Tag Archives: academic writing

[repost ] 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 under the headings to the left. It was designed primarily with international students whose first language is not English in mind. However, if you are a native speaker writer, you may still find parts of the material helpful.

The phrases can be used simply to assist you in thinking about your writing, or they can be used in your own work where this is appropriate. In most cases a certain amount of creativity will be necessary when you do this. It is also possible to transfer some of the words used in particular phrases to others. The phrases are content neutral and generic in nature; in using them, therefore, you are not stealing other people’s ideas and this does not constitute plagiarism.

Users will need to be aware that Phrasebank is not discipline specific, and it does not claim to be comprehensive.

Referring to Literature

One important characteristic of academic writing is that all the sources of information that the writer has used need to be indicated, not just as a bibliography or list of references, but also in or alongside the text. In some cases the source will be the main subject of the sentence, in others the sources may be mentioned parenthetically (in brackets) or via a notation system (eg. footnotes). The more common verbs and verb phrases used in academic writing for referring to sources are given below. Note that different referencing systems are used in different disciplines. In the examples, the Harvard in-text referencing system has been used. Also note that the “author as subject” style is less common in the sciences.

“Ideally, your review should be evaluative and critical of the studies which have a particular bearing on your own. For example, you may think a particular study did not investigate some necessary aspect of the area, or that the authors failed to notice some problem with their results.”

Taken from the Manchester Good Practice Guide:


General descriptions of the relevant literature:

A considerable amount of literature has been published on X. These studies ……
There is a large volume of published studies describing the role of ……
The first serious discussions and analyses of X emerged during the 1970s with ……
The generalisability of much published research on this issue is problematic.
What we know about X is largely based upon empirical studies that investigate how ……
During the past 30 years much more information has become available on ……
In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of literature on …….
A large and growing body of literature has investigated ……

General reference to previous research/scholarly activity (usually more than one author)

Many historians have argued that …… (eg. Jones, 1987; Johnson, 1990; Smith, 1994)
Numerous studies have attempted to explain ….. (for example, Smith , 1996; Kelly, 1998; Johnson, 2002)

Recent evidence suggests that ……. (Smith, 1996; Jones 1999; Johnson, 2001)
Recently, in vitro studies have shown that T.thermophylus EFTu can …… (Patel et al., 1997; Jones et al., 1998).
Surveys such as that conducted by Smith (1988) have shown that ……

Several attempts have been made to ……. (Smith, 1996; Jones 1999; Johnson, 2001)
Several studies have revealed that it is not just X that acts on …… (Smith, 1996; Jones …….
Several biographies of Harris have been published. Smith presents an …….. account, whilst Jones …..
Several studies investigating X have been carried out on ……
Data from several sources have identified the increased morbidity and mortality associated with obesity

Previous studies have reported …… (Smith, 1985; Jones, 1987; Johnson, 1992).
Previous research findings into X have been inconsistent and contradictory (Smith, 1996; Jones 1999, ……
A number of studies have found that …… (Smith , 2003; Jones, 2004).

Twenty cohort study analyses have examined the relationship between …….
At least 152 case-control studies worldwide have examined the relationship between……
Other studies have considered the relationship ……

The relationship between X and Y has been widely investigated (Smith, 1985; Jones, 1987, …….
The causes of X have been widely investigated (Jones, 1987; Johnson, 1990; Smith, 1994).
The geology of X has been addressed in several smallscale investigations and …….

Xs have been identified as major contributing factors for the decline of many species (1).
has also been shown to reverse the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids in murine-induced arthritis (11).

It has been suggested that levels of X are independent of the size of the Y (Smith et al., 1995)
It has conclusively been shown that X and Y increase Z (Smith et al., 1999; Jones, 2001 ……
It has been demonstrated that a high intake of X results in damage to …… (Smith, 1998; ……

Reference to current state of knowledge

A relationship exists between an individual’s working memory and their ability to …… (Jones et al.,1998).
GM varieties of maize are able to cross-pollinate with non-GM varieties (Smith, 1998; Jones, 1999).
There is an unambiguous relationship between spending on education and economic development (Rao, 1998).
X is one of the most intense reactions following CHD (Lane, 2003).
MIF has been found to oppose the anti-infammatory actions of X on Y (Alourfi, 2004).

Reference to single investigations in the past: researcher(s) as sentence subject

Smith (1999)
found that as levels of literacy and education of the population rise ………….
showed that reducing X to 190oC decreased …… (see figure 2) .
demonstrated that when the maximum temperature is exceeded …….
Jones et al. (2001)

investigated the differential impact of formal and non-formal education on ……
analysed the data from 72 countries and concluded that …….
reviewed the literature from the period and found little evidence for this claim.
interviewed 250 undergraduate students using semi-structured questionnaires.
studied the effects of Cytochrome P450 on unprotected nerve cells.
performed a similar series of experiments in the 1960s to show that ……
carried out a number of investigations into the ……
conducted a series of trials in which he mixed X with different quantities of ….
measured both components of the ……
labelled these subsets as …….
examined the flow of international students …… ……
identified parents of disabled children as …..
used a survey to assess the various …….

