “specifically” or “especially.”

19. This means that

Explains implications and/or interprets the meaning of the Results section .

20. Moreover

Expands a prior point to a broader one that shows the greater context or wider argument.

Best Words and Phrases for Giving Examples

21. for instance.

Provides a specific case that fits into the point being made.

22. As an illustration

Demonstrates a point in full or in part.

23. To illustrate

Shows a clear picture of the point being made.

24. For example

Presents a particular instance. Same meaning as “for instance.”

25. Such as

Lists specifics that comprise a broader category or assertion being made.

26. Including

Offers examples as part of a larger list.

27. Notably

Adverb highlighting an important example. Similar meaning to “especially.”

28. Especially

Adverb that emphasizes a significant instance.

29. In particular

Draws attention to a specific point.

30. To name a few

Indicates examples than previously mentioned are about to be named.

Best Words and Phrases for Comparing and Contrasting

31. however.

Introduces a contrasting idea.

32. On the other hand

Highlights an alternative view or fact.

33. Conversely

Indicates an opposing or reversed idea to the one just mentioned.

34. Similarly

Shows likeness or parallels between two ideas, objects, or situations.

35. Likewise

Indicates agreement with a previous point.

36. In contrast

Draws a distinction between two points.

37. Nevertheless

Introduces a contrasting point, despite what has been said.

38. Whereas

Compares two distinct entities or ideas.

Indicates a contrast between two points.

Signals an unexpected contrast.

Best Words and Phrases to use in a Conclusion section

41. in conclusion.

Signifies the beginning of the closing argument.

42. To sum up

Offers a brief summary.

43. In summary

Signals a concise recap.

44. Ultimately

Reflects the final or main point.

45. Overall

Gives a general concluding statement.

Indicates a resulting conclusion.

Demonstrates a logical conclusion.

48. Therefore

Connects a cause and its effect.

49. It can be concluded that

Clearly states a conclusion derived from the data.

50. Taking everything into consideration

Reflects on all the discussed points before concluding.

Edit Your Research Terms and Phrases Before Submission

Using these phrases in the proper places in your research papers can enhance the clarity, flow, and persuasiveness of your writing, especially in the Introduction section and Discussion section, which together make up the majority of your paper’s text in most academic domains.

However, it's vital to ensure each phrase is contextually appropriate to avoid redundancy or misinterpretation. As mentioned at the top of this article, the best way to do this is to 1) use an AI text editor , free AI paraphrasing tool or AI proofreading tool while you draft to enhance your writing, and 2) consult a professional proofreading service like Wordvice, which has human editors well versed in the terminology and conventions of the specific subject area of your academic documents.

For more detailed information on using AI tools to write a research paper and the best AI tools for research , check out the Wordvice AI Blog .

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4 Examples of Academic Writing

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Written by  Scribendi

The best way to understand what effective academic writing looks like is to review academic writing examples.

Let's begin with four of the most common types of academic writing: research proposals, dissertations, abstracts, and academic articles. We'll be examining each type of writing and providing academic writing samples of each. 

Whether you aim to earn funding for a passion project or are stymied by how to format an abstract, these academic writing examples will help you nail your next undertaking.

Academic Writing Example 1: Research Proposals

A research proposal is an outline of the proposed research of a PhD candidate, a private researcher, or someone hoping to obtain a research grant . 

Your proposal should put your best foot forward: It details your intended research question and how it relates to existing research, makes an argument for why your research should be chosen for advancement or funding, and explains the deliverables you hope to achieve with your research. 

A more detailed look at what proposal writing is and what goes into a research proposal may also be beneficial. Every proposal is different because every project is different. Proposal requirements also differ according to the university or funding agency that reviews the proposal. 

Research Proposal Structure

A cover letter summarizing your proposal and showcasing why you should be chosen

An introduction or abstract

An explanation of the background, purpose, and significance of your research

A research plan or methodology that includes a timeline (a Gantt chart may be beneficial)

A projected budget, if applicable

Academic Writing Sample: Research Proposal Excerpt

Building on the work of the three foundational sociological theorists—Marx, Weber, and Durkheim—and Mark Traugott's theory of the "insurgent barricade," this proposed research will analyze the appearance, use, and disappearance of barricade warfare as an effective battle strategy. 

