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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Introducing Work

There are many ways to introduce an academic essay or short paper. Most academic writers, however, appear to do one or more of the following in their introductions:

Introductions to research articles and dissertations tend to be relatively short but quite complex. Some of the more common moves include:

Examples of phrases which are commonly employed to realise these functions are listed below. Note that there may be a certain amount of overlap between some of the categories under which the phrases are listed. You may wish to try this short exercise either before or after you look at the phrases: Exercise

 

Establishing the importance of the topic for the world/society

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the ....
X is the leading cause of death in western-industrialised countries.
X is a common disorder characterised by ....
X plays an important role in the maintenance of ....
X is an important component in the climate system, and plays a key role in Y.
In the new global economy, X has become a central issue for ....
In the history of development economics, X has been thought of as a key factor in ....
Xs are one of the most widely used groups of antibacterial agents and ....
Xs are the most potent anti-inflammatory agents known.
X is a major public health problem, and the main cause of .....
X is increasingly recognised as a serious, worldwide public health concern.
Xs are fast becoming a key instrument in ....

Establishing the importance of the topic for the discipline

X is an increasingly important area in applied linguistics.
Investigating X is a continuing concern within ....
Central to the entire discipline of X is the concept of ....
X is at the heart of our understanding of ....
X and Y have been an object of research since the 1960s
One of the most significant current discussions in legal and moral philosophy is ...
A key aspect of X is ....
X is a major area of interest within the field of ....
The issue of X has received considerable critical attention.
X is a classic problem in ....
X has been studied by many researchers using ....

Establishing the importance of the topic (time frame given)

Recent developments in X have heightened the need for ....
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in ....
Recent developments in the field of X have led to a renewed interest in ....
Recently, researchers have shown an increased interest in ......
The past decade has seen the rapid development of X in many ....
The past thirty years have seen increasingly rapid advances in the field of ....
Over the past century, there has been a dramatic increase in ....
One of the most important events of the 1970s was ....
Traditionally, Xs have subscribed to the belief that ....
X proved an important literary genre in the early Y community.
The changes experienced by Xs over the past decade remain unprecedented.
Xs are one of the most widely used groups of X and have been extensively used for decades to ....

Synopsis of literature

Recently investigators have examined the effects of X on Y.
Factors found to be influencing X have been explored in several studies.
In the past two decades, a number of researchers have sought to determine ....
Previous studies have reported ....
A considerable amount of literature has been published on X. These studies ....
Smith (1984: 217) shows how, in the past, research into X was mainly concerned with ....
Surveys such as that conducted by Smith (1988) showed that ....
The first serious discussions and analyses of X emerged during the 1970s with ....
Recent evidence suggests that ....
Several attempts have been made to ....
A number of researchers have reported ....
Xs were reported in the first models of Y (e.g., Smith, 1977; Smith and Patel, 1977).
What we know about X is largely based upon empirical studies that investigate how ....
Studies of X show the importance of ....

Highlighting a problem in the field of study

However, these rapid changes are having a serious effect on ....
However, a major problem with this kind of application is ....
Lack of X has existed as a health problem for many years.
Despite its safety and efficacy, X suffers from several major drawbacks:
However, research has consistently shown that these students lack ....
There is increasing concern that some Xs are being disadvantaged ....
Despite its long clinical success, X has a number of problems in use.
Questions have been raised about the safety of prolonged use of ....
Along with this growth in X, however, there is increasing concern over .

Highlighting a controversy in the field of study

To date there has been little agreement on what ....
More recently, literature has emerged that offers contradictory findings about ....
One observer has already drawn attention to the paradox in ....
Debate continues about the best strategies for the management of ....
This concept has recently been challenged by X studies demonstrating ….
One of the most significant current discussions in legal and moral philosophy is ....
One observer has already drawn attention to the paradox in ....
In many Xs, a debate is taking place between Ys and Zs concerning ....
The controversy about scientific evidence for X has raged unabated for over a century.
Questions have been raised about the safety of prolonged use of ....
The issue of X has been a controversial and much disputed subject within the field of ....
The issue has grown in importance in light of recent ....
One major theoretical issue that has dominated the field for many years concerns ....
One major issue in early X research concerned ....
In the literature on X, the relative importance of Y has been subject to considerable debate.
The debate about X has gained fresh prominence with many arguing 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 systematic research into ....
The research to date has tended to focus on X rather than Y.
Research on the subject has been mostly restricted to limited comparisons of ....
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 ....
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 if ....
X's analysis does not take account of .... nor does he examine ....

Highlighting a knowledge gap in the field of study

So far, however, there has been little discussion about ....
Little is known about X and it is not clear what factors ....
However, far too little attention has been paid to ....
In addition, no research has been found that surveyed ....
So far this method has only been applied to ....
This indicates a need to understand the various perceptions of X that exist among .....
However, the evidence for this relationship is inconclusive ....
What is not yet clear is the impact of X on ....
The neurobiological basis of this X is poorly understood.
However, much uncertainty still exists about the relation between ....
Until recently, there has been no reliable evidence that ....
No previous study has investigated X.

However, there have been no controlled studies which compare differences in ....
Several studies have produced estimates of X (Smith, 2002; Jones, 2003), but there is still insufficient data for ....
Although extensive research has been carried out on ..., no single study exists which ....
Although findings of recent research have shown X, no controlled studies have been reported.
Although much is currently known about effect of X, the mechanism by which .... has not been clearly established.
While there has been much research on X, there has been little empirical research into …..
While there has been considerable research on the benefits of X, only two studies have attempted to investigate ....