Wang et al. (2004) have recently developed a methodology for the selective introduction of ……

Reference to single investigations or publications in the past: time frame prominent

In 1975, Smith et al. published a paper in which they described …..
In 1990 Patel et al. demonstrated that replacement of H2O with heavy water led to ……
Thirty years later, Smith (1974) reported three cases of Candida Albicans which …….
In the 1950s Gunnar Myrdal pointed to some of the ways in which …………… (Myrdal, 1957)
In 1981, Smith and co workers demonstrated that X induced in vitro resistance to …….
In 1990, El-Guerrouj et al. reported a new and convenient synthetic procedure to obtain ……
In 1984 Jones et al. made several amino acid esters of X and evaluated them as water-soluble pro-drugs.

Reference to single publication: no time frame

Smith has written the most complete synthesis to date of ……

Reference to single investigations in the past: investigation prominent

Preliminary work on X was undertaken by AbdulKarim (1992).
The first systematic study of X was reported by Patel et al. in 1986.
The study of the structural behavior of X was first carried out by Rao et al. (1986)……
Analysis of the genes involved in X was first carried out by Smith et al (1983).

A recent study by Smith and Jones (2001) involved ……
A longitiudinal study of X by Smith (2002) reports that ……
A small scale study by Smith (2002) reaches different conclusions, finding no increase in ……
Smith’s cross-country analysis (2002) showed that ……
Smith’s comparative study (2002) found that ……
Detailed examination of X by Smith and Patel (1961) showed that ……

In another major study, Zhao (1974) found that just over half of the ……
In a radomised controlled study of X, Smith (2004) reported that ……
In a large longitudinal study, Boucahy et al. 2004) investigated the incidence of X in Y.

Reference to single investigations in the past: research topic as subject

Classical conditioning was first demonstrated experimentally by Pavlov (Smith, 2002). In his seminal study ……
The electronic spectroscopy of X was first studied by Smith and Douglas 1 in 1970
The acid-catalyzed condensation reaction between X and Y was first reported by Baeyer in 1872
formed the central focus of a study by Smith (2002) in which the author found ……
was originally isolated from Y in a soil sample from …… (Wang et al., 1952).
The way in which the X gene is regulated was studied extensively by Ho and colleagues (Ho et al. 1995 and 1998).
To determine the effects of X, Zhao et al (2005) compared ……

Reference to what other writers do in their text (author as subject)

Smith (2003) identifies poor food, bad housing, inadequate hygiene and large families as the major causes of ……
Rao (2003) lists three reasons why the English language has become so dominant. These are: ……
Smith (2003) traces the development of Japanese history and philosophy during the 19th century.
Jones(2003) provides in-depth analysis of the work of Aristotle showing its relevance to contemporary times.
Smith (2003) draws our attention to distinctive categories of motivational beliefs often observed in …….
Smith (2003) defines evidence based medicine as the conscious, explicit and judicious use of …..
Rao (2003) highlights the need to break the link between economic growth and transport growth ……
Smith (2003) discusses the challenges and strategies for facilitating and promoting ……
Toh (2003) mentions the special situation of Singapore as an example of …..
Smith (2003) questions whether mainstream schools are the best environment for ……
Smith (2003) considers whether countries work well on cross-border issues such as ……
Smith (2003) uses examples of these various techniques as evidence that ……

In her major study,
In her seminal article,
In her classic critique of ……,
In her case study of ……,
In her review of ……,
In her analysis of ……,
In her introduction to ……,’
Smith (2004) identifies five characteristics of …….

Some analysts (eg Carnoy, 2002) have attempted to draw fine distinctions between ……..
Other authors ( see Harbison, 2003; Kaplan, 2004) question the usefulness of such an approach.

Reference to other writers’ ideas (author as subject)

According to Smith (2003), preventative medicine is far more cost effective, and therefore better adapted to the developing world.

Smith (2003) points out
that preventative medicine is far more cost effective, and therefore better adapted to the developing world


Smith (2003) argues for
an explanatory theory for each type of irrational belief.

This view is supported by Jones (2000) who writes ……
Smith argues that her data support O’Brien’s (1988) view that ……
As Smith reminds us, …………..
Elsewhere, Smith has argued that ……

Some ways of introducing quotations

In the final part of the Theses, Marx writes: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point …….”
Sachs concludes: “The idea of development stands today like a ruin in the intellectual landscape…” (Sachs, 1992a: 156).
As Smith argues: “In the past, the purpose of education was to ……” (Smith , 2000:150).
As Carnoy (2004: 215) states: “there are many good reasons to be sceptical”.

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