Essay style and flow: Using the Academic Phrasebank

Therefore, these findings show quite well that the correlation is negative. Therefore, this opposes the initial hypothesis presented, which therefore, we must point out is incorrect.

Remember in high school English Literature, when you suddenly discovered how to use the word ‘therefore’ and were completely charmed by how brilliant it made your work sound – and then proceeded to use it at every possible opportunity? Science class, Statistics reports, History essays…

Or was that just me?

Even if ‘therefore’ isn’t your word, I have a feeling there’s a phrase or a word that you find yourself using much too liberally in all your university work. Maybe you’re a fan of ‘hence’. Maybe ‘furthermore’ is your literary weapon of choice. Whatever it is, if this word or phrase is being repeated more than two or three times in your essay or report, then that probably needs to be changed.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with ‘therefore’ or ‘furthermore’ – they’re perfectly good words to use to carry your essay along on its journey. The problem starts when your sentence starts looking like that one of mine above. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little with that one, but when you’re in that writing zone and words are just flowing out of your hands, it’s too easy to forget you’ve repeated something a few times. And then once you’ve spent that much time on an essay, it’s possible to lose objectivity and miss those repetitions during your proofreading.

So what’s my point? That you shouldn’t use your fancy words? Perish the thought! I insist that you use the fancy academic language – after all, your way of writing is incredibly important to how your essay is perceived by the marker. Your content, research and argument might be genius! But if the words it’s all presented in aren’t compelling, if they aren’t specific enough or are just too informal – then that could really take away from your hard work. There’s no doubt about it; there are extra marks to be earned with the writing of your work.

So what can be done? Who has the time to look up a synonym or similar-but-different phrase every single time they have to say something in an essay? Certainly not me, definitely not you.

But here’s the good news – someone’s already done that for us.

The Academic Phrasebank is a resource that aims to provide academic writers with examples of introductory phrases, connective terms, transitional words, concluding statements – I could go on! It is compiled through researching actual academic writing, so all the phrases you see now were actually used in published academic work. Maybe there’s even something in there that is your lecturer’s favourite phrase and then you might get extra credit for that! (Disclaimer: I made that last part up – the extra credit thing probably won’t happen unfortunately).

The Phrasebank is helpfully divided into different sections according to the type of argument or statement you are looking to support with a great phrase. If you’re comparing and contrasting, there are options such as ‘whereas’ or full sentences like ‘there are dramatic differences between X and Y’. There is an entire section just to do with defining concepts and commenting on those definitions. A big section gives you all the concluding statement examples you could ever dream of. All this doesn’t just give you a myriad of ways to express your point, but might even give you some ideas as to what other kind of arguments could be included in your work.

Here’s the best part though – it’s completely free for all University of Manchester students. An enhanced version can even be downloaded as a PDF and stored on your computer, or if you prefer, printed out and pinned above your desk for easy reference.

You BEFORE using the Academic Phrasebank

For me personally, using the Phrasebank means not using ‘therefore’ more than a couple of times in any essay. Looking at all the different options also compels me to consider my argument in a different light, or explore a different interpretation of my information. Have you even received feedback on an essay asking you to be more specific? Using precise academic language allows you to really understand the point you are making, and automatically makes you less vague. With those merciless word limits on our assignments, using academic language can even make a more efficient use of space. All this of course, is going to contribute to the overall impact of your essay and improve your mark.

Learning to write an essay properly might be a huge part of your degree – and the Academic Phrasebank can help you on your way to success. Overall, I’d argue emphatically that it is well worth the read. (See what I did there?)

Here’s that first sentence again, but this time using the Academic Phrasebank:

In summary, these findings clearly illustrate that the correlation is negative. This opposes the initial hypothesis presented, which we must therefore conclude is incorrect.

Check it out. You won’t regret it.

You AFTER using the Academic Phrasebank

Also, have a look on our Twitter page for more tips and updates! 🙂


By Madha from the Student Team


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