Apart from Smith (2014), there is a general lack of research in ....
Despite this, very few studies have investigated the impact of X on ....

Indicating the focus, aim, argument of a short paper

This paper seeks to remedy these problems by analysing the literature of ....
This paper examines the significance of X in the rise of ....
This essay critically examines/discusses/traces .... This paper will review the research conducted on ....
This paper will focus on/examine/give an account of ....
The aim of the paper is to provide a conceptual theoretical framework based on....
The purpose of this paper is to review recent research into the ....
The central thesis of this paper is that ....

In this paper I argue that ....
In the pages that follow, it will be argued that ....
This paper attempts to show that ....
In this essay, I attempt to defend the view that ....
This account seeks to ....

Stating the purpose of research

The aim of this research project has therefore been to try and establish what ....
The aim of this study is to investigate the differences between X and Y.
The main aim of this investigation is to assess the doses and risks associated with ....
The aim of this study is to shine new light on these debates through an examination of ....
The major objective of this study was to investigate .....
The objectives of this research are to determine whether ....
The main purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of ....
 
This thesis intends to determine the extent to which .... and whether ....
This thesis will examine the way in which the ....
This research examines the emerging role of X in the context of ....
This dissertation seeks to explain the development of ....
This case study seeks to examine the changing nature of .....
This study systematically reviews the data for...., aiming to provide
This paper investigates the usefulness of ....

Part of the aim of this project is to develop software that is compatible with the X operating system.
There are two primary aims of this study: 1. To investigate .... 2. To ascertain ....
Drawing upon two stands of research into X, this study attempts to ....
One purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which these factors were ....
This study therefore set out to assess the effect of X ...., and the effect of ....
This study seeks to obtain data which will help to address these research gaps.
In this paper I shall describe and analyse some ways in which ....

Research questions or hypotheses

The central question in this dissertation asks how ....
This research seeks to address the following questions:
In particular, this dissertation will examine six main research questions:
The hypothesis that will be tested is that ....
The key research question of this study was thus whether or not ....
This study aimed to address the following research questions:
Another question is whether ....

Synopsis of the research design, method, source(s) of data

This dissertation follows a case-study design, with in-depth analysis of ....
This study was exploratory and interpretative in nature.
The approach to empirical research adopted for this study was one of ....
The methodological approach taken in this study is a mixed methodology based on ....
By employing qualitative modes of enquiry, I attempt to illuminate the ....
This work takes the form of a case-study of the ....
Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in this investigation.
A combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches was used in the data analysis.
Qualitative and quantitative research designs were adopted to provide ....
A holistic approach is utilised, integrating X, Y and Z material to establish ....
The research data in this thesis is drawn from four main sources: ....
The study was conducted in the form of a survey, with data being gathered via ....
Five works will be examined, all of which ....
Data for this study was collected using ....

Indicating significance

This project therefore provided an important opportunity to advance the understanding of .....
Thus, this study provides an exciting opportunity to advance our knowledge of ....
This is the first study to undertake a longitudinal analysis of ....
The findings should make an important contribution to the field of .....
Therefore, this study makes a major contribution to research on X by demonstrating ....
The study offers some important insights into ....
This study aims to contribute to this growing area of research by exploring the X dimensions of ....
There are several important areas where this study makes a unique and original contribution to ....

Indicating limitations

Due to practical constraints, this paper cannot provide a comprehensive review of ....
It is beyond the scope of this study to examine the ....
The reader should bear in mind that the study is based on ....
Another potential problem is that the scope of my thesis may be too broad.
A full discussion of X lies beyond the scope of this study.
The thesis does not engage with ...

Giving reasons for personal Interest*

My main reason for choosing this topic is personal interest.
I became interested in Xs after reading .....
This project was conceived during my time working for X. As a medical advisor, I witnessed ...
I have worked closely with X for many years and ....
It is my experience of working with X that has driven this research.
The study arose from my interest in the ....

* sometimes found in the humanities, and the applied human sciences

Outlining the structure

The main questions/issues addressed in this paper are: a), b and c).
This paper has been divided into four parts. The first part deals with ....
The essay has been organised in the following way.
This paper first gives a brief overview of the recent history of X.
This paper reviews the evidence for ....
This paper begins by ...... It will then go on to ....
The first section of this paper will examine ....

The overall structure of the study takes the form of six chapters, including this introductory chapter.
My thesis is composed of four themed chapters.
Chapter Two begins by laying out the theoretical dimensions of the research, and looks at how ....
The third chapter is concerned with the methodology used for this study.
The fourth section presents the findings of the research, focusing on the three key themes that ....
Chapter 6 analyses the results of interviews and focus group discussions undertaken during ....
The final chapter draws upon the entire thesis, tying up the various theoretical and empirical strands in order to ....
.... and includes a discussion of the implication of the findings to future research into this area.
Finally, the conclusion gives a brief summary and critique of the findings,
Finally, areas for further research are identified.

Explaining Keywords (refer to Defining Terms)

While a variety of definitions of the term X have been suggested, this paper will use the definition first suggested by Smith (1968) who saw it as ....
Throughout this paper, the term X will refer to ....
Throughout this dissertation, the term X will be used to refer to ....
In this article, the acronym/abbreviation XYZ will be used.
According to Smith (2002), X can be defined as follows: '....'
The term X is a relatively new name for ....., commonly referred to as ....


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Last updated: 23 April, 2014