Focusing on these three theorists, this research will determine which theory or theories best explain the life cycle of barricade warfare, focusing in particular on its disappearance. A brief but comprehensive history of barricade warfare will be provided in addition to the theoretical explanations of barricade warfare's utility.

Research Proposal Writing Tips

Before you format your proposal, contact your targeted university, private organization, or funding agency to confirm what they require for proposals. Then, try to follow this format as closely as possible.

Be detailed when outlining your goals and your funding needs. Connect the objectives of the research to the resources you're requesting.

Be realistic in what you ask for as far as resources—don't ask for more or less than you need, and show evidence to justify your choices.

Don't dedicate too much text in your proposal to describing past research. A summary of key points, arguments, theories, and how your research will build on them should suffice.

Remember that no matter how good your proposal is, it might be rejected. You're likely up against dozens or even hundreds of other candidates who have equally sound proposals. Don't be discouraged if this happens. See it as a learning opportunity for your next proposal.

Academic Writing Example 2: Dissertations

A dissertation is a body of writing that represents original research and is generally written as part of a PhD or master's program. 

Typically, it builds on previous research in the field to make a significant contribution or advancement. You may benefit from more detailed information on what a dissertation is , how to write a dissertation , and how to edit a dissertation .

Dissertation Structure

Introduction/background and the significance of the study

Literature review

Methodology

Results/findings

Conclusion/contribution to the body of research

Academic Writing Sample: Dissertation Excerpt

There are two options for choosing a unit of analysis for this phenomenon: the social artifact (erected barricades) or the social interaction (the collaboration of insurgents engaged in barricade warfare). The best choice is social interaction. 

Most individual occurrences of barricade warfare involve the construction of more than one barricade, and the number of barricades is not necessarily a valid indicator of the sociological magnitude of an insurgence. The most relevant choice is an insurgence, the event of a conflict involving barricade warfare.

Dissertation Writing Tips

Remember to bear in mind the significance of your study. It doesn't have to be paradigm shifting, but you want to infuse the dissertation with reminders of why your research is important.

Don't get bogged down in trying to show that your research is one of a kind or uniquely contributive to the body of research. It likely isn't, and it's more effective to show how you are building on previous research .

Remember to check with your college or university to ensure that you're formatting your dissertation according to the school's expectations.

Ask your advisor questions when you need to.

Be prepared to make alterations to your dissertation according to your thesis committee's suggestions. This doesn't mean you did a bad job—it just means there's room for improvement.

Academic Writing Example 3: Abstracts

The abstract is actually a component of other forms of academic writing, such as scholarly articles and dissertations. The abstract acts as a comprehensive outline of your paper in paragraph form. 

Abstract Structure

Results 

You may want to read more about what abstracts are and why they are important in preparing yourself for writing one.

Academic Writing Sample: Abstract

Barricade warfare has occurred across several spectra, but most notably, it occurred almost exclusively in a 300-year period between the 16th and 19th centuries. Each instance had an inciting incident, but a common thread was the culture of revolution: a revolutionary tradition based on the belief that injustice was being carried out and that, in this case, barricade insurgence was the way to resolve it. 

This study uses the theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim to analyze barricade warfare, its appearance, and its disappearance. Ultimately, neither theory can independently explain this phenomenon. 

Marx offers a reasonable explanation for why barricade warfare may have died, but his theory is difficult to test empirically and fails to explain the absence of recurrences. Conversely, Durkheim's theory is much easier to observe and can explain why barricade warfare has not experienced a renaissance. However, he offered no reason as to why it died in the first place. 

These two theoretical orientations complement each other nicely and, ultimately, neither can stand alone.

Notice that this abstract comes in at under 200 words (a common limit) but nevertheless covers the background of the study, how it was approached, and the results and conclusions of the research. 

If you are struggling to meet a word count, check out 10 Academic Phrases Your Writing Doesn't Need .

Abstract Writing Tips

Be conscious of your word count. Stay under the limit.

Check with your school or target journal to make sure special formatting is not required.

Don't use abbreviations or citations in the abstract.

Don't simply restate your thesis or copy your introduction. Neither of these is an abstract.

