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Academic writing

How to write in an evidenced based formal style

Linking/transition words: Things you need to know...

All assignments are written in formal language.   You need to ensure that you demonstrate your knowledge and understanding alongside your ability to answer the question/solve the problem. 

Below are some ideas to help you to develop your structure and flow.

  • Linking / transition words and phrases join ideas, sentences and paragraphs together. They should be used within sentences and to move from one idea to another (between sentences).  

These words and phrases indicate the direction, order and flow of ideas. Significantly, they strengthen the quality and structure of your work.

  • Redundant Words - less is more.  Particularly when trying to reduce the word count, it is important to look for phrases which can be replaced with a single word.

Linking/Transition Words

Transitions link one main idea to another separated by a semi-colon or full-stop.  When the transition word is at the beginning of the sentence, it should be followed by a comma:

Among other functions, they can signal cause and effect or sequencing (see examples in the table below).

Additional comments or ideas additionally; also; moreover; furthermore; again; further; then; besides; too; similarly; correspondingly; indeed; regarding.
Alternatives

whereas; conversely; in comparison; by contrast; another view is…;

alternatively; although; otherwise; instead.

Analysing results

therefore; accordingly; as a result of; the result is/results are; the consequence is; resulting from; consequently; it can be seen; evidence illustrates that; because of this; thus; hence; for this reason; owing to x; this suggests that; it follows that; otherwise; in that case; that implies;

Author (year) suggests that;

Cause / Reason as a result of; because (mid-sentence only)
Compare compared with; in the same way; likewise
Contrast by contrast; although; compared with; conversely; despite; however, nevertheless; yet
Effect / Result As a result; therefore; thus
Emphasising earlier statements

however; nonetheless; furthermore; in the final analysis; despite x; notwithstanding x; in spite of x; while x may be true, nonetheless

although; though; after all; at the same time; even if x is true; count

Introducing examples for example; for instance; namely; such as; as follows; as exemplified by; such as; including; especially; particularly; in particular; notably; mainly;
Re-phrasing in other terms; rather; or; better; in view of this; in contrast
Sequencing first (ly); second (ly); third (ly); another; additionally; finally moreover; also; subsequently; eventually; next; then
Summary or Conclusion in conclusion; therefore; to conclude; on the whole; hence; thus to summarise; altogether; overall; …following the research of…after analysis

Linking words: conjunctions

Linking words within a sentence are referred to as coordinating conjunctions.  Do not worry about the term: think about the function.

 
Conjunction Function
for connects a reason to a result
and connects equal and similar ideas
nor connects two negative ideas
but connects equal but different ideas
or connects two equal choices
yet connects equal and contrasting ideas
so connects a result to a reason

 

 

Conciseness / redundant words

Microsoft Word now has an additional feature within the Editor - it is called conciseness or wordiness.  

  • If you cannot see the Editor menu a quick tip is to hold down the function (fn key at the bottom left of the keyboard) + F7 (top line of keys).
  • From the Refinements section - select Conciseness - if there are any suggestions a number will appear in the box alongside this option
  • A dotted line will appear under any groups of groups
  • Either select the identified text by clicking with your right mouse button OR click on the down down next to the Conciseness menu.
  • MS Word will display any alternative words which you can either select and they will be replaced in your text or reject if you want to keep the original phrases.

Examples:  try to replace phrases with a single words which mean the same.

 
Instead of ... Use ...
employed the use of  used
basic fundamentals fundamentals
alternative choices alternatives
in as few words as possible concisely
look into investigate
put on gained
turned down rejected
got better improved
hit and miss erratic
in spite of although

 

Factsheets

Need to know more...

Additional resources to help you to improve your confidence and grades:-

  • Writing Effectively demonstrates the importance of: clarity, structure, relevance, argument and precision.
  • Writing Mechanics gives further examples and resources on areas including: sentence structure, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Staffordshire University (2015) Refzone.  Referencing (Harvard style) explained with interactive quizzes to make sure that you get it. 
University of East Anglia (2014) Academic writing and study skills resources . 

There are many books concerning academic writing, look around Dewey number 808