Back in the late 90s, in the process of reading for my MA dissertation, I put together a collection of hundreds of sentence stems that I felt could help me with my academic writing later on. And they did. Immensely. After the course was over, I stacked my sentences away, but kept wondering if I could ever put them to good use and perhaps help other DELTA / Trinity / MA / PhD students who know exactly what they want to say, but might have trouble finding the best way to say it.
So here are 70 sentences extracted and adapted from the original compilation, which ran for almost 10 pages. This list is organized around keywords (rather than functions / discourse categories) so I can explore each word’s ecosystem better, highlight common collocations and so on.
Before you start:
1. Pay close attention to the words in bold, which are often used in conjunction with the main word.
2. [ ] means “insert a suitable word here”, while ( ) means “this word is optional.”
3. Bear in mind that, within each group, some examples are slightly more formal / less frequent than others.
4. I am not claiming, by any stretch of the imagination, that these are the most common ways to use each word. These are just examples of academic discourse that I collected randomly in the late 90s.
a. Along similar lines, [X] argues that ___.
b. There seems to be no compelling reason to argue that ___.
c. As a rebuttal to this point, it might be (convincingly) argued that ___.
d. There are [three] main arguments that can be advanced to support ___.
e. The underlying argument in favor of / against [X] is that ___.
f. [X]’s argument in favor of / against [Y] runs as follows: ___.
a. In this [paper], I put forward the claim that ___.
b. [X] develops the claim that ___.
c. There is ample / growing support for the claim that ___.
d. [X]’s findings lend support to the claim that ___.
e. Taking a middle-ground position, [X] claims that ___.
a. The data gathered in the [pilot study] suggests / suggest that ___.
b. The data appears / appear to suggest that ___.
c. The data yielded by this [study] provides strong / convincing evidence that ___. (yielded = generated)
d. A closer look at the data indicates that ___.
e. The data generated by [X] is / are reported in [table 1].
f. The aim of this [section] is to generalize beyond the data and ___.
In modern usage, data can also be treated as a mass / uncountable noun, like information. Before you submit your work, check whether the institution you’re writing for / on behalf of prefers data + plural verb.
a. [X] has fostered debate on ___. (fostered = encouraged)
b. There has been an inconclusive debate about whether ___.
c. The question of whether ___ has caused much debate in [our profession] [over the years].
d. (Much of) the current debate revolves around ___.
a. In this section / chapter, the discussion will point to ___.
b. The foregoing discussion implies that ___. (foregoing = that came before)
c. For the sake of discussion, I would like to argue that ___.
d. In this study, the question under discussion is ___.
e. In this paper, the discussion centers on ___.
f. [X] lies at the heart of the discussion on ___.
Evidence (Remember: Evidence is uncountable.)
a. The available evidence seems to suggest that ___ / point to ___.
b. On the basis of the evidence currently available, it seems fair to suggest that ___.
c. There is overwhelming evidence corroborating the notion that ___. (corroborating = confirming)
d. Further evidence supporting / against [X] may lie in the findings of [Y], who ___.
e. These results provide confirmatory evidence that ___.
a. I will now summarize the ground covered in this [chapter] by ___.
b. On logical grounds, there is no compelling reason to argue that ___.
c. [X] takes a middle-ground position on [Y] and argues that ___.
d. On these grounds, we can argue that ___.
e. [X]’s views are grounded on the assumption that ___.
a. This study is an attempt to address the issue of ___.
b. In the present study, the issue under scrutiny is ___.
c. The issue of whether ___ is clouded by the fact that ___. (clouded = made less clear)
d. To portray the issue in [X]’s terms, ___.
e. Given the centrality of this issue to [my claim], I will now ___.
f. This [chapter] is concerned with the issue of [how/whether/what] ___.
a. [X] is prominent in the literature on [Y].
b. There is a rapidly growing literature on [X], which indicates that ___.
c. The literature shows no consensus on [X], which means that ___.
d. The (current) literature on [X] abounds with examples of ___.
a. The main theoretical premise behind [X] is that ___.
b. [X] and [Y] share an important premise: ___.
c. [X] is premised on the assumption that ___.
d. The basic premises of [X]’s theory / argument are ___.
e. The arguments against [X]’s premise rest on [four] assumptions: ___.
a.This study draws on research conducted by ___.
b. Although there has been relatively little research on / into [X], ___.
c. In the last [X] years, [educational] research has provided ample support for the assertion that ___.
d. Current research appears / seems to validate the view that ___.
e. Research on / into ___ does not support the view that ___.
f. Further research in this area may include ___ and ___.
g. Evidence for [X] is borne out by research that shows ___.
h. There is insufficient research on / into ___ to draw any firm conclusions about / on ___.
a. The consensus view seems to be that ___.
b. [X] propounds the view that ___. (propound = put forward for consideration)
c. Current research (does not) appear(s) to validate such a view.
d. There have been dissenters to the view that ___. (dissenter = someone who disagrees)
e. The answer to [X] / The difference between [X] and [Y] is not as clear-cut as popular views might suggest.
f. The view that _____ is (very much) in line with [common sense].
g. I am not alone in my view that ___.
h. [X] puts forward the view that ___.
i. [X]’s views rest on the assumption that ___.
Thanks for reading and good luck!