Remember that your abstract often gives readers their first impressions of your work. Despite its short length, it deserves a lot of attention. 

Academic Writing Example 4: Articles

Academic articles are pieces of writing intended for publication in academic journals or other scholarly sources. They may be original research studies, literature analyses, critiques , or other forms of scholarly writing.

Article Structure

Abstract and keywords

Introduction

Materials and methods

References and appendices

Academic Writing Sample: Article Excerpt

"Those great revolutionary barricades were places where heroes came together" (Hugo, 2008). This description by Victor Hugo of the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris comes from his seminal work of fiction, Les Miserables. 

Although the account is fictionalized, it is deeply representative of what historian Mark Traugott (2010, p. 225) terms the "culture of revolution." This spirit of heroic response to social injustice swept across Europe during the second half of the millennium and was characterized in part by barricade warfare. 

The phenomenon of the insurgent barricade has essentially disappeared, however, leaving no trace of its short-lived but intense epoch, and the question of why this happened remains a mystery. The theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, when taken together, provide a compelling explanation for the disappearance of barricade warfare, and the tenets of each theory will be examined to explain this phenomenon.

Article Writing Tips

Follow these detailed steps for writing an article and publishing it in a journal .

Make sure that you follow all of your target journal's guidelines.

Have a second set of educated eyes look over your article to correct typos, confusing language, and unclear arguments.

Don't be discouraged if your article is not chosen for publication. As with proposal writing, you are up against countless others with equally compelling research.

Don't be discouraged if the journal asks you to make changes to your article. This is common. It means they see value in your article, as well as room for improvement.

Whether you're applying for funding, earning an advanced degree, aiming to publish in a journal, or just trying to cram your 4,000-word study into a 150-word abstract, hopefully these academic writing examples have helped get your creative juices flowing. 

Go out there and write! With these academic writing samples at your side, you are sure to model your academic writing appropriately.

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academic writing introduction phrases

Word Choice Problems: How to Use The Right Words in Academic Writing 

word choice in academic writing

Researchers and scholars must pay considerable attention to the choice of words in academic writing. Academic writing is characterized by its focus on accurately reporting new ideas and discoveries, which are then used to build new research and knowledge. Any unintended errors in phrasing can mislead or confuse readers, limiting the effectiveness and impact of the research. Therefore, students and researchers must choose and use the right words and phrases to convey their ideas correctly in academic writing.  

Problems resulting from the use of wrong words

Non-native English speakers or those just starting their academic writing journey often face challenges in phrasing their ideas appropriately. Using incorrect words can lead to several problems when it comes to academic writing because of it:  

  • Fails to communicate effectively.  The purpose of a research report is to convey the research accurately and precisely, allowing others to replicate or reproduce experiments effectively. Incorrect word choice can be misleading or confusing for readers, weakening the message you want to convey. For example, the use of “affect” instead of “effect”, “assure” instead of “ensure”, and so on. This raises questions about your abilities as an author, often implying a lack of effort in refining the manuscript. 
  • Confuses readers:  In using the wrong words, readers fail to understand what you intend to convey. For example, the misuse of some words can completely change the meaning of the sentence. These include confusing words such as “principal” and “principle” or “complement” and “compliment”. 
  • Sets a wrong academic tone:  Word choice affects the tone of your academic writing, which must be formal and direct. It should also be factual and objective, free from personal opinions.  
  • Use of clichés:  If word choices are not given due attention, there is the possibility of the use of informal language and clichés, which do not conform to academic writing conventions. The use of clichés in your writing conveys that you lack originality, which affects the quality and credibility of your research. 
  • Repetition:  Repetition of words and ideas can be distracting for the reader. Check for repetitions and eliminate superfluous words. 

Tips to help authors identify if they have used the wrong words

As an author, it can be challenging to identify if you have used the wrong words in your writing. It’s essential to ensure that the words you use convey the intended meaning and avoid confusion. Here are some tips to help you improve the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.

