Academic Phrasebank

Click on the following:

 

Major Sections
Introducing work
Reviewing literature
Describing methods
Reporting results
Discussing findings
Writing conclusions

 

General Functions
Being critical

Classifying and listing
Compare and contrast

Defining terms
Explaining causality
Expressing caution
Describing trends
Describing quantities
Giving examples
Writing about the past
Preview and transition

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Being Critical

As an academic writer, you are expected to be critical of the sources that you use. This essentially means questioning what you read and not necessarily agreeing with it just because the information has been published. Being critical can also mean looking for reasons why we should not just accept something as being correct or true. This can require you to identify problems with a writer's arguments or methods, or perhaps to refer to other people's criticisms of these. Constructive criticism goes beyond this by suggesting ways in which a piece of research or writing could be improved.

When reviewing a research article critically, some of the questions that the reviewer may bring to the process are as follows: 

 

Introducing questions, problems and limitations (theory)

One question that needs to be asked, however, is whether ....
A serious weakness with this argument, however, is that ....
One of the limitations with this explanation is that it does not explain why... .
One criticism of much of the literature on X is that ....
The key problem with this explanation is that ....
The existing accounts fail to resolve the contradiction between X and Y.
However, there is an inconsistency with this argument.
However, this attitude would appear to be outdated and ....

Smith's argument relies too heavily on qualitative analysis of ....
It seems that Jones' understanding of the X framework is questionable.
Smith's interpretation overlooks much of the historical research ....
One major criticism of Smith's work is that ....
Many writers have challenged Jones' claim on the grounds that ....
X's analysis does not take account of .... nor does he examine ....

Introducing questions, problems and limitations (method/practice)

One major drawback of this approach is that ....
Another problem with this approach is that it fails to take X into account.
Perhaps the most serious disadvantage of this method is that ....
The main limitation of X, however, is ....

However, this method of analysis has a number of limitations.
However, approaches of this kind carry with them various well known limitations.
However, there are limits as to how far the idea of/concept of X can be taken.
However, such explanations tend to overlook the fact that ....
However, one of the problems with the instrument the researchers used to measure X was ....
However, this approach would appear to be inefficient and ....

Further criticism may be directed towards the use of this model as ....
Difficulties arise, however, when an attempt is made to implement the policy.
Nevertheless, the strategy has not escaped criticism from governments, agencies and academics.

Although this is the most comprehensive account of X produced so far, it does suffer from a number of flaws.
Smith's study of X is considered to be the most important, but it does suffer from the fact that ....

However, all the previously mentioned methods suffer from some serious

limitations
weaknesses
disadvantages
drawbacks.

 

Identifying a study's weakness

(However,)

the main weakness of the study is the failure to address how ....
the study fails to consider the differing categories of damage that ....
the research does not take into account pre-existing .... such as ....
the author offers no explanation for the distinction between X and Y.
Smith makes no attempt to differentiate between various different types of X.
Jones fails to fully acknowledge the significance of ....
the paper would appear to be over ambitious in its claims.
the author overlooks the fact that X contributes to Y.
what Smith fails to do is to draw a distinction between ....
another weakness is that we are given no explanation of how ....
Smith fails to fully define what ....
no attempt was made to quantify the association between X and Y.

 

Offering constructive suggestions

Smith's paper

Her conclusions

The study

The findings

would have been

might have been

more

much more

far more

useful

convincing

interesting

persuasive

original

relevant

if he/she had

if the author had

included ....

considered ....

adopted ....

used ....

assessed ...

A more comprehensive study would include all the groups of ....
A better study would examine a large, randomly selected sample of societies with ....
A much more systematic approach would identify how X interacts with other variables that are believed to be linked to ....

 

Using evaluative adjectives to comment on research

In his/her
In their
In this

excellent
comprehensive
detailed
useful
thorough
ground-breaking
timely
important
impressive
------------------------
limited
small-scale
exploratory
analysis (of X),
examination (of X),
study (of X),
survey (of X),
investigation (into Y),

Smith (2012)
Jones et al. (2012)

found ....

was/were able to show that ....

concluded that ....

 

 

Highlighting inadequacies of previous studies

Most studies in the field of X have only focussed on ....
Most studies in X have only been carried out in a small number of areas.
The generalisability of much published research on this issue is problematic.
The experimental data are rather controversial, and there is no general agreement about ....
Such expositions are unsatisfactory because they ....
However, few writers have been able to draw on any structured research into the opinions and attitudes of ....
The research to date has tended to focus on X rather than Y.
The existing accounts fail to resolve the contradiction between X and Y.
Researchers have not treated X in much detail.
Previous studies of X have not dealt with ....
However, these studies used non-validated methods to measure ....
Half of the studies evaluated failed to specify whether ....
However, much of the research up to now has been descriptive in nature ….
Although extensive research has been carried out on X, no single study exists which adequately covers ....
However, these results were based upon data from over 30 years ago and it is unclear whether .....

Introducing general criticism

Many analysts now argue that the strategy of X has not been successful. Jones (2003), for example, argues that ....
Non-government agencies are also very critical of the new policies.
The X theory has been vigorously challenged in recent years by a number of writers.
These claims have been strongly contested in recent years by a number of writers.
Smith's meta-analysis has been subjected to considerable criticism.
The most important of these criticisms is that Smith failed to note that ....
Critics have also argued that not only do social surveys provide an inaccurate measure of X, but the....
Critics question the ability of poststructuralist theory to provide ....
More recent arguments against X have been summarised by Smith and Jones (1982):

Introducing the critical stance of particular writers

Jones (2003) is critical of the conclusions that Smith draws from his findings.
Jones (2003) has challenged some of Smith's conclusions, arguing that ....
The authors challenge the widely-held view that ....
Jones (2003) has also questioned why ....
Jones (2003) is probably the best known critic of the X theory. He argues that ....
However, Jones (2003) points out that ....
The latter point has been devastatingly critiqued by Jones (2003), who argues that ....
Smith's analysis has been criticised by a number of writers. Jones (1993), for example, points out that ....
Al-Masry (2008) rejects the widely-held view that ....
Other authors (see Harbison, 2003; Kaplan, 2004) question the usefulness of such an approach.

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Last updated: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>28 March, 2014