  • Many word processors underline incorrect words and suggest the right ones. However, these are unlikely to be able to point out the best choice of words for academic writing.  
  • When proofreading your paper, ask yourself if the words used to convey your meaning clearly or if you have chosen words to impress readers, which can be interpreted differently based on audience understanding. While you need to integrate research terminology in your writing, refrain from using jargon, slang, and region-specific terms.  
  • Check for repetition of words or phrases in your writing and replace these with carefully considered synonyms. Make sure the synonyms you select fit the context of your writing; check and replace vague words with strong ones that best convey your message.  
  • Reading your writing out loud can help you identify words or phrases that seem out of place or have multiple meanings. Remember that the writing has to make sense to you because that’s how your audience is likely to read and perceive your work. If the sentences sound vague, you need to rewrite them to make it clear. 
  • The comments from reviewers and others editing your work will help you identify vague, repetitive, and cliché words.  

Mistakes to avoid in word choice in academic writing

Academic writing requires precision in word choice to convey ideas accurately and effectively. However, it’s easy to make mistakes that can undermine the writer’s credibility and clarity of thought. Let’s explore some common mistakes to avoid in word choice when writing academically.

  • Avoid using double negatives and instead write affirmative sentences. An example of a double negative is, “This technique is not uncommon”. You can instead write, “This technique is common”. 
  • Jargon and slang should be avoided in academic writing. Develop your skills in using accurate and precise words and expressions. Some examples of words to avoid are “if and when,” “in the foreseeable future,” “in the long run,” “as a last resort,” “it stands to reason,” and “easier said than done.” 
  • Use short, concise sentences, as wordiness can confuse the readers. Try to avoid wordy phrases such as “It may be said that” or “It is worth mentioning at this point that” and so on. You could use single words instead of phrases. For example, replacing:  

“despite the fact that” with “although.” 

“It appears that” with “apparently.” 

“fewer in number” with “fewer” 

“in the near future” with “soon.” 

  • Avoid using contractions such as “isn’t” or “wouldn’t” instead of “is not?” or “would not?” as these are frowned upon in academic writing. 
  • Many writing style guides recommend using gender-neutral language that does not conform to stereotypical and obsolete gender roles. For example, use “human” instead of “man,” “personnel,” “workforce,” or “staff” instead of “manpower.” 

Choosing the right words is crucial to writing effectively in an academic setting. Keep these common mistakes in mind and use resources like dictionaries and style guides to improve your writing and ensure that your ideas are communicated with clarity and precision.

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster.  

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Academic Phrases for Writing Literature Review Section of a Research Paper

Overview |   Abstract   | Introduction | Literature Review | Materials & Methods | Results & Discussion | Conclusion & Future Work | Acknowledgements & Appendix

The literature review should clearly demonstrate that the author has a good knowledge of the research area. Literature review typically occupies one or two passages in the introduction section. A well-written literature review should provide a critical appraisal of previous studies related to the current research area rather than a simple summary of prior works. The author shouldn’t shy away from pointing out the shortcomings of previous works. However, criticising other’s work without any basis can weaken your paper. This is a perfect place to coin your research question and justify the need for such a study. It is also worth pointing out towards the end of the review that your study is unique and there is no direct literature addressing this issue. Add a few sentences about the significance of your research and how this will add value to the body of knowledge.

The literature review section of your research paper should include the following:

  • Previous literature
  • Limitations of previous research
  • Research questions
  • Research to be explored

1. Previous literature

The literature review shows that __ Previous research showed __ Seminal contributions have been made by __ A series of recent studies has indicated that __ Several theories have been proposed to __, some focusing on __, others on __ There has been numerous studies to investigate __ This has been used in several studies to assess __ Previous studies have shown __ Several studies suggest that __ This has also been explored in prior studies by __ Prior research suggests that __ Previous studies have emphasized __ The majority of prior research has applied __ Most early studies as well as current work focus on __ For instance, the following studies were conducted on __ Studies of __are well documented, it is also well acknowledged that __ A number of authors have recognized __ Some authors have also suggested that  __ Some authors have driven the further development of __ This has been discussed by a great number of authors in literature. For example, research has provided evidence for __ The authors bring some information about the background of the problem, __ As has been previously reported in the literature, __ A large number of existing studies in the broader literature have examined __ The literature review shows that __ There exists a considerable body of literature on  __ In short, the literature pertaining to __ strongly suggests that __ Over time, an extensive literature has developed on __ This section presents a review of recent literature on __ This paper begins with a short review of the literature regarding the __ Several methods are reported in the literature to address this issue. There is a wide choice of __ available in the literature. This section reviews the literature related to __ It was reported in literature that __ A recent study by __ concluded that __ In the light of reported __ it is conceivable that __ The method introduced by __ has the advantage that __ One method employed by __ is __ A more comprehensive description can be found in __ For example, recent research suggests that __ This was successfully established as described by __ The author employed a __ methodology which prescribes the use of __

2. Limitations of previous research

A number of questions regarding __ remain to be addressed. A closer look to the literature on __, however, reveals a number of gaps and shortcomings. This question has previously never been addressed because__ Most studies have relied on __ Previous studies by __ cannot be considered as conclusive because __ Previous studies have almost exclusively focused on __ This has been previously assessed only to a very limited extent because __ In the present studies __ were constrained to __ In previous studies were limited to __ Although results appear consistent with prior research, they appear inconsistent with __ These are previously unstudied because __ As far as we know, no previous research has investigated __ Moreover, although research has illuminated __ no study to date has examined __ Despite decades of research, this continues to be debated among __ This section points out some of the problems encountered in the extant research. Although there are many studies, the research in __ remains limited. However, the existing research has many problems in representing __ The literature on __ is less consistent Historically, there has been a great deal of confusion in the literature regarding __ This approach remains briefly addressed in the literature. These are rarely analyzed in the literature as __ There are key questions and notions that are still not discussed in the literature __ This is not clearly presented in the literature because __ This paper addresses the need for __, so far lacking in the scientific literature. To fill this literature gap, this paper identifies __ Only a few works in literature demonstrate __ Although studies have been conducted by many authors, this problem is still insufficiently explored. To our knowledge, no prior studies have examined __ However, the existing research has many problems in __ Therefore, important issue in the literature is __ However, we argue that previous literature suffers from certain weaknesses: __ Previous research can only be considered a first step towards a more profound understanding of __ The previous studies reveal that __ are usually the most problematic to __

3. Research questions

More specific research questions will be introduced and investigated in __ A further question is whether __ Finally, another promising line of research would be __ The study addresses several further questions on __ Some of the interesting questions in this context are __ In order to address the questions outlined above, we report here __ These questions are of central interest as much recent research in __ Furthermore, __ is arguably an important question to be addressed. The question now is how __ can be used to explain __ Study addresses the research question __ In order to properly address this question, we __ An important question associated with __ is __ A critical open question is whether __ A still unsolved question is whether __ This remains an open question as __ This question has previously never been addressed because __ This study offers a test of __ research question Study addresses the research question __ Even in general __ research strategies is needed to explain __ The researcher should be interested here in __ Many questions remain unanswered __ There are some potentially open questions about the validity of __ The question that then naturally arises is __ The question then becomes how best to define__ This was an important question to study as __

4. Research to be explored

A more systematic and theoretical analysis is required for __ As the authors note earlier, more work is necessary to__ Additional studies to understand more completely the key tenets of __ are required. The unexpected findings signal the need for additional studies to understand more about __ This paper addresses __, so far lacking in the scientific literature. A new approach is therefore needed for __ One of the tough challenges for all researchers in this domain is __

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  • The Scientist University

The Fundamentals of Academic Science Writing

Writing is an essential skill for scientists, and learning how to write effectively starts with good fundamentals and lots of practice..

Nathan Ni, PhD Headshot

Nathan Ni holds a PhD from Queens University. He is a science editor for The Scientist’s Creative Services Team who strives to better understand and communicate the relationships between health and disease.

View full profile.

Learn about our editorial policies.

A person sitting in a laboratory writing notes with a pen in a notebook.

Writing is a big part of being a scientist, whether in the form of manuscripts, grants, reports, protocols, presentations, or even emails. However, many people look at writing as separate from science—a scientist writes, but scientists are not regarded as writers. 1 This outdated assertion means that writing and communication has been historically marginalized when it comes to training and educating new scientists. In truth, being a professional writer is part of being a scientist . 1 In today’s hypercompetitive academic environment, scientists need to be as proficient with the pen as they are with the pipette in order to showcase their work. 

Using the Active Voice

Stereotypical academic writing is rigid, dry, and mechanical, delivering prose that evokes memories of high school and undergraduate laboratory reports. The hallmark of this stereotype is passive voice overuse. In writing, the passive voice is when the action comes at the end of a clause—for example, “the book was opened”. In scientific writing, it is particularly prevalent when detailing methodologies and results. How many times have we seen something like “citric acid was added to the solution, resulting in a two-fold reduction in pH” rather than “adding citric acid to the solution reduced the pH two-fold”?

Scientists should write in the active voice as much as possible. However, the active voice tends to place much more onus on the writer’s perspective, something that scientists have historically been instructed to stay away from. For example, “we treated the cells with phenylephrine” places much more emphasis on the operator than “the cells were treated with phenylephrine.” Furthermore, pronoun usage in academic writing is traditionally discouraged, but it is much harder, especially for those with non-native English proficiency, to properly use active voice without them. 

Things are changing though, and scientists are recognizing the importance of giving themselves credit. Many major journals, including Nature , Science , PLoS One , and PNAS allow pronouns in their manuscripts, and prominent style guides such as APA even recommend using first-person pronouns, as traditional third-person writing can be ambiguous. 2 It is vital that a manuscript clearly and definitively highlights and states what the authors specifically did that was so important or novel, in contrast to what was already known. A simple “we found…” statement in the abstract and the introduction goes a long way towards giving readers the hook that they need to read further.

Keeping Sentences Simple

Writing in the active voice also makes it easier to organize manuscripts and construct arguments. Active voice uses fewer words than passive voice to explain the same concept. It also introduces argument components sequentially—subject, claim, and then evidence—whereas passive voice introduces claim and evidence before the subject. Compare, for example, “T cell abundance did not differ between wildtype and mutant mice” versus “there was no difference between wildtype and mutant mice in terms of T cell abundance.” T cell abundance, as the measured parameter, is the most important part of the sentence, but it is only introduced at the very end of the latter example.

The sequential nature of active voice therefore makes it easier to not get bogged down in overloading the reader with clauses and adhering to a general principle of “one sentence, one concept (or idea, or argument).” Consider the following sentence: 

Research on CysLT 2 R , expressed in humans in umbilical vein endothelial cells, macrophages, platelets, the cardiac Purkinje system, and coronary endothelial cells , had been hampered by a lack of selective pharmacological agents , the majority of work instead using the nonselective cysLT antagonist/partial agonist Bay-u9773 or genetic models of CysLT 2 R expression modulation) .

The core message of this sentence is that CysLT 2 R research is hampered by a lack of selective pharmacological agents, but that message is muddled by the presence of two other major pieces of information: where CysLT 2 R is expressed and what researchers used to study CysLT 2 R instead of selective pharmacological agents. Because this sentence contains three main pieces of information, it is better to break it up into three separate sentences for clarity.

In humans, CysLT 2 R is expressed in umbilical vein endothelial cells, macrophages, platelets, the cardiac Purkinje system, and coronary endothelial cells . CysLT 2 R research has been hampered by a lack of selective pharmacological agents . Instead, the majority of work investigating the receptor has used either the nonselective cysLT antagonist/partial agonist Bay-u9773 or genetic models of CysLT 2 R expression modulation.

The Right Way to Apply Jargon

There is another key advantage to organizing sentences in this simple manner: it lets scientists manage how jargon is introduced to the reader. Jargon—special words used within a specific field or on a specific topic—is necessary in scientific writing. It is critical for succinctly describing key elements and explaining key concepts. But too much jargon can make a manuscript unreadable, either because the reader does not understand the terminology or because they are bogged down in reading all of the definitions. 

The key to using jargon is to make it as easy as possible for the audience. General guidelines instruct writers to define new terms only when they are first used. However, it is cumbersome for a reader to backtrack considerable distances in a manuscript to look up a definition. If a term is first introduced in the introduction but not mentioned again until the discussion, the writer should re-define the term in a more casual manner. For example: “PI3K can be reversibly inhibited by LY294002 and irreversibly inhibited by wortmannin” in the introduction, accompanied by “when we applied the PI3K inhibitor LY294002” for the discussion. This not only makes things easier for the reader, but it also re-emphasizes what the scientist did and the results they obtained.

Practice Makes Better

Finally, the most important fundamental for science writing is to not treat it like a chore or a nuisance. Just as a scientist optimizes a bench assay through repeated trial and error, combined with literature reviews on what steps others have implemented, a scientist should practice, nurture, and hone their writing skills through repeated drafting, editing, and consultation. Do not be afraid to write. Putting pen to paper can help organize one’s thoughts, expose next steps for exploration, or even highlight additional experiments required to patch knowledge or logic gaps in existing studies. 

Looking for more information on scientific writing? Check out The Scientist’s TS SciComm  section. Looking for some help putting together a manuscript, a figure, a poster, or anything else? The Scientist’s Scientific Services  may have the professional help that you need.

  • Schimel J. Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited And Proposals That Get Funded . Oxford University Press; 2012.
  • First-person pronouns. American Psychological Association. Updated July 2022. Accessed March 2024. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/grammar/first-person-pronouns  

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  1. 26 powerful academic phrases to write your introduction (+ real

    If you struggle with writing an introduction and finding the right wording, academic key phrases can help! Here is a list of 26 useful academic phrases to write the introduction of a research paper or thesis. Furthermore, examples from published academic papers across various disciplines are provided to demonstrate how the academic phrases can be

  2. Academic Phrasebank

    Most academic writers, however, appear to do one or more of the following in their introductions: ... provide an overview of the coverage and/or structure of the writing; Slightly less complex introductions may simply inform the reader: what the topic is, why it is important, and how the writing is organised. ... Examples of phrases which are ...

  3. Academic Phrases for Writing Introduction Section of a Research Paper

    In this blog, we discuss phrases related to introduction section such as opening statement, problem definition and research aims. Introduction section should provide the reader with a brief overview of your topic and the reasons for conducting research. The introduction is a perfect place to set the scene and make a good first impression. Regarding word count, introduction typically occupies ...

  4. Academic Phrasebank

    The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for academic writers. It aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological 'nuts and bolts' of writing organised according to the main sections of a research paper or dissertation (see the top menu ). Other phrases are listed under the more general communicative functions of ...

  5. PDF Academic Phrasebank

    Preface. The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for academic writers. It aims to provide the phraseological 'nuts and bolts' of academic writing organised according to the main sections of a research paper or dissertation. Other phrases are listed under the more general communicative functions of academic writing.

  6. PDF The Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon™

    The Oxford Phrasal Academic Lexicon (OPAL) is a set of four word lists that together provide an essential guide to the most important words and phrases to know in the field of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). This list gives around 370 important phrases for academic writing, grouped into 15 functional areas. Written phrases 1.

  7. How to Write an Essay Introduction

    Step 1: Hook your reader. Step 2: Give background information. Step 3: Present your thesis statement. Step 4: Map your essay's structure. Step 5: Check and revise. More examples of essay introductions. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

  8. Academic Phrasebank

    The search results are limited to five academic phrases in the demo version. 1. Academic Phrasebank. Academic phrasebank refers to a library containing a collection of English phrases that can be readily used in scientific papers and academic reports. The REF-N-WRITE team has painstakingly created a phrasebank of 20,000 academic writing phrases ...

  9. Useful phrases for your Introduction

    Phrases to introduce the importance of your topic. [X] plays a crucial role in …. [X] is considered to be key to …. [X] is responsible for …. [Xs] are among the most commonly investigated …. [X] is generally regarded as the primary cause of ….

  10. Introductions

    In general, your introductions should contain the following elements: Orienting Information. When you're writing an essay, it's helpful to think about what your reader needs to know in order to follow your argument. Your introduction should include enough information so that readers can understand the context for your thesis.

  11. 17 academic words and phrases to use in your essay

    To do this, use any of the below words or phrases to help keep you on track. 1. Firstly, secondly, thirdly. Even though it sounds obvious, your argument will be clearer if you deliver the ideas in the right order. These words can help you to offer clarity and structure to the way you expose your ideas.

  12. PDF Academic Phrases Phrases for an introduction

    Academic Phrases Phrases for an introduction • This paper will focus on/examine/give an account of ... • The objectives of this research are to determine whether … • This paper seeks to address the following questions: • The aim of this paper is to determine/examine ...

  13. Academic Introduction

    Academic Introduction. An introduction is the most important section of an essay. It informs the reader of the context and what is your stance on the subject. It is usually written after the main body and should include a number of key parts. This webpage discusses the common structure and focuses on the importance of the thesis (stance).

  14. Transition Words & Phrases

    Using a paraphrasing tool for clear writing. With the use of certain tools, you can make your writing clear. One of these tools is a paraphrasing tool. One thing the tool does is help your sentences make more sense. It has different modes where it checks how your text can be improved. For example, automatically adding transition words where needed.

  15. Transitional Words and Phrases

    Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between ideas in your paper and can help your reader understand the logic of your paper. However, these words all have different meanings, nuances, and connotations. Before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely and be sure…

  16. Academic phrases

    FAQs about writing an Introduction; Introduction examples with explanations; Structuring your Introduction; Useful phrases for your Introduction; ... we've analyzed published papers to see how authors usually start their sentences in academic writing. You can find the results here. We found that the three most-used linking words were ...

  17. 40 Useful Words and Phrases for Top-Notch Essays

    4. That is to say. Usage: "That is" and "that is to say" can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise. Example: "Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.". 5. To that end. Usage: Use "to that end" or "to this end" in a similar way to "in order to" or "so".

  18. Chapter 1. Introduction to Academic Writing

    This chapter covers the types of reading and writing assignments you will encounter as a post-secondary student. You will also learn a variety of strategies for mastering these new challenges—and becoming a more confident student and writer. Throughout this chapter, you will follow a first-year student named Crystal.

  19. Introductions & Conclusions

    Introduction paragraphs are also used in non-academic writing, but these introductions take on a different format. Rather than developing a fully developed paragraph of 5 or more sentences, these introductions are much shorter in length and they go directly to the main point or the specific information or purpose for the written communication.

  20. 50 Useful Academic Words & Phrases for Research

    Edit Your Research Terms and Phrases Before Submission. Using these phrases in the proper places in your research papers can enhance the clarity, flow, and persuasiveness of your writing, especially in the Introduction section and Discussion section, which together make up the majority of your paper's text in most academic domains.

  21. PDF ACADEMIC WRITING

    Academic Writing 3 The Pillars of Academic Writing Academic writing is built upon three truths that aren't self-evident: - Writing is Thinking: While "writing" is traditionally understood as the expression of thought, we'll redefine "writing" as the thought process itself. Writing is not what you do with thought. Writing is

  22. 4 Examples of Academic Writing

    Academic Writing Example 4: Articles. Academic articles are pieces of writing intended for publication in academic journals or other scholarly sources. They may be original research studies, literature analyses, critiques, or other forms of scholarly writing. Article Structure. Title. Abstract and keywords. Introduction. Materials and methods ...

  23. Word Choice Problems: How to Use The Right Words in Academic Writing

    Develop your skills in using accurate and precise words and expressions. Some examples of words to avoid are "if and when," "in the foreseeable future," "in the long run," "as a last resort," "it stands to reason," and "easier said than done.". Use short, concise sentences, as wordiness can confuse the readers.

  24. Academic Phrases for Writing Literature Review Section of a Research Paper

    In this blog, we discuss phrases related to literature review such as summary of previous literature, research gap and research questions. The literature review should clearly demonstrate that the author has a good knowledge of the research area. A well-written literature review should provide a critical appraisal of previous studies related to the current research area rather than a simple ...

  25. The Fundamentals of Academic Science Writing

    Stereotypical academic writing is rigid, dry, and mechanical, delivering prose that evokes memories of high school and undergraduate laboratory reports. ... " statement in the abstract and the introduction goes a long way towards giving readers the hook that they need to read further. Keeping Sentences Simple. Writing in the active voice also ...

  26. How To Improve Your Academic Writing Style

    Here, we'll discuss some key ways to improve your academic writing style. 1. Vary your sentence structure. One common pitfall in academia is using repetitive sentence structures and phrasing. This can make it difficult for a reader to engage with your work; variety makes them much more likely to maintain their interest.